Episode 172 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Your attitude

Chapter 12

Your attitude

As I am sure you know, your attitude plays a crucial role in how you use this book and how you make it in the art world.

On one level, it is simplistic. When you are feeling good, it tends to rub off on others, and the opposite, of course, is also true. When you are enthusiastic about your work, your life, and the latest thing you are working on, those around you share that enthusiasm, and it can only work to your benefit.

The trick is figuring out how to maintain that level of feeling good every day, or at least on most days. For artists of all types, I think that one of the biggest issues is to work on your career on a regular basis. If you are using the time management techniques in here and are spending at least thirty minutes a day, four days a week on the work that it takes to get your art seen in the world, it will have a profound and positive effect on your career. By committing yourself to such a schedule, you are also telling your- self that you are in control of your life and that you are working towards a goal. That in itself will not only put a smile on your face and some self-assurance in your step, but will also prevent the feeling of being unsure about the next steps you are taking.


Another aspect to consider is your general health. While this may seem obvious, artists operate under certain myths about partying. Drinking alcohol and doing any kind of drugs will not help in giving you access to the art world of your dreams. I am not saying that you should never drink alcohol and go to a party, but I am saying it would help to be conscientious about it. At openings for galleries, it is not helpful to drink the alcohol unless you do it very sparingly. When you are in control and aware of what is happening, you have the ability to really make things happen. Sincere enthusiasm is catchy, but slightly drunk enthusiasm is viewed suspiciously. Wouldn’t you view it the same way? There are artists that have been notorious party animals, but it is often to their detriment, either healthwise or in terms of their career. It is just easier to function and be ambitious when you are feeling healthy. It is very easy for artists to get involved in addictions to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, food, sex, or something else, because to be an artist, you have to create your own structure, and since most don’t create that structure, they are in an environment that is unstructured and vulnerable to doubt. General well-being is also an important contributor to your attitude. Again, this may be obvious, but if you don’t practice it, it will not help you. To be healthy, really healthy, you need to do some kind of vigorous exercise every day. That could be walking at a quick pace for thirty minutes or working out at the gym or something similar, but it means sticking to a schedule.

Eating Habits

How you eat is another step, and a major one in my experience, of controlling your mood and attitude. I became a raw foodist at one point, meaning that I only ate salads, more or less. I didn’t cook anything; I ate plenty of fruits, nuts, and lots of greens with avocados and tomatoes and other delicious vegetables. I did not eat bread or grains of any kind. I also started to fast once a week. The way I fasted was to drink only distilled water for an entire day. I would fast every Sunday and eat raw food for the rest of the week. That in itself changed my life. The first big show I had at the Whitney Biennial came when I was a raw foodist. There is an incredible feeling to seeing quite clearly that everything you eat looks like it came from a plant or a tree. I lost weight and began biking every day and felt like a million bucks. This may not be the diet for you, but the more salads you eat, the better you will feel. Experiment and see. After eating raw food for several months or even days, have a plate of pasta or a bagel and see how it feels. In my experience, it feels awful, and suddenly I become sluggish and tired. That feeling of being tired extends to everything. You’ve felt that, I’m sure. Once you are tired, or not feeling well, all your best-laid plans are useless. There are plenty of books on the raw food diet and also books on how to fast, but make it easy on yourself and just try to swap out regular meals for a salad at least a few times a week, and you will feel better and have more energy to pursue the plan you have created with this book.

Stress, Anxiety, Depression

If you have serious depression, consult a physician; the other method to battle stress, anxiety, and depression is to meditate. While fasting, raw food, and exercise are important for health, stress is not managed entirely that way. As you move through your career, you will have ups and downs, and the downs can be difficult to manage if you don’t have a plan to deal with it. Meditation is simple, and it is the answer to stress that affects nearly all of us. You don’t need to take classes in meditation in my opinion, any more than you need to take classes in how to breathe. It is very simple. Sit in a comfortable chair every morning and set a timer for ten minutes. If you don’t have a timer, you can sit near a clock and open your eyes occasionally to check the time. With your eyes closed, breathe in and count to yourself starting with the number one. Then breathe out and say the number two, breathe in for three, and so on until you reach ten, and then start over again. Do not worry about other thoughts coming into your head; just continue to focus on counting. If you go over ten by accident, just start over at one. It is best to do this twice a day, in the morning and before you go to bed. It is an ancient technique that really works, try it. If you want to know exactly what I do, take a look at my daily calendar online and you will see my schedule of exercise and meditation on a daily basis, as well as the deadlines I am watching.


