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Art Heroes Radio

John T. Unger

Art Heroes Radio features conversations every Thursday evening with established and upcoming artists, creative professionals and experts in related fields. The focus of the show is advice for artists and creative entrepreneurs presented in a conversational format. Learn what works (and what doesn't) from artists and creatives who have pioneered new ways to build an arts career. The stories and ideas presented add up to an ongoing guide put together by and for people living and working in the arts. From business and marketing ideas, to discussions on how to cope with fame, fans or family, the show will cover all aspects of the artists' life. Learn how to grow, manage and maintain your arts career from those who've done it the hard way.
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Art Heroes Review
(in production)

Austin Kleon was my first guest on Art Heroes Radio and he's back this week to talk about his recent runaway hit How to Steal Like an Artist (and 9 other Things Nobody Told Me). When I first read How to Steal Like an Artist, it struck me as probably the best thing I'm likely to read this year— it's the kind of essay you don't see all that often that just nails it.

In the first part of the conversation we discuss some of the ramifications of having a piece take off so massively. I cut some of the technical details but left enough to give you an idea what happens when you get a major hit completely unexpectedly. The rest of the conversation expands on the essay and gives some of the back story for where the ideas came from.

If you enjoy this discussion, you should listen to Austin's previous appearance on Art Heroes.

Austin Kleon is a writer, cartoonist, and web designer. He's best known for his Newspaper Blackout Poems—poetry made by redacting words from newspaper articles with a permanent marker. His first book, Newspaper Blackout, was published by Harper Perennial in April 2010. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, Meghan, and their dog, Milo.

Learn More about Austin Kleon

  1. www.austinkleon.com
  2. Get to know Austin on Twitter.
  3. How to make your own Newspaper Blackout poem (video)
  4. Purchase Newspaper Blackout on Amazon
  5. Austin's art and writing on his blog.
  6. Photos and in-progress works on Flickr.

Further Resources:

  1. Austinkleon.com: How to Steal Like an Artist (and 9 other Things Nobody Told Me)
  2. Austinkleon.com: Letter to a young collage artist
  3. Newspaperblackout.com: Tumblr site for submitting your own Newspaper Blackout poems

Show Highlights: Excerpts From the Conversation

Once the transcription is completed I'll include some of the best portions here.

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Art Heroes Review
(in production)

Ever since I saw the first Common Craft video RSS in Plain English, I've been a huge fan of their work. The brilliance of Common Craft videos is that they explain complicated ideas in simple terms, usually in 3 minutes or less.

Explanation is often difficult for artists— whether talking about a single work, a collection, or even in terms of creating work that speaks clearly to the audience— So I wanted to get Lee LeFever's advice on how he and his wife Sachi find the simplest explanations for complex ideas. We also talked about how Common Craft videos are made, the scripting process, how a two person company scales (or doesn't) and the choices Lee and Sachi have made to intentionally remain small while growing their audience and their reach.

Lee LeFever is the founder and creative force behind Common Craft, which is known for their series of short animated in Plain English video explanations. Common Craft videos have been viewed over 25 million times and their unique whiteboard and paper cut-out format is recognized around the world. Since 2007 Common Craft has worked with companies like LEGO, Visa, Google and Intel and also licensed their own productions to Fortune 500 companies and educators in over 40 countries. Lee lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife and business partner Sachi.

Learn More about Lee LeFever and Common Craft

  1. Visit Common Craft and see their videos: Commoncraft.com
  2. Connect with Common Craft on Facebook.
  3. Follow Common Craft on Twitter.
  4. Follow Lee on Twitter.
  5. Follow Sachi on Twitter.

Further Resources:

  1. Common Craft Blog: Erring on the Side of Happiness
  2. Common Craft Blog: Back Into the Custom Video Business

Show Highlights: Excerpts From the Conversation

Once the transcription is completed I'll include some of the best portions here.

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Art Heroes Review
(in production)

When it comes to movies, most of us "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." We follow the stars and often directors, but rarely does the producer of a film get to be in the spotlight.

