How to start teaching art

The first and most important rule is… Ask how to get started at the places where you’d like to teach.

It’s that simple. Just visit, call or email the people who might hire you to teach.

Other than that, anything that I say reflects only my experiences and opinions. The one and only opinion that matters is that of the person who’ll write your paycheque.

That said, here’s what I’d recommend:

1. Develop your skills as an artist, and think of projects that beginners can tackle–and complete–in a two-hour workshop. And, put your art online at your own banner-free website. (This means being hosted by a service that you pay for.) Learn to use the search engines to attract visitors. (That’s an entire course in itself, btw.)

2. Approach local shops–even Michael’s–with an offer to teach. Also check with Adult Ed, town Recreation Departments, etc. They’ll generally tell you what they pay, or what you should charge.

Let them know whether you’re more interested in making money, or getting lots of exposure; that affects how much you’ll charge. Short, inexpensive classes will generally draw more students.

3. Teach. Teach a LOT. Make sure that every handout has a way for students to reach you… your website URL, your email, and offline ways for people to contact you.

Every time you teach, add that to your resume. At this point, I hardly ever use a resume, but sometimes it comes in handy. I relied on one often when I was a new teacher.

Also remember: It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a degree in art… or if you don’t have any degree. (I have an honorary doctorate, and that’s all.)

Your enthusiasm is what sells you as a teacher, most of all.

4. Keep expanding where you teach. Bigger shops, more students, and so on… that’s not only good PR, but it’s lucrative as well. Also, let TV shows know that you’re available. Many of them–such as HGTV’s “That’s Clever!“–are often looking for new artists to feature.

5. Apply at art events. Watch the websites of art events, to see if/when they say that they’re looking for teachers’ proposals.

A proposal generally includes:

    -Class description, sometimes a short blurb plus a longer version-Photos and sometimes actual samples sent to the event organizers-Supply list (what your students should bring)-Your bio, including your website URL

    -Your photo (either in a class, or your shoulders & face, aka a “head shot”)

    -How much you want to be paid, per student (if you set the fees) and how many minimum/maximum students in each class

    -How many days you can teach

    -Whether the class is for beginners, intermediate, advanced

    -Whether the class is process-oriented (you focus on materials and/or techniques) or designed to complete a project in class (product-oriented)

    -How long the class is (sometimes events specify only full-day classes)

    -The application form (often available online)

6. Send your art (or photos of it) and maybe articles to every place that you can find, for PR. This includes magazines such as Somerset Studio, of course, but also zines relating to art, as well as to the subject matter of your art if you’re working in a popular/themed genre.

7. Read as much as you can about your kind of art, as well as books about PR, about running a business, and specifically the business of art. Take courses–especially online courses–relating to this.

Keep doing all of this, steadily. If you let up, even for a few months, people assume that you’ve quit or something. The rule in PR is: If you don’t give them something to talk about, they’ll make it up, and it’ll usually be unflattering. So, keep the PR going.

Then, it’s mostly a case of waiting for things to open up for you. And, they will.

When to make changes

If your teaching career goes flat, you MUST make changes. Either start teaching something new in your field, or look for new places to teach. Every time you reinvent yourself, you are faced with the prospect of teaching at a loss, while you build up again.

If you teach a particular style of widget-making, consider how those widgets can be used in other fields. If you can’t get classes at the widget store, consider questions like these:

– Can you add widgets to a fiber project, to teach at a yarn or weaving store, or a quilting shop?

– Would a paper/stationery shop feature your handmade (or hand embellished) journals with widgets on the cover or the pages?

– Can your widgets be added to jewelry?

And so on. There are always new ways to look at your work, at your markets, and the places where students might be eager to learn what you can teach.

Your students come first, always

Put your focus on your students and ignore the paycheck as best you can. If you’re giving your students far more than they paid for, you’ll get word-of-mouth PR that’s invaluable. And frankly, that’s where the teaching gigs come from, most often.

It’s not far removed from saying, “Do what you love, the money will follow.” And, that is the sequence… do what you love first. If you love teaching, please teach.

(If you’re trying to teach just to make money, don’t even start. Really. The students can tell, and the experience will only make you bitter.)

Students pick up on how enthusiastic a teacher is, and how much he/she cares about them as individuals. That’s the most important part of teaching. If you get that right, everything else will fall into place.

How much do artists earn?

I’m not netting $50K right now, but in past years, I have earned in that vicinity. I earned the most right before my third child was born, and–if you adjust for inflation–my gross was around $180K, with maybe 3/4 of that being net income.

