Episode 111 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Fund-raising Advice

Fund-raising Advice

This is the last reason I am going over out of the three reasons to ask someone for a meeting. We talked about having tea to discuss a project and also talked about an invitation to a studio visit. The last one is to have a meeting over tea or in an office about fund- raising. That is, how to raise money for yourself. That money could be for a trip you want to take, for tuition to college, for a new body of work you want to make, really anything that sounds interesting (just not living expenses, because that is less exciting to talk about). So think about what you might want to raise money for; you probably already know. The next step for you in the scenario is to meet the person for a conversation at a museum café or their office. Your goal is to talk with them about supporting something, to help raise money for something of yours. You do not have to bring anything with you in the first meeting. In fact, I wouldn’t. If you really think this person might be able to help financially or have friends that could, it is easiest to just talk without documents.

The First Meeting

You are building trust in the first meeting. You are establishing a level of comfort between you two, so illustrations and documents aren’t needed unless you feel strongly about it for some reason. In this meeting, you are telling the person about what you are doing and why you are raising money. But first, to make it easy, you can start by asking them questions. How are they, how is work, or what do they do exactly, or some question like that. That is a technique I often use, to ask someone several questions before I begin to talk about myself. Also, the more you learn about the person you are meeting before you ask them about fund-raising, the better. Imagine if they have an annual fundraiser that is hugely successful and you didn’t know about it. That is why it is very important to always research the person you are meeting as much as possible so you don’t make an error like that! Also, when you have researched the person well, you will know what contacts they have access to and what kind of activities they are involved in. Don’t hesitate to ask them about things you know they are doing. It is a great way to show that you know who they are. That will flatter them, and as they say, you will get everywhere!

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 110 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Closing a Deal

Closing a Deal

The last step is to get the check or cash in your hand. This is the part where you must be brave. Even gallery owners have difficulty closing a sale, but it is not that difficult. Like before, making the person comfortable is the first step, and after talking to them and involving them in the work, you can say something like, “Would you like to have this?” It is simple and bold, but they have to respond while you are smiling, waiting for an answer. They will probably say something like, “Yes, but… ”And then if you want to be smooth but effective, interrupt with, “For only $100, you could have it—as a down payment.” They are still comfort- able; you have gotten to the point quickly.

If they want to purchase something from you, you have made it easy, and if not, they can get out quickly now. They will either say, “No thank you,” and you can leave it there and go on with the story, or they will say, “$100?” And then you say, “I will negotiate, but for a $100 deposit, it’s yours, and then we can work out a payment arrangement for the rest.” If they still seem at all interested, you can go on to say, “The total cost is $5,000, but yes, for a small deposit and what- ever arrangement we make, it’s yours. I could have it delivered next week.” That may have seemed aggressive to you, but it is a polite, brief way to get the visitor to agree to your terms and get it out of the way. Otherwise, it is also a way to end the conversation about it if they are not interested.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 109 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / The Studio Tour

The Studio Tour

Take your visitor around assuming that they are feeling a bit shy and are not sure what to say. In most cases, this is the fact; how would you feel in a new studio where you do not know anyone and were being shown art? The way to break the ice easily is to tell a story about one of the pieces. This can be wide open, but it is an important talking point when someone visits the studio; telling a story can relax both you and the visitor. They are in a foreign place, so take them by the hand (not literally, but figuratively) and bring them to your work, or get them something to eat and then bring them over to a work and tell them a story. It could be anything, but something authentic, something you can easily remember. You could talk about how you built the painting, what was in your mind.

If there are things in your image that you can decode or explain for the viewer, they are more drawn in. Give them tools to feel comfortable by describing what you like about the painting, what works, what doesn’t work, even. You are educating the viewer on the process of looking at art. Everyone loves this no matter how sophisticated or amateur a viewer they are because they are learning, and that is a reward in itself. If you practice this with different people, you will get better. You will get better at telling a story and then involving the viewer in your story. That is the next-to-the-last step in this process, and we are far into it now. You have met, written to, and finally gotten a studio visit from a curator or helpful person and they are in your studio.