But in many ways, the producer of a film is the one person most central to the creation— from choosing a screenplay, to hiring key personnel, to facilitating the millions of details large and small required to successfully coordinate a large number of creatives and technicians. Behind the scenes is a fascinating world where creativity, skill, structure and logistics all must work together to create the finished product. As an artist who's interested in how things are done, I've long wanted to see what I could learn from a film producer that might also apply to making and promoting other forms of art.

Dean Zanuck was the perfect guy to ask. With deep experience in both the studio system and the independent space, I felt that Dean gave a much more complete picture of the realities, process and passion of producing a major film. As the third generation of one of Hollywood's most successful and well know families, he grew up within the traditional Hollywood system, eventually working 13 years as Vice-President of Development at The Zanuck Company. But for his most recent film, Get Low, Dean chose to make his own name as an independent producer working without the net that a studio provides— the "army and infrastructure of people that deal with the nooks and crannies, all the trench-work and heavy-lifting."

We also talked about Dean's focus on original stories and narrative, and the idea of producing a career in the arts as though it were a Hollywood film.

Dean Zanuck represents the third generation of one of Hollywood's most illustrious film families. His grandfather was the legendary Darryl F. Zanuck, co-founder and chairman of 20th Century Fox and his father is the Oscar winning producer Richard D. Zanuck. Dean Zanuck's first producing effort was Road to Perdition, directed by Sam Mendes, starring Tom Hanks, Paul Newman and Jude Law, which was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning one.

His most recent film is Get Low, a drama about a man who staged his own funeral while still alive. Get Low stars Robert Duvall, Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek is currently playing in theaters nationwide. Zanuck acquired the script seven years ago, developed the material, raised the financing and brought on the director, Aaron Schneider, and secured the stellar cast. Filming took place in small rural areas outside of Atlanta, Georgia earlier this year.

A native of California, Zanuck grew up in Los Angeles and attended Harvard High School and during his summer breaks worked in the ICM mailroom. Following graduation from the University of Colorado where he majored in History, he learned every aspect of production working in various production capacities on the films Clean Slate, Wild Bill and Mulholland Falls and was a personal assistant to producer Brian Grazer during the production of Apollo 13. He joined the The Zanuck Company in 1995 as Vice-President of Development.

At The Zanuck Company, he oversaw production on the blockbusters Deep Impact, Planet of the Apes, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Zanuck also served as a production executive on the critically acclaimed films True Crime, starring/directed by Clint Eastwood, Rules of Engagement starring Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson and Big Fish, starring Ewan McGregor and Sweeney Todd, starring Johnny Depp.

While at the Zanuck Company, Zanuck produced the aforementioned Oscar nominated, Road to Perdition as well as co-produced Reign of Fire, starring Matthew McConaughey, Christian Bale and Gerald Butler.

After thirteen years running development at The Zanuck Company, Zanuck formed Zanuck Independent in September 2008 and Get Low will represent the company's debut film. Zanuck has already completed production on another unique thriller and has several other projects in various stages of development.

Learn More about Dean Zanuck

  1. Follow Dean on Facebook.
  2. Sony Pictures Classics: Get Low
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Art Heroes Review
(in production)

Sinclair is a coach who helps creative entrepreneurs become unstoppable. She runs the blog Selfactivator.com, with fresh starts, business how-tos and creative process good stuff. She's a theater director, writer, aerialist, and neuro-science geek. I love the line in her bio that reads "My superpower is catching other people using their superpowers. It is the best job in the entire world."

Her latest kit Burnout to Bliss is for creatives recovering from burnout, and to ramp up your creativity and make sure you don't hit burnout again. Most artists are familiar with the burnout part of the creative cycle and maybe with recovering from burnout but I was especially interested to hear Sinclair's ideas on how to prevent it in the first place.

Learn More about Ashley Sinclair

  1. Read Sinclair's blog: Selfactivator.com.
  2. Follow Sinclair on Twitter or Facebook.
  3. About Sinclair's coaching process.

