The new book Starting Your Career as an Artist: A Guide to Launching a Creative Life (Allworth Press/SVA) is essential reading for emerging artists or any creative professional looking for a fresh perspective on advancing their work. On Wednesday, November 18, from 6:30 – 8:30pm at the CUE Art Foundation (137 West 25th Street, ground floor), the book’s authors, Angie Wojak, director of SVA Career Development, and Stacy Miller, Ed. D., faculty at Parsons School of Design, will celebrate its publication and lead a panel discussion on social-media tactics for artists. SVA Close Up recently caught up with Wojak to discuss the book and to get some extra inside tips on how to succeed as an artist.
While writing your book, what was the most surprising thing you learned about artists and the current art field?
Actually it was speaking to a critic, Jerry Saltz, that I found most illuminating in terms of offering a fresh and optimistic perspective on artists’ careers. He shared stories of his own struggles and the challenges he’s seen artists face and said that one can have a rich life in the arts without having a large, visible presence or studio representation. We discovered in our conversations with several artists that there are many ways to find success and satisfaction in one’s career in the arts.
What are some common misconceptions artists have when they’re starting out?
Many artists believe that they need to have a gallery show, immediate exposure and success within the first year or two after college. They don’t feel their work is legitimate without that type of visibility. But in fact, it’s often the artists who take their time and build up their practice, and who define success on their own terms, who have sustainable careers over time.
What is the number one piece of advice that you would give to a young artist?
Don’t measure your success against anyone else, and that’s very difficult to do.
Also, make sure you seek out and nurture mentors. Successful artists work closely with other artists and have not one but often numerous mentors to guide them through their careers.
How important is social media for artists?
It is absolutely essential because its value goes beyond just promoting an artist’s work. Social media creates new channels for a support system with other artists, not just with potential clients. Also, social media allows artists to give their audience a deeper understanding of their processes and inspiration. You can create a personal brand, assert control over your message and strategically build your audience. One of the things we talk about in our book is the importance of aligning your goals with each different social media platform.
Who should come to the panel discussion and what will they learn?
Any emerging artist, such as someone currently studying art in an undergraduate or graduate program, would greatly benefit from the panel. Also, any mid-career artists or alumni artist, who have a studio practice and seek fresh perspectives and tips on using social media to advance their careers should attend.
Also participating in the panel discussion are artist Faith Holland, artist and assistant director of SVA Career Development Anna Ogier-Bloomer and Larry Ossei-Mensah, a cultural critic and co-founder of The Medium. A book signing will follow the talk. For more information, click here.