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Aletta de Wal
Artist Advisor & Art Marketing Strategist







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3-D Artist






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2-D Artist





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Aletta de Wal
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Huguette May

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Are You Ready for the "Holidays?"

Balancing Art, Life and Marketing

Estimated time to read this tip: 2 ½ minutes.

As soon as the sugar rush, make-believe and parties of Halloween are over, the "holiday" season begins. Lights go up and the merry, merry, marathon begins.

I love that word "holiday," but there’s no shortage of work going on at the same time. Fall art exhibits, special holiday events, client appreciation, year-end accounting ….  (Add your list here.)

So read what artist James Thatcher has to say if you feel like your feet aren’t quite touching the ground as you speed along. (Maybe even print these wise words out and post them on your studio wall.)

“We're not art making machines, we're people; and we make art.”

“I once had an 8 year long break between artworks. I've also had stretches of sporadic art production, grinding out stuff as I've been able to cram it into spare time, doing maybe a dozen measly, incoherent pieces in a year; year after year.

"But that really is life...we're not art making machines, we're people; and we make art. Sometimes there are more important things than doing our artwork. We are multi-faceted beings, and our artwork is only one facet. Our other aspects must develop.

"And then we return to our work with a deeper experience to draw from; a greater awareness of love, responsibility, and commitment; and making amazing, deep, beautiful and touching artworks.

"Have a little faith, gird up your loins, and believe. This is going in a dynamic and profound direction for you. You will do great and powerful things. It will work. You will not fail if you do not quit. Having responsibilities is not quitting; it is being admirably strong.”

 James Thatcher  Excerpt from “My Real Job is Being an Artist.” by Aletta de Wal, Page 4.

Enough said.

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, it's 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.

“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.


Curate Your Content Consumption

Focus Your Attention

Estimated time to read this tip: 3 minutes

When I was a child, one of the highlights of my week was going to the library on Saturday mornings with my father and my siblings. The public library was a magical place to me. Reading books took me places, aroused my curiosity and fed my imagination. The story lady read stories for the younger kids in a glass-enclosed room with tiny chairs. I went off on my own to explore the quiet library shelves.

My favorite shelves contained series of world fairy tales and biographies of classical music composers. I read every one. I kept mental track of the ones I’d read. By Sunday afternoon I’d already finished reading my allotted books and I was eager for the week to pass so I could get my next installment.

When Artist Career Training was founded in 1996, there were only a handful of people helping artists with the business side of art. Nowadays, there are no limits on the amount of information that is available on what we need to know as professional artists. 

In fact, there is a glut of information and we’ve had to learn a new skill — to be selective about what we gather, how much of it we acquire and what we do with it. 

Curate Your Content Consumption

Fail to curate your content consumption and you may be at risk for overwhelm, and other side effects of undigested and unverified information.

If you have limited time to research and read, here is one method of cutting a swath through the information jungle:

  • Determine what interests you. Is it art, your art career, art business, art marketing…? 

  • What do you already know about this topic?

  • Do you really need more information about it?

If the answer is “no,” stop researching and go back to making art.

If you said “yes,” however, answer these questions as well:

  • Why do you need this information? 

  • How will you know the right information when you see it?

  • Who is the source of or referred you to this information? Does that raise its value?

  • What do you plan to do with this information? Use it, keep it for inspiration, forward it to a friend…?

  • When do you plan to use, file or forward this information? 

  • Where will you use this information?

The most successful artists I know are life-long learners. They devise their own methods for for continued exploration, and put systems in place for keeping up-to-date on topics that are important to them personally and professionally. You can do the same.

Peter Bragino moved to New York over 14 years ago to study classical drawing and begin his career as a fine artist. He has spent well over 7,500 hours studying his craft, at least 5,000 of which were spent drawing the human figure from life. From this, Peter has created over 35 sketchbooks, thousands of drawings, and hundreds of paintings and three-dimensional work.

“At one point a few years ago I decided that there were numerous parts of my artistic know how that I wanted to improve. I felt like I had a story to tell but my skills just weren’t where I wanted them to be.

I spent almost two years studying at Computer Graphics Masters Academy. I studied Environment Sketching, Character Design, The Art of Color and Light, and Analytical Figure Drawing.

This movement into new understanding has allowed a sense of story to emerge from my art that wasn’t available to me just a few years back.”

Only knowledge with action will create results, but it helps to have what you need in one place.

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.

“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. Once you have these in place, you can start working on marketing your art. 


The “We” in Installation Art

Audience and Artisan Influence 

Estimated time to read this tip: 2 minutes

I’ve always maintained that when you are in your studio you are in charge, and when you are marketing your audience is in charge.

You decide what to create; the audience decides what to praise, talk up or buy.