Further Resources:

  1. Free Tools from Self Activator

Show Highlights: Excerpts From the Conversation

Once the transcription is completed I'll include some of the best portions here.

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Art Heroes Review
(in production)

Artist Advisor Aletta de Wal is equal parts artist, educator and entrepreneur. She makes make art marketing easier by breaking it down to meet your goals and fit your time, energy and money. She provides templates and steps to follow that make the business side of art simpler.
Aletta is currently working on a new book My real job is being an artist (what you should know before you quit your day job or get one) expected out late this fall. I had a chance to read an advance chapter of the book on clichés and myths about the life, career and business of being an artist. These are the stories that can both draw people to the arts and at the same time prevent real success.

Here are a few quotes from the beginning of the chapter on myths and clichés:

When the "real job" of being an artist is devalued, so is the art. Tenacious myths about the art lifestyle are so deep-rooted in society that some artists even believe them. Artists who shed these misconceptions release trapped energy and free up mental and emotional bandwidth for their life's work. Access to the truths of the art world frees artists to create their own reality of making a living making art.

I think of myths as the underbelly of clichés. Clichés persist because they usually contain more than a kernel of truth. Myths are the underbelly because they tend to belittle the person or activity they describe. Like clichés, myths may have a bit of truth in them for people who accept them on face value. Beyond every myth there is a reality. And each reality is part of a larger picture.

The "starving artist" myth is just one of many false beliefs about how artists live and work. You don't have to starve to be a true artist. Even the archetypal starving artist, Vincent van Gogh, wasn't doing so badly. He came from a wealthy family of gallery dealers, and he worked in an important gallery for six years. While he was a painter, his brother sent him a generous monthly stipend. So in fact, a certain amount of comfort can contribute to greater artistic success.

Here are the twelve myths and clichés that we examine on the show:

  1. If I Just Do My Art, Everything Else Will Work Out
  2. My Art Speaks for Itself
  3. My Artwork Is So Good, It Will Appeal to Everyone
  4. I'm So Good That One Day I'll Be Discovered
  5. A True Artist Lives Life Free and Without Structure
  6. If It Didn't Work Out Once, It Will Never Work Out
  7. I Can Succeed Only in New York (Or any Other Art Mecca)
  8. Artists Are Not Business People, My Dealer Will Handle Everything
  9. All Good Artists Are Poor
  10. Society Owes Artists a Living
  11. I Don't Need to Know About Anything But My Art
  12. One Big Break Will Make My Career

Learn More about Aletta de Wal

  1. Artist Career Training: Guided Programs for artists.
  2. Art Business Library: Independent study materials for artists.
  3. Follow Aletta on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.

Further Resources:

  1. Subscribe to ArtMatters! and receive a free art marketing guide: "Eleven Tips for Success for Fine Artists" Digital Recording and 15- page PDF Presentation. Monthly article and weekly Art Business Bits, Art Career Cheer, Art Marketing Morsels and A.C.T. Learning Opportunities toHelp Artists Make More Money.

Show Highlights: Excerpts From the Conversation

Once the transcription is completed I'll include some of the best portions here.

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Art Heroes Review
(in production)

Lori McNee is a professional, nationally recognized working artist & blogger. On her popular art blog, FineArtTips.com, Lori shares her unique artistic perspective, art tips and art business, and Social Media advice for her fellow artists. Lori currently ranks as one of the "Most Influential Artists" on Twitter. Thanks to Social Media, Lori is also a television hostess for the resort television station, Plum TV.

We had originally planned to do a two part show focusing on video marketing for artists as well as selling art on Facebook, but decided that Facebook would need more than half a show to cover. As a result, this week's show is shorter than usual but extremely targeted on using video to promote art.

We used Lori's bullet list from her post How Artists Can Use YouTube Video to Improve Marketing as a starting point, but included quite a bit of other materials as well.

