The Chair Show – Call for Entry!

Overhaul those leftover, forgotten, broken, out-dated or just plain ugly chairs into works of art, as The Other Side Arts (TOSA) turns the gallery into a giant sitting parlor this August. The Chair Show is an open-entry art exhibition highlighting the “chair” in its many artistic forms, concepts, and meanings. What does the Chair mean to you? Transform your seat and help us cherish the chair in our August exhibition at TOSA Denver.

Exhibition is open to all artists over 18. Works should fit the theme and be made out of, resemble, or pertain to the concept of the “chair”.

Work drop-off dates are Aug 2nd & 3rd, 9:30 am – 5 pm at TOSA Denver, 1644 Platte St.
There is a $10 entry fee per piece, and up to 3 pieces may be submitted.
Opening Reception, Friday, August 5th, 6-9pm.  Show runs through August 26th.

To receive an entry form, please email


F2: Fashion & Fiber – Call for Entries!

Announcing a Call for Entries for our July 2011 exhibition now to be held at our Denver Location:
F2: Fashion & Fiber
An exhibition showcasing original fashion, fiber and textile art. 
All work having a fiber or fashion component, including original clothing design and fashion drawings will be accepted.
Submit your pieces to TOSA Denver through Wed, July 6 , 9:30 am – 5 pm.
$10 entry fee per piece/ $30 for four pieces.
Show opens second Friday, July 8, 6-9 pm at TOSA Denver, 1644 Platte St.
Download entry form here: TOSA Fiber Show Entry Form
Call 303.561.3000 or email with questions.

Artist Inc. Class 5 – Real Estate Concerns for Artists

The afternoon session of Class 5 focused on Real Estate topics. Led by Matt Hanson and Laura Cowperthwaite of the Thriving Artist Alliance. Based in Denver, TAA works directly with those in the arts, entertainment and related fields and creates strategic alliances between arts & cultural organizations and the businesses that support them, philanthropic foundations, city planners, developers and those who work in our artistic community to invest in ourselves and our city.

Here’s a brief recap from their session:

Matt Hanson started by telling the artists that we are part of a billon dollar industry. He briefly described Richard Florida’s findings in his book “Rise of the Creative Class” which discusses the important influence artists and other ‘creatives’ have on lifestyle and other trends.

A discussion about budgeting followed. Matt encouraged the group to find and fill in the gaps in their financial world. Where does money come into your life, what do you do with it and how do you protect it? Think about yourself in terms of “You, Inc.”

Tips for building wealth:
– Prepare a monthly budget
– Analyze and start to see the patterns in your spending and income generation
– Pay yourself first – the goal is to have 6 months of bills set aside in the bank.
– Check your credit reports
– 35% of your score is based on timely payment; 30% based on credit card balance (stay w/in 10% of your
credit card limit); The rest is determined by how old/recent you’ve had accounts open. Keep your old
accounts in use (even if only once a year)
– Don’t consolidate your credit cards – instead have your credit limits increased
– If you find errors on your credit report, can do Credit Repair which will work to remove erroneous debts.
You can also dispute with the three credit reporters. Be sure to follow up!
– If you’ve had a bankruptcy, it can stay with you for 7-10 years, however you can still qualify for a loan w/in 2 years. Student loans can’t be included in a bankruptcy, and can follow you for a while.

Thriving Artist Alliance programs of interest:
Co-op Program – for sharing commercial live/work space between several artists. TAA can help find property and negotiate the deal, etc.
Patron Program – where patrons assist artists purchase property.

Credit Score & Report Links:

Artist Inc. Class 5 – Legal Issues For Artists

During the morning of Class 5, Paul Cha, a registered patent attorney and intellectual property litigator in the Denver office of the law firm Holme Roberts and Owen LLP, took us on a journey into the world of legal issues an artist might encounter. Here’s a brief summary of the content he covered in class:

– Protects the form in which creative idea is expressed (not the idea); Exists at the moment work is created; The individual that created the work is the copyright owner.
– Can register a copyright to provide further protection with right to sue and to collect damages.
– Life of a copyright is life of author plus 70 years.
– Works created prior to 1923 are considered public domain.
– Fair Use of a copyrighted work includes reproduction for uses of criticism, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research.
– Penalties for copyright infringement include destruction of infringing materials and monetary damages.

– Any word, mark or symbol used to identify and distinguish the goods of one person from another and to indicate the source of the goods.
– Trademark rights can last indefinitely.
– Mark should be distinctive. Fanciful (i.e. Exxon), Arbitrary (i.e. Apple), or Suggestive (i.e. Microsoft)
– Register through Secretary of State or US Patent & Trademark Office – you can do a search in the database for trademark logos. Words are harder to trademark than logos.

Useful Links:
US Copyright Office
Copyright Clearance Center
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Stanford University – Definition of Public Domain
Cornell University – Copyright Term and Public Domain
Westminster Law Library @ Sturm College of Law, University of Denver Public has limited access to resources.
Colorado Supreme Court Library Open to the public.