The bulk of my income came from three sources:

Original art

The largest part of my income came from my original work. I sold through galleries and art associations. I made the most at art association shows, especially one-day outdoor shows. My second best art association outlet was selling through banks; a local bank accepted our art (through the art assoc) for their lobby walls, and my most expensive pieces ($500+ in early 1980s) sold there. Art associations also take a lower commission than many commercial art galleries.

Writing articles & books

My second highest–and most consistent–income was from writing. I wrote & wrote & wrote… mostly how-to articles for magazines, for book publishers, for anyone who would buy. I found my markets through the annual guide, “Writers Markets.” (Always get the latest edition. Your library probably has a copy.)

I sold first rights and then reprints, and the money added up. Those twice-yearly royalty checks from books are nice!

A little here, a little there…

I also made money in peripheral ways… doing custom illustration for printers, doing graphics for convention brochures, zines, and so on. I was always finding new outlets for my creativity, and it paid off in word-of-mouth referrals. I placed no paid advertising for my art, anywhere.

Working at home

In those days, I did no teaching at all. I’m painfully shy (really) and even one-day outdoor art shows were excruciating. So, almost all of my work was done at home, with two toddlers underfoot, and I provided the sole financial support of my family.

Then I remarried, had a third (wonderful) child, and my career seemed to threaten my new husband.

20 years later, I divorced and began the rebuilding process. So far, so good!

Back on track

I have been very successful in the past, working almost entirely from home. I expect to continue in that mode.

The “starving artist” cliche isn’t your only option if you want to earn your living as a full-time artist. No two artists will follow the same path. Find what works for you.

Remember that the average toddler falls down over 300 times before learning to walk. If you try career options that result in dead ends, don’t give up. Hope that it doesn’t take you 300 tries to find your best career path, but don’t give up!

Wax Paper and Artists Journals

Two artists' journals pages by Aisling D'Art.Wax paper is always among my basic journaling supplies, and I use it any time I need to protect pages that include glue, water media, or anything sticky.

When I travel, I pre-cut sheets of wax paper, and tuck them into the back of my journal.  Usually, I use a rubber band or a binder clip to hold them in place, so I don’t lose the sheets.

The following article is based on one that I wrote around 2005, and it’s still important for many people creating artists journals.

Wax paper can be a vital tool if you’re keeping an art journal. Wax paper can separate damp art journal pages — after they’ve been painted or collaged — so they don’t stick together. I carry wax paper with me when I travel, so I can work on several journal pages in a row, and not wait for pages to dry completely.

Photo of wax paper.Wax paper has many great features:

  • Wax paper is inexpensive.
  • It’s slightly porous (so the pages dry underneath). In other words, the air can get through.
  • It’s super-easy to use.
  • Wax paper is environmentally friendly.
  • You can often use the same sheet two or three times before throwing it away.

You’ll find wax paper at the grocery store, in the aisle with foil and plastic (cling) wrap. In the States, the leading brand is Reynolds’ Cut-Rite wax paper. That’s it in the photo. The package is about the same size as a roll of foil or plastic (cling) wrap.

Sometimes it’s half-hidden on the bottom shelf. In other areas, wax paper is a popular product for use with microwave ovens, so you’ll find wax paper more prominently displayed.

Regular wax paper is generally not recyclable. The wax surface (often made with petroleum products) is considered a “mixed” paper product.  I have not yet tried any of the recyclable wax papers (like “If You Care” brand wax paper) with my artists journals.

When I’m separating journal pages with wax paper, I try to let each page dry so it’s only damp, not wet. (Sometimes I have no choice.  If the page is really sticky and I can’t wait for it to dry at all, I have to hope for the best.)

Then, I place the journal so the pages are as flat as possible.

After that, I cut or tear the wax paper so each piece is slightly larger than the journal page it will protect. An extra half-inch on each side is usually enough.

The key to success is not to allow much weight or pressure on damp pages. In other words, the wax paper should practically float on the damp page. Don’t press it onto the page.

WAX PAPER AND GESSO

Generally, I gesso five or six pages at a time. I’ve successfully gesso’d up to eight pages at a time. However, I’m usually working with spiral-bound sketchbooks. They’re generally my favorite journals.

If I was working with a regular, bound journal, I’d watch carefully to see how much the binding “pulls” the pages back together. I might have to work with just two pages at a time.

(Big binder clips can come in handy if the binding on the journal is really tight. Clip the dry pages together — in separate bunches, if necessary — and that should take some of the pressure off binding, keeping the damp pages apart.)

Remember, wax paper is not 100% reliable when you want to keep wet pages apart.  If your journal page is the most perfect thing you’ve ever created, and you’d be devastated if it was damaged… well, stop journaling until that page has dried completely.

