Brainard Carey Gives You the Keys to the Kingdom in ‘Making It in the Art World’

Making It in the Art World: New Approaches to Galleries, Shows, and Raising Money

 by Brainard Carey © 2011

 ISBN: 978-1-58115-868-7

 Rating: 10/10 – Useful!

I received this book as a Christmas gift last year and I have to say that it’s one of the best surprise books I have ever received – i.e. my SIL found it without any hints or input from me!

For those who don’t know, Brainard Carey is an artist and career coach for other artists /creative types.

In Making It in the Art World Brainard covers a ton of topics and the end of almost every chapter includes a workbook-style page which allows you to immediately apply what you just read to your own experiences and thoughts.

There aren’t as many intense thought / writing exercises as What Color Is Your Parachute, but you may find yourself inspired enough to scribble a lot of notes.

“Now is the time to make it; now is the time to show the world that you are a leader and have something to offer. Your art, your creative ideas, your willingness to be able to take a risk for what you believe in are all part of the new economy that you must engage unless you want to keep looking for a job that is boring, dull and will suck the creative life out of you.”

Brainard kicks off the book with a fair assessment of the current economic situation. He issues a call to arms for creatives to ignore traditional thinking (e.g. the only “successful” artist is a starving one) and traditional opportunities (like an unhealthy obsession with finding a gallery to represent you in New York City).

If you think it’s impossible to find a career in art, Brainard makes a well organized case to the contrary.  Some of the topics include:

  • Examples of income modes for artists.
  • Presentation tools and techniques for artists (including a sample email template for reaching out to museum curators).
  • Tips on how to create, build and maintain important professional relationships.
  • Insights into artist statements and critics.
  • Time management techniques.
  • Ideas for working with sponsors and private patrons.
  • The story behind Mr. and Mrs. Brainard’s surprising inclusion in the 2002 Whitney Biennial.

I heartily recommend this book to all creatives. It’s great for soon-to-be and new art school grads as well as emerging artists. I especially suggest this for someone like myself. Someone who has a BFA, but they’ve been caught up in working regular, less-fulfilling-than-art jobs.

Two technical notes:

(1)  I like hard copies of how-to books and cookbooks. While I’m one of those boring people who doesn’t usually write in books, I will flatten a spine. When I did that with the paperback edition of Making It in the Art World, the cover almost completely separated from the spine.

(2)   Just as the introduction to the Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters suggests, “The quickest way to success is to read the entire book from cover-to-cover – twice. The first time helps you to appreciate how all the ideas fit together… The second read is where you start to combine the strategies…


[I]n this economy, you don’t have time to waste. [Read] the book from cover-to-cover as directed. It’s faster!”  



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<< Plans for the Blog Going Forward 



Published by Emily Duncan, on December 3rd, 2013 at 10:26 am. Filled under: Art News,Book Review,Current Events,FYI,Professional Development,SummaryNo Comments

Plans for the Blog Going Forward

I had a minor setback in writing this week. I was the designated driver for a loved one going into surgery the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. While I had brought everything I would need with me, it was overly ambitious to think I’d be able to concentrate. (Everything turned out fine, by the way!)

Jumping in, the functional goals I have for this blog fit in to the theme of continuing education (as I outlined in the previous post):

(1) Read / summarize / review art theory books. Especially those which are suggested reading for MFA candidates in the Visual Arts.

(2) Read / summarize / review books on professional development for creatives.

(3) Progress reports on on-going projects, artist interviews and events in Atlanta.


I’m still noodling through my plans for an editorial calendar, but I will forge ahead with my blog in the meantime!



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Brainard Carey Gives You the Keys to the Kingdom in ‘Making It in the Art World’  >>



Published by Emily Duncan, on December 1st, 2013 at 6:01 pm. Filled under: Art News,Creativity,Current Events,FYI,Uncategorized2 Comments

Hello, World

Hi, everybody!

You can’t see it yet, but I’m working on a revamp of my site. My web guy has gotten pulled further into his day job for the time being. So I thought, “Why not jump start my blog while we wait?”

