The “Work” in Artwork: Kesha Bruce on Entrepreneurial Artistry Monday 01 August, 2011

Building an artistic career is not just about conquering your inner-critic, releasing your inhibitions and allowing the expression to come forth; we also need to hone our craft and develop our brand. So, for some of us, accepting this process means relaxing away from the idea that business-like thought, action or strategy makes our art […]

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Building an artistic career is not just about conquering your inner-critic, releasing your inhibitions and allowing the expression to come forth; we also need to hone our craft and develop our brand. So, for some of us, accepting this process means relaxing away from the idea that business-like thought, action or strategy makes our art less valid, passionate and cool. Kesha Bruce, art hero, consultant, radio host and curator, encourages artists to see entrepreneurship as empowerment–a way to own and affirm your creative message.

Kesha Bruce

Kesha is an internationally noted painter and collage artist, living and working in the United States and France. Of her creative journey she explains: “I was just another young, struggling artist. I was born and raised in Iowa, where I studied art and graduated with a BFA in painting from the University of Iowa. A week after graduation, I sold everything I owned and bought a one-way plane ticket to New York City. I landed in Brooklyn with nothing more than a backpack full of badly wrinkled clothes, 2 pairs of shoes, and $3000 in cash in my pocket. Not only did I manage to survive, but I completed my MFA in painting at Hunter College and built a life for myself as a working artist.”

Kesha’s own experiences with both hardship and success have truly influenced the passion she brings to the topic of creative entrepreneurship. Here she shares the details of the forthcoming 6×6 exhibit in New York (which encourages artists to get their hustle up and celebrates them for doing so), the importance of women’s art communities and creating against the odds.

Can you tell us what 6×6 is all about and your inspiration for creating it?

6×6 came about when my Baang and Burne co-director, Charlie Grosso, and I started asking ourselves the question: What if there were no more art galleries? The answer we came up with was that if there were no more art galleries, artists would have to learn to take complete control over their careers and the marketing and sales of their work. We both see that as a great freeing opportunity.

The whole point of 6×6 is to lead by example. The entire event is meant to be a blue-print for how artists can get together and help each other promote their work. Aside from the six exhibitions, we’ve teamed up with the New York Foundation for the Arts to present two workshops for artists. One will focus on how to fine tune your website so that it not only showcases your work, but will help you build your collector base.

We really appreciate how you encourage artists to expand their creative community. In addition to seeking out artists with common interests, what do you think of female artists reaching out to women’s centered art organizations or other female creatives, in general?

I think it’s a great idea for women artists and creative to reach out and connect with each other. It’s not a cliché to say that there is strength in numbers. I say this all the time—other artists aren’t your competition, they are your greatest allies. Women artists should take this idea to heart.

I especially think younger artists can learn a lot from other women in their field that have more years of experience and wisdom to offer. That’s one of the reasons I refocused my studio blog around helping other artists. Most of the young artists who e-mail me for advice are women. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I think they are looking for someone who they can connect and identify with, and who has faced similar challenges to the ones they are currently facing. I’m always eager to help because I think we have a responsibility to each other.

Are there things you typically turn to for creative inspiration? Do you think the idea of needing inspiration to move forward is a hyped up excuse for creative procrastination?

Whenever I get “art career burn-out” I take lots of steps to recover and replenish. I consider it a part of my studio practice. I take weekends trips. I visit galleries. I spend a day on my sofa watching zombie movies…whatever it takes. But then I get myself back in my studio and start working. Beyond that it can become procrastination.

I believe that almost all procrastination is based in fear. Fear that you’re not good enough, fear of rejection, or even the fear that you won’t live up to your past work. The only way to conquer that fear is to face it head on and get to work! There really is no other way.

What does living unchained mean to you?

Living unchained means freedom. It means trusting your ideas and your vision enough that you allow yourself the freedom to truly explore them. Creativity isn’t about “making” things happen; it’s about allowing things to happen.

To read Kesha’s weekly articles on art, art marketing, and creativity and to download a free copy of her guide “The 5 Step Art Career Make-Over” visit www.KeshaBrucestudio.com.

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3 Comments

  • Son Lehtomaki says:

    An entrepreneur is an economic agent who unites all means of production- land of one, the labour of another and the capital of yet another and thus produces a product. By selling the product in the market he pays rent of land, wages to labour, interest on capital and what remains is his profit. He shifts economic resources out of an area of lower and into an area of higher productivity and greater yield.’*

    Over and out
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