“Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.” – Andy Warhol Apply Now
Paid Artist Representation? Is it a scam?
– So hello everyone, this is another Thriving Artist profile with Gene Jimenez from…
– Yes, how are you?
– I’m good!
– From Orange…
– What’s that?
– From Orange, California.
– From Orange, California. And so Gene has been… Gene has come, I’ve actually– he’s a relatively new student in The Making Art Making Money semester, and he just learned a big fat lesson about Paid Artist Representation. So I’m actually thrilled that he did, and thought that this was something that would benefit other artists to know about and to learn about. And it’s this whole idea if paying for representation, or even entering contests for that matter. And so, but Gene was smart, he asked his community in the Making Art Making Money Semester, and I would say they put you in the right direction.
– They did, absolutely, it was… I wasn’t sure how it was all going to kind of get the kind of feedback, but what really came through was the amount of, I think, just grounding and really sitting with the question.
– And not making, you know, ’cause I don’t know, for me as an artist, I’m also very labrador-like, and I go, shiny things! And I go jump at it.
– Well let’s talk about what the question was. So, specifically, you were… Were you approached by these artist representatives or did you approach them?
– I initially approached them…
– Okay, so Gene approached these– So let me explain to everyone so they have some context for what we’re talking about. So, Gene approached them about representation, and so this organization apparently accepted your application, right? And they wanted you to pay a significant sum. But here’s the thing that they– it says it on their website, that they would promise lifetime representation. So that was the first, for me… by the way they’re very skillful at this, so Gene was really just pursuing his desire to sell his art and it looked like a viable option. But what it did say was lifetime representation, so let me just say this. No one, nobody, no how, is going to have lifetime representation, because things fall in and out of favor. It’d be like saying I own a– I design a line of shoes. And that line of shoes is always gonna be represented, always gonna be in stock at Bloomingdale’s, or Macy’s; it’s just not gonna happen, right? So that was the first big freakin’ red flag. The second big one was that their site was not complete; it was gonna be launching. Yet they were asking for a significant sum of money, but their site hadn’t launched. Very unprofessional, very unstable looking, so I just wanna– so this is the context. But, you know, I think, to Gene’s credit, he’s exploring all his options, and so he was, he didn’t jump in blindly, he asked the students in the Making Art Making Money Semester what their thoughts were. He actually asked me initially, and I said hold on, go ask your fellow students first, I’ll bet you they’ll give you an answer. So is that about the right context, Gene? Is that essentially what happened?
– Yeah, yeah. In general, yeah. I had approached them– I had done a little bit with them before; they had represented me at one of the bigger shows, Miami Spectrum, and it turned out okay, wasn’t great. But one of them
– was okay, I wasn’t sure what to expect on that, so…
– But yeah, that’s generally what had happened so far.
– So the big thing, the big point is you can… Everyone has got to run their own race and make their own choices. But there’s two lanes that you can drive in as an artist. And those two lanes are: to pursue representation by the art establishment, that’s sort of the commonly held belief that’s the only way you can sell your art is by having someone else sell your art. So that is one road you can drive on. The other road, which runs in the opposite direction is to join the new creative class and to sell your own art, take the reigns, take back your power, keep all the money, and cultivate relationships with your patrons. Who by the way usually refer business to you, and if you’re a micro-business, like an artist, around 85% of your business will come by way of referrals. But if you work with the art establishment, they’re not gonna let you get anywhere near the patrons. Or only close enough. So just wanna make that distinction. So, there’s two roads, but you can’t drive down a road going north, and a road going south. It just doesn’t work! You spin around is what happens. So when you’ve got the feedback from your fellow students, Gene, about… Do you mind me asking? Can I ask how much they wanted to charge you for this?
– 6,000, okay. So that’s, by the way, that’s three times the amount of the cost of enrolling in this semester. So I think you’ve got more bang for your buck in that email strand with your fellow students than you did, like… Like we just took him and went nooo!
– That’s true.
– I think it just paid for itself many times over. We just saved you 6,000 bucks, and you, you know, your return on investment has already been significant, if I don’t say so my biased self.
– Yeah, you’re correct.
– All right, so… All right, so, Gene, what was the first thing– I’m gonna add, what was the first thing you learned from that? What was your– or what were, or how did your perspective shift? What’s one thing that shifted for you?
– Well, normally what I would do would be think about it, and then find ways in my head to justify it.
– And then, you know, it was like, oh okay, well they’re doing this, and this is going to happen, and this is going to happen, and you know so there’s a lot of that going on, and… I think the most viable thing really came in when I went oh my God, I have a group of people that I can actually share this, or I have a resource that actually may have some experience here, that actually may have an insight to this whole thing. And that’s when I turned to you, and so I think the biggest thing was me actually asking for help.