I have been wanting to do this for a while, but I have had issues sparing the mental bandwidth to do so. As an experiment, I started my day by handwriting this copy at the very start of my day. So far, so good.

It has been almost 18 months since my last entry and, believe it or not, a lot has happened since then. Here are the highlights – at least the ones that will be relevant to this blog:

I drifted away from the part-time art classes and I started working full time for a growing publisher called Booktrope.

I applied and was accepted into the MFA Painting program at SCAD Atlanta. As the enrollment date approached, it became clear that the only financial aid I would have access to would be in the form of student loans. It was then that I decided not to proceed with an MFA at SCAD Atlanta. Please don’t misunderstand. It’s a fantastic school with an amazing network of alums, but I just couldn’t square the numbers.

2013 Tuition – $33,750 @ 3 years = $101, 250.


Loans – $20,500 (Unsubsidized Direct Loan) + $21, 873 (Optional Graduate PLUS Loan)

= $42,373

(And 3 years of that = $127,119 (!!!))


While I have confidence that I probably could have found a clever way to pay that off, it made more sense to design my own “program of study” which includes developing my own knowledge / skill base and network of contacts, free from the yoke of crushing debt.

2013 has had a few creative bright spots, but my plan is to get more active and to use my blog as an accountability tool.

So far this year I have:

* Worked on 4 painting projects.* Visited the Girl with a the Pearl Earring / Dutch masters show at de Young museum in San Francisco. (The paintings were so jewel-like and the staging was impressive. The paintings seemed to have been lit from the inside!)
* Attended a coptic binding workshop at Straw Hat Press.
* Joined Leisa Rich’s Artistic Genealogy trial workshop at C4. (I’d really like to take the longer, two-day version in the future.)
* Took part in Art Is King at the Atlanta Tech Village and I gave a quick interview for the Art Life project.
* I designed the cover art for the re-release of Diana McLellan’s The Girls: Sappho Goes to Hollywood. (Design reveal coming soon!)


It feels good to see some of this written out and I hope to do more over the course of the next year. Coming up next: I will walk though more specifics about what I plan to do with this blog and how it will benefit both you and me. (Well, that’s assuming you’re interested in art. Otherwise, I’m not entirely sure you will like consuming any of this content.)




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Plans for the Blog Going Forward >>


Published by Emily Duncan, on November 26th, 2013 at 9:35 am. Filled under: Art News,Creativity,Current Events,FYI,UncategorizedNo Comments

Life After The Cube

I left my previous job – and a 2 hour daily commute – at the end of March. The first part of April has been full of indie book promotion and an indie marketing campaign for my new Grumbacher sponsored acrylic painting class at Michael’s. I’m hoping to streamline the process of posting calendar updates to different online publications so it’s not such a time drain.

So far it’s been good experience. I don’t have a problem concentrating or finding things to do. Instead, my main challenge has been figuring out how to fit everything I want to do into a day. I’ve put a large black corkboard on the wall behind me to visually organize everything that I want to do. I just need to make myself stop and fill it in with my notes.

Having a painting class to manage has been just the push I needed to start regularly painting again. I’m recording the process in order to make examples of my work as well as lesson plans for future classes. You can check out my first painting over at The next step will be to make some vlogs, I just need to do some research on some good lighting solutions.

Published by Emily Duncan, on April 18th, 2012 at 9:59 pm. Filled under: Art News,Creativity,Current Events,Painting,PhotographyNo Comments

Artists for Japan

My friend Emiko (the photographer with whom I organized the EMerge show) has started a collection of inspirational works by Japanese artists. [See the collection here]

As is the trend for many young creatives in Japan, she’s made postcard reproductions of the works to sell for charity.

Published by Emily Duncan, on May 25th, 2011 at 9:34 pm. Filled under: Art News,Creativity,Life in Japan,Photography Tags: , , , , 2 Comments

The Creativity Crisis

This morning, after sending off yet another job application, I caught up on a little bit of reading. I love my Google Reader, but sheesh, there’s so much information at any given time. It’s hard to process and read it all. Today I did find a pretty interesting article about creativity and how it’s decreasing in children these days:

THE CREATIVITY CRISIS: For the first time, research shows that American creativity is declining. What went wrong—and how we can fix it.

