Alyson Stanfield’s I’d Rather Be in the Studio! The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion is an art-business workshop in book format, featuring a strict but kind instructor who anticipates and quickly discredits any complaints. Stanfield writes that she chose the book’s title because “I hear that excuse more than any other from artists who are not promoting their work consistently.” The book is structured around artists’ common excuses, from “There aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all” to “I don’t want to bother people.” Stanfield, whose background in art museums provided the foundation for her art-consultation business, refutes these arguments, providing concrete “actions” in the form of individual chapters that respond to a given excuse.
These 16 “action” chapters review defining success, writing an artist statement, public speaking, creating a portfolio, establishing a Web site or blog, using social media (this chapter is new to the second edition), sending a newsletter, communicating effectively, following up on leads, attracting media attention, building contacts, considering low-cost promotion methods, writing out a plan, and maintaining momentum.
One of the most helpful things that Stanfield does is to provide specific prompts—for example, she doesn’t just say, “Write an artist statement.” She acknowledges that statements can be difficult to tackle and offers a series of exercises for artists to begin thinking about how to communicate their work to outsiders, such as topics for journaling and assignments for conversations with non-artist acquaintances. These are intended to help artists articulate the ideas and processes behind their work, which, in turn, should facilitate discussions with gallerists and collectors. Only then does Stanfield ask artists to review their writing and edit the strongest sentences and themes into a concise, powerful artist statement. Each chapter follows a similar pattern, with specific advice and tactics.
I’d Rather Be in the Studio! would be most beneficial for emerging artists who feel comfortable with their studio work but are dithering elsewhere. The book doesn’t focus on aspects of art business that concern more established artists—for example, Stanfield spends little to no time on gallery agreements, grant writing, or legal issues. But she does a very thorough job of asking artists to articulate their goals and organize their lives; artists who are struggling to get started will be able to follow her advice, get back to spending time in the studio, and feel more confident promoting their work.
I’d Rather Be in the Studio! The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion
by Alyson B. Stanfield
Paperback, 264 pages, $24.95
Published by Pentas Press
For additional information, visit www.idratherbeinthestudio.com