Your Questions, Answered on Artprof.org!

One aspect of artprof.org that I am very excited about is the fact that we have a team of diverse Teaching Assistants on staff!  While I have expertise in a number of fields in visual arts, nothing substitutes having a team of artists who bring contrasting voices to the table. I like the fact that as a staff of teaching artists, we don’t always agree in our conversations, especially when we do critiques on the site and have discussions on different topics.

Visual arts is such an open field where the possibilities are infinite.  On one hand this is wonderful, but studying visual arts can also be overwhelming when you are trying to find your own path.  I know that when I was in art school, one approach that really helped me immensely was to hear different opinions on the same subject.  I learned drawing from 8 different professors, each of whom had their own take on the subject.  You won’t agree with every point of view or opinion, but that process of exposing yourself to everything that is out there is critical towards forming your own identity as an artist.  That’s what artprof.org can provide, that I could never provide before.

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Those of you who want professional, trusted advice about being an artist, register for FREE on artprof.org and you can comment and ask your questions anywhere on the site!  I often times get the same question over and over again, and now we finally have a public forum where we can all benefit from different answers from the Art Prof staff.

Register here!  You get to create your own Artist Profile when you register, marking your interests in visual arts.  From there, our site will create a personal track for you, which will provide recommendations to pages on the site according to your personal preferences. personal-track.png


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

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Keep Looking For Your Artistic Dreams

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by Alex Rowe

When I was an art student, and even a year or so after I graduated, I had a very rigid idea of what my work and my life as an artist would look like: I would illustrate books, and only books. End of story. Spoiler alert to all of you young artists out there: this is not the best course of action. Pursuing a specific dream, like book illustration? Totally fine! Limiting yourself professionally and creatively? Not so much. I fell into the trap a lot of young artist fall into: limiting my work by keeping my dreams too narrow. Whether by not taking some classes because they didn’t fit with my goal, or even not drawing some pieces I thought of because they didn’t work with the portfolio I wanted, I was limiting myself as an artist.  

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The problem with staying focused on a goal is that we sometimes ignore the directions that our work is trying to take us, and when we stray too far away from our true work we lose focus on why we make art in the first place. A career in art is not a simple trajectory. There are many turns and surprises that it can take us that we don’t even expect!

In my case, some of my jobs out of school were t-shirts and logos for local bands. I had to learn a lot of things about design that I neglected to learn earlier, but this work brought me more and more joy as I completed projects. The key is to be open to these surprises. Let go of your dreams in order to find them again. Ask yourself, why do you make art? I think you’ll find the answer is much more broad than any specific goal that you’ve set.

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How do you avoid being trapped in a goal that’s too specific? Simply be mindful of your artwork, of what brings you joy, and what your artwork is trying to tell you. Don’t try to make your work fit a specific goal, but try to find a goal that fits the kind of art you enjoy. In my experience, as I let go of the assumption that I knew what I wanted to do, I’ve been having so much more fun making my work again! And you know, that reinvigorated love has made me still work on a portfolio for book illustration – as well as other things.

Fear not: as grim as the career of an artist may look at times, there are more ways than ever to get your work out there and make it work! I found little success when I was just looking at book publishers – but now that I’ve started meeting local bands, interacting with small businesses, and even joining a gallery (trust me, the last place I thought my work would fit!) I’m slowly finding people who I can work with as an artist. Be honest with your artwork, and the right venue for it will come.


Related Articles 
My Poisonous Checklist, by Clara Lieu
One Simple Purpose, by Clara Lieu 


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

Reddit AMA #3 (Ask Me Anything) with the Art Prof

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This week I did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) in the subreddit /painting. Below are some of the questions people asked, and you can read the entire thread with my (very long) responses here. Some really great questions in this AMA, I really enjoyed it!


“I have a BFA and I produce a large volume of work, but I haven’t been able to transition into a career or make any real money doing it. What advice do you have for somebody looking to make a living doing art? should I get into galleries, do freelance work, and how do you get your name out so more people know about you? I feel like I have the technical skills to make money doing art, but I don’t know how to get more commissions or get into more prestigious galleries.”

“How much has a Masters degree advanced your career? Would you recommend more education for someone like myself, (I currently have a BFA) who has no business/sales skills?”

“I read your blog post about selling art online.  You mentioned that most of your artwork is found via searches on Etsy, but also that you promote it.  Can you be more specific about ways you’ve promoted your shop that were successful? I’m also wondering if you feel like your store recommendations are more important than promotion.”

“I’m wondering if drawing came naturally to you and if you just kept working hard at perfecting your skills? Did people ever discourage you when you told them you were pursuing art?”

“I was wondering how you found art school, and any advice you would give to someone trying to get in.”

“I’m mostly a self taught artist and I work full time as a graphic designer. I have a hard time coming up with ideas for art projects and I can’t seem to make myself sketch as much as I need to. Do you have any advice?”

“My question is all about the art you love! Who are your favorite artists who influence your work- what kind of work inspires you and are there any artists we may not know of yet (via Hyperallergic and other blogs) that we should be paying attention to?”

“A lot of advice for getting started seems to rely on going to artist talks or conferences, emailing art directors directly, etc, but how does a person even find those people to begin with?”


Subscribe to my email list! There’s a big announcement coming up on June 14 that you won’t want to miss. I send announcements only a few times a year.

Reddit AMA #2 (Ask Me Anything) with the Art Prof

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This week I did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) in the subreddit /learnart. Below are some of the questions people asked, and you can read the entire thread with my (very long) responses here.