Back in 1958, Ted Schwarzrock was an 8-year-old third grader when he became one of the ´Torrance kids,´ a group of nearly 400 Minneapolis children who completed a series of creativity tasks newly designed by professor E. Paul Torrance. Schwarzrock still vividly remembers the moment when a psychologist handed him a fire truck and asked, ´How could you improve this toy to make it better and more fun to play with?” He recalls the psychologist being excited by his answers. In fact, the psychologist’s session notes indicate Schwarzrock rattled off 25 improvements, such as adding a removable ladder and springs to the wheels. That wasn’t the only time he impressed the scholars, who judged Schwarzrock to have ´unusual visual perspective” and ´an ability to synthesize diverse elements into meaningful products.”

The accepted definition of creativity is pro´duction of something original and useful, and that’s what’s reflected in the tests. There is never one right answer. To be creative requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) and then convergent thinking (combining those ideas into the best result).

In the 50 years since Schwarzrock and the others took their tests, scholars—first led by Torrance, now his colleague, Garnet Millar—have been tracking the children, recording every patent earned, every business founded, every research paper published, and every grant awarded. They tallied the books, dances, radio shows, art exhibitions, software programs, advertising campaigns, hardware innovations, music compositions, public policies (written or implemented), leadership positions, invited lectures, and buildings designed.

Nobody would argue that Torrance’s tasks, which have become the gold standard in creativity assessment, measure creativity perfectly. What’s shocking is how incredibly well Torrance’s creativity index predicted those kids’ creative accomplishments as adults. Those who came up with more good ideas on Torrance’s tasks grew up to be entrepreneurs, inventors, college presidents, authors, doctors, diplomats, and software developers. Jonathan Plucker of Indiana University recently reanalyzed Torrance’s data. The correlation to lifetime creative accomplishment was more than three times stronger for childhood creativity than childhood IQ.

Like intelligence tests, Torrance’s test—a 90-minute series of discrete tasks, administered by a psychologist—has been taken by millions worldwide in 50 languages. Yet there is one crucial difference between IQ and CQ scores. With intelligence, there is a phenomenon called the Flynn effect—each generation, scores go up about 10 points. Enriched environments are making kids smarter. With creativity, a reverse trend has just been identified and is being reported for the first time here: American creativity scores are falling…

Published by Emily Duncan, on July 10th, 2010 at 1:57 pm. Filled under: Art News,Creativity,FYI Tags: , , , 2 Comments

Griffiths / Desiderio

Oil painting is a nasty business. I personally admire people who can do it. People who have the patience to deal with the stickiness, the solvents, the fact that their work doesn’t simply dry are of a far more patient ilk than I.

During one of my painting studio classes at UGA my professor, Margaret Morrison, was able to have a visiting lecturer, Vincent Desiderio, come to our class and speak about rendering figures in oil paintings. I liked what he had to say. If you have a look at his paintings, it´s quite obvious that he is devoted to creating oil paintings in a classical style.

Super simple summary of the process: first, the painter lays down a ground on the canvas. These days painters generally use gesso, a thick, chalky paint. Gesso works to prime the canvas and seal it, protecting it from the oil paint which, if given enough time, will eventually eat through the fabric. (To visualize it, think of the effect a greasy burger and fries have on a brown paper bag.) After this, a traditional painter will begin to build their painting by painting a thin layer of color. Usually a brown or an umber. Then the painter will build up color by painting in layers. Paint a layer of shadows, wait for it to dry. Paint some midtones, wait for it to dry, etc. This is why so many classic oil paintings (and the works of those inspired by the old masters) tend to have very dramatic lighting. They´re often building the lightforms emerging from the darkness.

Even though I don´t like using oil paint, I enjoy the work of skilled oil painters. Every time I see a traditionally rendered oil painting, it reminds me of Desderio’s comments about the importance of light. He referred to the the point where a curved shape shifts from light to dark as “the turning.” Capturing The Turning makes all the difference.

