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Entries in My Real Job book (6)


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.


"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.


“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.


"My Real Job is Being an Artist” 15 Stages of Writing

The fifteen stages of writing

Estimated reading time: 2¼ minutes

People kept telling me "You should write a book." 

I told them I had never written a book. 

In my undergrad years, I was an English major. I learned how to read and analyze so I could write term papers. I loved reading – still do – but I labored over writing.

In my work years, I’ve written hundreds of articles, blogs, training programs and presentations. Nothing longer than 50 pages.

I asked them if the world really needed another book on art marketing?

There is plenty of information available about marketing and social media for artists who have already started a career.

So what’s missing?

In my research and surveys of career advice for artists, I found very little about what came between being a hobbyist or amateur and becoming a working artist. 

So “My Real Job is Being an Artist” began as a series of notes about what I’d observed was missing on what it takes to make art for a living. 

To prepare myself for this new project, I took workshops and read books and Blogs about how to write a book.

I thought that maybe in 18 to 24 months I’d have the book written. I usually tell my clients to at least double their estimates – and so here we are many people and moons later with a book worth publishing.

People kept asking me what it took to write the book. (The same ones who said to write it. Hmmmm…)

The early stages were exciting as I saw my thinking take form in words and paragraphs.Then chapters. And sections. And finally a three part book.

There were many times when I felt as though my writing would never be up to the task and that I would never have a book worth reading.

What kept me going was my clear vision of the book I wanted to write suppported by the unwavering enthusiasm of my coaches, artist friends, clients and colleagues.

So to live up to that vision and to honor that support, I put in in the time and energy for all those months:

  1. I brainstormed, mind mapped and made lists.
  2. Wrote, and wrote and wrote. 
  3. Tore up, deleted and wrote some more.
  4. Hired a writing coach to help organize the bits and ask questions to fill in the gaps.
  5. Rewrote and rewrote and rewrote some more. 
  6. Put together a manuscript for reviewers.
  7. Hired a designer and illustrator for the cover and lead pages.
  8. Asked emerging, mid-career and established artists to review the manuscript.
  9. Rewrote and rewrote and rewrote some more, to incorporate the reviewer feedback. 
  10. Hired a developmental editor to make sure the essential content was in the right sequence, with the right words and the right examples.
  11. Rewrote and rewrote and rewrote some more, to incorporate the editor’s feedback. 
  12. Hired a “Smoother” editor who ironed out any remaining wrinkles in words, headings and subheadings.
  13. Rewrote and rewrote and rewrote to incorporate that feedback. 
  14. Hired an index company to proof read and set up the index.
  15. Made corrections to incorporate that feedback.

What will make the "blood, sweat and tears" and my personal investment worthwhile is that each person who reads my book will use the practical information "Being an Artist."  And when you are done, let me know if you are now fully ready to declare “My Real Job is Being an Artist” or to chose to continue making art for pleasure rather than profit. Either is a clear choice that will do good things for your art and life.

Those people are now asking “So where’s the book?”

“My Real Job is Being an Artist” is now having a copyright update and then goes into the publishing queue.

Thanks for cheering me on!


Could you use some help with all the writing that goes along with being an artist?


Request a complimentary 15-minute conversation.