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A.C.T. Featured Artists: How Professional Artists Create Opportunities

You may believe in luck. That belief may help you find luck.

I believe that you can create your own.

When opportunity knocks you must be ready or luck will slip through your fingers.

Here's how mid-career and established artists in the A.C.T. community create opportunities:


Realist Painter Eric ArmusikRealistic Painter Eric Armusik

"I will never understand the logic or value of an artist showing up to an opening in their studio clothes.  What message does that send? This lack of professional protocol is inexcusable and perpetuates a rather poor view of the artist. I do not create cheap work, and I dress accordingly. You can be the most intelligent, ambitious and talented artist around but if you are a filthy mess, no one will take you seriously. I find that attitude rather immature and quite frankly, you reap what you sow. If you want success, dress like it and act like it."


Painter, Muralist, Digital Artist Peter BraginoPainter, Muralist, Digital Artist PeterBragino

"A professional approach brings every opportunity you have - meeting people who can help you; being involved in activities that bring you exposure; having the discipline to blog regularly (which brought me contacts from people I had lost touch with who wanted to buy art for their new homes.)

"The Marine Corps taught me great lessons in self discipline and self respect. By believing in yourself, you manifest a professional attitude towards everything in life. Personal pride can be seen in everything I do and it makes me who I am. When you see that in yourself, other people will see it as well.

"Career wise I think it's important to understand that you're responsible for your own career. Nobody is going to magically discover you and put you onto a pedestal of art royalty. You make your own path, your own connections, and your own career. Believe in yourself, make art, make friends."

Fine Art Nature Photographer, Conservationist Connie BransilverFine Art Nature Photographer, Conservationist Connie Bransilver

"Legitimacy from my credentials, like Unesco and National Geographic have opened up many opportunities. A professional approach is the only approach so I don't know how the non-professional approach to anything would be. I don't mean that to sound arrogant, but what I mean is that I tend to demand 100% from myself in my art as well as my life.  Work hard; play hard, and have fun."

Artist-Entrepreneur, Painter, Ceramicist Edd CoxArtist-Entrepreneur, Painter, Ceramicist  Edd Cox

"There is a great sense of achievement when you know you can hit a home run in the big league. A certain respect from your peers seeing you as an equal and also gallery owner's acknowledgements.  Any visitor to the gallery is a potential client. Most are used to a higher quality of attention and service. There is nothing like being present with confidence and also being able to process a sale for $9,000 with complete ease, including invoice, framing and shipping if needed. Appreciative customers will refer you."

Abstract Artist, Priority Box Project Franck de las MercedesAbstract Artist, Priority Box Project Franck de las Mercedes

"My professional approach has helped me to cross paths with established artists and learn about what they did when they were at the stage where I am in my career. Also being able to learn through invitations from great artists in workshops."

Watercolor Artist, Patrice FederspielWatercolor Artist, Patrice Federspiel

"I have had opportunities to exhibit because I was ready. I was chosen to be a signature artist for the Haleiwa Arts Festival because I had a large enough body of art from which a piece could be chosen to celebrate and advertise the festival. Because of this large body of art I have many sales. I am now able to supply art to a larger number of galleries, increasing my exposure, thus making people more aware of my art, and more comfortable with buying it."

Painter Pat FiorelloPainter Pat Fiorello

"Doing business is always a partnership, so I develop trust with people. They know that they can count on me and that I will deliver what I said I would.  It's very important to be 'easy to do business with.' Being organized helps me stand out as a committed professional. This is especially important with partners like galleries, and venues like schools.

"Give people what they ask for when they need it. If you drop the ball, it effects their reputations too. So honor your word under all circumstances and be open in your communication. People will be happy to work with you again and refer you to others because they know they can count on you."

Glass Artist, B.J. KatzGlass Artist, B.J. Katz

"When I attended Pilchuck, William Morris encouraged me to pursue a career in glass art.  I purchased my first kiln for my studio in my garage in Arizona in 1993.  Eighteen-hour days spent laboring over technique and detail; I honed my skills through practice, experimentation and an unwavering love of glass.

"After several years of hard work and self-study, I embarked on an educational pilgrimage to Australia and New Zealand. While there I apprenticed to Ann Robinson and David Wright, dedicating myself to learning new techniques and improving my glass skills. David Wright inspired me with the joy of commissioned artwork.  It takes me places artistically that I might not go on my own.
"In 1998 at the Glass Art Society Conference in Japan, I met and worked with several Shibori (traditional Japanese fabric dying) artists. The cultural exchange of ideas and aesthetics is reflected in my artwork."

Mixed Media Collage Artist, Vickie MartinMixed Media Collage Artist, Vickie Martin

"Having a good artist statement for my work helped legitimize my work and made people realize I am serious about my artwork - that it is more than just a hobby.  Behaving in a professional manner helps tremendously.  The art world is competitive and no one wants to be labeled a difficult artist, because of attitude or they can't deliver on time, or they don't show up.  Being dependable has gone a long way."



