Brainard Carey Gives a Great Fishing Lesson in 'Making It in the Art World'

Making It in the Art World: New Approaches to Galleries, Shows, and Raising Money

 by Brainard Carey © 2011

 ISBN: 978-1-58115-868-7

Rating: 10/10 – Useful!

I received this book as a Christmas gift last year and I have to say that it’s one of the best surprise books I have ever received – i.e. my SIL found it without any hints or input from me!

For those who don’t know, Brainard Carey is an artist and career coach for other artists /creative types.

In Making It in the Art World Brainard covers a ton of topics and the end of almost every chapter includes a workbook-style page which allows you to immediately apply what you just read to your own experiences and thoughts.

There aren’t as many intense thought / writing exercises as What Color Is Your Parachute, but you may find yourself inspired enough to scribble a lot of notes.

“Now is the time to make it; now is the time to show the world that you are a leader and have something to offer. Your art, your creative ideas, your willingness to be able to take a risk for what you believe in are all part of the new economy that you must engage unless you want to keep looking for a job that is boring, dull and will suck the creative life out of you.”

Brainard kicks off the book with a fair assessment of the current economic situation. He issues a call to arms for creatives to ignore traditional thinking (e.g. the only “successful” artist is a starving one) and traditional opportunities (like an unhealthy obsession with finding a gallery to represent you in New York City).

If you think it’s impossible to find a career in art, Brainard makes a well organized case to the contrary.  Some of the topics include:

  • Examples of income modes for artists.
  • Presentation tools and techniques for artists (including a sample email template for reaching out to museum curators).
  • Tips on how to create, build and maintain important professional relationships.
  • Insights into artist statements and critics.
  • Time management techniques.
  • Ideas for working with sponsors and private patrons.
  • The story behind Mr. and Mrs. Brainard’s surprising inclusion in the 2002 Whitney Biennial.

I heartily recommend this book to all creatives. It’s great for soon-to-be and new art school grads as well as emerging artists. I especially suggest this for someone like myself. Someone who has a BFA, but they’ve been caught up in working regular, less-fulfilling-than-art jobs.

Two technical notes:

(1)  I like hard copies of how-to books and cookbooks. While I’m one of those boring people who doesn’t usually write in books, I will flatten a spine. When I did that with the paperback edition of Making It in the Art World, the cover almost completely separated from the spine.

(2)   Just as the introduction to the Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunterssuggests, “The quickest way to success is to read the entire book from cover-to-cover – twice. The first time helps you to appreciate how all the ideas fit together… The second read is where you start to combine the strategies…

[I]n this economy, you don’t have time to waste. [Read] the book from cover-to-cover as directed. It’s faster!”