– You know, asking for help and saying okay, I think I know, and my gut’s pretty good, but then also I turn to my wife, and we talked about it, we kinda mulled it over and then I realized I do have a really professional source, and I can throw this out there and see what happens.
– Right, right.
– And that’s how it happened.
– So, and just to be clear, most artists don’t have this resource, it’s a matter of you know, there’s a lot of competition and frankly a lot of jealousy that can arise in artist communities, when one gets successful of course, and often times the other ones are trying to pull them back. Not always, but a lot of times, so the first thing is you realized you had a resource, and you had a community, and what was the second thing that you got out of it, this whole experience, insight, or shift in your perspective?
– I think once I started getting feedback and comments on it I actually got to pause and realize I didn’t have to make a decision right here and now like they were asking, and I know they had a certain timeline that they were on and what not.
– ‘Course they do, they wanna close that sale.
– Yeah, absolutely, and my– what I’m thinking in the back of my head is well, they probably have rent due or whatever it is for this new gallery, but then I’m thinking well if they due then how are they gonna be of service to me? So I really started connecting the dots, and that just came from a little bit of patience and thinking about it, and being willing to slow down. And being willing to really think about what’s in my best interest versus what’s in somebody else’s best interest, like I’m very like okay, let me put somebody else’s interests before mine, and then I usually end up with the short end of the stick. And as an artist, in running an art business, you know I’m starting to learn that that’s not always supportive for me.
– That’s not always like me doing that doesn’t always support my wellbeing, my business, my everything else that I really wanna kinda get out of this.
– Really kinda wanna stand in, I guess.
– Right, your first obligation is to yourself and to your business, and so I’m glad you paused to reflect upon it, and you know, really… and took the feedback, you know, you took it. That’s the other thing, like sometimes it’s hard to receive support or feedback, because it makes us feel uncomfortable, or you know, like we should know, but we don’t, we don’t know everything. None of us succeed by ourselves. It’s really important to surround yourself with people who genuinely do have your interests at heart. And what I read from the other students is they really cared about you.
– Yeah, and that was great. That was actually beyond moving. I was so, you know, I’d go back and look at the strand and there’s be three or four more comments, and…
– It kept going.
– Yeah, people were really coming from like, hey, we got your back on this and we really wanna support you and giving their own insights as well as just letting you know you’re heard, and letting you know that you’re not alone, and letting you know that you know, you don’t have to do it right, because–
– You’re not gonna either. You just
– Yeah. Yeah, you know, it’s like I’ve been a professional painter for close to 15 years now, and to have and find that kind of tribal thing where it says okay, you don’t have to always do it right, you’re not always gonna make the right choices, even though you may be experienced or whatever it is. That’s really great, that’s really comforting and really humbling to say oh wow, I don’t have to be so perfect all the time.
– Yeah, you don’t.
– It doesn’t have to be– I don’t have to know it all, because I don’t.
– So would that be the third thing that you’d say you’ve gained from this experience is just knowing, accepting that you don’t know it all, you don’t have to know it all, and to expect to know it all is kinda, very unrealistic, and that it’s okay not to know, it’s okay to say I don’t know, I need help, I need to learn some more about this?
– Yeah, I think definitely the biggest thing with that is slowing down, making sure you’re making choices that are responsible and allowing yourself to be supported, and to be okay with I’m– you know, I’m kind of in new water here and any other experience would help, and if I can find a group of people and oh by the way I do have a group of people that are willing to support, and are willing to just sound off and that’s huge. We’re all one man shows,
– Right. And all of a sudden you have a group of people that are just willing to jump in and go hey, here’s what happened with me, take it or leave it, and that’s really big.
– So artists do– excuse me, I have to get my puppy, ’cause she’s up to no good. Come ‘ere, come ‘ere you, come ‘ere. You can tell this is live, it’s not edited. So, this is an important point that you just made: as artists, we operate largely in isolation. Traditional business people much more naturally have supportive networks, and they are used to exchanging resources and helping one another without an agenda. They are also used to giving introductions. Artists on the whole don’t do this very naturally, and I’m not– this is not my personal opinion, I’ve asked many artists, and this is their experience. They just don’t have the same network of support that traditional businesses do. So now you have that, and I’m sure that you’ll give back to the people who helped you, because it’s just sort of a natural response. And the other thing that you said, Gene, is you’ve been doing this for 15 years, but now as a member of the Making Art Making Money Semester you are in new water, because you were driving down the south lane before, and you can’t get to your destination driving down the south lane. It’s possible; it’s a little dicey. Now you’re driving in the north lane, it is very, very different orientation, it’s a completely different direction, so you do have to learn some new things and shift your perspective. But I’ve great confidence you will, so…
– Yeah, when you’re alone and doing it for so long, people have asked me because I’ll– how do you sell, how do you do all this, and I’ve given my best advice and what not, and they take it and run. And that’s fine, you know, I– knowing that they’re gonna do that is probably in the back of my head, I’m going okay, there’s nothing in it here for me, and that’s fine to share, that’s great. And to have a solid group, a tribe that you can turn to or a group of people that you know that are not gonna run but also be there the next day and say, okay what happened, you know? Or to be invested as you are to a certain extent, ’cause like I said, we’re all artists and we have our thing to do, but we’re very, I think, we’re just naturally a bit of alone and sometimes for me I know that’s hard. It’s hard to be alone, it’s hard to be… And then I don’t know about you but when another artist will come up to me and say hey, you wanna work in the studio together, or you wanna do this together? I go, hey, wow, why don’t you get away from me, you know? ‘Cause it’s just how we kinda wire ourselves.