I was reminded of this the other day when I was introduced to the work ofMitch Griffiths.

According to the press release for his upcoming show, The Promised Land:Griffiths uses a traditional, almost forgotten style of painting, inspired by the light and composition of Old Master paintings, but he uses this style to depict the issues concerning 21st-century British society. His main subject is the transient and throwaway nature of contemporary culture, which is held in stark contrast to the permanence and indelibility of oil paint on canvas.

Griffiths says: “Once you paint a MacDonald’s burger box in oil paint, it becomes important and immortal. It’s a permanent mark of the disposable.”

This exhibition references 21st-century Britain and, taking the Union Jack as the recurring theme, it explores the inflammatory nature of what the flag represents alongside what Griffiths perceives to the overriding concerns of today’s society: consumerism and self-obsession followed by the need for redemption.

Griffiths cleverly employs the painstaking method of traditional oil painting to chronical the downfall of an empire. He builds these beautiful narritives about the middle class using a medium which was once exclusively reserved for capturing the idealized likenesses of royalty.

Desiderio, on the other hand, uses the uses traditional oil painting to elevate his subjects and the moment in which they exist. His investment of time and materials express the depth of emotion within the picture plane.

Seeing the works of both painters makes me want to get better at painting and rendering the human form while telling a story.

Published by Emily Duncan, on April 25th, 2010 at 11:59 am. Filled under: Art News,Painting Tags: , , , , No Comments


This weekend I was doing some reading and came across the British grafiti duo, Bestever. I was mesmerized by the level of photorealism these guys have achieved by simply using spray paint. I have read that one can push the medium by doing things like using specially designed tips which change the flow of the paint coming out of the can. Still, it´s a treat to see such beautiful works rendered in spray paint.

According to this interview, the works tend to center around the theme of the fragility of the human body:

[I]t´s an anatomical and surgical way of looking at human figures. It´s mainly about death and disease. [P]ainting the things that you don´t see in a human but we know they are there; different angles, bones, blood and cells; even working out calculations that occur by just keeping a body alive. [This reminds us of] how fragile the human body is and how weak we all are as forms.

Published by Emily Duncan, on April 19th, 2010 at 6:22 pm. Filled under: Art News,Painting Tags: , , No Comments

Eric Robert Parnes

Yesterday I stumbled across a series of paintings by Eric Robert Parnes. I read a little of his blog.

According to his CV:

The multi-media work of Eric Robert Parnes incorporates both his background as an American Iranian male and the history of images from the millennium forward. His two and three dimensional works all align themselves with an intentional revision of the ways in which grapheme have driven war, religion, and fashion through time. By appropriating and re-contextualizing these symbols and signs, Parnes has inverted their meaning; and by doing so become a provocateur of the highest order. Parnes resides in the Lower East Side in New York City.

Parnes´ work can next be seen at Seattle´s Center on Contemporary Arts as part of the group exhibition: I RAN Home (In America). In my online stumbles, I came across his series of works centered on the theme of shopping. In terms of the imagery, I understand what he´s trying to do. It´s clever. I appreciate it, but I´d like to review it simply in terms of imagery and execution.

I´m reminded of when I first started using photoshop. I loved he images that could be produced by applying certain effects. I was enamored of the feedback loop a painter could create: artist takes photo → manipulates photo → paints reproduction of manipulated photo. It´s quite sexy. One keeps the altered imagery, but they can also add the physical texture of something which has been made by a human hands. I find myself less interested in such works these days, though. I hope this trend of painting things which are obviously copies of snapshots will come to an end soon.

That being said, I like these studies. I like the use of text. As a person who cannot read the languge, my brain doesn´t automatically jump to assign it a meaning. It becomes another piece of the picture.

The internationally known logos are unavoidable. But I enjoy how he captures their blocky, blownout glare.

My most favorite element of the paintings, however, is the women. Without the normal ports of emotional entry: faces and hands, they become almost dehumanized. They too become design elements within the painting. Small dark machines interacting with garish signage and buildings. It´s quite exciting.

