Sunday, March 22, 2015

Heart + Soul + Mind + Hands = Creative Career. Allowing Your Dreams to Become a Way to Make a Living.

I recently read Camille Pagila’s Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art From Egypt to Star Wars. It is a compact walk through art history with Pagila selecting often overlooked works to present to the reader.  I highly recommend it.
One particular section of the Introduction resonated with me and so I want to share with you.

…with the heady proliferation of mediums available to artists, the genre of painting has lost its primacy and authority. Yet for five hundred years after the dawn of the Renaissance, the most complex and personally expressive works of art ever produced in the world were executed in paint…The decline of painting has cut aspiring artists off from their noblest lineage.
pages vii & viii

I have to admit it is easy for me to take for granted that I am a full-time professional artist, specifically a painter.  Painting is how I make my living. It is only in witnessing the reactions of others when I tell them what I do that I realize how unique my line of work is.  And to me that uniqueness is truly sad.
One of the most surprising aspects of life is the fact so much of who we become as adults was formed in early childhood.  By the time I was two I was drawing elaborate pictures on anything I could get my hands on.  I identified myself as an artist and am fortunate that my parents-though they were perplexed over where my artistic nature came from-did all they could to nurture my creativity.  However I was firmly told, particularly by my practical investment banker father, that one cannot make a living as an artist so I needed to figure out another career path.

How many of us have packed away our youthful dreams because they were characterized as “unrealistic” or “impractical”?  I am forever grateful that my high school art teacher, upon hearing I was not permitted to pursue a career in the arts, called my parents in for a private meeting to let them know I needed to go to art school.
Here I am a couple of decades past my life as a student at the Rhode Island School of Design.  The years since have been filled with misfires, jumps and starts, and (to put a positive spin on it) “learning experiences”.  But it paid off: For the past decade I have been steadily building a company with a loyal fan base, steady productivity, decreasing overhead and at the heart of it all-the sheer joy of doing EXACTLY what I have dreamed of doing from the days when I first could dream.

Over five years ago I wanted to design a way I could help other artists find a shortcut to wiser investments of their time/money/energy on the journey to success.  The Focusing Series was born out of threefold mission-To offer year-round affordable professional development education for creative entrepreneurs, To create a personalized classroom experience that is tailored to the individual students’ needs, To help fellow artists focus their efforts so that they may reach success more efficiently . 

Each year, The Focusing Series team is made up of individuals who excel as solopreneurs/small business owners/creative entrepreneurs.  They are excited about having an opportunity to share their wisdom and experience in their respective fields.  Our workshop topics are selected and developed based on community feedback and what we perceive are the genuine needs of those who are trying to take their dreams to the next level.  And it should be mentioned that EVERYONE is invited to join in our workshops, from those who are content with keeping art as a side-project or hobby to those who aspire to make art their full-time career.  It is always beneficial to attend our workshops and we strive to cultivate a space where everyone is welcome and respected.

In addition to painting, I find working with artists through teaching and coaching a true blessing.  To help others discover ways to share their creativity with the world is a honor. To come alongside you and witness your progress is a great privilege.
And the results I witness are amazing!  Students report they see almost immediate change after attending our workshops.  Here’s a handful of examples:

I wanted to thank you again for the classes.  The information you gave was undeniably useful.  I have been thinking more consciously about what I do... everything from my studio time commitment to my "brand", and my choices are much more intentional now, plus I have better planning.  And this happened to be my most successful (Open Studios).... preparation, planning, and advertising (all of these thanks to you).  -MJ
A life changer.   -RF

You did an amazing job presenting so much material and making it accessible to artists. 
I have to share a little success story that was a direct and IMMEDIATE result of your How to Sell presentation. I occasionally hang art at my gym to liven up the place. This morning I hung a painting at 7:30 and spoke with a gentleman about my work as I hung it. I engaged with him with passion,confidence and respect for his process of looking at art. (after all it's a gym and not a gallery). So then I went and dropped my son off at preschool and returned to the gym to exercise at 8:30. To my delight, my painting had SOLD to the gentleman. 

So thank you! I will continue to work on the homework you gave us, but please know I deeply appreciate the insights you shared with us last night.   -CS

Excellent presentation, friendly, knowledgeable instructor with lots of helpful information.  -AW
Now let me say that I am not under any sort of delusion that The Focusing Series is the only professional development option out there for creative entrepreneurs.  There are plenty of other offerings, especially online.  But what I can say is we approach our program with a lot of love.  We are genuinely invested in your success, and beyond offering our workshops at affordable prices (workshops cost $15 per hour) we encourage you to book workshops at a date/time that best suits your schedule.  Private and semi-private workshops can be readily arranged during weekdays, weeknights or even weekends.  And we are happy to bring our workshops to your facility, artist co-op or association.  The Focusing Series has taught for The Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston, Danforth Art Museum, The Eliot School, Jamaica Plain Arts Council, Arts Worcester, Fort Point and we are currently creating a workshop for Wax New England.

To view our 2015 Focusing Series catalog, click here.

To contact us about joining one of our workshops: or 617-955-3472
To find out the latest, visit our Facebook page.

Making a living at what you love to do should not be a rarity.  It is realistic and practical to allow yourself to pursue your dreams.  We are here to show you how we did it and how you can too!











Thursday, March 5, 2015

Insuring Your Art & Getting Your Art Ready for Galleries

The Focusing Series likes to offer workshops that are directly related to one another (For example, our January offerings: Getting Your Time, Space & Mind Ready to Create and So, You Want to Be An Entrepreneur. Both of those workshops can be booked privately or semi-privately at the date & time of your choosing. for more information.) so this month we present How to Properly Insure Your Business & Your Art with instructor, Chris Hawthorne and Get Ready for Galleries: Locate Your Success with instructor, Scott Cipolla.  If you are ready to share your work with fine art galleries, these workshops will provide the information you need.

How to Properly Insure Your Business & Your Art                   
Instructor: Chris Hawthorne
Monday, March 16 6:30-8:30pm    $30      (
Registration Deadline: 5pm Sunday, March 15)
Location: 1000 Centre Street, Suite 14 Jamaica Plain 02130

Professional artists have to know about proper insurance coverage for their business and their art.  Chris Hawthorne, an expert on the subject (he has sold insurance and written and lectured on the topic of insurance for years) is here to answer all your questions and present your options in a clear, concise lesson.  You can’t afford to be na├»ve about such a vital component of protecting your business and your creations.  Participants will gain full understanding of what types of insurance will best suit their particular needs.
Register by the deadline, or 617-955-3472. Or use Eventbrite to register.

Get Ready for Galleries :  Locate Your Success                             
Instructor: Scott Cipolla
Wednesday, March 25 6:30-8:30pm    $30   
(Registration Deadline: 5pm Tuesday, March 24)
The Eliot School 24 Eliot Street Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

 One of our most popular workshops, Scott covers how to find and approach galleries that would be the right fit for your work, how to create a professional, dynamic portfolio, and how to make your work-no matter what medium-ready for display.  Time will be designated to discuss the various exhibition opportunities each individual participant should explore based on his/her artwork.  Please bring 3-5 examples of your artwork. Can either be original works or images.   
Register by the deadline, or 617-955-3472.  Or use Eventbrite to register.