How to Make Video Marketing Work for You

Make Videos Geared Toward Your Audience:
  • Target your niche
  • Demonstrations
  • How to
  • Product reviews
  • Interviews
Create a Video Title that Stands Out:
  • Use 'keywords' within the title
  • For Search Engine Optimization (SEO) purposes use key words that are applicable to your product, service or brand.
Tag & Categorize for Video Search Engine Optimization:
  • Use words or tags that users most likely will be searching for on the web.
  • Add as many keywords as you can and try and match to existing content – this helps your video become 'recommended' in the sidebar.
  • Tags are important for SEO purposes.
  • Video optimization is becoming more important as mainstream aspect to search engine optimization.
Less is more:
  • Keep your videos to 5 minutes or less for your best chance of creating a highly-viewed video.
  • Research has found that people's attention span begins to wander after only 8 seconds – keep it short so you don't lose them.
Brand Yourself in your Video:
  • Video is a sure way to create brand awareness within your industry.
  • Be sure and mention your brand/artist name and or logo.
Create Your Own YouTube Channel:
  • This is your first step towards becoming a video creator.
  • The opportunity to create a profile for yourself and your content, and link back to your website URL.
Promote Your Video:
  • Use Social Media Sites such as Twitter and Facebook to virally market your video.

Learn More about Lori McNee

Lori's paintings have been featured in Western Art Collector, South West Art Magazine, Wildlife Art Magazine, Art Talk Magazine, American Art Collector, Sun Valley Magazine, Sun Valley Guide, Plum TV, and newspapers. Lori is a member of Oil Painters. Her paintings are often included in the OPA National Exhibitions and American Art in Miniature Show at the Gilcrease Museum. Her sought after works are sold is galleries throughout the United States.
A native of California, Lori has now lived with her family in the beautiful mountains of Central Idaho for over 25 years.

  1. Lori McNee Fine Art Website: lorimcnee.com
  2. Fine Art Tips Blog: finearttips.com

Further Resources:

  1. tubemogul OneLoad: Upload videos to multiple sharing/hosting sites at once
  2. Fine Art Tips Blog: How Artists Can Use YouTube Video to Improve Marketing
  3. Fine Art Tips Blog: How to Sell Art on Facebook – One Artist's Way
  4. Fine Art Tips Blog: 5 Re...
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Art Heroes Review
(in production)

We are living at a time of unprecedented opportunity for artists and creative professionals— Mark McGuiness, poet, creative coach and editor of Lateral Action, explains why artists are uniquely suited to succeed online.

Content marketing is king on the web, and artists/creatives are content creation specialists. Artists have an unfair advantage over all the frozen peas producers who are now having to become media companies.

The less your content looks like advertising, the better it functions as advertising. People are more likely to link to it and share it. Artists are the specialists at producing original content that people actually want, and this gives us an advantage even over traditional marketers.

We can build our own platform to sell our own stuff (the sexiest route), or partner with organizations to create content that helps sell their stuff (as Hugh MacLeod did with English Cut and Stormhoek).

Creating original, engaging, remarkable images, sounds, text, music or video is what you do best. You're already a one-person media company. Even if you hate the very idea of marketing, you should know that when it comes to Internet marketing, your creativity gives you an unfair advantage.

That's the good news. But artists also have a few weaknesses.

  • Frequently artists are resistant to marketing in general and marketing themselves in particular.
  • Some are scared of selling out or just plain scared.
  • Some feel the pain of trying to balance time invested in marketing with time in the studio— content marketing is cheap butit requires persistence and dedication to succeed.
  • Content marketing also requires strategy— it's no good just posting your artwork, writings, videos etc. and hoping this will magically lead to fame and fortune. Artists need to create content with their desired audience in mind (not pandering but being aware of what gets their attention), as well as considering their own goals, and having a content strategy that gets them where they want to go.
  • Tactical knowledge also matters— things like using a professional blog platform, getting people to subscribe, offering e-mail subscription, copywriting, headlines etc.

Mark and I will talk about how to take advantage of your creative strengths and how to solve the difficulties listed above.

