Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The definitive "roadmap" for artists

There are many, many "how to be an artist" books out there, and I have gone through them all with a fine-toothed comb. To tell the truth, I've never been completely satisfied. I always felt like something was lacking -- perhaps because everyone's experience is different, so no one book can cover everything. Also perhaps because I'm one of those people who is always seeking The Answer, and the real answer is, there is no real answer. There are as many ways to be an artist as there are artists in the world. That said, however, I always felt that surely there must be specific steps that every artist has to take if his or her basic goal is to exhibit and sell work at the national level.

The closest I've come to helpful career advice is the "Marketing Mondays" posts on Joanne Mattera's blog, which ran from January 2011 to November 2012 and covered a comprehensive range of pertinent topics for serious artists. I also thought Jackie Battenfield's "The Artist's Guide" contained a lot of solid information, but it seemed to be only for artists just starting out, not for those who (like me) are at mid-career and have already figured out the basics like how to write an artist's statement.

However, I believe I have finally found THE definitive advice book for artists in my recent discovery of "Accelerating on the Curves: The Artist's Roadmap to Success" by Katharine T. Carter (2011).  (Gotta love the author's name!)

Granted, there are downsides. The book weighs 20 pounds (well, I'm exaggerating, but it's certainly too heavy for reading in bed or carrying with you in anything but a suitcase with wheels) and costs $87.75 used on Amazon. The title, chapter names and various headings are derived from car and driving terms, which seems clever at first but soon wears thin. Also, the second half ("Book Three") is comprised of a series of what I found to be completely useless essays by contributing authors (the "& Associates" mentioned on the cover) on such unhelpful topics as "Do you need a website?" (I think we all know the answer to that by now.)

But if you can get beyond the cost and the padding, the first half of the book is GOLDEN. Ms. Carter knows her stuff. She has composed a series of chapters listing exactly what steps an artist needs to take to get started locally, how to expand to the regional level, move to the national level, and finally progress to international exposure. She explains concisely how the art world is structured, whom to contact (how to find them and what to say to them), and how to plan an effective strategy that is uniquely relevant to your particular style of art and stage of progress. The book also includes example letters to gallerists, consultants, museum directors, curators, and critics, as well as a very complete index of resource listings.

I highly recommend this book! (Note to frugal Massachusetts residents: There is one copy in the Minuteman Library System, and I'm returning it on November 29!)


CMC said...

LOL... I clicked on this because I have met Catherine T. Carter. Then I saw your picture...and thought, what the heck!
She is indeed a knowledgeable woman. I met her through a week-end seminar held at my local art museum years ago when I was the education coordinator. I may still have some of those hand-outs.I didn't know she wrote a book as well.

Catherine Carter said...

Anyone with that name MUST be talented. ;-)

I imagine some of the info is the same from the seminar you attended, Cheryl, but there's a lot of updated stuff as well. Awesome book!

Diane McGregor said...

Thanks for the review, Catherine. I just might have to get a copy (my library doesn't have it - can you imagine? In Santa Fe???). Thanks, again!