The final step is telling them a story and becoming better at involving them in the story. For some this comes naturally, but for most it does not. After you pick a story of some kind and feel comfortable telling it, then ask your viewer questions that can bring them in. Because no one wants to hear a lecture on your art, they want to relate to it, they want to feel that they have a personal connection to it. The only way they will get a personal connection is for you to help them make it. If at some point you are telling a story and it involves an encounter, you can ask, “Has that ever happened to you?” or something similar and get them to start talking about their experiences. Then at some point, bring it back to your work. Then do it again; ask them more questions so they would begin telling the story of the painting with you. Now you have a fan and an admirer.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 108 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / A Studio Visit

A Studio Visit

You may also be making the meeting with one or all of the people you have met at openings, so you can bring them to your studio to look at your work and possibly buy it. We are talking here about building relationships in the art world. And if step one is to go out and talk to people a bit, then step two is to make a meeting with them, and step three is asking them something in that meeting, and for this example, what you are asking for is a studio visit.

A studio visit is special because it is so intimate and the viewer is investing a lot of time in coming to your studio and looking around. Also, for people who are not artists themselves, going to an artist’s studio is a very unusual and even exotic adventure. The key to getting a studio visit is to make the person you are asking feel comfortable with you. If you are just getting to know someone, asking them to come to your home or studio may seem a bit forward. The easiest way to get around this is to have a very small party.

Invite six or seven people over, depending on the size of your studio. These people should all be persons who have an interest in your art and are not fellow artists or family. If you have a small gathering like this, you can ask the person you are meeting if they could come to a small party at your studio. If you ask them this directly, they will answer directly and perhaps ask you which day. Be ready to have a day in mind, then get people there! The way to have a party like this is to invite the right crowd.

Welcome to my studio

People who are either fans of yours already or new people that are learning about you are the ones to invite. You do not want this to turn into a party where people are drinking and talking or dancing. You should have wine and cheese there, but it is a very sober event where you are there to talk about your work. That is a very important consideration when deciding how you will have a party or give a tour of your studio. The setting has to be very focused on your work. Remember your goals when you are showing someone your work; you want to sell them one of your pieces, you want them to take an interest in you and the way you work, and you want them to come back again.

So a good technique to get the person who is a new relationship over to your studio or home is to have a party, a small gathering, and have a little wine and cheese, and keep the event to a two-hour window, like three to five o’clock or in the early evening. Keep in mind that you want them to buy something, but in the first visit, just make them comfortable. If you have any press clippings or reviews of some kind or a book, have them all in a little pile somewhere in the studio that is within reach.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 107 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / What to Discuss

What to Discuss

Will you discuss your project? Now that we have some sense of what a project is, you can decide if you are the kind of artist that wants to talk about that. If you do, then of course decide first what your project is. Let’s say it is the project where you want to exhibit your paintings and also have some type of entertainment with the opening or even part of the exhibit. The entertainment, jugglers, let’s say, help reflect what is happening in the artwork as well, or have some connection to it. It could also be people meditating in the room. If this is the project, then the reason you would like to meet Ms. X or Mr. X from the museum party is to discuss a project, an event that you could use advice on. One of the key words there is “advice.” Keep in mind when you are sending emails and asking people for a meeting, what you want is their advice. Be clear about this in your email to them asking for a meeting in a café or their office. If you have to elaborate with them on the phone, just say it is an art event  that you are planning and looking at different options to produce it, and you would like to share the idea with them and ask their advice. Then you actually have your meeting, and you discuss your project.

To present your project at a meeting, do the following: Bring a sheet of paper that has the project described on it in brief terms. The kind of text you might see on the wall of a museum, explaining what you are about to see, written for the general public. With that sheet of paper, bring no more than six printed images that represent your project. I strongly suggest you bring even less, like three images, and your page of text, in total. What you will do is talk and show only a little bit. That is why it is very important not to show images on a computer unless really necessary. This meeting is about building a relationship, not a lecture on your work. So bring something to the table in a manila envelope with your sheets of paper. Bring an extra copy of the text. After sitting down, first talk a bit about what the project is. You are a painter and you want to have an event and bring in different elements to build excitement and to have a memorable time. When you are ready, you can show your friend a few of the eight- by-ten images you have printed out. Do not give them the text yet, just talk about the show and how you see the whole project coming together. After answering any questions, it is time for you to ask a question.