– Right, right, well–
– And I’m at a point where–
– It’s not a– doing a painting is not a, for example, there’s lots of artists we work with here, but it’s not a collaborative experience; it’s a solo experience.
– Let me just ask you this: what’s one piece of– based on what you’ve learned so far in the Making Art Making Money Semester, what is one piece of advice that you would give other artists? One, just one tip.
– I think the biggest thing is to, as an artist, find other artists. Find other artists that are– you know, that care about their art as much as you care about yours, so that you can all care about your art together, and know that they’re… they have just as many non-answers as you do. And you don’t have to be perfect, and you’re not alone, and you… Once you’re open to things, or you open yourself up to others, there could be a lot of great support and it doesn’t have to be a one man show.
– You know, I’ve– I was in my studio last night just thinking about this whole conversation, and really being grateful that wow, I can now at any moment just put something on our message board, or know that as I’m going along here I may be in my studio alone, but I’m not alone.
– And you can also, now that you have the support of the students in the Making Art Making Money Semester you can get on a Google Hangout just like this and look at their face and see their smile and maybe their puppy, um… So this is, look at this. So this is great, I’m glad you were– I’m very glad that you’re willing to be open about this whole situation so that we could support you, and that you’re willing to share this with other artists who are, you know, I’m just gonna tell you. If you’re thinking about paying for representation, plus they’re gonna take a commission, you know, think twice, unless you got money to burn. If you just wanna approach your art as a hobby and you just get a high off of the idea of selling a painting every now and then, I guess go right ahead. But if you’re trying to build a good– you know, make art that you’re proud of and make a decent living, this is just not the way to go. It’s just not the way to go. You have– it’s a business. The IRS says it’s a business. It’s a business, which means you have to have a business plan. You have to have a marketing plan, you have to have– you know, you have to approach it like that. And you can’t buy your way to success. I wish that were possible. But as you, you know, it’s just not. Even though you’re enrolled in the Making Art Making Money Semester, Gene, you know it’s like a shit ton of work, right? It’s work.
– Yeah. People come into my gallery or my studio all the time and say, especially young, ’cause I’m at an area where a lot of young students come in and they’ll say I wanna do this forever, I wanna be an artist, and you know, is it a lot of work?
– And I tell them I haven’t worked for 15 years, and I work my ass off every day.
– So, I love what I do. I really do love what I do, and I work hard at it. I work hard at doing what I do and what I love, and if I thought it was work, I wouldn’t do it.
– It’s you know, but I do work my butt off every day. And yeah, my business side has been absolutely excruciatingly horrible, you know, but now I know I have–
– But that’s gonna change.
– some firm ground underneath us, it’s gonna change.
– That’s gonna change though.
– I’m so excited about it.
– You’re gonna work smarter now.
– Well here’s the great thing, I’m gonna share something–
– We just saved you $6000, Gene.
– Well you actually just made me another thousand because, I was gonna share this with you. Previously, when I first signed up for the class a few weeks back, I had planned to go on a vacation, we always have our big art walk, and it just happened to be right in the middle of vacation, and I was thinking well I have to close my studio down, I’m not gonna be there, and I’m really stressed about it, and then I realized that– we got interference over here.
– Tell them to go away.
– But I realized that um, yeah, go away. But I realized that you know I have a stable environment now where I could just walk away and not be so stressed about it, and I actually sold a painting while I was gone, so I didn’t really have to be there, which was
– another great lesson for me
– to know that. Yeah, so that was wonderful.
– All right, so, see, it’s working already.
– It’s working already.
– Workin’ already, awesome. All right, well thank you very much Gene, I appreciate your time, I appreciate your willingness to share, and I encourage you to ask for more support, that’s what the group is for, and, you know, when you see somebody else in a pickle, bail them out.
– Absolutely, absolutely. And we’re not alone, we’re all crazy, but we can all be crazies together.
– That’s right! You’re not alone, not anymore. Not anymore you’re not, okay?
– Thank you! Take care.
– Thank you!
– All right, ‘bye Rambo!
“Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.” – Andy Warhol Apply Now
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