Accelerating on the Curves: The Artist’s Roadmap to Success

Katherine T. Carter & Associates, a public relations and marketing firm, promotes artists and shepherds them through the process of getting exhibitions and press coverage, articulating their artistic visions, and ultimately advancing their careers. The firm’s recent publication, Accelerating on the Curves: The Artist’s Roadmap to Success, aims to provide artists with art-business tools and concrete career plans.

The structure of the first section of the book, written by Carter, mirrors her framework for an artist’s career path: three stages of development describe an artist’s career level, visibility, and goals. She sounds some notes in common with other art business advice—“When you decided to become an artist…you did not take a vow of poverty”—but intriguingly, the defining factor in Carter’s discussion is geography. The “Stage One” chapters review local, county, and statewide development; “Stage Two” covers regional development; and “Stage Three” has advice on national career development. While this is not necessarily the way that all careers progress, Carter makes a good argument for focusing on, and attaining, incremental goals—her structure encourages artists to build on their accomplishments systematically. Very practically, she encourages artists to lay career foundations and make appropriately timed efforts.

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Yoshitomo Nara: Nobody’s Fool

Beloved cult figure and blue-chip art world asset, Nara has achieved mainstream success with seemingly little compromise. Having learned the lessons of his punk rock heroes, he recognizes the pitfalls. It’s hard to retain the values of “Garageland” once money and power come into play, yet thanks to his mischievous and sometimes malevolent alter-egos, he remains the perpetual guttersnipe—distilling the isolation, alienation, and fierce independence of youth. He may be an adult now (with slightly tempered tastes), but his morally and ethically ambiguous imps allow him, as well as the rest of us, to revel vicariously in the uncivilized wildness that is (or was) the privilege of childhood, before socialization delimits protean worlds and “responsibility” proscribes every creative action.

The fear of becoming an imaginatively castrated drone, sleepwalking through life like the drained commuters in David Mitchell’s Number9Dream, is Nara’s driving insight. For more than 20 years, his message, shouted out with raw intensity from every new work, has been nothing less than a rousing call to rediscover and preserve curiosity and freedom in the face of relentless pressures: as he says, “Never forget your beginner’s spirit.” While acknowledging the demands and problems of the real world—for all their swagger, even the most defiant of Nara’s children betrays vulnerability, fear, and a sense of uncertainty—he invites us to reconnect with the rebellious spirit that accompanies youthful optimism and the belief that we can change the world.

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