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Aletta de Wal
Artist Advisor & Art Marketing Strategist







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Show Some Love to Artists

An uncompetition to show some love to real successes and do overs.

Estimated time to read this tip: Under 1 minute.

“Each year on February 14th, many people exchange cards, candy, gifts or flowers with their special 'valentine.' The day of romance we call Valentine’s Day is named for a Christian martyr and dates back to the 5th century, but has origins in the Roman holiday Lupercalia.”

Artists are responsible for much of the art shared on this special and commercial occasion.

Real artists. And they come in all forms.

  • The artists who get up early to make art before going to work in an office and almost fall asleep by afternoon teatime. 

  • The artists who get up every day and plan to go to the studio first but life intervenes so they go later.

  • The artists who spend all their time in the studio and sometimes let the administration slide to finish a piece and but they catch up by tax time.

  • The artists who make it look easy and appealing despite all the behind the scenes stuff I just described.

  • The artists who keep on going anyway because they believe in what they are doing.

  • The artists I wrote about in ”My Real Job is Being an Artist.”

I’ve had a twenty-year love affair with working with these artists.

All the while I’ve written thousands of articles, workshops and TeleClasses about the art business.  

Besides my contributions, there’s more than enough advice online for artists.

You don’t need all of that advice and probably don’t need more information on everything to do with making and marketing your art.

You do need to find and use what’s out there that is relevant to your career – and not anyone else’s.

And despite all the information that is out there about the value of art and artists, the myths persist, even close to home.

You do many things that are unseen and not all that pleasant but that make seeing your art possible.

You create art that never exits your studio. Even the do-overs have a place in the creative and business process.

You bring talent, technique and your personal touch together to make masterpieces that make their way into someone else’s life.

Most of what you do goes unnoticed.

Let’s Show Some Love to Artists

No one else lives your life so unless you describe what it takes to be a real artist, the myths will win over the actuality.

One of my favorite artist advocates is Dan Duhrkoop from Empty Easel. I’ve written for his extensive blog and he’s responsible for the final smoothing edits of my book.

I asked Dan to join me in Show Some Love to Artists - a fest for artists to remind everyone that what we do is real work.

An uncompetition.

A celebration of the ups and downs of being a real artist.

Artists at any stage can enter: Hobbyists. Amateur. Emerging. Mid Career. Established. No fees. No rejection. Something easy and honest instead of hard and braggy.



Here’s how Show Some Love to Artists works:

  1. Send an email with any combination of text, images, audio and video using the free service to from February 14th to March 14th, 2017. Describe a real success or a do over. 
  2. Artist Career Training and Empty Easel will broadcast your submissions online at
  3. All entrants are invited to a free teleforum “My Real Job is Being an Artist: Discuss” on Wednesday, March 15th at 7 pm Est. Aletta de Wal will answer questions about your real job as an artist. 
  4. Make sure to include your contact information so we can send you the call information and a free chapter of “My Real Job is Being an Artist.” 
  5. 20 artists who ask real questions on the teleforum about what you really deal with will get a free autographed copy of the award winning book. 

  Happy 2017




Artist Career Training’s mission is to help you make a better living making art - and still have a life.

You don’t have to buy the book to participate in the fest. But maybe there’s an artist or art lover in your life who wants to know more about being a real artist.

Don't ignore gifts of chocolate, flowers, and paper hearts, but this book will outlast them all. And what the artist reads and uses will last even longer.

My Real Job Is Being an Artist is full of detailed information you cannot get anywhere else.

By dispelling art world myths and spelling out the realities, Aletta de Wal outlines what it really means to be a professional artist, and how to get there by taking both yourself and your artwork seriously.

These are the essentials they do not teach in art school; critical information that is more important now than ever. The world is changing, the art world is changing, economies are changing, and it is never worth giving up on your dream simply because you are lost or have been misguided.

