"Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art." - Andy Warhol
Transcript of interview with Artist Sandrine Colson.
Entering Art Contests is Not Marketing Your Art
- I'm finding out to my dismay how much money my students have wasted and I'm gonna say wasted on art contests. And so, I am on a campaign to stop this because it really is injuring my students financially and it's taking advantage of their vulnerability because these art contest organizers are sophisticated. So it's not because, you know, my students are not intelligent. They're getting taken down the ride and I want to put a stop to it. But we have to have an honest conversation about it and we have to get really clear and specific.
Here's the thing, when artists do not understand the mechanics of marketing art, they become vulnerable to predatory art contest organizers who imply that entering some art contest is equal to marketing and it's not!
What Did You Gain From Art Contests?
- It basically didn't bring anything positive. You know, it just, you're just you know, there so it hasn't resulted, there was no real quantitative results in any way. It's a piece of paper at most, but it doesn't really help anything and you're right, I know that, you know, one of the last piece I sold was explaining my mission and I was, you know, talking about things. And no one asked me, 'Did you get a prize on it?' 'Did you, was it in a art contest?' 'What's your resume?' 'What's your artist statement?' People didn't care.
Avoid The Scarcity and Permission Based Art Establishment
- There's a different way to do things. You don't have to allow yourself to be taken advantage of.
- And you know, that became really clear as we work together on this, you know, you help me look at all these things that were different perspectives, so thank you for spending the time to work with me for all these different things so I could open my eyes.
- You're welcome. I just want to keep, you know, I just want to keep as many artists as I can out of harm's way. That's really all I wanna do, okay, so I appreciate you helping because if you didn't share, you know, they just have to take my word for it. But you've shared now and I bet other people are gonna be able to relate to your experience and then what I encourage everybody to do...
Crunch the numbers for yourself, do your best estimate. List all of the art competitions you've entered, including online and offline competitions. Put the date of each competition. Put the entry fee. Figure out, for each piece of art that you entered, how much did it cost for the shipping, how much did it cost for the art materials, and then another column, make sure that you account for the number of hours it took, not only to make the art, but to fill out the paperwork and prep it, and ship it, and photograph it and frame it.
And do the math, because if you do the math, the numbers won't lie and I'm telling you, please do this because it's a helluva lot of money. I can't, I mean, I've got students who've spent over $15,000 easily, you know, the numbers keep going up. The more I keep digging, the more I keep asking, the numbers keep going up.
You Can Never Regain Your Lost Time
And so, this is a huge cost and what I want to point out, is you can recover maybe the $719.00 that you spent on fees and the $2000.00 that you spent on your shipping, but good God, how are you ever, you're never going to recover, 350 hours. It's gone, you can't restore the time.
- No, there is no way, you know. So, you know, there is now way and I remember cause at that time I was working full time so you know going, packing, figure out all these things and doing all these things in between. You know that's a lot of time management.
- Here's another thing that I want to point out. When we first started this discussion, you said that one of the issues that you had was that you didn't feel like you had enough self confidence.
- [Women With Glasses] Yeah
- What do you think it did to your self confidence to spend this much money, over $11,000.00 and this much time, over 350 hours and get nothing from it, what do you think that did to your self confidence?
Do You Think Your Art is Really Being Judged?
The number of submissions these art contest organizers are receiving, so one example, that was cited was one of my other students was telling me how she received a rejection letter. Of course, only after paying $75.00 or whatever it was, and they said it was a monthly competition and they looked at four... They accepted 400 submissions a month. How could you possibly, critically evaluate 400 submissions a month and pick the winner?
- I can't see how you'd do that in a way that would make any valuable sense.
Art Contest Organizers Are Not Held Accountable
- Here's the thing, they're not accountable to anyone. So I would bet you that they accept far more than 400 submissions a month because what's to stop them? No one's gonna oversee them and say 'Hey you didn't really critic 400 pieces'. So do you have a calculator?
- [Woman In Glasses] Yeah, I do. It's $30,000.00
- Okay what's 30,000 times 12?
- So times 12, that's 360,000
- So this one art contest organizer is making $360,000 a year at minimum. It's only an online thing, it's not like they're maintaining a brick and mortar gallery. So who's making the money? It's not the artist, cause I have not met, occasionally an artist will win. They have to pick one winner to keep the game going.
Do You Want To Sell Your Art or "Show" Your Art?
