What if there were no more art galleries?

Hi readers! This is Danielle here, 1/3 of Mambu Badu! I recently had the opportunity to interview artist/arts advocate Kesha Bruce again (I interviewed her for the Liberator Magazine some time ago), this time regarding her new venture, the 6×6 Arts Festival. We also talked about how artists can create a more opportunities for themselves, rather than waiting to be discovered by a gallery or editorial client. I gained some insights on where I need to improve and push myself in my own work. Read more below:

How, in your view, can artists create a better work/life balance?

Kesha Bruce: I get this question all the time from my consulting clients, so I can tell you right now that my answer is going to be unpopular.  Here it is:  Realize that you cannot have it all, and understand that time cannot be managed. The only thing you can manage is how you choose to spend your time.  (Emphasis mine.)

Make a list of the things in your life that are truly the most important to you and bring you the most joy. Then beg, borrow, steal, and fight like hell to squeeze a little bit of those things into every day.  Even if you only get to spend 10 minutes a day making art, 10 minutes is better than no minutes!

What is one concrete action an artist can take right now to establish a more fulfilling/successful career?

KB: I wish I had an easier answer, but every successful art career is built on a combination of actions—and combined consistently.  There isn’t one magic thing you can do that will transform your career.  If there were—we’d all be doing it!  Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way.   All of your marketing efforts must work together and they need to be consistent. Meaning they need to be planned and scheduled. And you need to commit to repeating them over a certain period of time.

There are no magic bullets or easy formulas.  A successful art career is built on a system of actions that you work and implement day by day —every day—in order to be constantly generating new work and interest in your work that will lead to sales.

Could you just talk a little about what inspired 6×6 and what you hope to accomplish with it?

KB: The idea for 6×6 came one night during a discussion I had with my friend and fellow artist Charlie Grosso.  We  were having one of those long involved discussions about art, and how it’s bought and sold and what we would do differently.  By the end of the evening we have decided that instead of just talking about the way thing should be, that we should actually go do something about it.

The whole point producing 6×6 is to lead by example. The entire event is  a blue-print for how artists can work together to help each other promote their art.  At the end of 6×6, we’ll take the video footage, workshop notes, and podcast recordings and package it all up into an affordable, easily downloadable, step-by-step “How-To” guide so that independent artists can learn exactly how they can plan and re-create their own version of 6×6 in their own art communities.

What are some key differences between the traditional gallery system and the 6×6/Baang + Burne approach?

KB: Well for starters, we have no set location, so we organize events wherever and whenever we want in any format we choose.  Secondly, our contract with each Baang and Burne artist is non-exclusive and each artist gets to tell us what percentage they want to pay us for each sale—which is pretty unheard of within the traditional gallery system.

But honestly the biggest difference is our simple no-nonsense attitude towards art sales.  We don’t go out and try to find art collectors.  We create them by building relationships between art lovers and artists.  It really is that simple.

To learn more about 6×6, read Kesha’s weekly articles on art, art marketing, and creativity and to download a free copy of her guide “The 5 Step Art Career Make-Over” visit her blog at http://www.keshabrucestudio.com/.


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