Here is your guidebook. Find the best path to creating that life where being an artist is your day job. Alexandria Levin, Contemporary Realist (and semi-surrealist) Oil Painting at


Artist Career Training’s mission is to help you make a better living making art - and still have a life.

1 Wetransfer is not invovled in the fest. We just love their service that eliminates email problems with attachments.


Your Art Business: Big Picture | Little Details

Tax Time

Estimated time to read this tip: 2 minutes

Are you all done with your taxes for last year? Not my favorite task but so revealing a reminder about what took place in business last year, don’t you find?

So that makes this the perfect time to reimagine your art business so that you can attend to the right details from here on. This suggestion is especially for artists new to business or planning but everyone can benefit. 

Take a minute to visualize your future. 

Perhaps you are entering your studio early in the morning with a mug of steaming coffee in your hand. As you slip across the hardwood floor to your easel, a flash of movement beyond the windows draws your gaze outside. There, in the morning’s hazy light, a deer and her fawn graze beneath a tree before making their way to the edge of the creek for their morning drink. 

Maybe you prefer to imagine yourself at an opening night reception in the trendy art district, where you receive accolades by the dozens from your delighted collectors and share a wink with the gallery owner who pastes yet another red dot next to one of your gorgeous works of art. 

Whatever your imagined future looks like, keep yours fresh. 

Now delve into the day-to-day-details.

You already know that lifestyle is only a small part of a sustainable art business.

If you can also visualize getting all of your filing done, finishing the updates to your contact list after your recent show or finding a less-expensive resource for canvases that will ship to a residential address, you’ll be a whole lot closer to achieving your dreams. 

No matter how steady your habits about your art business, it's natural that something slips through the net. I’ve found that tax time is a great reason to clean up more details in my record-keeping act so my business foundation is more ready for next year. 

If you comply with common business practices and government regulations, and make a habit of consulting professionals (such as lawyers or tax accountants) when needed, you’ll be well equipped to manage your art business and avoid the pitfalls and problems that can plague the ill-prepared. 

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Trite? Yes, but it’s true. And it’s very true when it comes to business and law. Lawyers don’t do “cure” well. The whole legal system is terrible about solving problems. But business lawyers do prevention very well. A little planning can avoid problems very well. Tempting as it may be to ignore things that sound thoroughly unpleasant like business structure and regulations, spending a little time to arm yourself with information can ensure that you protect your legal rights, and that when all is said and done, that you will own what you want to own, get paid for what you want to get paid for, and keep as much money after taxes as possible.

~ Nina Yablok, business attorney

© Aletta de Wal, Artist Career Training. Reprinted with permission. My Real Job is Being an Artist, p.180 – 184.

Your Art Business is More Than Numbers

The ease with which you can prepare your taxes, or reply to any request related to your art business, is a great indicator of whether or not you are ready for that bigger future. Are you?

If you want useful links sites to get your taxes done, you’ll find them in the Appendices for Section Three: The Basics of An Art Business. 

“Congratulations Aletta on a job well done! Really impressed with the thoroughness, professionalism and positive tone of your book.” 

Artist Career Training’s mission is to help you make a better living making art, and still be able to have a life.

Could you use some help making informed decisions about your art business? 

The first 15 minutes are on me. Click here to reserve your telephone time with Aletta.


Time Shift: Make Deliberate Choices

Balancing Art, Life and Marketing

Estimated time to read this tip: 6 minutes

It’s a bright, crisp Saturday morning. I could be outside doing yard work, in my studio making art or tucked under a blanket reading a book.

Instead, I am standing at my computer; writing a new series of articles about balancing art, life and marketing

I do this kind of creative work best when I am in soft clothes and have a supply of chocolate, coffee and tea. That all spells S-a-t-u-r-d-a-y to me.

Unlike the rest of the week, on Saturdays, my business phone doesn’t ring. When I schedule a writing day, I make very few personal commitments, so I can write and take naps breaks without guilt pressure.

And I don’t feel at all deprived because I’m working.

