20110719

ARTISTS TAKE CHARGE: 6x6

 When I discovered that artist and marketing extraordinaire Kesha Bruce, was planning an unconventional exhibit called 6x6, I decided to interview her about the project.  Kesha and her business partner Charlie Grosso, a photographer, are the brains behind 6x6, an "art version of a music festival".
 What exactly is 6x6?  It's an unique new way for artists to take charge of their career and promote their work outside the traditional gallery setting.  On September 8, Kesha and Charlie's roaming gallery Baang and Burne Contemporary will begin its presentation of six back-to-back, one-week only art exhibits in New York.

I had a few questions for Kesha:

1.  Do you think it's possible to make a living with your art outside the
traditional gallery structure?  Why or why not?

I know it’s definitely possible to make a living representing and selling your
own work, because I do it.  And most of my other artist friends do it too. I
think it’s great to work with galleries, but that’s not a substitute for
building your own collector base. Having your work represented by one or more
galleries is only part of the equation. What if your gallery has a really slow
sales year?  Or worse yet, what if your gallery goes out of business?  Every
artist needs to have a plan for how to market their work regardless of whether
or not they’re working with galleries.


2.  What are some of the ways a project such as 6x6 helps artists who are not
represented by a traditional gallery?

The whole point of 6x6 is to lead by example. The entire event is meant to be a
blue-print for how artists can get together and help each other promote their
work.  Aside from the 6 exhibitions, we’ve teamed up with the New York
Foundation for the Arts to present two workshops for artists.  One will focus on
how to fine tune your website so that it not only showcases your work, but will
help you build your collector base. 

The second panel discussion will focus on social media and how artists can use
it effectively to market their work.  We’re also teaming up with En Foco's
Professional Development Workshop series to present a workshop called
“Motivation, Marketing and Moxie”, which is aimed at helping artists get clear
about their goals, understand what actions they need to take for their careers,
and help them get right down to business on an in-depth analysis of art business
to figure out exactly what needs to be fine-tuned and streamlined in order to
attract more buyers for their work.

At the end of 6x6, we’re going to take the video footage and workshop notes and
podcast recordings and package it all up into an affordable, easily
downloadable, step-by-step DIY "How-To" guide that will teach independent
artists exactly how they can plan and re-create their own version of 6x6 in
their own art communities.


3.  As an artist, how has the economic climate changed the way you promote your
work?  What are some of the changes you have made in marketing and selling your
work?

I don’t think it’s changed anything about how I market my work.  It has however
pointed out the leaks in my marketing system.  In a good economy your marketing
and follow –up can get sloppy, and as long as money is still rolling in, it
doesn’t really hurt as much.  But when the economy takes a down-turn, a laid
back approach starts to cost you money. If anything, this economy has made my
marketing better by forcing me to step up my game---which is a good thing.  I
think as artists we have to learn to market and sell our work like any other
business.  We need to learn to set up and run our businesses so that no matter
the economy we have a system in place that will not only help us survive, but
flourish.

Kesha and Charlie explain 6x6 in this informative video.
To learn more about 6x6, or to read Kesha’s weekly articles on art marketing and to
download a free copy of her guide “The 5 Step Art Career Make-Over”, visit
www.keshabrucestudio.com.

14 comments:

cerulean said...

Inspiring interview!

Caio Fern said...

great article , thank you for introducing then.

Pete Hoge said...
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Pete Hoge said...
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david weir art said...

the old story, Q,Do you want to be an artist? or a Dealer.

Q Why do we do ART. To make money or to fill the need of creating works from within and grow your soul

Making money from your art only happens to a few in the bigger picture.

For me its about creating and enjoying your life. Making money from my art has just been a bonus and after 20 years of so called struggle the bigger picture is in front of me. It still might not happen but life's a journey full of interesting turns.

Dearlers have there Place it depends what part of the art world your in

Q Are we being true to our art and ourselves.

Petes onto it.

Pete Hoge said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pete Hoge said...

Sorry for all the deleted
posts. I wrote a rant or two
about my negativity towards
the art world.

Diane McGregor said...

Stephanie, thank you so much for introducing Kesha and Charlie. What sound, practical, down-to-earth advice. I feel motivated already!

Stephanie Hoff Clayton said...

Pete,

I got your deleted posts at my inbox. I always enjoy reading what you have to say. No apology necessary, and I wouldn't mind at all if you re-posted them.

In a nutshell for now (I may have more to say later, as I'm operating on little sleep): Not all artists should/need to/want to sell their work. Kesha and Charlie are speaking of those artists who do wish to market and their work, choosing to operate as a business. As for galleries showing substandard work, I notice that all the time, and yes, it irks me. I'm referring to "trendy" art, poorly displayed works, badly curated shows, and the like. All I can say on that is, to each his/her own. If people are buying it- oh well. Bad taste is everywhere.


David,

Very good points. Ultimately, if you're not making art to fill a deep need within, to make something, to communicate- well, then you're missing the point of being an artist.

I deeply believe in doing what you love; if you can make a living at it (or at least have some sales), bravo! If not, find out why, and whether you ought to be making a living at something else, while still doing what you love "on the side", for the very reason you mentioned, David: to "fill the need of creating works from within and grow your soul".

Stephanie Hoff Clayton said...

cerulean and Caio,
Thank you, I enjoyed putting this together.

Diane,
Glad to hear it! I'm all about motivation these days. As stated in a previous post, I tend to slow down in summer, and so I look for ways to motivate myself and others.

Pete Hoge said...

Yes SHC...you are right..there is
nothing going on in the"art world"
that personally threatens my life.

haha.

Stephanie Hoff Clayton said...

Pete,
Right. :)
I hope you keep on creating. I enjoy seeing what you're doing with the photos lately.

plasticanimal said...

Interesting post and interesting comments.

One day after I'm gone, my grand kids are going to find all this weird stuff in the attic that they're not going to know what to do with.

And there will be a note that says "do whatever you want with it, but know I had a blast making it."

After dealing with the gallery scene and being a commercial artist, I think I'm happiest doing it on the side, that rush I feel doing what I want to do I never got doing stuff that was commercially successful. If what I do was actually something people wanted to buy, that would be awesome, but I doubt that will ever happen and I'm good with it.

Kesha Bruce: said...

Stephanie- Thanks so much for having me on!

You asked some REALLY great questions. These are the kinds of things I end up discussing with my friends all the time, so clearly many of us artists have the same concerns & problems.

David- “Why do we make art?” I think that answer is different for every artist.

Our individual answers are neither right or wrong. The most important thing is to keep creating---no matter your reason.

Pete- Rant away! Depending on the day, and how well things are going in my studio at the time, I might jump right in with you.

There are things I hate about the “art world” just like there are things I hate about the worlds in general. But either way I am part of BOTH.

The only question is whether or not I want to be a positive force in my little corner of the (art) world.

Fantastic discussion!