From my experience, wax paper sticks about 10 – 15% of the time. I may collage over those pages later, since the surface of the page is already a bit distressed. Or, I may leave them “as-is” to reflect the creative process.

It all depends upon how they look when the page is dry, and I take a fresh look at it.

I’ve used wax paper when I’ve gesso’d in airplanes (very dry air) and — at the other extreme — in sultry, humid Houston.

I have slightly better success with wax paper when the air is dry and the pages dry more quickly.

If you try wax paper and don’t have much success with it, try gently crushing the wax paper — before you use it — so it holds the pages slightly apart.

Note: It’s important to gently crush the wax paper; if you fold it enough that the wax falls off at the crease, that line (or point) may stick to wet paint, gel medium, or gesso.

WAX PAPER AND PAINT

When I want to separate wet, painted journal pages, I’m far more careful with the pages.

Then, I will separate two pages at the most: The one that I’ve just painted, and the one that I’m currently working on. Because wax paper isn’t 100% non-stick, I don’t want to risk damage.

Remember: Less weight or pressure on the wax paper means less risk of sticking.  Also, the drier the pages, the better.

Paint is designed to be sticky and adhere to paper.  If it’s so wet that the moisture actually penetrates the wax paper, the results may be disappointing.

Weigh your options carefully.  If your painted journal page is the best thing you’ve ever created, maybe it’s more important to preserve that, as-is, than rush into the next journal page.  (If you’re in a class and this happens, have a second or third journal with you.  Then, you can keep working while the first journal page dries, and not miss any valuable class time.)

WAX PAPER AND GEL MEDIUM OR GLUE

Wax paper is best for separating pages with small amounts of wet gel medium or glue on them. However, most gel medium won’t stick to wax paper.

In storage, I also use wax paper to protect every page of my collaged art journals. Then, even during sultry summer heat, the gel medium doesn’t re-soften and stick to the page opposite it.

Think of it this way: We use an iron to “melt” gel medium for image transfers. Likewise, gel medium can become sticky if you store your journals in a hot attic, garage, or other really warm area.

Unlike gel medium, glue can be hit-or-miss with wax paper. It can vary with how wet the glue is, and if the glue contains alcohol or any kind of solvent.  (Alcohol and solvents will dissolve the wax on the wax paper, so it’s useless.)

You can test this ahead of time. Put a blob of the glue on a piece of paper, and place a piece of wax paper on top of it. Press gently, enough so contact occurs.

Then, wait a minute or two and see if the wax paper sticks to the glue. If it does, wax paper won’t protect your journal pages where that glue is wet and exposed.

You may be safe with sheets of foil as separators. Or, consider thin sheets of teflon-coated plastic, sold in kitchen supply shops; they were invented to safeguard very sticky cookies, meringues, and so on.

Plastic wrap (cling film) isn’t usually helpful. It tends to stick to paint, gel medium and glue, and some glues will completely melt it.  If you have to choose between plastic wrap and nothing between the damp pages, opt for nothing.  Really.  Some plastic wraps — especially the more expensive kinds — are practically guaranteed to stick to your damp pages, prevent them from drying (ever), and not peel off (ever).

SUMMARY

Wax paper is a valuable tool when you’re working with damp pages in your art journal or illustrated diary.

Wax paper isn’t foolproof, but it’s still one of the best and least expensive ways to keep damp pages from sticking to each other.

You’ll have the best luck when you’re working with gel medium. Gesso and glue have a higher “failure” rate with wax paper.

However, in art there are no “failures,” just challenges and opportunities to create new and different art, and to make the most of life’s surprises.

The good news is, wax paper will prevent most damp pages from sticking together.  And, for most of my own journaling, that’s good enough.

How do you face your creative fears?

Aisling’s notes: As artists, we all deal with that double-headed demon, fear of failure/success. In this article, musician Bob Baker discusses some options when immobilized by these fears.

How Do You Face Your Creative Fears?

by Bob Baker

Gloria, a subscriber to my “Quick Tips for Creative People” e-zine, recently sent this note:

“Do you have anything on self-discipline and overcoming the fear of failure/success? I feel very enthusiastic when I do things, but the demons of fear just creep up on me. I do not want to repress them any longer; I am fed up with them. But I know it’s easier said than done. SOS: I do not want to be a chained slaved to my fears any longer. Help me help myself!”

Well, I’m flattered that Gloria felt comfortable in turning to me for some advice, but I’m also a bit fearful myself in tackling such a widespread obstacle to success. But I’ll give it a shot.

First, let’s turn to Marsha Sinetar for some perspective. In her book To Build the Life You Want, Create the Work You Love, she writes: “Almost all of us fear our potentials … Generally, fear’s message is that we’re not yet ready to be, do or have what we want. The way out of this dilemma is through a change of mind about ourselves — not simply the gaining of technical skills or textbook knowledge.”