The conventional weekday 9 to 5 schedule doesn’t work for me. By shifting my use of time, I am more efficient; more effective and everything feels a little easier.

Monday morning, I do a Pilates class and run errands when there are fewer people around and less traffic. Did I mention finding parking more easily?

I also often take micro breaks to clear my head. I’ll grab a cuppa and read art magazines or head into the studio make art in between multi-hour computer or telephone work. Kind of like a sherbet in between courses to clear your palate.

The yard work, well that gets done in perfect weather, of course.

Every Choice Has an Opportunity Cost.

As much as possible, I make deliberate choices about how I make commitments, take actions and take breaks. And that’s not done at random but within the bigger picture of course.

Naturally there are spontaneous detours when life takes a left turn when I am headed the other way. Then I rapidly assess the pros and cons of the new course as well as what I will set aside or delay.

Every time I decide to do ‘x’ instead of ‘y,’ I consider the opportunity cost of the choice - the cost of giving up ‘y’ to get ‘x.’ Like restricting or giving up certain foods for a healthier body.

Mid-career and Established Artists’ Choices

If you stick to a production schedule without fail, and let either your personal life or your business tasks slide, you’ll have art but you won’t have a life or a business.

It's better to examine the pros and cons of each decision you make, and consciously choose to be "present" in all the parts of your life.

Consider the cost of your choices, versus what you gain.

  • Do you get up early to fit in extra studio time at the cost of enough sleep?
  • Do you spend less time with your friends in order to grow your business in the evenings or on weekends?

Which choice will get you the best results for the least pain?

One problem that many artists have is how to make enough art.

A common solution is to get up early and spend two hours a day in the studio before going off to work, or to stay up after the rest of the family is asleep and do it then. If you can maintain those hours, in two years you’ll accumulate a lot of valuable experience and a much larger inventory than if you hadn’t. Of course it also means that for two years you are taking that time away from other activities.

The “opportunity cost” of making more art is less sleep and more exhaustion. If you choose to sleep longer, however, the opportunity cost could be not having enough inventory to do the shows you’ve planned for.

We often trade short-term advantages for long-term results. Some artists drink too much coffee, neglect their physical needs or stop having a social life to create more art. I don’t recommend this for anyone over twenty. It works for some artists for very short periods of time, but recovering from these bad habits can eat up precious time or damage your health later.

Sample Schedules from Working Artists

In my interviews with members of the Artist Career Training community, I ask artists to describe their typical day, week and month.  As you read their answers, you will see that there is no “one size fits all” artist schedule (phew!) Maybe you will be inspired by some of their answers:

"A typical day right now is generally split between my spiritual practice, my to-do list, my study time, and my creative exploration. Basically it's meditate, write, be productive, learn something, create something. I pretty much make art daily — or it makes me. It's not really a choice sometimes the way it unfolds."
~Peter Bragino, painter

“Discipline is important to me. I do not rely on inspiration to work. I do paint everyday if I can. On days that I do not feel like painting, I still sketch or work on things that get the creative juices flowing. I do not have set times of the day or night to paint and I like that spontaneity. Sometimes I break through the night working. Other times I start early in the morning.”
~Frank de Las Mercedes, painter 

“Three mornings of each week you can find me at hotels painting, making contacts with new people and selling prints at the galleries there. One night each week I teach a watercolor class to a local adult-education class. The other three days (yes it’s a six-day work week for me) I’m in my studio, starting new paintings, writing my e-zine, prepping for my classes or workshops, doing paperwork, and planning."
~Patrice Federspiel, watercolor artist

“I work in a very organic way. I have a general list of what needs to get done by when, and I'll tackle different parts of it each day. Unless I'm on deadline, I don't ‘force’ myself to do a particular thing at a particular time.

"I usually have 3 or 4 paintings going at a time. I give myself permission not to paint for a few days if I don't want to... the work I've produced while trying to adhere to a formal, structured schedule winds up feeling, well, formal and structured.

