As an artist, early on I had to learn to accept the customariness of disappointment. I suppose we all have to conform to this in life, artist or not – but as a creative person, who places their heart and soul out on a string, dangling it before its audience – this may in fact be a somewhat difficult task indeed. Rejection from a gallery, colleague, family member or alien being will always weigh heavier in the hearts of artists who express themselves for a living. But with strength, perseverance and persistence, life can and will go on and on and on.

 

I recently sought funding for a personal creative project on Kickstarter. I did as I usually do in circumstances related to my personal work and waited until the last minute to actually market it. And even then, I didn’t have the time to truly place 100% into the request for funds. (This is typical for me, however, as I thrive on the creative process and I’m not good at asking for coffers) Needless to say, the project had a time limit, ticking away. When the deadline came, I had accumulated pledges of 15% of my goal and funding was unsuccessful. So I walked away with a bruise and a dream.

 

This didn’t stop me, though. Within a few hours, I brought to life the same project. Resurrected from the ashes of my undying vision and stellar determination, I created the project on IndieGoGo. I immediately started creating all these quirky ads with classic movie themes and plenty of Star Wars and Star Trek references (and a Galaxy Quest one stating their catch phrase, “Never give up, Never surrender!”). I didn’t let failure stop me – I stood up and started over. And even though only one pledge from the original project came over to the new one, I continue on.

 

It’s this drive, this determination that makes us successful creatures of art. If every artist threw away their brushes every time they were turned down – there would be no art in the world. The world would be quite a boring and dismal place. Imagine if your motivation was dependent solely on the love of others. Admiration and affection are inherently needed, yes – but our inventiveness runs richer than that. Our inspiration comes from a place deep within us. A place that we openly and willingly share with the world.

 

What I’ve been trying to get at here is this: Don’t let failure discourage you. In fact, don’t let the word ‘failure’ even have meaning in your life. The definition of failure should be, “an opportunity to do something better.” So no matter who tells you, “no” or turns you and your work away – no matter how many projects are unsuccessful or underfunded… find the energy within you to create something new, or simply start over. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your idea was a bad one… it just wasn’t the right time. And tomorrow always looks good to me.

 

Never give up; never surrender; always create.

 

Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.

About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, a faculty member and the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Sedona Arts Center: a gathering place where artists can learn, teach, and exhibit their works at the center’s School of the Arts and Fine Art Gallery in uptown Sedona.

Art is big business for some and small business for others. No matter which category you fall into, the art industry can sometimes escape you. True artists will say that they have no interest in the ‘business side’ of art while hoping for a good manager, gallery or agent to represent them. But if you’re anything like me, self-representation may be the only way to go for you. In any case, you’ll have to be on top of the game to make it work and your artist statement is a good place to start.

 

I recently gave a short talk about creating professional biographies and artists’ statements. I went so far as to say that one of the most important pieces of selling material an artist has is not their art – but their artist statement. Let me tell you why.

 

The artist statement is a written expression of the artist’s belief system. It represents the ‘brand’ the artist is selling. As with any business, a brand has to be focused and everything you do or say has to support that effort. People are drawn to brands when its values align with their own. The same goes with art and the artist’s brand. Art collectors purchase art to remind themselves of the world around them. A successful artist creates a clear message that helps the buyer/collector/fan feel more connected to the art and artist collectively.

 

Artists often make the mistake of thinking that the ‘sell’ is about them. It’s usually not. An art collector buys art because it validates something about them, not the artist. (Let’s leave out master works by da Vinci, Picasso and others for arguments sake.) The art becomes an extension of the person buying it – not about the artist necessarily. Art, 99% of the time, is about the person who buys it. Therefore, the artists’ statement is an opportunity for the artist to illuminate the buyer about his or her work and why it matters and has value.

 

An artist statement is your chance to express to aficionados, your personal thoughts, feelings and experiences that went into your work. It’s much different than an artist biography, because these are your own words, in the first person, speaking directly about your work. When writing your statement, use the present tense (“I am”, not “I was”). Keep your sentences direct, authentic and don’t be afraid to say nice things about yourself. Begin with a simple statement of why you do what you do and how you select materials, subject matter, techniques, etc. Keep it simple and true. You can go on to tell the reader about your current work, challenges you’ve overcome and what you’re exploring and attempting by doing the work you do.

