Dina Brodsky is a painter living and working in New York city. She makes beautiful and highly detailed miniatures 8” square all the way down to 2” square. If you follow her on Instagram you will have also been enjoying glimpses of her secret life of trees drawings and her fabulous sketchbook journal #sketchbookgoals. In this interview we talk about finding a good art education, not imagining failure as an option, making a reliable living only to have the economy tank and then have to re-build and diversify. I also got to ask Dina Brodsky about her Instagram strategy and how she got into curating art shows.
FIND AND FOLLOW DINA BRODSKY
On Instagram @dinabrodsky
On her website www.dinabrodsky.com
Or her Etsy shop for prints
MY TOP TAKEAWAYS FROM THIS EPISODE
-It really helps if you know what you’re looking for when you apply to art schools, some schools have a conceptual focus and some have much more of a focus on teaching technical skills than others
-Practice art everyday! Use whatever time you have. Even a few minutes a day in a sketchbook adds up and helps you improve over time.
-Make the work you can make.
-Galleries like bigger work because each piece can be sold for more money, if you’ve noticed a bias in favor of large work, that may be why.
-Remember that that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to make big work.
-Don’t consider failure an option. If you dwell on how unlikely it may be to find success as an artist, you may well just give up before you ever get there.
-These days galleries are not keen to have you walk in unannounced asking to have your portfolio
-Keep your expenses low. If you can set up a scenario where art sales are just bonus income
-If you can make a little more money from your art than you would waitressing, then you
-Reinvest at least some of your art profits back into yourself and your business in terms of education, equipment, help or whatever will
-Having made and maintained contacts and relationships can be a major source of opportunities, especially in harder times
-Diversify your income, spending on luxury goods like art is the first to drop if (when) the economy tanks. Get creative to brainstorm other
-Become a mercenary. Partner with galleries to create specific opportunities to show bodies of work without signing any exclusivity contracts or expecting them to do your marketing for you.
-Never sign an exclusivity contract because unless they can sell enough of your work for enough money that you don’t need any other options, that arrangement suits them but not you.
-Pay attention to (or research) how various social media algorithms work so you you can optimize your posts to be seen by the maximum number of people and bring in the maximum new followers.
-Dina’s Instagram advice: people find you partly by hashtags but mainly by your posts making it to the explore page. To do that you want the maximum number of your followers to like your post within the first 20 min after you post it. So post early in the morning when the most people are active on there. (look up exact times of highest traffic)
-Use Instagram to share a sketchbook or other experiments that normally no one would see.
-Keep a list of any art publications you’ve ever had contact with so you can write to them whenever you’re trying to promote a new project. Work on growing this list.
-You might make arrangements with fellow artists to cross promote each other too. it’s a lot easier to promote other peoples work than it is to promote your own.
-Carve out at least a few good stretches of time per week for actually making your work, and also a defined block of time for marketing, correspondence, any packing and shipping, applications and submissions, etc.
-Why wait for someone else to put on the kinds of shows you want to see? Why wait for a gallery to ask you to be in the perfect show? Is there any way you could find a space and curate those shows yourself? Do you know any galleries that might let you guest curate? Can you find a less conventional space and still promote the show and get people to come? Do it! Start with what and who you know and have access to.
-Start by approaching the artists, be super up front about what you are aiming for and that it may not happen, but if they agree, then you can go to the gallery with the show almost fully clarified- much more compelling for them to agree to.
-Be an active member of your art community, make a point of building relationships so that you can have people to create cool projects with
-Work thats fun to make is great but aim to make work thats fun and interesting to look at and think about for viewers too.
-Try to update your website more than once a year.
-Dina’s success theory: If you stick to doing something very seriously for 5 years without giving up, by then you’ll be able to make at least some living. This may be true for everything, not just art (for doctors its 7, so 5 years sounds pretty good to me!)
-Making a living as an artist IS possible, if you set your mind to it you can and will succeed