Hey there, I’m Jessica watchorn, creator of the Art Pro Podcast. Let me tell you a little about what i’m trying to do.
About the Podcast:
The Art Pro Podcast is a weekly show where I interview successful artists and other art world insiders. My goal is to find out how they got from where we are, to where they are. I ask artists about how they developed their body of work, how they got their first breaks, and how they’ve gone about growing their businesses. It’s a show about making art making a living and making a name for yourself. From time to time I’ll also interview gallery owners, curators, or collectors who are willing to share valuable insights from their side of the art market.
According to art history books most of the artists in history would have learned their trade by apprenticing with established artists, learning to paint or sculpt, but no doubt also seeing how the business is run. How one should interact with collectors and patrons, attract new business, price work, and organize a studio practice.
These days artists are often left completely to our own devices when it comes to how to actually turn their creative output into a career and an income. I see the podcast as a remedy to this situation. A chance for us to learn how the art pro’s do it, rather than having to learn everything the hard way.
Im hoping that when you listen to each episode you’ll get new ideas and insights that you can try in your own life and work. I hope you’ll feel inspired and encouraged. I hope that every now and then you’ll hear from an artist I interview and think “yes! That could be me! What im trying to do is possible” even if you’re not quite there yet.
This show runs entirely on the openness and generosity of art pro’s sharing their stories. All so that other artists like us don’t have to reinvent the wheel. I am eternally grateful to all the guests of the show. I literally could not do it without them. My role is just to try to ask good questions and then pay it forward to you!
You can subscribe to get every new episode of the podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play. If you like the show please leave a review! I really value the feedback to keep improving the show and it helps more new people find the show too.
You can also listen to the episodes here on the site or just check out the show notes with all the art and links we discuss in each episode. If you don’t already listen while your working in your studio, you should give it a try. Yes, even if your ‘studio’ is your kitchen table. And while you’re here, join the art pro community, its a free!
I’m one of those people who always wanted to be an artist. I can vividly remember going to the national gallery for the first time as a kid and having my mind blown. I also remember a lady sitting outside with her easel painting some flowers. My mum must have been inspired too because on the way home we stopped at an art supply store and she bought me my first set of good paints.
I eventually ended up going to an arts magnet high school and my teachers there were the best I have had. When I wanted to go study art for university, everyone seemed to think it was a great idea.
I’m sure I did wonder about whether I would be able to make a living as an artist but everyone seemed to agree that university graduates would be in high demand. In all fairness that probably was fairly true for previous generations.
None the less I graduated 5 years later with a double major in Studio Art and Political Geography, $40,000 in debt, and no job prospects. While in school I had already started showing and selling some work and I continued trying to do that.
It didn’t last long though. What I refer to as my crisis of art faith had also already begun. I had started to try and make work that I thought would sell better, and my work started to feel meaningless. I kept just feeling embarrassed whenever I scrambled some work together at the last minute for a show.
For the first time in my life, the performance anxiety that made everything else such a struggle, crept into my art making, and I just stopped. This was deeply worrying because I had defined myself as an artist for so long and now I felt as if I didn’t even care about art.
Before too long the need to work full time and support myself took over. I got the only kind of job I thought I could get, and started working 50 hour weeks in a restaurant. I didn’t have much time anymore, but I did try other things like learning to play ukulele and writing a blog. eventually I realized that if I could do those things that I was not terribly good at, then surely I could be brave enough to make some art again.
Even though I like my job now, that wasn’t always the case. After working there for a year or two I felt so trapped, and bitter about my student loans. I came across a book called Early Retirement Extreme and then a blog called Mr. Money Mustache. That may sound kind of silly but they changed my life.
I learned that the number of years you need to work a day job is dictated by your savings rate (assuming you are investing the savings). I also learned a different way of thinking about money and consumption.I started making a few changes. I managed to go from spending essentially everything I made, to spending only 50%. Don’t forget, I worked at a restaurant making about $13/hour at the time.
At a 50% savings rate I could retire and maintain my standard of living after only about 14 years. 14 years is not a long working career but still too long to do a job you don’t love. Plus I still had to pay off my student loan and maybe buy a house someday or do some traveling. I kept living on 50% or less (to this day in fact) and paid off my student loan like I was putting out a fire.
That’s how I became interested in entrepreneurship. I saw it as a way to create my own job doing something I either liked, or that could support me while not taking up all my time. I thought a lot about what I could possibly do or sell.
Finally one day I realized that instead of trying to start a business (so that I could eventually have time to devote to art), being an artist could be the business! The goal was the solution I had been looking for.
I think most people decide to be artists and then realize they have to figure out the business side. For me, in the end, I wanted to start a business and then remembered I was an artist.
Thats where the idea for the podcast started. I had been listening to all kinds of podcasts for entrepreneurs. When I decided my goal would be making it as an artist, I really wanted to listen to a podcast for artist entrepreneurs. I wanted to hear about how different artists found their own unique paths to success- for inspiration. I had a hard time finding exactly what I was looking for and thats when the idea for the Art Pro Podcast was born.
I started the podcast because I already knew there was more to becoming a successful artist than making art. I know I’m not the only one who’s struggled to figure out the rest of the equation. So I’m making the podcast for all the artists like myself, who are motivated and ready to start taking their art career seriously. The ones who don’t just want to sit back and hope that someone discovers them. I’m right there with you.
About the community:
On that note I’d like to invite you again to join our budding community! The Art Pro community is totally free to join. You get access to a growing network of like minded artists as well as our weekly newsletter. It’s a double whammy of tips, advice, opportunities, and mutual support.
The newsletter will be a weekly digest of the top tips from that weeks podcast episode plus bonus material. That extra content will change week to week but will include any notable calls for submissions or other upcoming opportunities, a featured artists work, best studio practices, business tips, and highlights from conversations going on in the community.
The community group is coming soon. It will probably take the form of a private Facebook group where member artists can ask questions, get feed back, share news, get support, and find out about upcoming opportunities. I’ll be sure to let you know when thats up and running!
In the future I’m looking forward to creating other resources for you, starting some mastermind meet-ups for small groups of artists with similar work or goals, and maybe even organizing some shows somewhere down the line. So stay tuned for those developments by signing up, and in the meantime enjoy the podcast and newsletter.