While almost everything in this book is geared to help you make it, there is as much to be said for helping others along the way. It is all too common to hear artists who are jealous of other artists’ success. One of the cures for this unfortunate emotion is to be consciously generous to other artists in particular. Examples are to listen closely to friends’ ideas and help them sort things out or encourage them when you see them hesitate to pursue a dream. One of the online fund-raising platforms, kickstarter.com, is a good way to be generous with your money. I’m sure you have heard this can work both ways, so it is important to be financially and emotionally supportive of other artists. That means anything from lending your friend money to supporting several artists for a dollar or more each on kickstarter.com. You can go there now and begin to be a philanthropist for very little money. It will make you feel good and also give you a taste of what it is like to get letters from people thanking you for your generosity. Some of those letters will make you smile more than others, and that will be a tool to illustrate the pleasure of giving.

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 140 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / How to Get Experience

How to Get Experience

What he did next was to go out and meet more artists at gallery openings. He met some that he liked, looked at their websites, and downloaded images that represented the artists. Then he printed out many of those images and made a portfolio of the artists he liked. He went to different stores—Diesel was one of them—and said he wanted to curate a show in their space. He told them it would bring in more people, create more publicity for them, and raise their profile in the arts. He was dealing with a major store, a corporation, so after he asked around and submitted a proposal, he didn’t hear for several months. Then he got the job. They were paying him to curate a show, the first one he had ever curated! This alone is the envy of thousands of curators who graduate every year from prestigious schools, armed with knowledge, but not a plan! He continued to do this kind of work. He used the press he had gotten from Diesel and asked other stores and companies the same thing. Only two years later, I saw him at Art Basel Miami Beach, and he was promoting a book that he curated himself. He asked a group of artists to each rework a masterpiece, and he called the book Remastered.



Since then he has been doing curatorial projects for all kinds of companies and calls his curatorial business “Formavision.” He says, “Through Formavision, I have curated the AQUOS Project for Sharp, the Denim Gallery for Diesel, the Starbucks Salon for Starbucks, Construkt for Girbaud, among other things, and am now also developing projects for Coca-Cola and Toyota.” Pretty impressive for a guy with no art background, don’t you think? And this is a job title you will not find in any art college. He created this job, this income stream. After he put together a show for Starbucks, where he chose the artists that were to be in the café and a few performers, he also started to design the whole show, how the works would be hung, the color of the paint on the walls, everything! Now his job title has shifted again; he is an exhibition designer as well as an interior designer because now he can redesign your space as well.

Incredible, isn’t it? He built a whole company out of a passing interest that got him excited. You could certainly do the same, but what does he know that you might not know? For one, he has a background in marketing and brand recognition. That means when he writes to Starbucks or another business, he doesn’t just tell them his idea; he talks about branding and what is good for their company.

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 130 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Small Steps Get You Very Far

 Small Steps Get You Very Far

This is the beginning of a big step because if you can get used to managing thirty minutes of your time, five days a week, you can begin to manage other portions of your time as well. And soon, decisions you make in your daily life will be adjusted according to the schedule in your head that you are always looking forward to. Managing your time this way gives you more energy because you are excited about what is happening and there is literally more time in the day to do what you want. When it comes to inspiring stories on time management, just look to people who seem to be doing the impossible.

Not long ago, I was reading the obituary of Rosetta Reitz; do you know who she is? She died at eighty-four years of age in New York City and had a remarkable life. She raised three children as a single mother, and at the same time pursued her career as a jazz historian, writing about women in jazz. She also wrote the first book by a woman on the subject of menopause and, as an entrepreneur, opened a small bookstore and started a record label, and kept working her day jobs to pay bills. Her day jobs were answering calls in a classified advertising department and waiting on tables. Her list of accomplishments actually goes on quite a bit more, but this is enough to seem extraordinary, don’t you think? How is it that she raised three children on her own with side jobs and at the same time wrote books, had meetings with all kinds of people, went to jazz clubs, made new friends constantly, and hatched new entrepreneurial ideas that worked?

Being Passionate Helps

Certainly, her passion is the greatest factor since, in general, everything else was against her! After she had decided what she was going to do with her life, or even if she just decided one project at a time like, “I will write a book,” she then had to carry through on her promise to herself, in whatever form. Her given task was to raise these kids, make money, and do a lot more things. So she had to make time on a regular basis to do all of this. The method she used was the same that people have been using for centuries when they need to get something done: She dedicated a particular time every day to the task. Take weekends off, but stay the course, stick to the path, and complete it! There are several methods to try, but here are a few to get you going.

