Taking the Leap: Building a Career as a Visual Artist, by Cay Lang, is a good and important book for anyone who’s serious about a career in art.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you look at the broad field of art and art careers. (I tried to keep the list short at my Squidoo page about Art Careers. It’s still overwhelming.)
You need a starting point. One of my favorite parts of the movie, The Secret, is where the guy says something like, “If you think to yourself, ‘Well, I could do it that way, but I wish I didn’t have to,’ …that’s not it.”
In other words, if you’re not building the career of your dreams, pause. Rethink what you’re doing. If you’re doing something only because you think it’s the one-and-only way to succeed… you’re already off-track.
Art is about energy. If the energy isn’t there for you — and I mean in nearly every aspect of your career — find a way to make the energy happen.
I think it’s Stuart Wilde who talks about people buying energy, not things. When they buy your art, it’s about acquiring something that displays your unique energy. No energy = no sale.
So, you need a creative vision. You need a goal. You need a way to get there. And… you need to know the business side of a career in the visual arts.
Taking the Leap by Cay Lang is probably the best all-purpose guide to the nuts & bolt side of a career in the visual arts.
From the list of possible art careers, to creating your PR materials, to how to approach galleries and collectors… all the way to the ins & outs of contracts, Taking the Leap holds your hand and shows you what to do and what to avoid.
I won’t pretend this is light, amusing, inspiring reading.
Oh, it’s inspiring enough, especially when you read about the percentages of artists who are doing it wrong. They’re mistakes narrow the field considerably, giving you a h-u-g-e advantage.
But, this is roll-up-your-sleeves reading. It’s the kind of book you should own, and read when you’re serious about success. It’s as close to a blueprint for success as you’re going to find, with all the bits of information you’ll need to avoid costly blunders from the start.
My own copy is dog-eared and the spine — and a few pages — are stained with fruit juice. (I don’t drink coffee, or I’m sure there’d be coffee rings throughout this book.)
I understand artists. I’m one myself. We tend to try everything intuitive before looking for answers elsewhere.
And, by the time we’re consulting others, we’re usually securely in “starving artist” mode, reminding ourselves that Vincent Van Gogh sold one painting during his entire lifetime… and that was to a relative.
So, I understand that you don’t want to spend a cent that you don’t have to.
The good news is, you public library probably has a copy of this book. The newest edition is best, but if you have to use an older copy, that’s okay. You’ll find enough information in it to get things moving in the right direction.
However, before long, you’ll realize that this book is an important reference to have in your studio or home office. It’s that useful, no matter where you are in your art career.
Take the leap!