"My typical day starts about 6 a.m. I'll check emails, then head to the gym for an hour. Most often I'll end up doing office/computer work until lunch, then hit the studio to work on commissions, pieces for my galleries, or artwork for licensing in the afternoon. I like to go out to lunch most every day. It gives me a necessary change of energy, and allows me to keep up on my art magazine and book reading. I try to wrap things up at the studio by 5 or 6 p.m., to get home for dinner and family time.”
~Bruce Marion, abstract painter and sculptor

“I've had a full-time job for 21 years, which has afforded me plenty of vacation time. I take off a minimum of one Monday a month to devote myself totally to art. I generally paint at least one day a weekend, and several nights during the week for a few hours. I make the time to document the work I'm doing, because potential buyers always like a story about the work. When I'm just too exhausted to actually paint, I will read about art and artists.”
~Vickie Martin, mixed media artist

“During the week I generally wake up, check in with my kids and pets, and then I pour myself a cup of hot tea and cozy up next to my computer. I check my emails, update my Twitter and Facebook accounts and catch up on my other art business.

"Then, I am off to the gym for an hour class, or out hiking a mountain trail with my dogs... during the winter you can find me out skate skiing. An hour of exercise clears my head and I seem to produce better paintings this way. It's time to get into my studio and paint! I usually take an hour to two-hour lunch break (depending on if I am painting for a show or not) and use this time to run my errands in town.

"The afternoon is generally devoted to painting. (I check in with my social media sites a few times during the afternoon too!) I usually stop painting around 5:30 and start working on dinner. I am a night owl, and I sometimes get my best work done late at night. Depending on my art show schedule, I either paint or catch up on art business. In fact, right now it is 11:45 pm, and I usually have a nice cup of tea before bed.”
~Lori McNee, painter

"A typical day begins with my wife, enjoying a cup of coffee, looking out over Clam Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, watching the sunrise and the birds fishing.

"I then clear my desk of business and turn towards my easel in preparation for the day's work. When I am painting it is pure concentration and focus.

"There are, of course, days I have scheduled for errands or varnishing a painting. Some days I will paint late into the evening, but I try to wrap it up by 7 pm. I try to get in a minimum of 5 hours a day, 5 or 6 days a week.”
~Nicholas Petrucci, realist painter

“I get up some time between 10 and noon, have coffee and deal with e-mail and Twitter while I'm waking up. For the rest of the business day it's mostly phone calls and e-mail or time out in the studio. Around 6 or 7 my wife and I have dinner and we set aside 4 to 6 hours that is really just our time. Then later I may do more e-mail or project work. Obviously there are times when I might take a whole day or two in the studio.

"Most of my work is 'on demand' so I get the order, make it and go back to other tasks. I actually take downtime now, which is something I never used to do. I've decided that I should enjoy some of this too."
~John T. Unger, metal artist 

© Aletta de Wal, Artist Career Training. My Real Job is Being an Artist, p.180 – 184.

When you buy the book, you’ll find a sample 21-day schedule for artists in this section.

Buy your copy now and let me know, so I can add you to The Special Invitation List.

“My Real Job is Being an Artist is a complete guide to helping any artist realize their full professional potential. It takes a thorough and honest look at what you need to do, both in terms of artistic work and business, in order to help either partially or fully support oneself financially with art.

"The book is broken down into three sections: The career path of a visual artist, the work of a visual artist, and the basics of an art business.

"I thought that the book takes a lot of strength from being so holistic in its approach, beginning with a look at the more human and artistic side of what it takes to be a working artist. The advice ranges from having an understanding of where you are on your artist's career path and creating a realistic and effective set of goals to progress further, to specific advice such as how to behave professionally in order to create strong bonds with buyers and people you work with.

"The book also covers the ins and outs of the business and financial side, addressing things like how to price and value your work, taxes and sales information, and creating business relationships. What I liked the most about this book is how all of the information ties together.