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 86 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Faking It

Faking It

Each thing you do to get your work out there is another step to build your sense of worth about who you are and what you have to offer. Another way to look at the issue of confidence is to begin by faking it. We have all been to interviews or situations where we were being evaluated, and rather than have the sense of self necessary to master the situation, we can get through it by acting as though we are calm and collected, even when we aren’t. When you are asked in a job interview if you can handle the job and if you have doubts about your abilities, what are you going to say? It is the same with your artwork, only the situation is a bit more tricky because you made the work yourself and have a very personal relationship to it. Therefore your approach has to be careful and planned.

Sometimes it is nice to see what it feels like on the other side for just a moment, so here is one exercise I like to do. Wherever you are, dress conservatively and go to a gallery that is the largest you know and preferably the most intimidating. Once you are at the gallery, look around at the artwork there and ask to speak to someone about it. Either a gallery employee or the owner will come out. They have no idea how much money you have, so ask the person approaching you to tell you more about the piece of art you are looking at. What you will hear and see is the selling of an artwork. And since you are perceived as a possible collector, they will do their best to sell you the work. The advantage to this is twofold. On one hand, you get to be the person in power, the collector, and on the other, you can watch as the gallery owner tries to sell your work.

The insight that you can gain here from listening is how they describe the art and what they do to try and sell the work. Pay careful attention because this is how the gallery owner likes to hear about work. You will learn how to describe and talk about art in terms of its value. Be sure to ask questions, such as, “Has the artist sold many of the works in this show?” or, “Why is the work valued at that price?” This can be fun and very educational. It could even start a new career for you as an art buyer for collectors.

However, for the purpose of this chapter, it is also about building confidence and getting out into the world of galleries without having to feel as though you are ready for it.

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 85 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Confidence and Why It Matters

Confidence and Why It Matters

The role of confidence in your art-making is one of the corner- stones of being a professional. If you can’t find a way to become confident about what you do, it will translate that way to the buying public. The first step to take, or acknowledge, is that you have something to say, a desire to share your work with the world. After asking yourself this question, “Do I have something worth sharing?” think carefully about your answer. Perhaps you are not sure, or maybe you do think you might have something worth sharing. Take your time with this question, because if you look over all the reasons you have to be an artist, one of them is surely that you have something to offer the world that is yours alone.

Art should be fun

Often when I am working with artists as a mentor, this is the biggest issue. Confidence is often something that is built up slowly, and deliberately. One woman I worked with didn’t show her work in almost ten years, and she was in her fifties, trying to sell work again. To build her confidence, she began applying to juried shows that you will see on lists like artdeadlines.com. They are not too difficult to get into and often cost you money, and may not be the best shows, but they build confidence because you will be accepted into many of them.

Then she went to the local council on the arts and found out about other shows in her area that were juried and began applying to all of them. Soon she got into a local show, not at a gallery, but a center for the arts or a library. It may not seem like a big show, but it built her confidence, and she was able to move on. One of the most important issues is how you communicate what it is you do and what kind of work you do. It is this that builds confidence, if you can answer that quickly and with a sense of enthusiasm.

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 70 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Hype (Motivation) and Action

Hype (Motivation) and Action

There is a lot to be said for motivating words, especially if they make you feel better. Of course, it is also sad to get all pumped up by someone or something only to be deflated when your expectations aren’t met. Like making a new relationship, it is good to approach with caution, lest you be hurt too easily. This is a motivational book, I believe, and that is partially my intent, but the motivational part is also the by-product of techniques that work and my own sense of enthusiasm. In several chapters, I will discuss the role of attitude and creating your own hype in a sense, but it all boils down to your intent.

If you are looking for ways to become more energized, more focused, and more productive, your intent is to create, and if you are creating something wonderful, you will be enthusiastic about it. It is enthusiasm that is being roused by a good motivational text; it is your own sense of power and your ability to change and create. Whenever you speak enthusiastically about what you are doing or who you are, it is magnetic. People are drawn to others who are excited about something. It can be very serious or dark even, but you can still have enthusiasm about it. And since we all want to be happier in some respect or more joyous, then enthusiasm is one of the things we can look forward to. And it is something we can create.

In the chapters and the workbook, we will unlock your own stories and concepts that will generate interest from other people and the press.