Throughout her book, Sinetar encourages readers to play with their visions of a life that’s true to their purpose. I agree. Using your head for “possibility thinking” is extremely important in gaining confidence and getting mentally prepared for reaching higher levels of success.

But I also belief the best formula for living dreams is a balanced combination of THOUGHTS and ACTIONS. Nothing gives you confidence like having attempting something new that is in line with your creative passion. Whether it’s taking a painting class, going to a theatre audition, writing the first chapter of your novel … each small step builds a stepping stone to the next level.

Taking a closer look at Gloria’s note, I find the solutions to her dilemma woven into her very own words.

She writes: “I feel very enthusiastic when I do things …” She feels best when she is engaged in your passion. As she continues to do more things, her enthusiasm (and belief that she was meant to pursue her path) will grow.

“I do not want to repress (my fears) any longer; I am fed up with them.” Gloria has taken it upon herself to face her fears, not avoid them. By acknowledging her paranoia, she brings it out in the open, where it’s far easier to tame. She’s also grown frustrated with her fears, and discontent can be one of our greatest motivators.

In her book, Marsha Sinetar also says that successful people have “belief systems and self-ideas that support their life’s objectives. Underneath doubts, stronger than fear, lives the thought: ‘I can do this. I will do this. I am doing it!'”

Gloria also writes: “Help me help myself!” This is the most encouraging line in the note. She’s not blaming the world for her ills or laying excuses at the feet of her circumstances. She’s taking on the responsibility of wrestling this demon herself, which makes me realize she is right on track to slay this dragon.

Keep in mind, though, artists never reach a point where their creative lives are void of fear. It will never go away. But with a solid combination of positive thoughts and self-affirming actions, you can keep the little monsters very much under control.

P.S. Be sure to take a closer look at Marsha Sinetar’s two best-selling books: To Build the Life You Want, Create the Work You Love and Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow

Bob Baker is the author of “Unleash the Artist Within,” “Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook” and “Branding Yourself Online.” Get a FREE subscription to Bob’s newsletter, “Quick Tips for Creative People,” featuring inspiration and low-cost, self-promotion ideas for artists, writers, performers and more. Visit www.PromoteYourCreativity.com for details.

Whose fault is it…?

Aisling’s notes: We’ve all had comments, emails, posts, and even our art misinterpreted… sometimes badly. In this article, musician & business consultant Bob Baker gives insight into what may have gone wrong, and how to prevent it from recurring.

Whose Fault Is It When You Don’t Get the Career Results You Want?

by Bob Baker

Human communication is a crazy thing. You tell somebody something with the intention of getting a certain response … and the person reacts in a completely unpredictable manner, sometimes with disastrous results. Let’s examine this topic and see how we can apply the lessons learned to promoting, selling and enjoying your creative talents.

You’ve had this happen to you at one time or another: You make a funny comment to a friend or family member based on something silly you’ve just been thinking about. Instead of laughter, you get frustration, maybe even a hostile reaction.

“How could they react that way?” you ask. “My intention was to make them laugh or feel good. How dare they misinterpret what I meant to do!” A lot of folks place the blame on the deranged individual who responded so radically.

Now switch to a freelance writer sitting down to write a sales letter she’ll use to drum up work. She knows she’s capable and has won a number of contests and has lots of published clips to show. So she gets to work writing about her qualifications and why editors should call her when they need freelance help.

The letters go out. Weeks pass by. No editors call.

“What’s wrong with these people?” she cries. “I gave them all the reasons I’m a good freelance writer, but none of these jerks is calling me!” She knew what her intention was. Why wasn’t her vision becoming reality?

This writer had made the mistake of not separating INTENT from RESULTS.

Intent is what you WANT or HOPE will happen. Results are WHAT HAPPENS. When it comes to communicating, your intent doesn’t matter. Results are the only thing you should be focusing on.

If you aren’t getting the results you want, do a little research and try a different approach. Even if you think your new brochure is the best thing since Ricky Martin … If it ain’t gettin’ the results you want and need … figure out what’s wrong and change it!

As a creative person, you are very focused on your art. You’re dedicated. Your brain percolates with dozens of ways to approach your current project. You nurture and refine your talent. In other words, you are very focused on … YOU.

That’s great for art … but not for marketing, promoting and selling your talents.

Our writer friend above, like many freelances, might eventually discover that sending letters that pitch specific story ideas get the most response from editors. Some writers I know even list five or six different tailor-made topics — one of which is likely to catch the editor’s eye.

Of course, that would mean the letter would have to focus primarily on the editor and publication receiving it … NOT on the writer herself.

