Most helpful positive review
124 of 126 people found the following review helpful
A Must Read for All Artists
on April 28, 2005
This book is great for someone who needs a broad overview of the fundamentals of creating a career as a freelance artist. It is basically a checklist of what you need to know and do to be successful as a self-employed artist, in other words: the business side of art. As a 32 year old man who has always been one of those 'talented' amateur artists, but didn't know squat about the business side of being an artist, this book was exactly what I needed to read in order to help me draw out a roadmap towards achieving my longtime dream of being a freelance artist. Caroll points out that even people like me who do not have an extensive background and education in fine art, still have the ability to create a career in the visual arts.
Caroll begins by tearing apart the myth of the 'starving artist' or the 'poor but noble artist'. She basically discusses common psychological pitfalls that many artists fall into (including myself), believing that it is not possible to have a successful career as a freelance artist. Let's face it, all our lives we have been told how a career as a freelance fine artist is a career in futile struggle and poverty. We have been brainwashed with the belief that a degree in fine art is not worth the paper it is printed on. And we have been constantly reminded that if we are stubborn in our choice to be a fine artist, then at least have a 'backup plan'. We have even been told, "It is better to major in something else, and just do a minor in fine art". (I have also gotten these types of comments in my choice to study music). I actually didn't realize the degree to which I have been brainwashed into believing that art is not a valuable profession. Caroll points out that if you believe it is not possible to make it as an artist, then you have already severely handicapped your chances of making it. In contrast she discusses how in having the self-confidence to believe you are just as good as any other professional, and worth being paid, this will automatically lead you to making the right positive steps towards having a sucessful career. In essence: if you can convince yourself that your skills as an artist are valuable, you will have the ability to convince others that you are valuable. On the other hand, if you go into a situation and believe you are not worth being paid, your potential client will also believe you are not worth being paid, hence continuing on with the negative stereo-type of freelance art not being a serious or valuable profession.
She uses a an excellent example of two of her clients: one was a 40 year old woman with no professional or educational experience in fine art, who decided she wanted a career change. At her first art exhibit, she sold about $18,000 in paintings, the average price of her paintings being about $5000. The second client was also a 40 year old woman and had an extensive background and education in fine art. The experienced artist was also able to sell her paintings at an average price of about $5000. This brings up the question, "why was the woman with essentially no artist resume, able to sell her paintings for the same price as the woman with years of experience and art degrees?". The answer is simple: the first woman believed she was worth being paid a professional wage, and because she believed it, her clients also believed it! In other words, she wasn't tainted with the myth of the 'poor starving artist', she had created an image of herself of a professional, and successful artist, and it worked! It is also worth mentioning that the first woman's previous career was in selling real estate. It goes to show that one of the primary ways in which you can achieve success as an artist is simply being a good salesperson.
Caroll then lays out the fundamental business must-knows of being an artist. It is more of a broad overview at this point, and she gives some detailed examples, but still leaves plenty of room for you to do more research and reading on the topic. A good 220 pages of the book is her advice and insights, and the last 120 pages or so are all names, adresses and websites of organizations that can further help you learn your profession, and make professional contacts.
The reason I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5, is because there certainly was plenty she could have elaborated on further, and given more specific information. As one reader above mentioned, I too sat down and read this book in one sitting. This shows how captivating it can be to someone like me who just didn't know alot of these basic 'must-knows'. But on the other hand, it also shows that it is a relatively quick read, and could have been packed with more detailed information to read and study.
Overall I must give this book two thumbs up and a recommendation to every serious artist who has always wanted to have a career as a freelance artist.
I plan to re-read this book SEVERAL more times, in order to ingrain the information in my brain, and make it second nature with how to deal with various basic problems. I most likely will use it as a checklist everytime I am about to take a serious move towards promoting and developing my career as an artist.
I like this book so much I am going to buy a second copy and give it to a friend of mine who has a BFA and MFA in sculpture, and yet he works as a dump truck driver!!!! He really needs this book!
A big thankyou to Caroll for writing this wonderful book.