Prepare Yourself, Part I

What would you do if someone from, say a magazine, contacted you today and said they had an unexpected opening for an artist showcase and would love to feature your work and could you send them images, a bio, and a 500-word explanation of your inspiration and process by, say, noon tomorrow? Ideally, you’d go to your files, pull out your recently-updated bio, the high-resolution photos from your last shoot, and the notes you keep about what you do. A couple hours shaping the notes into a coherent essay, and you’d have everything ready to send in.


I’m guessing reality isn’t quite like that. First, you’d gasp in delight, because you’re more than ready to share the work you’ve been doing, and this is the *perfect* opportunity to reach a wider audience, something you’ve had on your bucket list for the last three years. It won’t cost a penny in advertising, it’s a magazine your audience reads, and the issue will come out right before the big show next spring. Then, however, once your heart quits pitty-patty-ing, you stop and gulp: you have no bio, well, at least not since you entered your crocheted potholders in the local fair when you were eight and attached a note saying you’d learned to crochet from your grandma and wanted to be A Famous Artist when you grew up. Or maybe a biologist. You hadn’t decided. But since then? Nope. Not a bit of updating on the bio.


And photos? Oh, man. Sure, you’ve got those quick iPhone photos you snapped before you sent that shipment off to your cousin’s gallery, and you’ve have some pretty good photos you took last year when you were doing encaustic, but you’re not doing that now, and you don’t have a single high-quality photo of anything in this new series, and your camera battery’s on the charger, and you have an appointment for a root canal this afternoon, and. . . .


You’re simply not prepared. Oh, sure: you’re prepared for fire. Your family has charts with escape routes for every room. You’re prepared for winter storms: every vehicle has a kit in the trunk with a bag of cat litter, a shovel, flares, a blanket and those little peanut butter and cracker sandwiches. You have a will in your safe deposit box. You have bottled water stored under the sink. You are fully prepared for every disaster that could befall you.


But you haven’t prepared for the good stuff: the opportunities that fall into your lap from out of the blue. The chances that may never come knocking again, ever. It’s time to do something about that.


My day job is writing artist profiles for Stampington magazines, and over the many years I’ve been doing this, I’ve been in touch with dozens and dozens of artists. Usually my editors contact the artist they’ve chosen and then give me the assignment, but sometimes it’s the other way around: they give me the assignment and have me get in touch with the artist. This is a lot of fun for me, giving them the news that the magazine wants to feature their work, and usually the artist is thrilled. But sometimes they’re just a little panicky. They just sent all their work off to a gallery, and they don’t have any photos. Or they have photos, but they’re not great photos. Or they have a bunch of photos but don’t have time to go through them because they’re right in the middle of a month-long project of rebuilding their website from scratch. You know how it is. Sometimes you’re so beyond busy you can’t even *think* of taking on one more thing, no matter how much you want to.


On Friday we’ll talk about what you need to do now so that, when the time comes and opportunity knocks, you can open the door and do the happy dance instead of running and hiding under the bed and moaning, “Not yet! Not yet! Come back next year, pleeeeeeeeese!”

U3038_CM_AGDM2014.inddThe brand new 2014 Artist’s and Graphic Designer’s Market has more advice and suggestions for making sure you’re prepared.






Ricë is the author of Living the Creative Life, Creative Time and Space, and Destination Creativity. She also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.


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