At NOENGA™ Vocation for Art we interview art-professionals/businesses worldwide and when we find great value and inspiration in these interviews we publish them.
We thank Tara Dondas for taking the time to answer our questions, sharing her experience, vision and knowledge and thus supporting the global art community.
To find and connect: linkedin.com/in/taradondas
''Be unique, do not copy your favorite artist, learn from them and become even better.''
First of all, we asked Tara about her art business Charity Art Cards and Gifts, since 2011. Of course when taking advise from someone, its important to know what experience and vision we are learning from.
Please tell us Tara, what is your art business all about?
Charity Art Cards and Gifts is a result of numerous ideas I have had over the years. I stated with art work I had sold in galleries over many years. With these designs and some that I have recently added I developed a greeting card line. I have created a unique point of sale packaging for a manufacturer in Scottsdale, Arizona of pewter collectables. This POS item is the greeting card, the gift as well as the wrapping for the gift. The concept developed from years of searching for thank you items for teacher, sitters, coaches, friends and family, then having to find a card. wrap them up and deliver them. I always wanted to make a special "thank you", but with so many responsibilities, it was stressful sometimes, and not a pleasure as it should have been. I use a standard greeting rounder, topped off with a designer angel that relates to my client's gift store business, the angel represents the artist's association with a cause. 10% off the top of all sales is donated to a cause that relates with the artist art-work. The product is packaged by a 501(c)(3) that employs American with disabilities, providing much need positions for persons who may not be able to work in other circumstances. To check a few more "boxes" of important to-do items for me, for the most part all of my product is American made. My grandmother Rhelda, has the distinction of having owned the world's largest Teapot. She is a story in herself, a legacy and role-model. Rhelda taught me the important of Americans supporting the American economy. My two sons are involved in my business and I am apprenticing them to learn the trade. The eldest is Operations and Finance, the younger is a Sculpture. He started designing some of the gifts at 15, these items I include with my greeting card.
What advise do you have for people that aim to become professional artists and make a full-time living from art?
The art has to be relatable for other people, not just for yourself. There are times when I create just for me, however, to sell something, other people must want it as well. Therefore, a drawing of my children may not be marketable... unless perhaps they are doing something relatable that brings people into a place they are interested in as well. Finding a "target market" for your work has to be a priority. Who will want this work? Why will someone want this work? Can someone beside me find this work interesting, relatable and desirable in some way.
Where/How should artists start when they aim to become professionals and build their career? What are the first steps?
I never realized that i "could not draw a straight line" until I went to art school. Know the rules, then decide to break them. Get educated to your craft as well as your audience are the first steps.
What initial steps should artists definitely avoid, in your experience and opinion?
Arrogance is not helpful. Listen, learn, ask questions, consider your profession an adventure and never stop learning from other artist, business people, and the world around you.
What are the biggest dangers/threats/challenges on the way to become a professional artist, able to live from art? What can others learn from your expertise?
There are specific sides to your brain that work better than others. if you really can not do the business, get a business manager, a publicist etc.. Starving and Artist can go hand in hand and I have no desire to starve. It is almost impossible to make a living based on your time. Graphics programs can replace a rendering artist in a heartbeat. I think the answer lies in the duplication and applications of your work.
What are the most effective tools and/or services for artists, to promote/market themselves? Which ones really help, and which ones are a waste of time?
1. Learn the computer and use the tools of our modern world. 2. Always have a legal professional that represents you alone and not whoever you are doing business with as well. As the saying goes; you can not serve two masters, so make sure your contracts have your back and serve your best interests. 3. Think big the sky is the limit,
Do you know how galleries, art licensers, collectors find new artists? What can artists do to be found?
Artists are very interested in how they can be found, can you please tell more about that?
This is what I mean by use your computer and the tools of our modern world. A person should also network and exhibit as well. But a presence on-line is imperative.
With all the technology nowadays, how important do you think is the traditional art-market (galleries, shows, fairs, museums, critics, curators) for artist that want to become professionals making a living from art?
Very important. Even a computer is still run by a human. The creativity factor does not come from a machine, but rather a creative mind.
Do you have any ideas/tips on how artists can effectively sell their art?
Be unique, do not copy your favorite artist, learn from them and become even better.
Is it possible to live from art only through online art-sales nowadays?
It has taken me a while to earn a living from art. There are those fortunate who have the doors open right away, that find a sponsor for their work. Not everyone is that lucky, but be tenacious and believe in yourself, you will find your way as you work hard.
How should artist determine the price of their work?
Look at what is selling in their market. Try to generate a "buzz" about your work, get press when you can.
Do you have any advice for artists that want to find a collector?
How important is online/social-media, e-commerce etc. in becoming a career artist?
Anyway you can get word out about your work is good.
What do you think people expect from art nowadays? What would they like to see/experience? Do you care?
I do not believe photo-realism works all that well. Take a picture for that. I think the public wants uniquely rendered items. I do care because I need to eat. I do work that is just for me as well.
What is your view on today’s art-world and/or art-market? What would you like to see different? Do you think it’s more easy for artists nowadays?
If you want to succeed you can. The venues are too numerous not to succeed. I am over art that requires no talent, splotches or splatters were the world of Jackson Pollock. Life is never easy, so, work hard if you want success.
Anything else you would like to say to our community of artists and art-lovers worldwide, any final advice?
Get a financial advisor you can trust. Enjoy the process not just the end of the rainbow.
Express yourself, create, laugh at your mistakes.
Article-Picture: Source ©Tara Dondas