In this instance, your question might be, “Do you know of any venues where I might create this event?” Then wait for an answer. This is the kind of question that can get you a lot of help because the person you are talking to can evade his or her direct help by offering you names or resources to go to. You could also ask, “Do you know who might be interested in getting involved with a project like this?” Again, the idea here is to get pointed in different directions, to other people or institutions. Because after you are done with this meeting, you will ideally have a few references and leads in your hand to make other relationships. And now it is getting personal, because so-and-so just referred you to someone and you can use their name. That is one example of how to present a project to a new acquaintance that might be able to help you either through their primary network or business or by referring you to a friend or resource. This tactic will work for curators as well as collectors or those just interested in the arts. Let’s move on to other things you might ask them.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 106 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Meeting to Talk about a Project

Meeting to Talk about a Project

If you are meeting with someone to talk about a project of yours, then say in your letter to them that you would like to ask their advice about your project. The idea of a project, so to speak, is really very new. What is a “project” in terms of art and the art world? Though the definition will change with time, I am sure, at the moment, a “project” is a fairly vague term that describes an idea an artist has, which either incorporates the artist’s art into an event of her making, or is an idea that is purely creative and has very few, if any, boundaries. An example of the former would be, “My project is to exhibit my paintings in a room meant for relaxation and meditation.” An example of no boundaries: “My project is to wish for one hour a day in silence for a year, trying to get the moon to change its axis.”

Those two examples are very different. The first we can understand very easily. If you are having a show of your paintings and you want to incorporate dancers, music, entertainers, or anything else into it, you are creating a project. It is simple really, just a restatement of explaining your artistic intentions in an exhibit beyond the artwork itself. An idea, in essence, that is about how your work is presented to the public with an aware- ness that the idea itself can be part of the art.

In the second example, about wishing for an hour a day, for a year, to change the moon’s axis, there is more flexibility because anything is possible. It is, of course, also very abstract. But a project in this realm means it could be entirely a thought about something. Because of the times we are living in, art has come to the point where collectors and the rest of the art world are open to hearing something new. They are open to hearing any idea from any artist because anyone can have a new idea or project or way of seeing the world that is of interest.

And that is what we are talking about here. We are discussing what you will say to the person you have met at the museum. What is it that you will talk about over tea with them in a café?

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 105 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / The Right Questions to Ask

The Right Questions to Ask

The question to determine when meeting people is how can they help you? How do you know if you are in front of someone who could really do something for you? The more questions you ask them, the better position you will be in. Sometimes I ask the fairly dry question, “What brought you here?” And try to find out more about what interests them in the arts. Because I am always endlessly surprised when I ask people what it is they do; people tell the most amazing stories. And often the connection we have is much more than what I might have presumed. The idea is to just talk, ask questions, explore, and you will meet very engaging people that will inspire you. Ask what their favorite piece is in the show, or why they like or dislike something.

The next step is to keep in touch with them by getting their email address, ideally, and mailing address. One way to get their address is to say, “I would like to keep in touch,” and hand them your card. If they don’t offer it, ask if you can have their card, and they will give it to you. If for some reason they don’t have a card, you can ask for their email and enter it into your smartphone. If you don’t want to do that, just say thank you and that you will be in touch. It is easy to get almost anyone’s email address, and you can always look it up afterward. Now that you have one or more email addresses of people you have met who seem like they could buy your art or fund a project, you need to write a letter.

Your letter should be polite, brief, and end on a positive note. Be friendly and ask the person you just met for a date to have tea. That’s right, the next step is to take the conversation away from the party and away from the museum or institution and into a café where you can ask them to be involved in a project or ask for advice on fundraising, or for a studio visit. Now, let’s take those one at a time. There are certainly many more things you can ask for and base a meeting on, but for now, let’s go over these examples: a project, a studio visit, and fund-raising advice.

Taking your art seriously

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 104 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Making Real Friends

Making Real Friends

The steps to begin building relationships are not that hard to follow, but first you have to decide what kind of friends you really want. If you are trying to build your career, to become a professional artist by doing your best to exhibit and earn a living from your work, then you need people who will support that effort. You want to meet collectors, gallery owners, curators, directors of nonprofits, and many more. In the workbook for this section, we will write down some names and groups to contact. The next step is to get out of the house and do what is perhaps the most difficult part: begin talking! To begin with, as I have said, you should start by finding out what museums and galleries are in your area and the dates of openings of art or even poetry readings or other events at the  museum.

This is the way you will meet interesting people and have friends that can help you. The reason you are going to the museum events, besides it being fun, is that there are often collectors and the supporters of the museum at the openings. There are others who are simply interested in art. It will pay to do a little research before you go to the museum. It will help if you go to the museum’s website and find the list of museum supporters and board members. If they have pictures, look at them and read the little bios about each one. Consider printing out the pages of brief descriptions of some of the people you may meet at the museum opening. Have fun with this; it’s like being a detective. Yes, it is calculated, and so will be the expressions of your desires if you take things step by step in this fashion.

