and on other web pages as well ( here
Recently (much to my surprise) we were in the same show, Chaos 2015
. After NOT seeing him at the opening reception I reached out to him only to find out that he moved to Arizona. A few email exchanges later and I asked him if he'd answer some questions for as apart of my artist interviews.
These 15 tips were the gems pulled from our email conversation.
For feed purposes, this is the text version:
HOW TO BE A BETTER ARTIST:
15 Tips from
DAVID VAN NESS
1. Learn how to budget
2. Get a tax ID and use it but also keep good records
3. Apply, apply, apply and keep applying for shows.
You only get better at it by doing so. And you’ll need a thick skin to deal with some rejection.
Understand it typically has less to do with you and more to do with some notion, theme, and personal taste of the jurors.
4. Stack trends or themes in the work so that it will appeal to multiple people for different reasons.
5. Spend at minimum 1hr thinking or working on your art no matter what.
6. Write 3 pages of stream of consciousness in the morning, first thing!
7. Get some mentors, people who are where you want to be.
Milk their knowledge. Do minor tasks volunteer to clean their studio or something.
8. Take vacations away from your work
9. Allow play to be part of tour art practice
10. Don't get serious, but learn how to talk about your work.
To do this get a group of artists who you can critique each other’s work and have monthly meetings to hash it out. Booze helps.
11. Always say yes when someone asks you for a custom thing. Be upfront and let them know that it will cost, but always say yes.
12. Never work for free.
13. Never work for free including brainstorming for commission.
Charge them for that.
14. Pay for skills that you don't have or tools you don't.
I get my work painted by automotive guys because the paint is so particular and you need a good cross draft booth that can bake the paint. Plus they have decades of experience over my few years.
15. Pushing forward and continuing to work is the most important.
You can outlast most artists as they give up or find another avenue. You won’t reach your stride till 35 to 45 but keep at it.