Artist Inc. – Class 4 – Business & Financial Basics

Class 4 of Artist Inc. focused on Business & Finance topics for artists taught by Neil Mackenzie from Metro State in Denver.

Neil MacKenzie is a Visiting Professor at the Center for Innovation (MSCD), where he has developed the course “Artrepreneurship.” Neil condensed his class content into a 4-hour session for the Artist Inc. students.

Here are few insights learned during the class:

Artists should have a strong “elevator speak.” It’s 30-seconds of “this is who I am and what I do.” Avoid using the word “unique” to describe yourself, it has become meaningless. Answer the questions: What do I do? What would the public get out of it? What’s your “secret sauce?” Why would I want to buy from you? Try to pique someone’s interest so they want to know more.

Neil shared with the class information about the Colorado: State-of-the-Art study conducted by the Colorado Council on the Arts. The “Creative Industry” is the 5th largest sector in the state, and Colorado has the 5th largest concentration of artists/creatives in the U.S. Click here to read the full study.
He also discussed the National Endowment for the Arts’ Public Participation in the Arts study which describes how tastes are changing and that audiences for traditional arts events are declining. There is evidence to show that more people are participating in the arts themselves – making things, creating movies. blogs, etc. online, etc. Click here to read the full report.

Next, Neil talked in depth about business structures:
To determine the best business structure for you:
1. Think about your liabilities.
2. Think about the work involved and time needed to maintain your business.
3. Do you have need to raise additional funds now or in the future?

A. Sole Proprietorship – you are the sole owner. There is low cost to open business, but higher risk as you are personally responsible for the business and all your personal goods (house, car, inventory, etc) are at risk. Ways of raising money is limited. Can create an “LLC” through the Secretary of State office to help lower your financial risks.
B. Partnership – has more than one owner. Should have a partnership agreement in place to spell out responsibilities as they often end poorly, and can be harder to dissolve if necessary. It is easier to raise funds since you have multiple people involved. Can have a “limited partnership” to divide up ownership into different parcels. Should create an “LLC” so that you are only liable for your assets into the partnership.
C. Corporation – more formalized, has a board of directors, must have annual meetings and follow the tax rules. Higher cost to incorporate, but lower personal risk. Many more ways to raise funds. You file separate business taxes and there is a lot of paperwork. An “S-Corp” is similar but has less paperwork involved.

Sales Tax
If you have a product that you sell (i.e. works of art that are tangible), you need to pay sales tax. If you sell a service (i.e. web design, graphic design, etc.) no sales tax is due.
A wholesale tax license allows you to purchase materials for your artwork and not pay tax on them.
Make sure you know what paperwork is involved, follow the schedules, and be sure to investigate both city and state tax licenses.

Useful Tax & Business Formation Links:
Colorado’s Secretary of State Office
Colorado Dept of Revenue business tax information.
City of Denver Treasury Division.
Nine Steps to Starting A Business in Denver
Online Forms (sales tax licenses, tax returns, etc.) – City of Denver Treasury Division
Special Event Tax Information (for participating in art festivals, etc.
US Small Business Administration

Financial Statements “101”:
– Income Statements – covers your activity for a period of time (what came in/went out, what sold/spent)
– Cash Flow Statement – Covers where you are each month
– Balance Sheet – Your financial condition at a point in time including your assets & liabilities and your balance/equity
Use a budget spreadsheet to help you plot out your month-to-month expenses, and to detail your expenses both fixed (don’t change monthly) and variable (varies month to month)

Other ideas to keep in mind regarding your business:
– A business plan is a good way to identify your goals, organize your ideas and create a timeline for action.
– Identify your “opportunities and threats” – these are external things you can’t control (such as a changing marketplace, an aging audience, etc.)
– A mission statement helps you focus in a specific direction, and can help you craft your 30-second elevator speech.
– Learn from your competition – what are they doing well or poorly? What can you copy or improve?
– Be inquisitive with your customers – engage them about what they like, why they bought from you, get referrals from them!

A few resources mentioned during class:
“The Successful Business Plan” by Rhonda Abrams
“I’d Rather Be in the Studio” by Alyson Stanfield
“Guerrilla Marketing” by Jay Levinson

Artist Inc. – Class 3 – Gallery Relations 101

The Artist Inc. program continues to delve into some important topics for visual artists. This post will highlight some of the discussions from Class 3 where we covered Gallery Relations.

Gallery relations, portfolios, photographs, and other gallery resources:
Taught by Alicia Bailey, Owner of Abecedarian Gallery and book artist, Alicia provided extremely useful information from the perspective of both a gallery owner and a working visual artist. Here some highlights from her class:
Regarding images of your artwork:
– Label your digital images with artist name NOT with the artwork title.
– Limit your submitted portfolio to one primary medium and be consistent.
– Eliminate distracting backgrounds from your images (esp. for 3D work).
– Avoid including the artwork’s frame in your image, unless it of particular importance to the work.
– Order your images in a way that strives for balance as images are often looked at all together.
– Follow directions concerning image size and what materials a gallery requests. Your portfolio is a way to evaluate your future relationship with the gallery.
-Keep one good image large of your work and then lock this file. Do a ‘Save As’ to make specific, smaller copies for other uses.
-Several good inventory softwares are on the market for managing your images – check them out here: Flick, Bento or Alyson Stanfield’s blog about inventory systems.