“What do you think is the most prevalent difference between self-taught artists and those who have gone to art school(s)? Are there any benefits of being self-taught, aside from the money issue?”

“How does an artist learn to see?”

“In the art world right now do you think that the business aspect of becomes more important due to the high competitiveness?”

“In your years teaching at RISD, what are characteristics that successful students have in common? Have you noticed similarities?”

“What is your opinion on digital art? I have noticed that digital art is sometimes disregarded as not quite being art since you have access to tools not available in traditional art.”

“Do you have any tips/websites/books/blogs on how a student can find their own voice, how to express it? And how to teach that to a student, or at least guide them in knowing how to express themselves verbally and through their work?”

“I spent most of my life drawing in pencil, and find that I have a very poor understanding of light and color. Could you recommend any exercises that I could complete in an hour every day that would best help with improving color and light comprehension?”

“I am an emerging artist. I have tried to contact commercial art galleries but there’s no interest. My press releases to art magazines and traditional media are ignored. How can I get more exposure to the right people, collectors looking for emerging artists who can judge by themselves the merit of a piece of art?”


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

Reddit AMA #1 (Ask Me Anything) with the Art Prof

Clay Portrait Sculpture

Last night I did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) in the subreddit /ArtCrit. Below are the questions people asked, and you can read the entire thread with my (very long) responses here.


“How did you sell your work when you were first starting out as an artist? I’d like to sell my work, but I don’t want to under price or overprice myself.”

“What does it take to get into RISD’s MFA program?”

“How important do you think painting classes and instructions are in regards with improving one’s skill? can one improve skill mainly through practice and self education? What would you suggest for a person who have not any formal visual art education but merely like sketching and painting?”

“What advice do you have for someone who wants to improve their art, that’s not ‘keep practicing?'”

“Are there any unusual art styles that you’ve come across in student artwork that stood out to you? What made them stand out?”

“As an art student currently studying painting, what is the most valuable piece of advice for a young artist looking to make a successful career from art?”

“What is your favorite and least favorite thing about being an art professor?”

“What would you say to those with the opinion that art cannot be taught?”

“Could you be happy teaching high school, middle school, or grade school art? Or, is there another way you would choose to make money if you weren’t a professor?”

“Did you ever doubt your decision to pursue art as a career? Or, did you ever have to decide between art and a career field that was a close second?”

“How do you make practice count?”

“How can we properly study from the old masters?”

“Is it more important to be extremely good at a certain aspect like landscapes, or focus on as many of them as possible? If so how?”

“Is the art world becoming highly competitive?”

“If we can’t get life drawing from a class/studio setting and live in a pretty barren wasteland/small town what would you suggest to practice?”

“Are there any living masters today?”

“In my country the art programs are not very good, so while I am studying, I also want to take matters into my own hands. Do you have any books or online classes you would recommend? Also, how do I know when I am ready to start showing my work?”


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

Video Critiques for Aspiring and Professional Artists

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Due to popular demand, I am now expanding my video critique program to include video critiques for aspiring and professional artists, in addition to video critiques for students preparing a portfolio for college admission.

Many artists of all ages and levels of experience have emailed to me over the past few months asking for me to critique their artwork. The people who have emailed me have said that they have no one who they can ask for feedback on their artwork, so I am pleased to be able to provide a solution for this need.

Each video critique is 30 minutes long, covers 8-20 artworks, and costs $60 USD. Get more information here, and you can watch a sample video critique of a student’s portfolio for college admission below.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

The Right Words at the Right time

Accordion Bookbinding Project

One of my students at RISD once wrote on their self-critique, “Art is hard.”  I couldn’t have said it better myself. When you work professionally as an artist, there are the artistic challenges of creating the artwork, but on top of that, you have to build a very thick skin to handle the constant bombardment of rejection, and be incredibly tenacious despite difficult circumstances.  From my point of view, creating the artwork is the “easy” part of being a visual artist.

For me, the greatest struggle is when my confidence in my work wavers. Some days, I feel empowered and confident, my artistic vision is crystal clear, and my work ethic and energy is boundless. Other days, I feel overwhelmed, terribly discouraged, and have no faith in myself. You would think after almost two decades, I would have figured out a permanent solution, but I don’t think that one exists.

Last week I had one of those moments,  I know that fundamentally, I am extremely passionate about my work but it’s very nerve wracking to put in so much commitment and labor into something that might go nowhere.  I knew that I had to find a way to maintain my enthusiasm and optimism.

I wrote to one of my friends, Gina Perry, who is a children’s book illustrator and expressed my fears and anxieties to her.  She said that my situation sounded very similar to children’s book publishing, where you have no choice but to pour in hundreds of hours of unpaid work before you see a contract.  Her words to me were:  “You don’t achieve big things without that type of investment and risk.”

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Illustration by Gina Perry

Her words really resonated in that moment, especially because I know that she has years of experience, deep in the trenches, dealing with rejection, chasing her artistic goals.  Now I have a sticky note on my desktop with her words. When I feel my confidence sinking, that sticky note lifts me up.

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Visual artists have to learn to live with uncertainty and still be willing to take intimidating risks despite the lack of guarantees.  As a reaction to this, I frequently crave any moment in my life where something is guaranteed.  I love baking because I know that if I buy the required ingredients, follow the recipe exactly as written, that in the end, I’ll definitely have muffins to eat.  Unless the recipe is bad, or I make some really stupid mistake, those muffins are guaranteed. Sometimes being a visual artist is like doing all of those tasks, but then every time you open the oven, all you find is a pile of ashes. Gina got me back on track last week, and I’m hoping that sometime in the near future, there will be muffins when I open my oven.


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