Artist Entrepreneur: Y for You— The Artist’s Alphabet Guide to Writing About Your Art by Aletta de Wal

Alphabet after Serlio LetterY

Welcome to the Artist Entrepreneur column, an occasional series where we talk about the fun, wild and scary ride of succeeding as an artist entrepreneur of all stripes and types and mediums.

Welcome back guest columnist, Aletta de Wal.  She specializes in helping visual artists succeed in their fine art careers. She posts regularly on “The Artist’s Alphabet Guide to Writing About Your Art” and other success tips for fine artists on the topic of writing about your art. Today it’s Y for You. Enjoy!


“My greatest obstacle is to learn to market my work without fear. Art galleries, publishers, clients, newspaper reporters, all the questions, art receptions; talking about my work with strangers, being the center of attention, it’s overwhelming.”

I get e-mails and calls like this a lot. At some point the artists tells me that they are shy, or an introvert, that they absolutely cannot be extroverted. What I say next is not usually what they want to hear – that they can market without a personality transplant, but that they will have to become more comfortable being “out there.”

According to Laurie Helgoe, in Introvert Power, more than 57% of Americans are actually more introverted than extroverted. Feel better now? 

Actually there is no such thing as being “an introvert” or “an extrovert” – we all have a range of introversion to extroversion. A lot of your comfort or discomfort has to do with the situation, how you learn to communicate and how well you prepare for new or uncomfortable encounters.

Writing about yourself in the privacy of your own studio is a great way to prepare.

Don’t worry about grammar, syntax or spelling.

You don’t have to answer all of these questions at once. In fact I recommend against that. At most, answer one a day.

You don’t even have to write whole sentences at this stage — words and phrases are a great start.

Just get your first answers down for now. You can edit and polish later.

  1. Why and how did you start making art?
  2. When did you start?
  3. Did you take any breaks? If so, why and how did you get started again?
  4. Did you go to art school, take workshops or are you self-taught?
  5. If you have taken training, how did you make what you learned your own instead of a copy of the instructor’s art?
  6. Why do you create the kind of art you make?
  7. What do you like most about making art?
  8. What do you like least about making art?
  9. How long did it take you to get good at what you do?
  10. How do you come up with your ideas?
  11. What materials and media do you use? Which are your favorites?
  12. How do you actually make the art?
  13. How do you know when it’s done?
  14. How do you decide what frames or pedestals to use? Do you make or buy them?
  15. Who buys and/or shows your work? What do they say about it?
  16. Who are your role models and mentors? What lessons have you learned from them?
  17. What and who inspires your work?
  18. What inspires you to keep going when you get stuck?
  19. Where have you/do you exhibit your art?
  20. Do you teach art to others? What do you teach? How did you learn to teach?
  21. What makes your art different from other artists who also <insert your art form here>?
  22. What do your collectors say about your art?
  23. What are your greatest strengths as an artist?
  24. What’s the best thing about being an artist?
  25. What’s the worst thing about being an artist?
  26. What are you most proud of in your art career?
  27. What mistakes have you made and how did you overcome them?
  28. What kinds of art and which artists do you like?
  29. What kinds of art and which artists do you dislike?
  30. What are you working on now?

Once you’ve written your answers, let them simmer. You’ll notice that other thoughts come to you, so just note them. You can add them later.

And when people ask you questions not on this list, add them, and write those answers too.

Everything you write will be useful sometime. You’ll use your answers in writing e-mails, blog posts, and social media conversations.

As you answer these questions in person or on the telephone, you’ll find new ways to write about them. Pretty soon, you’ll be unstoppable!

Next time, Z for Zen.


About the Author

Aletta de Wal, Artist Career Training

Aletta de Wal, Artist Career Training

Aletta de Wal, Artist Career Training
Aletta de Wal inspires fine artists to make a better living making art in any economy.

Aletta works with part-time, emerging and full-time artists who are serious about a career in fine arts. Aletta makes make art marketing easier and the business of art simpler.

More information at:

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