"The author is an artist herself and has worked with many artists, and so she has great insight on how the business side of creating art may not come naturally to everyone, and she makes everything understandable and achievable.


"This is a great book for anyone trying to either figure out how to start making money off their work, or fine tune their art business.”
- Amazon Review December 2015

It’s time to make a deliberate choice to make enough space for your art, life and marketing in 2016.

Redesign your life to make room for all the things in your life that are most important to you with a experienced, compassionate guide who’ll give you the templates and the support to create a new blueprint for balancing your art, life and marketing

I created Balancing Art, Life and Marketing for artists who are done with overwhelm and are ready to be back in charge.

The first two rounds of artists who’ve participated can vouch for the process. 

Will you be the second artist in the 2016 core group?

Take a look at what’s involved and let’s talk. Then send e-mail to to start the conversation.

Remember to breathe,

Artist Career Training’s mission is to help you make a better living making art - and still have a life. 


What Are Your Plans?

Balancing Art, Life and Marketing

Estimated time to read this tip: A hair past one minute

Pop quiz

Over the "holidays," will you:

A. Celebrate the season with people, presents and promises?
B. Volunteer at a local food bank or do random acts of kindness?
C. Travel to spend short days skiing or long ones lounging on a beach?
D. Use the time to catch up on your work?
E. Lament the speedy passage of another year and how you didn’t get everything done?

You probably had more than one answer.  I do.

The most common one I hear first at the end of the year is the last one about the speed and passage of time.

You know that time speeding up is only perception. And catching up to something that isn’t moving is impossible. Yet still we try.

Time is a measurement system, so it doesn’t move – we do – and at varying speeds. When we don’t get as much done as we had hoped, we imagine time is passing us by. When we speed ourselves up to meet deadlines (set by others or self-imposed), we may get more done – or not - but we may also sacrifice some quality and enjoyment along the way.

Your achievements don’t start in January and end in December. And they certainly don’t lend themselves neatly to a day, a week, or a month.

Artistic achievements are organic and messier. If all of our results were all regular, neat and tidy, how creative would we be?

And when it comes down to it, underneath all the joyous fanfare of this season in North America, what is most precious is people. The ones we have now and the ones who have taken their leave.

The calendar year is a tool of convenience – a marking system to keep track of measured time.

You are the master clock maker.
You make the plans.
You do the work.
You reap the rewards.
You celebrate with people you care about.
You decide what goes on the calendar and you declare what stays off.

You are all amazing.

May we all learn to find or create some peace in moments here, there and everywhere.

Remember to breathe.

Last Minute Gift 
for writers, other artists and people who love them
(And a copy for your library)

“My Real Job is Being an Artist” is an indispensable reference book about the art business and how to prepare for success as a fine artist.  Author Aletta de Wal, who is both an artist and art business coach, provides a fresh look at exactly what an artist needs to do to become self-supporting.  Aletta draws upon more than twenty years of relevant experience to explain how she and other successful artist clients have achieved their goals.

"For artists who are not sure where or how they fit into the art world, this book provides detailed information on exactly what to do to break into the next stage of their career. Chapters on how to plan your time, visualize goals, and monitor progress are especially pertinent.

"Readers will appreciate Aletta de Wal’s practical advice on how to make the most of their limited time, energy and resources to land that perfect day job… as an artist!”

~Margaret Danielak 
Owner of DanielakArt – Art Sales & Consulting Services
Author of “A Gallery without Walls: Selling Art in Alternative Venues” 


P.S. I’m taking some time off the grid to play and then to work on my business instead of in my business. That combination always leaves me feeling really ready for another calendar year. Peace.

Artist Career Training’s mission is to help you make a better living making art - and still have a life.


"Books Make a Great Gift"

By and For Writers and Artists and People Who Love Them

Estimated time to read this tip: Under 2 minutes.