McGuinness is a poet and a coach for professional artists and creatives. He's been coaching creative professionals since 1996, and got the blogging bug in 2006, when he started offering practical inspiration at wishfulthinking.co.uk. More recently, he writes and edits the blog at lateralaction.com and created an e-learning program, the Lateral Action Entrepreneur Roadmap, in collaboration with Brian Clark and Tony D. Clark. He also writes a poetry blog at markmcguinness.com. For bite-size inspiration follow Mark on Twitter.

Learn More about Mark McGuinness

  1. Read Why Artists and Creatives Have an Unfair Advantage at Internet Marketing.
  2. Get practical inspiration on Mark's blog: wishfulthinking.co.uk.
  3. Learn about creative entrepreneurship and the creative economy at lateral...
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Art Heroes Review
(in production)

Christopher Ashworth makes software and theater in Baltimore, Maryland. His QLab software makes it simple to create rich multimedia designs for live performances and installations. Qlab has been used in high schools, colleges, Tony awards winning productions and the live audience and broadcast audio for the 2010 Olympic medal ceremonies. The diversity of venues is partly due to some really interesting ways that Chris has found to make his work accessible to a broad range of price points.

When I read Chris Ashworth's post My Competitive Advantage: I Hire Artists, I knew I had to get him on Art Heroes— he has stuff to say that you, as artists, should hear. His passion impressed me as much as his thinking.

Then I read Chris' post My 2 Bucks on Pricing on why he raised the price of his software by 500% at the request of his existing customers. Let me repeat that— His customers told him he wasn't charging them enough. Why? They wanted to continue using QLab and they wanted Chris to be able to sustain his business so he'd be there for them. Yeah, artists could learn from that too.

Not only does Chris value artists for their skills and devotion, he understands that adapting the work environment to their needs provides a win for everyone involved. If you don't read his essay I Hire Artists here's a snip that gives you the essence of the post.

So here's the thing, here is my tip, and here is what I want the business owners of America to think about very hard:

Artists, as a species, are amazing people. And America, as a general rule, does not fully get this. Show me a good artist and I will show you a highly educated, highly creative, highly passionate, highly driven human being. If they're a performing artist, I will show you someone who breathes teamwork. I will show you someone who eats healthy critiques for breakfast and grows an inch that day because of it. I will show you a communicator, and a thinker.

I will show you someone you want to hire.

And all you have to do, is not destroy the whole reason you want to hire them.

Hell, yeah.

Learn More about Chris Ashworth

  1. Read Chris' blog: chrisashworth.org
  2. Follow Christopher on Twitter.
  3. Check out Figure 53 software.
  4. Check out Single Carrot Theatre

Further Resources:

  1. My Competitive Advantage: I Hire Artists
  2. My 2 Bucks on Pricing
  3. The Illustrated History of QLab, Personal Milestone Edition

Show Highlights: Excerpts From the Conversation

Once the transcription is completed I'll include some of the best portions here.

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Art Heroes Review
(in production)

One of the most common questions I hear from artists is "How do I get my work into galleries?" The myth of being discovered is a wonderful bedtime story, but it provides little practical advice for how to get your work shown now.

As former director of a national gallery and creator of the portfoilio site, Fine Art Studio Online, Clint Watson has a great deal of experience to draw from on both sides of the gallery submission process. Clint's number one answer to how to get galleries to look at your work will probably surprise you. Learn which rules you can break and which rules you should break when submitting to galleries.

In this conversation Clint and I discuss:

  • How to research galleries.
  • How to find a gallery that is a good fit for your art.
  • How should you approach gallery owners?
  • What to include in a proposal to a new gallery and what not to worry about.
  • Common mistakes artists make when dealing with galleries.
  • What to expect from a gallery in terms of support and marketing.
  • How to effectively split marketing tasks with a gallery.
  • How to address selling your work directly when you also show in galleries.
  • How to protect yourself with a gallery contract and what items should be spelled out.

Clint Watson calls himself a "Software Craftsman and Art Fanatic."