So don’t get too attached to your intent, or get too angry when people don’t react as much and as quickly as you want. The only thing that matters are RESULTS. Focus on them and you may end up getting a lot more of what you want.

Bob Baker is the author of “Unleash the Artist Within,” “Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook” and “Branding Yourself Online.” Get a FREE subscription to Bob’s newsletter, “Quick Tips for Creative People,” featuring inspiration and low-cost, self-promotion ideas for artists, writers, performers and more. Visit www.PromoteYourCreativity.com for details.

Ultimate Creative Conspiracy Theory

Aisling’s note: We’ve all had times when the deck seems stacked against us. And, we’ve all had times of soaring success when others around us seemed to falter no matter what. (And vice versa.) This article by Bob Baker offers an intriguing alternative view that’s worth trying.

The Ultimate Creative Conspiracy Theory

by Bob BakerWhether it’s the second gunman on the grassy knoll, the alien mystery at Roswell or what really is hidden within the high-security confines of Area 51… conspiracy theories abound. Many of us are amused by the speculation, while hardcore buffs examine every nuance looking for clues to support their version of the story.

If you’ll notice, all of these conspiracy theories involve some type of dastardly deed or cover-up. Someone is out to brainwash us or hide the facts from the public. After all, “the truth is out there,” according to X-Files scripture. I never seem to hear people suspecting, for instance, a conspiracy by furniture salesman to stuff money into the nooks and crannies of the couches they sell. Yet I always find change under the cushions when I clean. Hmm… maybe they’re secretly… Oh, never mind.

There’s another kind of conspiracy conjurer. You know the type. The artist, musician or writer who believes the deck has been stacked against him or that nobody will ever give her a break. “This town is just not artist-friendly,” he/she proclaims. “This sucks. Why bother?”

To listen to these people, you’d think the radio stations, theatre groups, art galleries (or whatever venue applies) were all part of a sick joke, trying to obliterate creative growth. And just like the bigger conspiracy nuts, they find clues and plenty of ammo to support their claims.

“See, that guy never returned my call,” they announce. “I can’t buy a job in this town.” Anything even remotely inconvenient that happens to them lends credence to the devious master plot.

Here’s a fun little game that I challenge you to play. It’s called the Inverse Conspiracy Game. For one entire day, I encourage you to go through the day believing wholeheartedly that there is a conspiracy involving you. Only with this Inverse Conspiracy, the whole world and everyone in it are involved in a conspiracy to help you succeed.

If you’re familiar with the recent Jim Carey movie “The Truman Show,” you know what I mean. In the film, everything that happens to the main character is a preplanned scene — only he has no idea it’s fabricated.

So for one day, imagine that everyone is pitching in on a secret mission to help you. There’s a positive reason behind everything that happens to you. Even seemingly negative events are put into action in order to propel you toward a reward that’s just around the corner. And it’s your job to break the code and figure out exactly how the world intends for you to use what happens to your advantage.

True, this isn’t your father’s conspiracy theory. It will take some brain work to reorient your mental perspective — especially to keep it up for an entire day. But just think how this shift in attitude might alter your progress. You’ll be forced to view everything in a far more constructive light. And when bad things do happen, it will be your mission to find the hidden opportunity (instead of more reasons to stop trying to reach your creative goals).

Give this inverse conspiracy theory a try. You can always go back to looking for evil schemes and cover-ups. In the meantime, you just might discover an alien on a grassy knoll waiting to help you succeed.

Bob Baker is the author of “Unleash the Artist Within,” “Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook” and “Branding Yourself Online.” Get a FREE subscription to Bob’s newsletter, “Quick Tips for Creative People,” featuring inspiration and low-cost, self-promotion ideas for artists, writers, performers and more. Visit www.PromoteYourCreativity.com for details.

Why New Year’s resolutions fail

Survey finds that only 9% of Americans are serious about achieving their goals. 51% don’t have New Year’s Resolutions and of those that do, 79% don’t have a plan to achieve them.

Philadelphia, PA (PRWEB) December 1, 2004
A survey conducted by the Gail Kasper consulting group, a leading speaking and coaching company, found that Americans aren’t taking their futures very seriously.

Specifically, 51% of those surveyed do not have New Year’s resolutions. To the contrary, 99% of respondents felt they were capable of accomplishing more in their lives.

So the question remains: Why aren’t we doing something about it?

The survey which was complete by a random group of 104 adults over 18 years of age, also asked respondents to identify the biggest issue that prevents them from achieving their New Years Resolutions or goals. The top 3 reasons identified were as follows:

  • Procrastinating 33%
  • Lack of discipline 24%
  • No game plan 19%

Interestingly enough, 10% of individuals felt the biggest issue that prevents them from achieving their New Year’s Resolutions or goals was “doing it alone.”