Joel Armstrong’s type of art demands that the audience be very much involved right from the beginning in the design phase of his installations. 

“I consider all possible access points and how the viewer will see the installation. I am a perfectionist, and when I do installations I think of every detail possible. That’s been the success of what I’ve done. I think of every angle. There’s no stone unturned.

"I have a show called It’s Time to Address'er Drawers. When my mom passed away there was a chest of drawers in which she kept sealed letters that were journals. I took one of those letters and wrote all the words out of wire and put them into drawers.

"The walls of the gallery have chalk lines on them. Viewers can take the words out and pin them on the walls. People can hear the letters being read. The letters are made of silver wire against the rusted chest and there are lights inside the drawers.”

Read the full, interview here.

So not only does he verify the design of the installation from the viewer’s approach, he also allows people reading the letters to become part of the exhibit as other viewers join in.

By coincidence, I was reading a Zen story this morning that illustrates this symbiosis perfectly:

“A long time ago in China there were two friends, one who played the harp skillfully and one who listened skillfully. When the one played or sang about a mountain, the other would say 'I can see the mountain before us.’ … But the listener fell sick and died. The first friend cut the strings of his harp and never played again. Since that time the cutting of harp strings has always been a sign of intimate friendship.” #84. True Friends., Zen Flesh Zen Bones complied by Paul Reps and Myogen Senzaki.

Joel didn’t cut his harp strings. Instead, as the evolution of his signature body of work, he added rust drawings to his installations.

Then his installation art inspired an expansion in Joel’s creations to include stand alone individual pieces. Where his installations involve the viewer in the design, these new pieces involve the artisans who help produce them. 

"The uniqueness of my work, and distracted temperament has caused me to fumble. Now that I am doing work that is marketable, it all makes great sense, and I am once again excited with continuing.

"We have worked together several times over the years, and each time I begin with great enthusiasm. You ask many great questions, and have always been thorough with your answers.

"The most gracious thing you have offered me is a belief in what I am doing, and continued encouragement. I thank you for that and will appreciate it forever.”   Joel Armstrong


Could you use some help expanding the ways in which you create and market your art? 

The first 15 minutes is on me.


Murky Starts & Sluggish Finishes or Crisp Actions?

The Evolution of an Art Career

Estimated time to read this tip: 1½ minutes

My art studio and workout area are in the same room, so when I’m making art (standing up), I’m reminded of making sure to fit in a daily workout.

The treadmill is something to "get through" for the sake of cardio. But I look forward to Pilates because it’s all about fluid body motion, stretching and strengthening. There are so many little details to think about that there’s no room for random thoughts. I call it meditation in motion.

My Pilates teacher noticed that in certain leg exercises, I didn’t make the full leg extension to complete the move. I was rushing into the next extension before I completed the first. That meant that the next one was not set up right. The effect was like dominoes.

And the dominoes fell into place for me about taking complete actions instead of letting a few tasks ride the daily list (not surprisingly, ones that are less creative).  I fluidly move through some of my work tasks, and there are others that feel like they need a running start before a hurdle.

If you don’t do Pilates, think about walking.

In fact get up now.

Take a long step forward with your left leg.

Now take a short step forward with your right. Think very carefully before you take the next step…

Murky starts and sluggish finishes mean you are wasting energy instead of maintaining relative balance and momentum in your art business.

Not so for Franck de las Mercedes:

The Priority Box project was always just an experiment! I never expected to be painting peace boxes ten years later, or be in Times Square but the most rewarding thing is that they do continue in the schools as a teaching tool.
The interest in the project continues to grow, but it also has grown into a movement with a life of it’s own - to the point where I am being contacted by students who have already made their own box.
A teacher told me that one student was so inspired by the project that he went out and bought flowers and went to the park where he gave them out.

I’m still sending the remaining requests and will continue to offer special edition boxes while supplies last. I’m also still open to talks and visiting schools.
So it hasn’t ended, but I felt it was time for me to stop painting them and finally move on to other projects that I’ve kept in the back burner, that I am getting ready to start exploring. (Read the full interview here.)

To invigorate your art business with only projects, people and products that makes everyone’s heart sing, ask yourself these three questions to make crisp decisions about what to keep, what to let go and how to feel good more of the time.

1. What are you doing now that gives you joy or other desirable results?

Action hint: Do as much or more.

2. What are you doing now that pains you but gives you desirable results?

Action hint: Do in short less-pain bursts or find someone who will do this for you.

3. What are you doing now that pains you and gives you no observable results?

Action hint: Let affected people know that you are no longer doing this. And, of course, no longer do this.

Now, what other areas of art, life or marketing will you explore with the time, money and energy you free up?

Could you use some help making crisper decisions and actions as a working artist?

The first 15 minutes is on me.

