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Art Lessons: Getting Work

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now a lot of people ask me one of the most
common questions everyone
asks me is how do I go about getting work?
Because people just don't, a lot of times,
people don't know where to start.
So here let me just start you on a,
a couple of simple steps of things that
maybe you shouldn't do.
That are not the best ideas ever.
One of them is not knowing who you're
reaching out to.
A lot of people will just be like I want
to do magazine work.
And all of a sudden they start calling up
But they don't really know who they're
reaching out to.
So, if you're going to cold call, and
I have cold called in the past before I
was working with this guy, a lot,
you gotta really do your homework and know
who you're reaching out to.
So if you wanna go out to a magazine like
Rolling Stone,
you gotta reach out to the art director.
You gotta reach out to the people who are
who have that position of power.
To say yes we're looking for artists send
us your portfolio.
What you don't wanna do is start just
getting into conversations with
random people and, and they'll be like
yeah, yeah just send it on over and
next thing you know, you know you just
never get a call back.
Well there's a reason why because cold
calling is a hard thing to do
if you're gonna do it you have to a, know
who you're reaching out to, b,
have the gift of gag and c, really know
what you want to say to them.
A lot of times you get that right person.
Listen you've got about ten seconds to
catch their attention.
So, really think about what you wanna say
and just get, get your pitch down.
You know it's a lot like acting if you're
gonna do it.
Oftentimes as, as you get older and more
entrenched in the field of art,
you start seeing that really a lot of work
is about building relationships.
So it's really important to build
If you're an introverted person,
like there's this stigma that artists are
all introverted.
I'm not, I'm way more of an extrovert, you
know what I'm talking about.
[LAUGH] Yes you do.
So, if there's an artist who is
you have no problem with that then you can
get the work yourself.
If you're an introvert and you really have
no idea,
you don't wanna deal with the public, you
just wanna be that guy.
Who's in the studio painting, and drawing,
and doing it on your own, that's great.
But I would suggest is getting either an
agent or
a manager or a lawyer and so, I, myself,
I have a lawyer so that I never have to do
the negotiations.
Because when I do the negotiations, I look
like the bad guy.
So I'm the good cop, he's the bad cop.
He comes in and says this much money, this
much time, this much energy.
He's gonna deliver it this day.
I don't have to do that, because when
you're the artist putting yourself in that
position, you then take away the whole
beauty and allure.
Of being that guy, that artist.
Think about Banksy.
Look how concealed he is, think about how
many people wanna get at him.
The mystery of that is just so appealing.
So, you know, I will, I will defer to,
to Darren to kind of break down the
difference between a manager,
an agent, and a lawyer, and what do you
>> Well, I, you know, I think it depends
again Bua touched on a really good point,
you know, where are you at in the
Where are you?
Are you a novice?
Are you someone who's actually started to
deliver projects to, to companies for
commercial purposes?
I mean just because you've got your friend
who owns the corner deli and
they decide that you should,
you know, do a chalk drawing somewhere and
they're talking about the daily specials.
Doesn't mean that you're ready for an
agent or a manager.
I think one of the big misconceptions
about having agent or
manager is that means that you've made it.
That means you're gonna have a whole bunch
of income now.
You know, means you're in a whole
different level.
Being an agent manager, even a, a, a
lawyer who takes a percentage of what you
make, that's a business model, too.
And often times the manager, the agent,
they're gonna reach for the low hanging
fruit, which means that those deals that
come in then that are really easy.
They're gonna try to put you into those
And it makes sense from their perspective,
If you're, if you're starting out and
you're only getting $1000 for
a deal, and they're making 20% let's say.
That's only 200 bucks in their pocket, but
they might've put three weeks into that.
Now if you're a well known artist, you
you might put three weeks into a deal.
And, and it could be a $200,000 project,
or a $20,000 project.
If they've got those kind of projects,
they're gonna be spending their time and
their efforts on getting that 10,
20% commission on those bigger ticket
items and their bigger client base.
So they might look at you as somebody
who's coming in and might have to take
some time and build up, and they might be
willing to be along for that ride.
But that doesn't mean that you're
necessarily gonna get some spike in work
or opportunities.
You're still gonna have to do, as Bua
referred to,
you know, the pounding of the pavement,
the pressing the flesh, the gift of gab.
