We have a new teacher coming on board for Camp Pikaland and it’s none other than Alexandra Hedberg – an artist and teacher based in Sweden! Read our interview with her about her new self-study class, Art as a Business to find out about her journey and how she made her art practice into a solid business.
Hi Alexandra! You talk about art business over at your blog. Can you tell us a bit more about your background and how you’ve reached the stage you are at now?
I studied art (painting, printmaking, art & technology) for seven years and art history for two years, but not at any of the Fine Arts schools that really count here in Sweden (something I later learned would have made it much easier for my career as an artist).
In 2004, while finishing my master in Art & Technology, I made my first public commission (a mural) and started my own business as an artist. 2004-2009 I made ends meet giving evening classes in art (lousy pay), exhibiting regularly and getting occasional commissions. I made some efforts now and then to advance and got some results, but I mostly felt that I was reacting to urgencies (read: just managing to get a new income before running out of money) and never managed to do any long term planning. It was more like outbursts of efforts sometimes and not much following up. I wasn’t drowning but it wasn’t like I was sitting in the boat steering either; I wasn’t exhibiting in as good galleries as I wished to, I worried about money and I didn’t feel I got the calm concentrated periods of studio time that I needed to develop artistically. In summer 2009 I felt it was time for a change – and decided to get in charge. To put extra pressure on myself I started a series on my blog where I wrote about my experiences so far as an artist and shared some of my goal setting and progress reports.
When I’m now summing up 2011 I really feel that I have reached the part-goals on my way; I finished a monumental commissioned art piece (exactly as I wanted it!), had two good separate exhibitions, was guest-teaching art (screenprinting) at University level, made an interesting art project with children, spent a week in a guest studio and another week taking a concrete course, managed to get altogether five months of concentrated studio time and got myself a little economical buffer. This only making a living as an artist – also counting guest-teaching. I still have a way to go to reach my final goals, but I feel I’m getting there!
Can you tell us a bit more about your new self-study class – Art as a Business? Who is it for and what knowledge would you seek to impart to those who take the class?
My self-study class is for artists/illustrators at any level feeling stuck.
Being talented isn’t enough to get somewhere as an artist or an illustrator. Sure – some people actually do get lucky, but this isn’t something you should be counting on as a career strategy. So instead of waiting for the prince to come and rescue you -or being angry with yourself for not getting anywhere – you could follow my self-study class! I’ll share my own knowledge from the last seven years and the structured systems that have worked for me. I’ll be asking questions that will make those taking the class define their goals better and I’ll teach them how to map out their own master plan and give them the tools to do so.
What do you think are the biggest problems to overcome for artists these days?
As an artist today you have to be able to cover so many fields, to master so many things. You need to spend so much time on “marketing” and paperwork. Then there are so many possibilities, so many things you could do – all those shiny things distracting you…
And then “the suffering artist” is unfortunately a myth many believe in; that artists should suffer and that good artists will only become famous after their death. Which can be used as an excuse not to do anything about your own faith (“making good art should be enough”)
Without being able to see your art as business in some way – to distance yourself and decide what to do and when – it’s hard to make a living as an artist or to reach your goals. (I would like to point out that with “art as business” I don’t mean that you should adjust your art to any market, but that you should get organized.)
And what will students learn by the end of your class?
By the end of my class the students will be more like cheetahs. Efficient hunters thinking before acting!
Cheetahs are among the smaller big cats but are very successful hunters of big preys – 50% of the time they get a kill (compared to the tiger who only succeed in 10 % of the hunting attempts).
Is there a pre-requisite for those who are keen to learn from you?
Anyone should be able to take my class, but to be able to get as much as possible out of it you should be determined and persistent. I will teach how to map out the master plan and I’ll be giving the tools, but when it comes to seeing it through … it’s up to you!
Lastly, is there anything in particular you’d like to highlight about your class?
My class is not about what to do when you feel stuck in your creativity nor is it about how to make art. It’s about how to make clear for yourself what you want as an artist and how to get it.
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