Even as a child, his two main passions were tinkering with computer programming and creating art. After graduating with an Information Systems degree in 1993, Clint became a director and, later, a partner at Greenhouse Gallery of Fine Art, a major national art gallery. He spent the next eleven years learning the art marketing game. As one of the gallery's primary salespeople, Clint gained experience by helping clients connect with artworks and artists that they truly loved... resulting in total personal sales in seven-figures, and, more-importantly countless lives enriched through artwork. This experience gives him an authoritative platform from which to now advise artists on art marketing and sales— teaching them what really works— and what to ignore as hype or fads.

Realizing that the Internet was destined to play an ever-increasing role in the marketing strategy of artists, in 2001, Clint launched FineArtStudioOnline.com, a website creation tool and marketing system for fine artists. He subsequently left the gallery business and now focuses all of his attention on helping his artist clients create websites and providing them with marketing ideas, opportunities and advice. He firmly believes that artists can change the world with their artworks and strives daily to help them make that a reality. Clint lives in Texas and the virtual world. He often takes time out to enjoy the great outdoors.

Learn More about Clint Watson

  1. Read Clint's blog FineArtViews: Straight talk about art marketing, inspiration - daily to your inbox.
  2. Follow Clint on Twitter

Further Resources:

  1. FASO: Want Your Art Career to Grow? Set up an Artist Website with FASO.
  2. Canvoo: Art Marketing, Artist Websites, art contests and more.
  3. InformedCollector: Free daily briefs about today's finest artists in your inbox.
  4. BoldBrush Contest: Monthly Online Painting Contest with over $4,000 in awards.

Show Highlights: Excerpts From the Conversation

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Art Heroes Review
(in production)

Public art projects offer both great opportunities and specific challenges for artists. While the budgets and opportunities for exposure of public art are extremely attractive, such large scale projects also require very specialized skills beyond purely artistic merit.

In this conversation, Jon Pounds, Executive Director of the Chicago Public Art Group, discusses the origins of contemporary public art, the principles of managing large scale and collaborative projects, current practices and design considerations, the value of balancing humility and ego when working with collaborators and communities, and how to get started in public art.


Pounds early public work involved creating temporary street installations with his partner Olivia Gude. They joined CPAG in 1983 and began creating collaborative public artworks through CPAG in 1984. Through building playground structures, sculptures and painting murals Pounds gained an appreciation for the need to carefully organize and manage the resources for large-scale projects. In 1989 he became the part-time Director of CPAG, and committed himself to integrating personal and professional growth while developing the ability of the organization and its artists to respond more fully to community needs. CPAG has experienced significant growth under his leadership.

Pounds has presented workshops on community, public art processes in San Francisco, New Orleans, Boston, and Cleveland. He has served as consultant to mural organizations in Philadelphia, New York City, Ottawa, Illinois, and Covington, Kentucky. Pounds has addressed Grants Makers in the Arts, Americans for the Arts Public Art Network, the Community Built Association, and numerous gatherings of funders, artists, and organizers. In Chicago, he has led public art tours for PAN, the Rockefeller Foundation, Jungian psychologists, American Society of Landscape Architects, and many other diverse groups including the Museum of Contemporary Art and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Pounds was the project sculptor and general manager for the 1994-1998 $330,000 Water Marks mosaic installation at Navy Pier in Chicago, the largest community art project in the nation to that time. In 2000, Pounds was the lead consultant to the Chicago Transit Authority as it prepared to initiate its first official public art program. Recently, he has served on design teams for the Chicago Park District.

In 2001, Jon Pounds received a Community Service Fellowship awarded by the Chicago Community Trust. During this 15-month long fellowship he is studied the intersection of urban planning, community organizing, and public art. He took course work in large-scale landscape design and community organizing at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and traveled extensively in Europe and North America while researching new directions for collaborative community-based public art and space design.

Learn More about Chicago Public Art Group

  1. Chicago Public Art Group Website: cpag.net
  2. Read Chicago Public Art Group's Community Public Art Guide
  3. Chicago Public Art Group Featured Projects

Further Resources:

  1. Wikipedia overview of public art: Public Art

Show Highlights: Excerpts From the Conversation

Once the transcription is completed I'll include some of the best portions here.

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