PK 055: Fine Artist Jane Radstrom on not Selling Out

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Artist Jane Radstrom has found success by making the art she really wants to make

“If you’re really interested and engaged in what you’re doing, then the best work will come from that state.”

~ Jane Radstrom

Fine artist Jane Radstrom tried to sell out once, but she couldn’t.

So how did she manage to carve out a successful art career while actually making the work she felt passionate about?

You’re about to find out in this week’s podcast interview…

Jane Radstrom: Her Creative Career so Far

Ironically, it was an early introduction to concept art that convinced Jane Radstrom she wanted to be a fine artist instead. Having played video games in her childhood, her interest in drawing and painting led her to study at Watts Atelier California.

And it was while studying traditional techniques such as life drawing and realism that she realized where her interests in art really were.

She laughs: “Through the atelier, I realized I was way more into fine art than concept art. I love working from observation, but I’m not so good at painting space marines or dragons!”

From here, she went on to study illustration at Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida. And, after a few years spent freelancing in various different styles, she decided to focus completely on developing her own unique style.

Jane on Developing Your Own Art Style

Once she’d decided to become a fine artist, Jane Radstrom started looking around for suitable galleries to feature her work and advice from others.

But things didn’t work out quite the way she expected at first…

She says: “I wanted to draw and paint nudes, but then someone told me that nudes don’t sell. Instead, I was advised to do still life paintings and landscapes.

“So I tried doing this, but nothing sold. In the end, I decided to make the art I wanted to make instead. My husband often jokes that I tried to sell out, but couldn’t!”

“Basically, if you’re really interested and engaged in the work you’re doing, then your best work will come from that state.”

So, having decided not to sell out, Jane went looking for suitable galleries to take her work. She was looking at two galleries in particular – one long-established gallery, and a new one that featured work from cutting-edge new artists.

Being a new artist, Jane wasn’t sure if the established gallery would take her work. But, because she’d already prepared her application for the newer gallery, she decided to apply there anyway.

She was therefore surprised and over the moon to get a call back from the established gallery the same day saying they wanted to show her work!

And the new, hip gallery keen to show work from up-and-coming artists? “I never heard anything back from them!” she laughs.

Jane Radstrom’s Advice for Artists

Jane has plenty of advice for any fine artists starting out who want to get their work featured in galleries.

She explains: “Most galleries will want to see a decent body of work with a recognizable theme running through each piece. For beginners, I’d say the minimum amount of work in your portfolio should be around 12 quality pieces. One gallery I worked with recently wanted to see 30 pieces!”

And how should you present your work to galleries? For Jane, a subtle approach has worked best for her in the past.

She says: “Don’t just go in there with your portfolio and ask them to look at it – they get hundreds of other artists doing this. Instead, do some research beforehand.

“For example, look at each gallery’s website to find out how they prefer to receive work. Some will accept a link to your online portfolio, while others will want to see a portfolio with prints of your work.

“Go to gallery openings and introduce yourself to the owners. Get to know them, and let them know that you’re interested in submitting work to them.

“It doesn’t really matter if the gallery you want to exhibit in is miles away from where you are. Most galleries are happy to take work from artists all over the world.

“And before you apply to a gallery, get in contact with the artists who are already being exhibited by that gallery. Are they happy and being treated fairly?”

Jane Radstrom on Life as an Artist

So what’s life as a fine artist like? Is the starving artist idea just a myth?

In Jane’s experience, it’s not always an easy ride. Sales can be very up and down, and that it can take years to establish yourself and generate a steady income.

She says: “You can’t count on consistent sales, so make sure you’ve got savings to fall back on. My mentor, Mark English, has two solo shows a year and exhibits in five or six galleries.

“He can get up to $50,000 a painting, but he’s in his mid to late career as an artist. You can’t rush to that point, and it can take years. Being an artist is not for the faint-hearted!”

However, despite all the uncertainty of sales and being able to pay the bills on time etc, Jane says there’s an amazing trade-off…

“There are awesome benefits to the artist’s lifestyle, too!” She explains. “I’ve got no commute, no set hours, and nobody telling me what to do.

“If I want to go and visit an art gallery in the day, then I can. You may not always have financial security as a fine artist, but you’re getting the life you really want in return!”

Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • How to create a body of high quality artwork
  • How to approach galleries and get your art on show
  • Why producing ‘commercial’ art might not be the best approach for you as an artist

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Thanks for listening to our show! We’ll be back next Wednesday morning 8AM EST.

Cheers,

Mitch

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