Real Friends are helpful

Openings and Parties

The next step is, of course, to actually go to the openings or events one or two nights a week and do very little at first, just look around. Enjoy the art, the atmosphere, have a few nibbles, but not any wine, yet. If you have been researching some of the people from the museum, see if you spot anyone in the crowd. If you are there for the first time, don’t push yourself, just watch. See how people are talking to each other, watch hand gestures, and listen in on the topics of conversation. It will give you a feel of what people are taking about and how they present themselves. Take a look at what everyone is wearing. Can you tell anything about the people you are looking at? Try to figure out who looks like they work at the museum.

These are some of the games I play when I am in a new environment where there is the possibility of meeting interesting people. After watching an opening like this for a while, you can skip talking to anyone and go home the first time, or even the second time if you are feeling uncomfortable. But at some point, after going to an opening, find someone there to  talk to. If you see someone in particular like a curator or museum director you recognize, you can introduce yourself in this way: Walk over to the person you would like to talk to and, while looking in their eyes, say, “Hi, I would like to introduce myself, I am X, and I am really enjoying this show.” That or something similar is all you have to say. For many people, this is difficult at first, but you have nothing to lose, so try it! You will find after doing this a few times, it is really quite easy. After you introduce yourself and say that you like the show, you can either be silent and wait for them to respond or simply say thank you to them if you know they work with the museum. Most likely the person will say thank you, and you can leave it at that or tell the person why you liked a particular work of art there and ask them what they think. To direct the conversation to something in the room is a good technique, because then you are not focusing on either yourself or the person you are meeting, but a topic of mutual interest.

This is the way to get everywhere because as you practice, you will find that you get better at talking, better at introducing yourself. I know this may all sound very basic on some level, but it comes down to that. When you go to parties, you probably have the tendency to meet other artists and stick with them. So to meet other people there, it must be a conscious act that you do, knowing your goal is to meet new people who could help you.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 103 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Small Donations Add Up

Small Donations Add Up

Winning friends is certainly a social grace, but for the moment, consider the 2008 presidential election. Obama began running for the Democratic nomination for president against Hillary Clinton, who already had all the big Democratic donors in her pocket. Like the waiter in the previous example, he needed to raise a lot of money, ideally even more than Hillary Clinton! We know now that he did just that, and it was largely because he used the Internet extremely well as a networking tool. He went beyond traditional friends and supporters to generate new revenue and used all the social platforms to make bridges. Instead of getting the large donors, Obama raised enough money to outspend Hillary Clinton by seeking the small donors. And, as we now know, he was successful. Everyone wants a friend that will give them a break, but it isn’t always about an introduction or who you know; in fact, it is as simple or as complex as making a friend. How does one go about making friends?

Well, in the online community, there is a strategy that, again, is very similar to dating. In the business world, when you want to get some- one’s attention, you think to yourself, “What do they want?” So if you are in the business of selling golf balls and want to reach the organizer of the U.S. Open, you have to figure out what they want. Perhaps in this case, the organizer of the U.S. Open would like more sponsors, or maybe you have researched this person well and notice on their Facebook page or in the news that they have an interest in watching birds or some other hobby. One of the ways to get to this person is to ask him or her a question about birding or tell them a bird story. Does that sound strange? It is human nature; we are interested in our own ideas, hobbies, and dreams, and if someone else asks us about them or helps us, we become very interested in that person.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 102 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Relationships in the Art World and How to Maintain Them

Chapter 4

Relationships in the Art World and How to Maintain Them

As we leave the realm of formal education at the level of high school or any level of college, the choices the world presents in terms of living are quite stark. Money is king. That is it, really. It does not mean that you cannot chase your dream and have it, but you have to find a way to fund it. You must build the friendships that it takes to get there in a sincere way as well.

Wealthy Friends

Once I was in a local restaurant with my wife talking to a young, charismatic waiter who had just gained admission to an elite high school that he described as looking like Hogwarts of Harry Potter. We asked him what he wanted to do, and he said, “I want to be a governor of the state or something like that, in  politics.” As he told us more, he also described his main hurdle. All his friends, he said, come from extremely rich families, and he lives with his mother, who doesn’t have much money. The key, he said, is to figure out how to get all that money to run for office. He hoped his friends would help him, but he made clear that without a lot of money, he could not even come close to his ideas. It was exciting to hear his enthusiasm and see his bright teenage eyes. It seemed like he was making a bold move that had a good chance of working. When we came back to the restaurant a year later, we asked him how school was going. With a smile, he said he had changed his plans. He told us that the students he was working with were all very rich, and they had their own set of rules for how life works out. He said he found that their outlook was mean-spirited and he wasn’t interested. He dropped out. Now he wants to make videos but is not sure, and for the time being, he continues to work in the restaurant.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.