If you have the chance, definately stop by to take a look at I RAN Home (In America) at Seatte´s CoCa: Artists´ Reception, Thursday, June 10, 6-9pm / On View Weekdays 10am – 5pm, June 10 – July 5, 2010.

Published by Emily Duncan, on April 16th, 2010 at 12:27 pm. Filled under: Art News,Painting Tags: , , No Comments

Kanazawa – Day 1

Spent a little too long getting things together that morning. I’d only slept about 3 hours and had packed nothing.

I needed to catch the 6:40 train in order to make just one transfer before Kanazawa. I got the 7:10 train. I had to get off in Kyoto and wait for almost an hour for the train heading to the end of the line: Tsuruga.

I hadn’t factored in that everyone would be heading home for the holidays, so all the trains were packed. I stood for at least an hour after leaving Kyoto. After leaving Kyoto there was a lady who was already squashed against me and she started doing some weird puppet dance with the little girl she was with. Picking up the little girl’s arms and flopping them around. When the train stopped, they backed right into me.

The woman apologized several times, and I said it was OK. This is when she started asking me several questions in English which I answered in Japanese. Almost in exasperation she told her friend (who was standing about 3 feet away) that I was doing this. I knew, however, had I given her a whole sentence in English, she could give me that cat face that Japanese people get when they don’t understand what you have just said. I mean, they don’t really look like cats as much as their faces become expressionless and you’re left wondering how much they understood of what you just said.

With people moving in and out of the train, we shuffled around and I just put my headphones back on and looked out the window. It was so overcast and misty that day that I couldn’t even see the horizon on Lake Biwa. It looked like there were big blue blobs floating in the grayness. It didn’t really matter, I was on the side of the train facing the mountains. So I leaned against the doors and looked at those instead. And sure enough, a woman climbed over a nearby passenger, her little girl and their luggage to throw herself against the 2.5 foot wide space next to me.

Finally got to the end of the line and waited for my connecting train to Fukui. It was a really old train. Really blocky looking.

A few minutes after leaving Tsuruga we went through a tunnel. It must have taken about 20 minutes to get through it. On the other side everything was covered in snow.

Got to Fukui and had to figure out which platform to go to. I was surprised at how big the station was.

Rode a similar white train to Kanazawa. A family across the aisle from me ate lunch and then played a spirited game of Uno. Seriously, who gets that excited about uno?!!

Arrived in Kanazawa around 2:30. Put me stuff in a locker and walked out of the station. I had no idea where anything was. I’d never been there before. 15 minutes before getting off the train I noticed that all the maps and papers that I had printed out, I had left them all at home. (I’d noticed that I had left my digital camera when i was in Kyoto and bought a disposable camera after getting some freshly blended banana juice ).

Luckily I found a place where I could use the Internet to look it up. I got a taxi to the hotel. But there are 5 or 6 hotels in Kanazawa called APA. He took me to the wrong one so I had to walk up the road to the one I needed.

I checked in, put my stuff in the room, and went to the contemporary art museum.

It was the main reason for me to go to Kanazawa. When I first came in I could see people looking into a swimming pool.

Once I could see into the pool I could see what a fantastic illusion it was. The top portion was very shallow with a plexiglass bottom. You could see through to the room below. And those in the room below could look up through the pool at you.

Yoshitomo Nara was having a big project there. There were several things that he was doing, but the biggest thing was in a big room with black walls there was a small house inside with a head/ the moon perched on the front.

Inside of the house was a workshop. His studio for the duration of this project. On certain days you can go in and see him working. Even talk to him. But I had gone on one of his off days.

Left the museum and kicked around for a little bit before deciding to buy supplies: a small towel for the onsen, a 2 pack of “classy bubblebath,” a big bottle of water, and dinner from McDonalds.

I called it a night and went back to my room. Ate dinner and then read my book in my “classy” bath.

Went to bed about 7:30.

Published by Emily Duncan, on January 2nd, 2007 at 3:56 am. Filled under: Art News,Life in Japan Tags: , , , , , No Comments