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 66 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / The Artist Stereotype

The Artist Stereotype

One of the most crushing ideas or mythologies for artists is that you are more “pure” if you don’t promote yourself. We have been raised on these stories, and it has seeped into the minds of many artists and has stopped them from achieving their potential. You know the phrases: “He died penniless, not knowing his contribution,” “She always struggled with money,” “He never sold a painting and died without friends.” We know the stories of Van Gogh and many others that fit those phrases. And we also know how it feels to tell your parents you want to be an artist and the instant financial concern they might have for you, not to mention your friends and other relatives! I just recently read about the story of Vivian Maier, a photographer who produced over one hundred thousand photographic images from the 1950s to the 1990s. Her images were found at a yard sale. When the buyer posted some of them on Flickr, the photo-sharing site, she became an instant celebrity because the images are beautiful. Now a book and a movie will be made about her. She died before she knew of any of this. She was also homeless for a while until two children that she was a nanny for helped her by paying for an apartment and her bills. It is an incredible story. A sad story and a poignant one. When the newspapers caught hold of this story, they ate it up. It fits the age-old myth of the artist. The newspapers commented that she was a pure artist because among other things, she seem to have no commercial interests at all when making art. How infuriating that was to read! Another nail in the coffin for artists everywhere trying to earn money! I think the way this is interpreted by many artists is to take it to heart and victimize themselves by thinking they must not earn money in order to be pure, whatever that means. (More about Maier in chapter 11.)

Please, if there is one thing you take from reading this book, it should be that those stories are not only dead, they are counterproductive and can only serve to bring you down emotionally and prevent you from moving forward. Embrace the new economy that is all around us. You are valuable, your work is valuable, and as a contributor to culture, you need to live and thrive off of your work. At the very least, you need the opportunity to thrive off of your work.

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 65 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / Creative Ideas Are Needed

Making It in the Art World


I am writing this book to change the world. Artists are at the forefront of creative tactics that can alter not only how we perceive our lives, but how we live them.

This book is for the professional artist or the artist who wants to learn to be a professional.

If you are an artist, you are a leader. If you are a leader, you must make a stand and tell everyone who you are and why they should listen to you. In this hypercompetitive world, you must be brave, and embrace your genius, or your voice will be silenced by those around you who are not afraid to speak up.

When I grew up in the ’70s, my parents were teachers, and like all the other parents I knew, they worked a lot, bought a house, and made a modest living. I was told to go to college, get a degree, and pursue my interests. But since my interests were art, when I graduated, there were no jobs in the arts except for teaching, and I didn’t want to teach. Also, I wanted more: I wanted to be an artist and live by my own rules.

The New Economy

Let’s look at the economy. In the last century, we have been taught to get a job, go to work, pay the bills, and everything will be all right. The capitalist system needs workers, and schools turned them out. People took jobs they didn’t like and dealt with it until they retired. For the majority of the working class, their life was devoid of realizable dreams, of plans, because no one encouraged it. After coming home from a soul-crushing job, there wasn’t time to pursue what it is you love or even to explore what it is you might love. What is the answer? Fantastic state-sponsored advertising told us the new answer for many was the lottery. Buy a ticket and you can quit your job, then the dream begins. Unfortunately, the lottery made things worse, because now all your dreams are in one basket, and the chance of them coming true is practically zero. It is no wonder we see a rise in antidepressants; life is laid out to be a mediocre exercise in making money, managing stress, and taking care of your family. Now the economy is even worse, and when you get out of college, even getting a mediocre job is very difficult. The competition is growing all the time. So now people go around grousing about how the rich get richer, and all that serves to do is keep them in their place of mediocrity, of not taking risks, and getting a prescription for antidepressants or worse. Don’t play that game; it’s just what the man wants, and it will keep you down and stop you from doing anything creative.

What this new economy needs is innovators. Don’t look for gallery approval, hoping to be taken care of like a pampered pup; those days are long gone. The artists who are really making money, like Damien Hirst, are finding ways to bypass the gallery system. Even graffiti artists like Banksy are finding ways to bring their work to market without a gallery, without a middleman.

Creative Ideas Are Needed

As an artist, you stand on the edge of a new frontier. The world is waiting for your ideas. Companies everywhere are looking for creative ideas, and people all over the globe want to be inspired by something new; they want an example that they can follow and do by themselves. As an artist, it is your job to generate new and creative ideas. Galleries can still be useful, but they are a small part of the game now.

In the middle of one of the worst economies in decades, a website came along called Kickstarter that was launched in April of 2009. The idea was to provide a platform for creative people to show off their ideas and raise money for it. By 2010, Kickstarter was the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world; millions of dollars go through it every month, right into the hands of artists. Where did all that money come from in this terrible economy? From people everywhere who want to see creative ideas and projects like making music, inventions, and artworks be part of this culture.

