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Queens artists learn secrets of marketing success

How many serious visual artists recognize that they can learn the marketing and networking skills that will bring their finished works the recognition they deserve? Well, nearly 50 Queens artists learned what it takes at the information-packed workshop “Your Business as an Artist” at Flushing Town Hall on May 31.

The workshop was sponsored by the Douglaston-based National Art League with the assistance of a small grant from the Queens Council on the Arts regrant program, and presented with panache by Susan Koblin Schear.

Schear covered a number of topics during the four-hour workshop, from presentation to pricing to promotion. But if there was an underlying theme it was the importance of artists' planning, focusing on achievable, measurable goals and doing research to find the most appropriate places to exhibit or sell their particular type (or types) of work.

For example, Schear led a lively brief brainstorming session for one workshop participant who paints seascapes. Everyone participated in the process, and suggestions included approaching upscale furniture stores, restaurants, real estate offices in coastal towns, gift shops and other venues to see whether they might want to hang some artwork on their walls.

Schear said that artists need portfolios that are “simple and professional.” They should include three written documents: a resume, a biography, and an artist's statement, along with images of their work.

“Color slides are still the norm,” Schear said, but she added, “Be sure to find out what the gallery wants. Times are changing and sometimes they’ll want photographs or digital images on CDs.”

Workshop participants asked about the differences between the resume, biography, and artist's statement. Schear explained that the resume is “more like bullet points,” that the biography consists of a few paragraphs written in the third person, “as if you are speaking about someone else,” and that the statement reflects the artist’s own voice and motivations.

For beginning or self-taught artists who haven’t had solo exhibitions or other recognition, Schear advised, “You’ll probably want to focus on the biography and statement, talking about how you came to your artwork, perhaps through your career or another experience.”

Workshop organizer Madeline Braisted said the National Art League sponsored the workshop “to reach out to the Queens arts community and disseminate information that artists might not otherwise come across.”

The NAL, which is located at 44-21 Douglaston Pkwy. in Douglaston, also sponsors several open exhibits and member exhibits throughout the year. The NAL conducts open meetings featuring artist demonstrations on the first Friday of each month from September through June, and, as Braisted said, “They’re free. Stop by and join us for the evening.”

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