 

In the end, you ultimately want to have something extra to offer that special someone who purchases your work – a window into the world of the artist. In today’s society, we seek connections, social interactions and personal experiences that bring us closer to the people that create the things we love. Be a part of that experience and share with your collectors a small piece of who you are: in your own words. The experience will be momentous when combined with the beautiful art you create.

 

Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.

About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, a faculty member and the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Sedona Arts Center: a gathering place where artists can learn, teach, and exhibit their works at the center’s School of the Arts and Fine Art Gallery in uptown Sedona.

If you asked me years ago if I thought self publishing was a good idea, I would have given you mixed messages. I would have presented to you an extensive list of pros and cons and why going with a traditional publisher is the only ‘real’ option anyone would have. But today things have changed significantly in the publishing world – enough to merit some accolades. So here are a few tips for those of you seeking to self-represent, self-market and self-publish your work.

 

No Fear

 

The first thing you have to do is look at your glass as half-full. Ignore anyone that tells you that you can’t do it on your own. Whether you are publishing a novel, a cook book, an art or photography book or children’s book – you CAN do it. There is a whole world of opportunity for you. It’s called the internet – you may have heard of it. It has all these places you can go to print, publish and market your work. It’s really fantastic!

 

There are literally dozens of sites you can go to and create a print or e-book, poster, cards – anything for that matter. If you do your research, you will see a whole new world open up to you. It’s a lot easier than you think. Just combine initiative, motivation and creative juices and you’re good to go.

 

Speaking of Initiative...

 

Are you motivated? You need to be motivated. You need to want to create the world that you envision could actually be your future. It’s fine to dream big, imagine yourself a rock star on the New York Times Best Seller list, but remember that the do-it-yourself approach is a little (a lot) different than that. Every artist knows that humble pie tastes great and should be shared. But that shouldn’t stop you from setting some lofty goals. I know a few people that made it big just by taking initiative. So get up, get going and take on the world! You need your motivation to do research (lots and lots of research), list yourself on hundreds of sites and plug away socially.

 

Narcissism

 

Alright, so maybe not narcissism, but at least healthy doses of feel good about that person you see in the mirror. Taking the do-it-yourself approach requires you to sell yourself, your soul and your work to the world. Create a biography and an artist statement that sums up in 150 words or less what you are all about. Memorize this mini-bio and be ready to share it with anyone interested in listening. The biggest mistake people make is not offering enough information. Sure, you don’t want to be that annoying person that sells insurance or time-shares to their family members... but what you do want to do is make sure people know about your work. So don’t be afraid to plug yourself once in a while (or all the time). Just remember to listen to your friends sometimes, too – we’re all in this together and we all have something to share.

 

Take a class

 

Last but not least (for the purpose of this blog that is) – take a class. There are many outlets for writers and artists who are turning to the self-publishing world. If you’re trying to write a thriller or just want to publish your art, there are classes for you in your local community. Get together with writers groups (even if you’re trying to publish a photography book) and meet with people of like minds. You will be pleasantly surprised by all the help that’s available to you.

 

And above all –

 

Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.


About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, a faculty member and the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Sedona Arts Center: a gathering place where artists can learn, teach, and exhibit their works at the center’s School of the Arts and Fine Art Gallery in uptown Sedona.

It’s that time of year once again, where we look back on all the accomplishments, failures and creations that left their mark on us over the last 365 days. Despite the tumultuous economy, slashing of budgets and dismissal of art in society – it’s been a fairly decent year for art. We reminded the world that art is at the very center of our communities and the inspiration that drives innovation. We shared dreams, imagination and culture with our neighbors and introduced the world of art to another generation of children. We’re definitely on the right path.

 

How do you summarize an entire year of culture? This past year we witnessed everything from public art and graffiti, multimedia and political statements to classic and experimentalist revivals in the world of art. There was controversy once again over restorations and cleanings, bringing Leonardo da Vinci’s work at the Louvre into the spotlight. Forrest Gump was entered into the Library of Congress Film Registry as one of the greats. And science came to the forefront once again, proving that science is beautiful at Princeton’s annual “Art of Science” contest.

 

To name just a few...

 

But if we take an honest look back at art, what we really see is that it’s timeless. It doesn’t matter if your art was a trend that peaked for 22 days and was lost in the noise of Banksy shortly after. Your art will live on, in some form, somewhere in the world. There are basements being unearthed that are full of culture and creativity. Perhaps your art is stored like mine: in a dark closet, under a Darth Vader mask – one day these treasures could be shared with the world. The art itself will live on long after we have returned our atoms to the collective universe we call home.

