Book Review: Starting Your Career As An Artist

The Artist’s Studio; A real allegory summing up seven years of
my artistic and moral life
by Gustave Courbet. Oil on canvas, 1854-55 (Musée d’Orsay, Paris).

There’s the stuff you learn in school, and then there’s real world experience. One aims to prepare you for employment, and the other can make you question everything you ever learned. Starting Your Career As An Artist: A Guide for Painters, Sculptors, Photographers and Other Visual Artists by Angie Wojak and Stacy Miller is a book that succeeds in easing the transition between the “before” and “after”.

When I was studying for my Bachelor’s Degree in painting, my classes were fairly predictable: drawing, design, color theory, etc. Upon graduation I could build and paint a canvas, but I had no idea what to do next. I would meet professional artists light years ahead of me and asked them things like:

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“How did you get gallery representation?”
“How do you price your work?”
“Do I have to report my art sales to the IRS and how?”
“How did you find such awesome studio space?”

Many of them learned the hard way, through trial and error, and I was left wondering why I never learned such necessary, practical skills in school. By my senior year, the university art faculty began to sense a need for this kind of education and created an invaluable new class geared specifically toward answering the questions my classmates and I had started asking.

This book is just like that class and a whole lot more.

Nothing can replace hands-on, on-the-job training, but fortifying yourself with the information this book offers is, if anything, a major confidence builder. It begins with doing a personal assessment and venturing out into your art community to make connections. It provides interviews, DOs and DON’Ts, career planning, resume and portfolio advice, marketing strategies, and simple things that seem so obvious once someone tells you, like, um—TAXES.

If you’re like me and you hate being embarassed by what you don’t know, and find yourself stuck because you don’t know where to turn—or LEARN—this book is perfect. Twelve years since graduation and after ten years working in an art gallery, I can’t think of one thing they’ve left out.

Written by an administrator and a professor from Parsons The New School for Design, these ladies know their stuff and they can’t wait to teach you. It is the perfect book for art teachers, art students and working artists looking for a good kick in the pants.

Heather Kearns

I've been the Sabatini Gallery's associate curator since 2004 and social media coordinator since 2008. My passion is helping people “get“ art, and by that I mean creating an environment both in-house and online which fosters a greater understanding, confidence, and sense of enjoyment from the art experience. Art should be easy to access and available to everyone. I take helping people very seriously.