Representational Drawings, Huguette MayRepresentational Drawings, Huguette May

"A professional approach has kept me prepared to quickly respond to requests for up-to-date digitally transmitted pictures and written pieces needed for these opportunities.

  • Because an in-house art consultant saw my work at New Bedford Open Studios, a major corporation bought three pieces of mine for their new building in Fall River, MA.
  • I have been invited into three separate invitational shows, each one more prestigious than the previous."



Painter Lori McNeePainter Lori McNee  

"There are so many talented artisans out-there - we must separate ourselves from the pack by putting our best foot forward. In order to sell yourself, you must be professional. I strive to do my best at anything I attempt. I might fall on my face at times, but at least I am giving it my all...'act as if' and eventually you will believe it and so will the others around you! That professionalism pays off. I wouldn't be in the galleries, magazines, articles and blogs (including this interview!) without a professional approach!"

Plein Air Painter Lee McVeyPlein Air Painter Lee McVey

"Artists who behave professionally are more likely to be treated as possible business partners. Gallery directors have complimented me on my professionalism, and that's due to applying all I've learned in Artist Career Training. When I prepare for a show, I have things ready for the gallery before they even ask for it. Actions like this help me stand out from the crowd. Being professional in actions and attitudes has earned me respect from the people with whom I work."

Portrait Artist, Conservationist, Nicholas PetrucciPortrait Artist, Conservationist, Nicholas Petrucci

"I've been fortunate to work alongside many excellent artists. My professional approach to art has earned the respect of my peers and others who know and appreciate art.  Not only has my professional approach opened doors, but it instills confidence to those who believe in me.  People want to be excited with you and want to participate in your success."  

Liturgical Sculptor Karen SchmidtLiturgical Sculptor Karen Schmidt

"My professional approach has brought me face to face with many opportunities:

  • I have been able to study with Simon Kogan, and I seize every opportunity for development as an artist.
  • I am able to enjoy fine art more fully because I have become a student of art history.
  • I've developed a deeper faith due to learning a symbolic language, which gives expression to things beyond words. Art helps me embrace mystery.
  • I've met extraordinary people and had really enlightening conversations with people who see my work on display.
  • I've traveled across the United States and to Europe.
  • I'm more familiar with who I am, how I'm wired and my creative process. Art pushes me in new directions, and I am no longer playing it safe.
  • I have a tremendous sense of satisfaction and fulfillment about what I do."

Figurative Painter Julie SnyderFigurative Painter Julie Snyder

"My number one rule for success is just show upI'm also mindful of being prepared and being professional.  So, I have bios as PDFs - ready to email. I have inventory. I have good documentation of my work.  I am about to prepare a comprehensive price list for all available work. I will store it in my phone and make it available on my site. That way I can quote prices without the 'ah, stutter, eh, eh' factor. I have the ordinary things of any business - business cards, a phone, a place to work, a website, a Leer Jet.  No, I don't have a jet. But, because I am prepared, I have found my art was selected for gallery ads, placed in articles, and I am called on to demonstrate to art groups. My art ended up in Los Angeles City Hall.  I believe I create my own luck and in order to get lucky, you have to be prepared to meet opportunities as they arise and go with them."

Fire Bowl Artist, John T. UngerFire Bowl Artist, John T. Unger

"Obviously I have the physical skills to make art but what's more important is the thought and problem-solving skills that go into art - which is something that I apply across a lot of different disciplines, like software and e-commerce. Part of the reason it works is that I've trained myself not to make assumptions. It's like the concept of the professional amateur - someone who comes into a space without professional training and does a great job anyway maybe specifically because by lacking that training, they are going to ask questions differently.

"The opportunities I've gotten are to work with some incredibly brilliant people who in the past I would have admired from afar and I thought would not be not approachable. So a lot of the people who would have been heroes, and are at the top of the food chain in whatever they do, are peers - they know what I do - and they have become friends. Having access to those kinds of people with those kinds of minds is probably one of the most rewarding things I do."

Metal Sculptor Bilhenry WalkerMetal Sculptor Bilhenry Walker

"By taking a professional approach, I have been able to build a career in the area I love most and make a living from it. I am always in position to make a big score but am most happy building new ideas and experiencing personal growth.

"I have done shows across the USA and, recently, England, giving me a more cosmopolitan outlook on the life and trends of this country. By taking a short teaching job at Bethel University in St. Paul, MN I created a wonderful sculpture and met an even more wonderful woman who eventually became my wife. What more could I wish for from a three month temporary job?"


Which perspectives do you think are most important and what would you add from your experiences of creating opportunities? Please post your replies here or on Facebook and Twitter.

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