Supporting these results, participants were also asked if they felt they needed to improve their lives in specific areas such as personal confidence, family relationships, involvement in clubs/organizations, developing supportive friendships, their physical appearance (excluding weight), weight, financial stability, health/working out, career, and education.

99% of respondents felt they needed to improve in more than one area of life while over 90% of respondents felt they needed to improve in 5 or more areas.

The area that required the greatest improvement was developing financial stability, followed by health/working out, and losing weight.

To summarize, the survey indicates that 99% of respondents feel they need to improve their lives, but only 9% are actively doing something about it.

“We do want more and we all know we can do more with our lives, but 91% of us aren’t doing anything about it. We are an instant gratification society and advertisers count on consumer’s need for instant gratification to keep them purchasing.

“Whether it’s the latest technology, a new home or new car, we thrive on adding that next big thing to our own personal inventories.

“The average American spends $1.22 for every dollar they earn and the average credit card debt per household is over $8500,” said Gail Kasper, time management and motivational strategist.

Want To Do Something About It? “Planning for the future would bring long term positive results and achievement,” continues Kasper. “Initially, you may feel that you are sacrificing because you are not out on a Saturday spending your paycheck and you are now at home learning a new software program, but only your choices have changed.

“You are taking steps to achieve excellence in specific areas of life and this process becomes a personal growth experience – whether it’s learning a new software package, taking an aerobics class, developing your creative mind through reading, joining a club, or taking a college class.

“You will be healthier and your life will be more fulfilled. You will find immediate gratification because you are developing you.”

Gail Kasper, the author of the recently released time management and life strategy audio program, Make a Decision to Win, suggests these 6 simple steps to getting on track and living your New Year’s Resolutions and goals.

1. A support system is essential. When growing up, you have your parents to keep you on track. At work, you have your boss. Eventually you must come to the conclusion that you are accountable for your life.

With 10% of individuals indicating that their #1 reason for not achieving a New Year’s Resolution is that they don’t want to ‘do it alone’ and over 30% indicating that they ‘procrastinate,’ it’s time to develop a support system to keep you on track and hold you accountable.

It may be a spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, or family member, or perhaps it’s time to have a “goal planning” party. There are Tupperware parties, make-up parties, botox parties, so how about a “goal planning” party.

19% of individuals don’t “have a game plan” and many times goals don’t get achieved because of our inability to know how to proceed. One brainstorming session where others share their ideas and experiences can propel you to the next level of achievement.

2. Schedule a meeting with yourself. That’s right, schedule a 30 minute meeting… with you! When you decide that you “want” something whether it’s a purchase or a vacation, you are tenacious about it. Isn’t it time to be tenacious about your life? When you meet with yourself, ask yourself this question: where do I want to be 5 years from now? And write down the response. This will give you a clear direction for where you want to go.

3. Have a Daily Planning System. Gene Donohue once said that the difference between a goal and a dream is the written word. So get your electronic organizer, daily planner or other method of choice and write down your goals. Writing them down will make it “important” and give seriousness to the task. It will bring your goals to life.

4. Identify the specific date and time to start tasks. Next to those goals, write down the specific tasks you must do to complete those goals. These specific tasks are placed in your daily planning system.

So if next week, you plan to go to the gym, identify the specific date and time you will go. For each task, identify the date and time you will do that task.

5. Design your value system. A value system is who you are and how you choose to live your life. It’s your standard operating procedure. If you are a caring, hard working, honest with yourself, loyal individual – these values will define the process for how you will move forward with your goals. And these values will define the choices you make with your life.

An individual who is “honest with themselves” will not pretend they are working toward a goal when they’re not. They will admit that they have fallen off track and will get back on. A value system is key. It defines you and the steps you take.

6. Celebrate every accomplishment. We are a negative society. We see what we haven’t accomplished, rather than the steps that we have taken. Any effort or energy you give to what you haven’t accomplished will only slow you down. Celebrate every accomplishment, keep the momentum, and look toward tomorrow.

Action creates results!

Gail Kasper is an internationally renowned motivational strategist. Multi-billion dollar companies, top CEOs, associations, Ivy League universities and professional sports teams have adopted Gail’s ideas, leadership techniques and sales programs to increase performance and achievement. She is the author of the life strategy audio CD program Make a Decision to Win.Gail is the former Mrs. New Jersey America 2002 and has co-hosted the Emmy award-winning America’s TV JobNetwork (airing on CBS and Fox). She currently hosts The Visitor’s Channel. Coupling a business degree with psychology studies Gail is a nationally recognized certified trainer. For more information please visit www.gailkasper.com.