See what Franck has to say in my new book:


“My Real Job is Being an Artist” is here

Order your copy now.

Estimated Reading time: 1½ minutes

Someone asked me today if seeing my book in the print version was anything like having a baby.

I don’t know. I’ve never had a baby, but now I can tell you a lot about my experience of birthing a book.

And I can tell you I was thrilled to open the first box.

Last week, we sent out the "thank you" copies for people who were instrumental in helping this book come into the world.

I’ve been enjoying hearing from people who helped create the book either by a quote, or reviewing earlier versions of the manuscript.

“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

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


"Even if you only read the third section of “My Real Job is Being an Artist”, ‘The Basics of an Art Business,' you would be well on your way to a successful career in the arts.

But wait, there are two other outstanding sections filled with everything you need to know to grow your business and build your career. This is a must read if you are serious about your success."

~Lee Silber

Lee Silber
Award-winning author of the Business Books For Artists series
Founder of Creative-Lee Speaking,


When you buy your copy, please email me to let me know, so I can add you to my special list of people to invite to special online events.


Could you use some help making a decision about your next steps as a working artist and human being?

The first 15 minutes is on me.


“My Real Job is Being an Artist” 15 Stages of Publishing

15 Stages of Publishing

Estimated reading time: 1½ minutes

I was offered a job at Apple in its early days in San Francisco. The salary was double what I was earning. Easy decision, right?


A month earlier,  I had made a commitment to my family to stay put until the kids were able to take care of themselves. One of the boys was having a difficult time at school and needed extra care and attention. His father worked nights so that was my home shift after working my corporate gig.

Twenty-five years later I moved to the San Francisco area. My bank account is smaller than it might have been as a founding Apple employee, but I’ve invested the wealth of experience I’ve had in art, life and marketing into my work with artists. The return has been well worth the time, money and energy. 

My point in telling you about my deferred San Francisco experience is that you can never really know what will happen when you embark on any path, but with some informed help, you can make that path work for you.

That’s exactly why I wrote this book – so you can embark on the path of a working artist – or continue the one you are on – with confidence and clarity.

“My Real Job is Being an Artist” is now at the publishing stage.

In a previous post, I wrote about 15 stages of writing. There are just as many for each subsequent phase.

Now, here are the stages of publishing:

  1. Hired a book assistant to do the heavy technical lifting for this bit and share the ups and downs of getting this far. 
  2. Convert manuscript into formatted text and add illustrations - ready for upload to publisher’s platform.
  3. Proof read again and mark up corrections to layout and typos. 
  4. Make corrections and proof read again.
  5. Make final changes to cover design and spine size now that we have final page count.
  6. Upgrade pre-publication copyright to final copyright registration.
  7. Upload formatted book to publisher’s platform.
  8. Hold breath until the electronic file comes back. 
  9. Proof read and mark up more corrections to layout and typos.
  10. Make corrections and proof read again.
  11. Upload proofed formatted book to publisher’s platform.
  12. Order second proof copy. Hold breath until the print copy comes back. 
  13. Proof read again and mark up almost every page! (Look at all the pretty post it flags!)
  14. Gag when we find a missing section half way through the book that may require indexing again. Before turning blue, discover that we can fix this without messing up the index. Breathe out.
  15. Upload error-free formatted book to publisher’s platform.

Have you noticed that you can read something on screen, spell check and miss every auto-corrected typo until you hit send? ( Although we made corrections to the errors we caught, we know thorough readers may still find one or two … please let us know.)

I want each person who reads my book to use the practical information either to declare, “My Real Job is Being an Artist,” or to happily choose to continue making art for pleasure rather than profit.

Either choice is valid as long as you make your decision with full information. 

"My Real Job is Being an Artist" is a through common sense guide to the career path, the work and the business side of life as a working artist.

  • You’ll gain tools to create or further develop your own “signature style,” which will make your art more memorable and more marketable.
  • You’ll have a framework to build up your level of art production, so you can keep inventory levels high as demand for your work grows.
  • You’ll understand exactly what to expect as you enter and move through each of the three career stages of being a professional artist.
  • And while it’s not the sexiest part of being an artist, you’ll also learn how to set up and manage your art business — from record keeping and inventory systems, to tax and liability issues. (Oh the joy of deducting expenses!)

The contents of  "My Real Job is Being an Artist" are based on real world experiences – mine and the thousands of artists I’ve had the pleasure and good fortune to know through my role as artist advisor for Artist Career Training.

Fifteen stories by successful people of what they do when faced with hardships and life altering obstacles and how they set goals, get things done and achieve a balanced life.

Could you use some help making a decision about being a working artist? Book a free telephone conversation about how I can help you make a better living from making art - and still have a life.

The first 15 minutes is on me.