- Listen to the vocabulary of artists! 'I want to show my art'. Do you really wanna show your art or would you prefer to sell your art? You know, own it, own it. If you wanna sell your art.
- I want to sell my art. Definitely.
- Sell the art.
- Because there's nothing more rewarding and there's nothing more inspiring. When you sell your art, don't you wanna go make more of it?
Is Your Art A Hobby?
If you want, if your art is your hobby... Okay, first of all, don't get offended, because a hobby has a dictionary definition, right? It's something that you do for your pleasure, and with no intention of selling or you say, you don't care about selling. So if you don't care about selling, and you don't think it's important, cool. You have a hobby. But if you want to sell your art, really, actually, what you really wanna do is sell your art, but you're approaching it like a hobby, by entering art contests then you're gonna feel really conflicted. And when someone like me comes around and calls what you're doing a hobby, you get really pissed off. Artists get really angry and that's because they're conflicted because what they really wanna do is sell their art. So don't get mad, get even! Right?
- No actually, you're not the only person who had told me that art contests and things like this are useless if you want to sell your art. So, you know, so my goal is actually to sell my art.
Why Are Artists Being Taken Advantage Of?
I think it's also because we are badly educated about what the, what selling art means, actually. Because you know-
- That's why I'm here!
- I wasn't always an artist, so you know I did other things in my life and you know, so, now as you mentioned in our discussion today, it have use to me that, you know, if I was selling, you know, a handbag, I will not do any art contests, any of these things and those things. I'll find what's my valuable position, for that handbag, so I'll attract a customer, but somehow, you know, the artist is being told that, you need to show in galleries, you need to show in a session, you need to do art contests, you need to build that resume of yours. You know that kind of what people tell you, if you ask 99 persons of the people in the art business, that's what they ask, they asking you, and say this is what you should be doing.
- That's right, and they're lying. They're lying and I am leading a revolt against that type of self, very limiting, and destructive lies because they hurt the artists, they injure artists. Artists can't make a viable part time or full time living with that pack of lies. Look, you're never gonna have an art career as a fine artist or artisan, it's not going to happen and that's because there aren't any jobs.
You're in business, you don't, you own a business, you don't have a job, if you keep treating it as a job by building your resume, you're just screwed because you're not even in reality. You're not even dealing in reality but to the credit of artists, they haven't been educated. I went to art school, I got nothing, no education. They don't teach you in art school, how to sell your art. They're put you to shame for even asking about it, because the art professors themselves don't really know. And if you go to business school, they can't teach you how to sell your art because they don't understand the product. If you get a MBA, they're gonna teach you the mechanics of selling goods or services, but our product is emotion. And as I say all the time I'm telling you that on good authority. My brother was the Dean of business school. We have MBA's in the Making Art, Making Money Semester, including a Harvard MBA. You know she had to come to Making Art, Making Money Semester to understand the mechanics of how you sell emotion in a way that's authentic, in a way that's mission driven.
What Changed for Artist Sandrine Colson?
- I feel like I'm very privileged I got into this class.
- Awww. That's wonderful. So let me ask you, what changed, like you say, life changing, can you give a couple specific examples about what changed for you?
- Well, what changed for me is that you know, is that, I think the first part of the class, when you really go deep inside yourself and I was reading, as well, The Call to Joy, at the same time. I'm not yet done, but it really made me figure out why I was doing things, sort of, the way I was doing them. You know, the lack of self confidence, and it helped me figure out where it was coming from. And in some ways, you know, once you find the cause, you can almost find the solution.
Do You Know Your Creative Purpose?
- And when you know who you are and what you stand for, you're unstoppable, really.
- You know, I think that's the way I feel. You know, and also the way I feel, after doing all these things, and you know, and figure out the things, I feel like I can only succeed.
Take Your Power Back
I say thanks to you for, you know, allowing us to benefit from your experience.
- Well, it's my great joy. I love it. I love watching artists take their power back! Oh my gosh, it's fun! It's so much fun!
Should Artists Apply To Enroll?
- Well I definitely encourage them. Well, as I mentioned to you, I think it's a life changing experience and it's just most than a business class. It is really finding who you are as an artist. And then finding the, and basically, developing your road map to get to your mission, you know, to get, you know, to where you want to go. So developing the road map part is the business part of the class. But you know, finding who you are as an artist is very unique, and you know, some people never find who they are as an artist, and even though it's probably evolving constantly, I do think that's definitely the part, which is the most life changing.
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