For survey results and holiday tips, please visit: www.gailkasper.com/2005survey

To arrange an interview or appearance with Gail Kasper, please contact: Laine Latimer 503-859-2299 ###

How to pace your art classes

Planning your classes and workshops is always important. However, you should think about pacing as well as actual content. “Pacing” applies to you–your personal style of teaching–but also to your students. In fact, your students should be your first concern.

Divide the day into thirds, at least

I’ve always figured what we’d accomplish in the morning, then what can be done by mid-afternoon, and finally what will wind things down happily as students become tired at the end of the day.

Generally, I do most of my teaching in the morning while students can still absorb a lot of information. Immediately after lunch, I try to tackle questions, and improvise demos if students need a little extra help.

By mid-afternoon, it’s never wise to teach new information. At that point, I’m mostly a cheerleader to keep students from going too far with their work, and prevent them from quitting if the art isn’t turning out as they’d expected.

And, at lengthy events, I also consider where we are in the week.

The pace varies during multi-day events

On the first day, many students are easily distracted and new folks can be anxious about how these classes are run. It can take them until 3 p.m. to unwind enough to start doing what they’ll consider “good” work.

By contrast on the last day, I’ll need to explain things in more detail if it’s a new technique. Students are tired and a bit dazed at that point. And, by three in the afternoon, they’re looking for an excuse to go back to their room and catch a nap.

Permission helps

Especially on that last day, I’ll start my class by saying that nobody needs my permission to leave at any time, especially by mid- afternoon. They can leave for a cigarette, for some munchies, or even for a nap, and return to class later. Or, they can pack up early if they like.

Since I started making that announcement, people are vastly happier and actually tend to stay later. If they know that they can leave if they want to, they relax and aren’t so antsy by three or so.

But, by one or two in the afternoon on the last day, many students have already max’d on what they can learn.

If I am teaching more technique then, I’ll need to demo it at least twice–usually two different ways–with the second demo being very s-l-o-w for those who are truly exhausted, or have “information overload.”

Plan for a variable pace through the day and through the week. It’s better to plan hour-by-hour, than to simply “wing it” with a vague, general plan for the day.

No two teachers will use the same planning methods. Find what works best for you, and allows the most flexibility. When the students go home happy after one of your classes, you’ll feel amply rewarded for the extra preparation time.

Art, energy and originality

This morning, I was looking for a quote by Stuart Wilde, in his slightly-renegade book, “The Trick to Money is Having Some.”

Here’s a section that I particularly like, about making money:

(He calls the mundane/average world, “tick-tock,” since people live by the clock in that world, and it can be metronome dull.)

    In tick-tock people see the marketplace with all its structures and price formats and they feel constrained by that. They see the elements of competition and they feel their financial future is uncertain, which in many cases it is. But that is because, though tick-tock has products and services, for the most it has little energy.Every hamburger joint is exactly like all the rest, as are all gas stations, laundromats, airlines or whatever.In a market where things are imbued with no real energy, all they can sell you is the hardcore product which is often dissatisfying for you feel intuitively that it has no life. It is usually flat and boring and churned out by the millions.

    Once you can infuse your life’s energy with enthusiasm, creativity, and originality, the things you offer the world take on a different tone. Now you are no longer competing with tick-tock and you can charge what you like.

(Later, he qualifies that by explaining that you don’t take unfair advantage of people, of course. You just don’t undervalue what you do, because it’s the energy that you can instill in it that’s valuable.)

As artists, I think that it’s important for us to remember that we’re not competing with J.C. Penney or even Bloomie’s… not unless you’re licensing your art, that is.

Find what brings energy and creativity bubbling up inside you. Do a lot more of that.

Infuse your art & your teaching with that energy. That is what makes you–and what you sell–unique. That’s what people want.

If all they want is to stay warm, they can buy a plain wool blanket at the Army surplus store. That’s practical, but it has no unique energy.

What people need in their lives is not the plain wool blanket. They want the lovely (or wild) quilt that makes them smile every time they look at their bed. That is the quilt that they’ll show to friends, and get compliments about. It’s also the quilt that they’ll draw up to their chins at night, and fall asleep smiling, because it makes them feel good.

Okay, we’re not all fabric artists. But… you get that point, right?

Keep that in mind: We infuse ENERGY in what we make as artists. That’s where the value is.

What art teachers are paid

Many teachers won’t talk about how much they get paid. They don’t want to risk future gigs by revealing the financial side of events. After all, many teachers make more at a four-day event than their students earn in six months.

Some event organizers won’t talk about money, either. They prefer to keep their profit margins a secret.

