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Two Ways To Get A Show

Method #1
Teaching at Emily Carr University exposes me to many artists beginning their visual art careers and a great many of them are very interested in being shown in either a public or private gallery. Consequently it seemed wise to me to encourage my students to capitalize on their inexperience....Read more

Making (New Years) Resolutions Work

February is notorious for “resolution failure,” just ask any gym, weight-loss program, or smoking cessation program staff. That makes this the perfect time to consider how to make your resolutions successful.

If you are a regular reader of this column, you may recall that I recently wrote that I assign the making of a pledge in my professional practice course at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. A pledge is a resolution, and I am revisiting that topic for several reasons:...Read more

  1. Many of my students develop, as their final assignment, a proposal for an exhibition that includes their own work plus the work of at least two other artists. In December, two former students who pledged to make their proposal become a reality wrote to say they had succeeded.

Some Winter Observations

In December, this column discussed the importance of narrative to customers when they buy art. Thank you to everyone who wrote to me about that article, and because so many of you wrote in agreement, I would like to provide you with another take on the subject.

I have mentioned before that one assignment that I give to my students of professional development at Emily Carr University is to define “the function of display.” Most students miss the mark with their submissions. Instead of defining the “function” of display, they tend to describe the objects they have on display, but in doing so they tend to reference many strong emotions to the objects they display in their narratives....Read more


Pledge. It’s an old word it seems, one you rarely hear anymore. The word has diverse applications but most of us understand it to mean a promise to do, or not to do, something. Simple pledges between friends function as informal oral contracts. In the loan, mortgage, bail and pawn industries, written commitments guaranteeing repayment are formal legal pledges of repayment and security. But perhaps the most pervasive use of a pledge in our society is the oral vow made at weddings....Read more

What Art Customers Want

I saw some brilliant art marketing while in Montreal this summer. The artist had a show in a small gallery with decidedly different and highly popular documentation.

These are the essential components of how we document each work of visual art at an exhibition: the title, artist’s name, the year of execution, the media used and its dimensions (and often its price). Most of the rest of the information about a work that an art buyer can access is contained in the artist’s statement. ...Read more

Success and Flowers

I began teaching in Continuing Studies at Emily Carr University of Art + Design shortly after my book, Artist Survival Skills, came out. I had picked up a Continuing Studies calendar to see if there was a course I might take and noticed that the listing for a course called The Business of Art showed the teacher was TBA (to be announced).

I contacted the University to offer my services for what I thought would be one semester, assuming the regular teacher was on leave, but I have taught the course every semester since. While I am only in the classroom for six hours a week for two months each semester, my course is a compulsory part of three certificate programs with about twenty students attending each of my two classes....Read more

Don’t be an Artist

Do you, or have you ever, called yourself “an artist?” This title, which I once coveted, is now anathema to me.

I remember when I was young wanting so very badly to be able to say legitimately that I was an artist because I thought it was the supreme profession. Nothing, I thought, could fill me with greater pride than to be an artist. But things started happening to me to deter my ambition early in my education....Read more

Tips For Summer Art Fairs

An email from Betty C. asks: “My gallery sales are down and I’ve been wondering about doing something I have never wanted to do: participate in a local art ‘festival’ for lack of a better word. It is part sale, part summer fair, and I have always thought these kinds of events were inappropriate for me. But I need to increase my sales. Any tips about what to expect or how to maximize my experience?”...Read more

Focus and Passion (and a New Name)

There’s nothing like a good story, and the story about the change of my name at the bottom of this article is a great one. Why I have done this is now a script that is to be produced in Vancouver’s PAL Studio Theatre in April of 2013....Read more

Selling Emotions, Not Art

A great way to become a better seller of artwork is to go through a challenging purchase in full consciousness, so I like to assign my students the hypothetical challenge of selecting a domestic product that they have never owned and know nothing about. The point of the assignment is to make my students hyper-aware of how they buy, what criteria they use to make their selection, what triggers their purchase, and what they are seeking when they make their decision.

In many cases, my students will realize that what they want from their purchase is an emotion – often, that emotion is confidence or fulfillment. They want to feel happy with their decision; that they paid a fair price and that their product will last....Read more