 

Take this time to remember that the creativity that you share will live on forever. Touch one life with your art and it affects every life in contact with that person; every life that connects with those people – in an endless succession of expansion. Your vision could very well be the seed that changes the world. An inspiring piece could warm the icy hearts of scrooges or enrage the protestor we witnessed this past year to stir up change and improvement in human rights.

 

So instead of me telling you what to reflect upon this past year – take the time to look back, see the world of art and how it changed you. And look forward to 2012 with an open mind and open heart while sharing your imagination with the world.

 

Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.

 

About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, a faculty member and the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Sedona Arts Center: a gathering place where artists can learn, teach, and exhibit their works at the center’s School of the Arts and Fine Art Gallery in uptown Sedona.

Art comes in many different sizes, colors, flavors and emotions. There is without a doubt a general mood that is shaped by imaginative works found in museums, galleries and schools. You don’t need a high tech creative project like Stimmungsgasometer in Berlin to capture the general mood of art connoisseurs. A work of art can inspire, frighten, entice, disturb, please, wander and so much more. So this season I challenge you to create art that shares smiles.

 

There is without a doubt a plethora of dark art, filled with images that inspire dissent, rage or sadness. I myself am guilty of creating a series that captured the ‘darkness’ or ‘nemesis’ within my model’s portraits. These projects are important and come directly from our artistic inner voices, screaming our vision, emotion and pain to the world. Political street art, old-school government propaganda and the frightening images from our darkest minds play a role in shaping the human experience for sure. We are subject to each other’s feelings every day and artists find creative ways to always express them.

 

But we live in a world of duality...

 

For every dark image we find a light one. For every political piece of misinformation we find a someecard to make us smile. The shadows find their way into the light in the form of sarcastic humor, while light breaks apart the night with extreme contrast. Whether it is born from humor or love - the art that makes us smile fills our hearts with gratitude, joy, inspiration and contentment. Art that makes us ‘happy’ varies from person to person. So what makes you smile? What art fills your heart with joy?

 

Take some time this holiday season to share a slice of good old-fashioned happiness with the world. Offer art that inspires love and delight, without an agenda. Bring a smile to the world with some happy art. You’ll be grateful for the uplifting mood and turn that frown on the Stimmungsgasometer’s face upside down.

 

Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.

About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, a faculty member and the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Sedona Arts Center: a gathering place where artists can learn, teach, and exhibit their works at the center’s School of the Arts and Fine Art Gallery in uptown Sedona.

The holidays are upon us and signs of winter are blowing in. The season of giving inspired the artists of Sedona to donate their time and talent to many events this year. I painted a few “apples” for charity myself for the Apples for the Art Barn exhibit to restore the historic art barn where I work. One of my other local charitable favorites is the Festival of Trees at Tlaquepaque, where trees were turned into art by local artists and are up for auction all week. Galleries are embracing the spirit of the Season and creative gifts abound in small works shows, holiday gifts and inspirational festive works of art.

 

This is a fantastic reminder of the bountiful creative talents of local artists in Sedona. We are undoubtedly an artistic community, thriving in a land of beauty. Each artist pours their heart and soul into their work in hopes that it will find its way into the homes of collectors, art lovers and all of us combined. They rely on us to support them, cheer them, admire them and award them. As an artist myself, I experience firsthand the warmth that a supportive community or fan of my work can offer.

 

This holiday season remember to support your local artists. We’re fortunate here in Sedona to not be surrounded by the big-box-retailers that offer us plastic-molded gifts and gimmicky seasonal trinkets. Instead, we have local shops, beautiful galleries and creative artists who make a living off of your support. You can take home gifts that are handmade, personal and completely unique by putting your dollars down on art.

 

So this season, give the gift of art. And if you are an artist yourself – remember to make something fabulous for the ones you love. It’s not the worth of the gift, but the thought and love that goes into it. Personally, I can’t put a dollar sign on the gifts I give or get. For me, it’s all about the smile on the faces of the people I love. And if you believe in your art – your art can make people smile.

 

Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.

About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, a faculty member and the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Sedona Arts Center: a gathering place where artists can learn, teach, and exhibit their works at the center’s School of the Arts and Fine Art Gallery in uptown Sedona.