I got tired of teaching at events that put profits and politics ahead of students’ interests, so I have no hesitation about sharing this “insider” information with you.

Don’t teach just for the money. Your first priority should be your students. But, if you want to earn a living–or supplement your income–with art classes, here’s how to begin and how much you can earn.

Start teaching locally

If you haven’t already read it, start with my article, How to start teaching art.

New teachers should ask the shop (or whatever the venue) what their usual rate is for a new teacher.

Shops usually pay less than events do. In 2004, shops paid me $10 – 30/student for a half-day class. For ten students, that’d be $100 – 300 for three hours’ work. But, when I started, I was often paid a flat fee, like $30 for a two-hour class.

(For $30 per class, total, I taught locally… usually within a two-hour drive of my home.)

Today, it’d cost more to drive that same distance. But, keep in mind that your students are driving, too. Some of them will pay more in gas than the cost of the actual class. Keep your class prices as low as you can.

National art festivals, shows and events

At national events, organizers often tells you up-front what they’re paying (usually between $50 and $150 per student, per day, for full-day classes). In some cases, they ask you to set the rate; then, they add on their administrative charges.

Remember, the biggest single expense for many events is not paying the teachers, but renting the hotel rooms that we teach in.

Hotels give events a price break if a certain number of guest/sleeping rooms are rented by conference goers. However, event organizers can’t count on that when setting student prices.

So, don’t gasp for air when you see your fees doubled or an even higher price that the students pay, so that the organizer can afford hotel classrooms.

    Church centers, camps, hostels, and conference centers are usually vastly less expensive for organizers… though a bit more rustic for students.But, organizers can price their events at 1/3 the price of hotel-based events, and still make a reasonable profit.

    Everyone wins when events are priced within the budget of the average art enthusiast. Those who are willing to accept “summer camp” accommodations–and sometimes ho-hum meals–can still enjoy a fabulous week of inspiration.

No two events will offer the same pay, or the same benefits. If you keep your focus on the sheer joy of sharing art with your students, you’ll almost always go home happy… and so will they.

How I set my prices

When events asked me to set my prices, they were based on several factors.

(A) The going rate. If I priced myself too low, students got the idea that those classes weren’t valuable. If I priced myself too high, I didn’t get enough students. It’s a tricky balance, and always a risk.

(B) My expenses. It cost me more to teach in Washington State than it did to teach in Houston. I checked flight costs, car rentals (if necessary), hotel (sleeping room) fees, and so on.

When you’re new to national events, you may actually lose money the first couple of years, until your student registrations are high enough to cover your expenses.

Yes, I taught at a loss, but–in those days–event organizers weren’t making large profits either.

(C) How eager I was to teach at that location/event.

If it was a great audience and a fun event with no headaches, I’d set my “minimum number of students” figure at the break-even point.

If it was a high-stress venue where I could count on “surprises” that could short-change my students, I was less eager to accept the gig.

    Surprises can be positive or negative.  Once, an event organizer “forgot” about my class. My students and I stood around for nearly half an hour while the staff located a room that we could use. That was unfortunate and extreme, but not unique.Later that year, another event not only gave me a room with huge tables and comfy chairs, the room was beyond amazing. We had an entire wall of floor-to-ceiling windows, so the students could use nature–green and gorgeous outside our windows–as their inspiration. We had a wonderful day!

    No two events–or event organizers–are the same. But, some events will be more personally rewarding than others.

At most events, the opportunity to spend about a week with like-minded artists… Well, it can’t be put into words. It is one of the best experiences in the world.

When things go awry, they’re generally minor; no event is perfect, and most event organizers go out of their way to make up for inevitable “oops” moments.

And, when things go well–as they usually do–each class is rich in ways far beyond the paycheck.

Be sure that you can afford it

I can go on & on about the non-monetary rewards of teaching, but that “bottom line” can be the make-or-break issue for teachers.

You’ll need preparation time before an event, and R&R time after an event. Even when it’s a fabulous event–and most of them are–it’s still stressful.

Whether you travel into jet lag territory, or stay up late each night at journaling parties, you’ll probably go home exhausted… but happy.

I generally figured that it would to take me 3x the amount of time that I was gone, to catch up on sleep and general rest, in addition to the tidal wave of phone calls, emails and snail mail that awaited me when I returned to my studio/office.

The income builds slowly

Don’t expect to make much money the first year. And, even when you’ve been teaching for awhile, remember that the paycheck represents far more work hours than the time you spend in front of a class.

That said, once you reach the point where your full-time income can come from your art…. Well, I’d much rather be a professional in this field than doing almost any other kind of work.

Related link: The Benefits of Teaching One-Day Workshops (at ArtBusiness.com)