If you want to send a gift to an author, artist, musician, performer (or someone who loves them) Lee Silber has a great variety of books to choose from. 

Lee really "gets" creative people. He’s a great choice because he’s an author, musician, presenter and enthusiastic creative colleague. 

Lee Silber

Lee is the best selling author of 21 books and an award-winning speaker with these numbers to back that up:

• 5 Businesses / 1 Corporate Training Company

• 2 Bands / The Midlists and The Danny-Lee Band

• 21 Books / 10 Awards / 57 Printings

• 1480 Speeches / 124 "Excellent" Ratings in a Row

• 1357 Media Appearances / 1 Radio Talk Show

From Lee’s recent blog post “Books Make a Great Gift”

“If you know someone who loves a good mystery, I’ve got two great books for you. Have a friend or family member who wants and needs to get organized; I’ve got a book for that. How about someone who loves music? Know any parents (or grandparents) who want new ways to entertain the kids on a cold and day or long drive? There’s a book for that. 

In fact, with 21 books to offer, I have a lot of holiday gifts that would be signed and sent from me to a person of your choice. Just tell me which book, how many copies, who to sign it to, and where to send it and I’ll do the rest. (Even wrap it if you’d like.)”

I already have a lot of Lee’s books. But maybe you could use one or two. 

Besides he’s just one of those great people who is on board with creative endeavors and freely helps others. So I’m paying that forward.

[Full disclosure: Lee doesn’t know I’m doing this today, and I don’t make any money from this. Lee’s books are good and stand up to the test of time. He wrote a pre-publication review for my book and then took the time again after he read the final version to drop me a note.

Man, what a great book. I am blown away. It's just what a lot of artists need. I read it over the weekend and love how you broke the book up into bite-sized segments. Brilliant. I love it.

~Lee Silber

I’m so honored. Thanks Lee.]

“My Real Job is Being an Artist” contains the basics of building a solid body of signature work, productive work habits and legal foundations for your art business. 

Artist Career Training’s mission is to help you make a better living making art, and still be able to have a life. 

Could you use some help making informed decisions about your art business?  

The first 15 minutes is on me. Click here to reserve your telephone time.


Thank You

Balancing Art, Life and Marketing

Estimated time to read this tip: Under 2 minutes

If you’ve just made the annual Thanksgiving migration, I hope you had an easy time there and back and a chance to connect with people you care about. You have to really want to make that trip to endure some of the travel trials that pop up out of nowhere when you are trying to get somewhere.

You don’t have to celebrate American Thanksgiving to express thanks to people you care about. There is no expiry date on appreciation. Food does not have to be involved. Not even travel. 

Saying please and thank you never goes out of style and because you’re an artist, you can have fun with expressing yours. Here’s my starter list of 30 ways you can do so

Don’t forget to thank yourself with a little time off now and then. Just because you love being an artist doesn’t mean you don’t need a break now and then. 

Your creative muscles run on more than drive and focus.

And they’ll respond better after a breather now and then.

You art career will be waiting for you when you return.


Artist Career Training’s mission is to help you make a better living making art - and still have a life. 

Could you use some help creating enough space for your art, life and marketing?

  • What if you could redesign your life to make room for all the things in your life that are most important to you.

  • What if you didn’t have to figure out how to do the redesign on your own?

  • What if you had a guide who gave you the templates and the support to create a new blueprint for balancing your art, life and marketing?

You can.

I can help.

Past clients will vouch for their results.

I’ve worked with people about this issue since I began my coaching career. Instead of the promised leisure lifestyle starting at 50, its now common to hear people say they cannot afford to retire.

Maybe – or maybe not anytime soon.

I created Balancing Art, Life and Marketing so you can find ways to feel more in charge and less in a state of overwhelm. The first two rounds of artists who’ve participated can vouch for the process. Will you be part of the 2016 core group?

Take a look at what’s involved and let’s talk. Then send an e-mail to to start the conversation.

Read more here and follow us please.