You are being called upon to lead the next generation! As an artist, you have a big advantage, because you already know how to think creatively, and if you look at the Kickstarter website, you can see that the world values creativity.

Now it is time to make it; now is the time to show the world that you are a leader and have something to offer. Your art, your creative ideas, your willingness to be able to take a risk for what you believe in are all part of the new economy that you must engage unless you want to keep looking for a job that is boring, dull, and will suck the creative life right out of you.

This book will give you tools to pursue your dreams, and the workbook that is included at the end of every chapter is a way for you to make a contract with yourself about realizing those dreams and making a plan for them to happen! You can download the workbook on the link below.

I am the artist

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 64 – The Art World Demystified by Brainard Carey / Motivation


There is no greater stumbling block for an artist than rejection. Even after a great solo show is mounted, if there are little or no sales, it can send an artist into a downward spiral. How can anyone withstand these slings and arrows? As Robert Storr alluded to in the first interview, it is about what you do with failure. We will all fail at a variety of attempts and projects, but how will you retool that failure so you can even use it to move forward? That is a personal technique not taught by schools or mentors, but by the passion that exists with you, within any given individual. It has also been said that art should be something that you must be compelled to do by an inner desire, a force you can’t stop.

I think that is one way to battle failure, to never give up, but there are other ways as well.

Another way is to approach failure as a learning tool. If you were a scientist, failure would not be considered a mistake or setback, but needed information to make something better. In art it is similar, we could choose to look at mistakes, setbacks and rejections as tools to make a better presentation, a better series of works, etc.

Another way to endure and retool failure might be to grin and bear it so to speak. That is, to keep working, keep making art, even if you are feeling set back by failure or disappointment.

Have faith that the sheer continuance of working will generate a break through and you will work with a lighter burden.

Another way to deal with failure is to give up. Leave your studio. Go somewhere that is at least 3,000 miles away or the furthest you can go. Stay there for three days to a week, don’t make art. Just think. Then come back and begin again.

There are many ways you could deal with setbacks and challenges, but an awareness that you are in a battle might help, especially if you gather fellow friends, peers, who are all in this with you together.

John Currin talked about friends just getting together to help each other. You could call it a support group, but it comes in many forms, and could also be a salon, or a revolution or a reading group.

Finding a group of friends that is supportive is also I believe what might save our planet, our species! More and more articles are written about our relative isolation as a community in our jobs and homes as opposed to working together with friends all day and eating and dancing afterwards.

A community that eats, dances and works together is a happy one it seems. I hope that some of the suggestions in this book will bring you more relationships, more friends, maybe even more dancing, and more laughing.

After all, “it’s who you know”, as they say, so why not get busy having fun and meeting people!

It’s why we are here on the planet I believe – we are here to make more friends, to be generous and kind, to dance and sing.

Phrases like that may sound like the  stuff of cliché, but as artists, we are the ones to actually make that happen, we are the ones to gather friends, to invite others to dance, and ultimately to invite others to experience a universal form – your form – of beauty, which of course, is art.

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.


Episode 63 – The Art World Demystified by Brainard Carey / Believing in Yourself

Self-worth, delusion, and other aspects of how an artist presents herself is essential to any artists’ career. Enthusiasm is a big part of the puzzle to learn how to make contacts and influence people.

The idea of “believing in yourself” has a different meaning for artists, because it is not initially about self-esteem or confidence, even with psychological issues aside, artists tend to have one thing in common. It is a belief in something they do, however small or large – and that is what makes an artist different from every other professional. For some it starts in childhood, but either way, the seed is always there. Then the belief has to be nurtured to some degree, by a parent, or a teacher, or a friend, and then you learn to nurture it yourself by making more art and exploring more ideas, in most cases. So this process of “believing in yourself” to me, means to keep working in the studio or wherever you work, because the art is the center of it all of course. If you do too much “business” or “networking” you will lose studio time and a balance is necessary. The center is always the studio.

The idea of the “artfully constructed personality” is not always as cold as it sounds. Andy Warhol might have been an example of a certain ‘atsy’ self-consciousness about how he appears and acts in public. Dali and others were performers in that sense as well, but Warhol seemed to play up his ability to bore rather than entertain. Another example of an artfully constructed personality is Lady Gaga the performer who once said that Stephanie Germonatta (her real name) could never be as bold and do the things Lady Gaga does.  

I mention these examples to say you can take “believing in yourself” to another level as well, and construct an artful approach to dress, manner of speech, and ambitions. It would be perfect for experimenting with while networking and meeting people, but of course you already have your own style, it’s just a matter of doing it more and trying new approaches.

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.