You're still gonna have to be selling
yourself out there.
And oftentimes when you get those
opportunities you can loop in your agent
or your manager and let them perform the
business affairs side of it and
be a little bit of the heavy.
It's, it is important, as Bua said,
that you're not necessarily the bad cop as
you get more progressed in your career.
Why is that?
Because part of the delivery process for
any work for
hire project or commission project is
And you're gonna have to actually deliver
one stage of approvals to these people.
Now imagine delivering that stage of
approvals when they think you're
a great guy and somebody they've always
wanted to work with.
You know, that's one way of dealing with
that interaction and that relationship.
Now imagine you've been going back and
forth in hardcore negotiations now for
two weeks to get to this moment, all of a
you're coming in now as the jerk, as the
guy who is made this all difficult,
as the person who delayed the whole
That whole time together, now that
relationship that you're dealing with,
with the account manager, or you know the,
small business owner.
It's gonna take on a different feel to it.
So you really wanna kind of stay out of
that negotiation a,
a as much as possible at least.
That doesn't mean that behind the scenes
you're not being very clear
with your agent or manager as to what your
wants and your needs are and
often times I tell young artists to be
very realistic with what their needs are.
Be very realistic with their quotes.
Sometimes guys come in and they get a big
job and
they get $15,000, but that might have been
really unrealistic.
The real market might have dictated 5,000.
They just happened to get a good job.
So that doesn't mean that everything from
that point on is gonna be
15,000 or higher.
So you have to be realistic with where you
are in the marketplace, and
you need to write down those needs and
those desires.
Come up with a plan.
Come up with a purpose for your career.
Some short term goals, present that to
your manager and
agent and see how they can help you
achieve those goals.
You really have to look at them at your
business partner in this, and
oftentimes even as a lawyer, I don't get
enough feedback from my clients as to what
they're trying to achieve which makes my
job a little more difficult.
Sometimes takes a little bit more time to
develop income for
the client, as well as, what's really
important in the art community,
a good reputation for the client.
Reputation means being able to deliver on
time, being able to deliver
what the client asked for, and being able
to deliver it without any real drama,
any hold ups, and arguments, things that
make the process really smooth and easy.
So in general a lawyer will take 5% an
agent will take 10% and
a manager will take anywhere from 15-25%.
>> Yeah and I, I recommend you know,
if you, if you interview these people
sometimes early on in your career it's
easy to have friends and family perform
kind of a managerial role but
as you develop it more you sometimes have
to have that.
That real sit down and get somebody who
has a little bit more experience a little
bit more of a, of a reach.
Even Bua and I when he has certain jobs
that come in from international,
I don't necessarily have experience in
dealing with those countries or
their ways of doing business, we gotta
bring in somebody who does.
So it's important that everybody
understands their role so that you can
develop your skills and your reputation
more and more and more and keep improving.
>> So when you're getting work if you're
starting out, the hustle's gonna really be
all on you and as you get more further
down the road of being successful.
Then you could think about really going to
a, a lawyer agent type.
I think a lawyer personally is the best
for me somebody who can really
deal with the negotiations and deal with
the financials of it, that has worked for
me but don't get it twisted for many years
I did this all on my own
I am also more of a hustle type a
personality guy.
So if you're a super, super introvert and
you have an amazing portfolio,
you still have to try it out at first
until you really get out there enough to,
to get yourself a lawyer and agent.
>> Yeah.
>> If I could add one thing to that,
it would be with payment, Bua said 5%, 10%
Try not to do in kind exchanges.
Try not to give your work to the lawyer or
the agent in consideration of their
The reason for that is again a practical
side to the business that if I am
just getting a painting I may not really
have a value in mind of what that is.
So if the negotiation of the deal takes a
lot longer.
I might be more interested in chasing the
cash from a client
rather than just a painting that's hanging
on my wall.
Now, that doesn't mean that you can't give
us your paintings or gift them to us or
you know, a nice end of the year bonus,
but in the mean time it's always a little
bit better if you can to say hey I want
this deal done.
And here's what I'm willing to pay for it.
I've got $200.
I have $150.
I have $500 we each completed on a flat
basis instead sometimes that will work
>> Getting work.
Go get that work.