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How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist: Selling Yourself Without Selling Your Soul Paperback – June 9, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 97 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for the fourth edition:

"Provides the best overview of political and other aspects of the art world that I have ever come across. . . It is a bible that every artist should have." --Shannon Wilkinson, president, Cultural Communications, New York

"This book should be required reading for every exhibiting artist." --Ellen Rixford, Graphic News

"This self-help career book is the pick of the litter." --Donna Marxer, Artists' News

"Michels is filled with energy and ideas. . . Her experience is the reader's bonus." --American Artist
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Caroll Michels is a successful sculptor whose artwork has been exhibited in museums worldwide, and she has worked as a career coach on behalf of thousands of artists since 1978. She lives in Sarasota, Florida.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; 6 edition (June 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805088482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805088489
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #230,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By L. Deleon on April 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of those books with exciting chapter headings like 'the mysterious world of grants' that you expect will de-mystify the process- but basically it is train station schedule telling you about different trains you can board to reach a destination (this book contains no destinations)... what I mean by that is this book is basically a reading list of a million other books. The information that is in this book is very minimal, everytime you think she is about to tell you something valuable she says "to learn more read this book or visit this website". She doesn't provide the information from those books in hers. For a 300 page book, the only meat it provided in and of itself was a soapbox for the author to dog the whole gallery system and encourage artists to sell their own work. Which is lovely but I felt like I wasted time reading her big book when I should have been reading the other books that actually have the information I am looking for in them.

If I was this author and had read all of those books myself, I think I would have written a more comprehensive one-stop guide for the artist to save them some time and energy- but maybe her book was sort of a collaborative effort where she gained something from mentioning these other books as opposed to learning from them. That is really what it felt like- a bound collection of buisness cards.

If you really want to do a lot of reading- this book is certainly a reading list, but I would bypass it and go straight to some other books.

If you DO want to bypass the gallery system and make money off your art on your own, I recommend Brian Marshall White's book 'Breaking into the Art World'. You can read it in one night and use all the info, apply it, start earning some money from your artwork.
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Format: Paperback
As an artist, I have been following Caroll Michels' work for the past twenty years and have just re-read her fourth edition. The resources on the internet alone are an indication of just how the author wants her readers to grow with the times. In the book, Michels begins wth childhood, stressing parental and educator support and addresses how if artists don't value themselves how then will the culture take them seriously. What helped me in particular is how to create presentation tools and how to develop public relation and good business skills. What was also helpful was how to deal with one's emotions and not play the victim. I use the book as a bible, refering to it whenever necessary. I look forward to the fifth edition!
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By A Customer on January 22, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book and read it cover to cover in one sitting. Ms. Michels tells it like it is and has a refreshing writing style. I walked away with key concepts and was inspired to send out several art project proposals immediately based on her suggestions. If I learned one thing from this book that was worth the price, it would be : Don't waste time and money on Juried Art Shows With Entry Fees. The other key point was about thinking outside of the Art Establishment box (we are supposed to be creative, after all, aren't we?) to promote yourself with brochures versus slide packages. The author gives statistics that prove the success (and failure) rate of both methods. In addition, the resource lists she provides are worth their weight in gold. I highly recommend this book and have sent 4 other artist friends out to buy it.
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