Regarding approaching galleries:
-Visit the gallery first, if possible.
-Remember that galleries are businesses; talk about your saleability, your collectors, and what you bring to the table.
-Some galleries have a dedicated time when they look at artist submissions. Call first, or make an appointment; don’t go in expecting them to drop everything to look at your work. Don’t be overly pushy either, they will contact you if they like your work.
-In general, be consistent with your body of work and medium. A gallery needs to know you are reliable not a “dabbler”.

-Prices must be consistent across the board.
-The commission a gallery takes allows the gallery to keep the lights on, and is also a way for the gallery to commit to you in time, energy and effort.
-Geography has an impact: NY prices are higher because rents are higher. As the artist, you have to decide what’s worth it to keep your prices consistent. Maybe you don’t go to NY until you establish a reputation elsewhere so you can build up your prices.
– Decide what your policy is on discounting and what free reign you give your gallery for doing so.
– To establish your own prices, one technique is to search for artists working in a similar media/size and who has a similar type of artist reputation. Look at their past year’s prices, do they increase each year, etc?

General gallery relations:
-The artist should expect the gallery to treat them with regard, to place their work well, to include them in PR and marketing efforts; A gallery expects each artist to contact their patrons, and help promote the gallery as well.
-It’s good to have a signed agreement of some kind detailing how things will work between you and the gallery; don’t expect a gallery to remember every conversation and detail of your past conversations.
– Potentially avoid galleries that treat visitors poorly. Visit first incognito to see how you are treated.
-Look at the website carefully, do they have too many artists, how are artists represented on the website?
-Clarify how the gallery handles insurance of the artwork. As an artist, you can attach a rider to your own insurance policy to cover artwork in other locations.

A few gallery types and artist opportunity examples:
-Co-ops: artist does all the work, often have solo or 2-person shows; this is a great way to get exposure and build experience hanging shows, doing your own PR, etc.
-Gallery Rentals: renting one space for a specified period of time. Another good way to start building your resume.
-University Galleries and other nonprofit spaces: mission is to educate, so sales are scare. But, these opportunities can be more bang for your buck in terms of building your resume. You can organize workshops, lectures, artist residencies, etc. along with holding an exhibition.
-Restaurants or multi-use venues: the work doesn’t get as much attention since the venue has another purpose, but many people will see the artwork which could lead to other opportunities.
-Juried Shows: gets your work in front of lots of people/curators/professors, etc. Often shows are specific to a theme/medium so it is a filtered and captive audience. Determine your budget for the year, for example, and enter only those shows that seem the most appropriate to what you do.

If your art exhibitions can have multiple “hooks” with the media, this increases the possibility that your show will be covered in the press. Be willing to think strategically about how to get your work in front of the most numbers of people. There are so many ways to mount art shows, don’t be afraid to think creatively or take a chance. Building your resume with lots of shows, lectures, volunteer activities, etc. is useful to advancing your career as an artist.

The Simple Act of Thank You

As someone who has worked in the arts for 18 years both as an active visual artist and an arts administrator, I have seen my share of “entitled artists.” By this I mean those people who seem to perpetually have their hand out, asking friends or acquaintances to go above and beyond what is normally expected from those relationships. These types of artists often make grand assumptions that they neither have to pay for nor work hard to receive something of value in return. This personality type is not limited to artists, mind you. Perhaps it is something in the artist persona – they play into what has historically been a lifestyle defined by struggle, financial hardship, emotional torment and other such stereotypes, and that somehow putting their art into the world is worthy enough.

I would like to suggest that this attitude is neither acceptable nor in the best interest of artists as a whole. When you ask a friend or colleague to assist you hang your art show, volunteer their time for your project, review or critique their work or written materials, thank them! It is a simple concept that we teach children when they first learn to speak, yet it often eludes many adults.

Our world has become increasingly complex and people’s lives have become busier; our interactions with others have become less formal – email and texting has allowed us to abbreviate our thoughts, oftentimes this leads to misinterpretation. There is a time and a place for informality. However, situations that warrant formal thank yous and other demonstrations of appreciation should be done with well-thought out written sentiments, and may warrant (dare I say), a handwritten card or note sent through the mail!
When someone takes the time to explain how you have impacted them, that they have learned something from you, that they appreciated your time, effort and dedication to your cause, it shows an act of respect and professionalism. It doesn’t cost you anything but it is usually of great value to the receiver. Conversely, when someone neglects to do this, it feels like your efforts went unnoticed and unappreciated, and you won’t likely want to help this person again in the future.

Think about people who have helped you, guided you, shown you a leg up somewhere – did you thank them, and thank them properly? Doing so might just help you in the future.