Dispelling the myths and cliches of the artist's life, a conversation with Aletta de Wal

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Aletta-deWal(JohmTaylor)Artist Advisor Aletta de Wal is equal parts artist, educator and entrepreneur. She makes make art marketing easier by breaking it down to meet your goals and fit your time, energy and money. She provides templates and steps to follow that make the business side of art simpler.

Aletta is currently working on a new book My real job is being an artist (what you should know before you quit your day job or get one) expected out late this fall. I had a chance to read an advance chapter of the book on clichés and myths about the life, career and business of being an artist. These are the stories that can both draw people to the arts and at the same time prevent real success.

Here are a few quotes from the beginning of the chapter on myths and clichés:

When the "real job" of being an artist is devalued, so is the art. Tenacious myths about the art lifestyle are so deep-rooted in society that some artists even believe them. Artists who shed these misconceptions release trapped energy and free up mental and emotional bandwidth for their life's work. Access to the truths of the art world frees artists to create their own reality of making a living making art.

I think of myths as the underbelly of clichés. Clichés persist because they usually contain more than a kernel of truth. Myths are the underbelly because they tend to belittle the person or activity they describe. Like clichés, myths may have a bit of truth in them for people who accept them on face value. Beyond every myth there is a reality. And each reality is part of a larger picture.

The "starving artist" myth is just one of many false beliefs about how artists live and work. You don't have to starve to be a true artist. Even the archetypal starving artist, Vincent van Gogh, wasn't doing so badly. He came from a wealthy family of gallery dealers, and he worked in an important gallery for six years. While he was a painter, his brother sent him a generous monthly stipend. So in fact, a certain amount of comfort can contribute to greater artistic success.

Here are the twelve myths and clichés that we examine on the show:

  1. If I Just Do My Art, Everything Else Will Work Out
  2. My Art Speaks for Itself
  3. My Artwork Is So Good, It Will Appeal to Everyone
  4. I'm So Good That One Day I'll Be Discovered
  5. A True Artist Lives Life Free and Without Structure
  6. If It Didn't Work Out Once, It Will Never Work Out
  7. I Can Succeed Only in New York (Or any Other Art Mecca)
  8. Artists Are Not Business People, My Dealer Will Handle Everything
  9. All Good Artists Are Poor
  10. Society Owes Artists a Living
  11. I Don't Need to Know About Anything But My Art
  12. One Big Break Will Make My Career

Learn More about Aletta de Wal

  1. Artist Career Training: Guided Programs for artists.
  2. Art Business Library: Independent study materials for artists.
  3. Follow Aletta on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.

Further Resources:

  1. Subscribe to ArtMatters! and receive a free art marketing guide: "Eleven Tips for Success for Fine Artists" Digital Recording and 15- page PDF Presentation. Monthly article and weekly Art Business Bits, Art Career Cheer, Art Marketing Morsels and A.C.T. Learning Opportunities toHelp Artists Make More Money.

Show Highlights: Excerpts From the Conversation

Once the transcription is completed I'll include some of the best portions here.

« How to use video to promote your art online and in galleries, a conversation with Lori McNee | Main | How to recognize, recover from and prevent future creative burnout, A conversation with Sinclair »

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Statement + Bio | Curriculum Vitae | Bibliography

I'm best known as an artist and designer. Relaxing makes me tense, so I tend to put in a lot of hours on diverse projects.

On the way to a successful art career I've been a poet and writer, a tech geek, a print and web designer, illustrator, industrial designer, musician, teacher, actor, set designer and even a paid guru once.

It's all the same thing in the end— I wake up most days thinking about how I want to change, fix or improve some aspect of the world. And after a couple cups of coffee I get started on it.

My specialty is impossibility remediation: if it can't be done, I'm on it.

Mobile: 231.584.2710 (9 to 5 PST only) | Email me
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