February 2011 From the SEA Director
The 11th Annual SEA Conference is just over a week away. This year we have a wonderful line-up of speakers including Creative Directors, Photographers, and Writers. One of our speaker's that we have had the honor to have in the past and is always very well received is Janet Bloch. Bloch earned a master of fine arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Over the past twenty years she has served as the gallery director of Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, had several solo exhibits nationwide, earned awards such as an Illinois Arts Council Visual Artists Fellowship, and is currently education director at the Lubeznik Center for the Arts in Michigan City, Indiana. This year she will be joining us again and leading two workshops on Exhibiting Professionalism.
However, the exciting news from Janet is that she has just finished a new book, "Strategic Marketing Tools for Visual Artists." I had a chance to preview the book and was very impressed by the comprehensive workbook layout which I believe will be a valuable tool to many artists in the years to come. This past week I had the opportunity to ask Janet some questions about her book.
What inspired you to write this book?
The practical inspiration to write this book came from my work as gallery director at Woman Made Gallery in Chicago during the 1990's. When the executive director, Beate Minkovski, and I discovered how poorly educated so many artists were about the professional practices needed for success, we developed workshops to address these needs. Then we produced a pamphlet for artists who could not come to the workshops. Over the years, the hand-outs I developed became more sophisticated and longer until I had enough for a book.
The personal inspiration for the book came from a spiritual idea I was introduced to many years ago. The concept is to give to others that which you want for yourself. I never had a mentor or someone who was willing to share what they knew about the art world with me. I want to do that for others. By practicing this principal, I have focused on my own strengths and become less susceptible to creativity killers, such as envy and competition.
How long have you been working on the book?
I started working on the book formally, as in "I'm going to write a book", about two years ago. Last year, I met Jennifer McCord and Sheryl Stebbins at the SEA Conference and went to their fabulous workshops on publishing. They inspired me to finish the book. I followed up with Jennifer and began working with her as a consultant. Our goal was to have the book in hand by the next conference and we met that goal! Everyone who I have met at SEA has played a great role in motivating me. Greg Katz, Lynn Basa, Gigi Rosenberg, Gary Ernst, and Amy Rogers all planted seeds in my mind for this project.
Who is the book geared towards?
The book is geared towards artists who are at the emerging stage, although I do think that many mid-career artists will benefit on sections such as strategic planning and writing an artist statement. Graduate students or those who have strong artwork but have ignored an art career path are at the perfect stage to benefit from the workbook. I envisioned that college professors would take students through the book as a group in a semester or two and that as a result the students would be well prepared to face the gallery system or to submit grant applications.
What do you hope artists will gain by reading and utilizing the workbook?
My objective is to give artists the knowledge and confidence about what they need to do to succeed. They will have clarity and realistically know where they stand in the process. If they are not ready to pursue certain types of opportunities, they will know what their next steps are to getting there. This workbook is NOT a quick fix. It is an instruction manual and it is work, but it demystifies the work. For example, I know that many artists have read a wealth of information about what goes into an artist's statement, but I actually give artists the questions to fill in to get them writing. Since I myself am an artist, I know the delicate balance between giving someone too much information and not enough. I have seen huge books on this topic that I was overwhelmed by. I can only imagine how an emerging artist feels staring down those volumes. It just paralyzes most artists.
When and where will people be able to purchase the book?
People can go to my website, www.janetbloch.com to purchase copies of the book. The book is $18.95 plus shipping, but if they mention SEA, they can purchase the book for a limited time for $16 plus shipping. Those who attend the conference will be able to purchase the book for $15. Volume discounts for a dozen or more books are available. I will donate a $1 for every book sold to professors who attend SEA back to the conference. People can contact me directly at
We hope you will be able to come out and hear Janet's sessions at the 11th Annual SEA Conference on February 25th and 26th. She will be speaking both days.