Thursday, October 29, 2009

What Goes Around Comes Around

Remember that post from a couple of weeks ago when I wrote that I was irked by artists who teach workshops and classes when they really don't have the credentials? Well, in an ironic twist, I was accused of doing that very same thing this week -- billing myself as a marketing expert teaching a workshop when I really don't have the chops. Huh.

Now that I've had a few days to get over my righteous indignation, I'm ready to think through my feelings on the subject more clearly. One thing I realized is that in all my years, I've rarely seen an artist intentionally take advantage of fellow artists. We can't. We know how hard we have to work, and we just can't stick it to other people who work as hard as we do. 

That made me realize that maybe some of those not-quite-ready-to-teach teachers are actually motivated by the same things I am. It's not the money. They're just so in love with art that they want everyone to have the same great experience by sharing whatever they know, just like I'm excited about marketing (yes, I'm a business geek) and I want to share what I know. I don't claim to be a cutting-edge marketing guru or innovator, but I do know an awful lot about the subject (I've been studying marketing for 25 years and have picked the brains of the most successful artists around to find out how they do it), and I feel like it's my honor and privilege to share what I've learned with my fellow artists. 

Regardless of what the teacher's motives are, it's still up to all students to determine whether they'll get their money's worth out of the experience. Don't commit to something until you've done some research and it feels like a good fit for you. Now, there are some lovely people who are putting their faith in me this weekend, and I'm not letting them leave until they've hammered out the core of their marketing plans and feel capable of implementing them. 

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Marketing Insight

Wow! I'm doing some research for my upcoming workshop on marketing for artists (see the description to the left for more details), and just came across a surprising new statistic. Remember how marketers used to say it required at least 5 contacts before you captured someone's attention with your marketing? Statistics now show it takes between 9 and 27 messages to capture someone's attention! We're so bombarded with marketing messages that we've become very adept at tuning them out! Good thing there are now more vehicles to deliver those marketing messages than ever.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Choosing the Right Teacher

Do you mind if I share a pet peeve of mine? I really object to artists who hang out their shingles as art instructors when they still have so much to learn themselves. I'm not sure why some artists who have barely passed out of the amateur stage think they have the skills or abilities or right to teach, but I've seen it happen time and again. Since there's nothing we can do to stop them, it's up to the would-be art student to determine who is really a good teacher.

So how do you find a good teacher, someone with real credentials to teach? How can you tell when you yourself know relatively little about art, which is why you're seeking lessons in the first place? I think you should ask the prospective teacher a lot of questions before you sign on for private lessons. Here are some of the things to look for:
  • A formal education is no guarantee that he or she has mastered the craft of painting, but I'd like the teacher to be able to say that he or she has pursued a lot of instruction with other master artists through schools, private lessons, and/or workshops.
  • A lengthy track record of exhibitions, awards, and sales. This shows that peers and other experts have acknowledged that this teacher is a good artist.
  • High quality in other students' work. Have any of this teacher's current or former students gone on to become professionals? How does their work look to you? Case in point: My teacher, Tina Tammaro, has trained so many of us local artists who have become professionals that we were invited to have a huge group show in a gallery. (Even more impressive was that none of our works looked like hers because she helped each of us find our personal voices!)
  • And finally, a true teacher is going to talk about training you in the fundamentals. I would steer clear of any teacher who talks about step-by-step projects, formulas, or anything that sounds like the teacher is trying to make it easy. Learning to paint is not easy, and any teacher who says he or she has found a way to make it so is not really teaching you to paint. Ditto for teachers who focus on helping you to "express yourself."
What else? Do any of you have further thoughts on selecting a worthwhile teacher? Let me hear from you.