845-887-3156 debra@debracortese.com

Balance Your Life, Sell Your Art

part review and part personal commentary


More often than not, I get overwhelmed with the choices of how to make a living from my art. I read and research every day (perhaps too much?). There are so many options. Every week, a new exclusive marketing opportunity is presented (usually way beyond my budget). I’m already feeling guilty for not blogging enough, not getting my monthly newsletter out on time, not building my mailing lists fast enough. ARGHHHH… makes me want to just hide in my studio or, as my teenager refers to it, “Are you still in your cave, Mom?) 


For the past week and a half I’ve been participating in a smARTist telesummit along with over 200 fellow artists from all over the world. In this program, more than a dozen highly qualified speakers present practical and realistic marketing strategies for artists of all mediums. This is done via live, phone line conference sessions. 


This afternoon was the final live session and I am somewhat relieved that the class has ended only because, as I stated in the first  sentence, I’m overwhelmed with ideas and fully realize that NOW, I am responsible for choosing and implementing the marketing tools that best fit my art business goals. It’s time to sort out the choices, clarify my goals and create a realistic business plan. This means a plan that outlines and addresses specific actions to get where I intend to be with my career in 6 months, a year, 5 years and beyond. I HAVE done this before. Have journaled, visualized, written business plans (but really only outlines), set goals (but not specifics and not backed with actions) and certainly invested thousands of hours and dollars in promoting and fine tuning my work. None of which I can measure or justify in terms of return on investment because I didn’t have written specific and measurable goals.


I’m not a novice when it comes to business. I ran my own design/advertising agency for over 22 years, employed several full time, part time and even more freelance people. That business took at least 5 years to show a profit, went through many incarnations and always provided a respectable income. But this business of earning a living from my art is different. This is much more personal. I’m too close, perhaps not objective enough to work this out alone. Isolation is necessary for my creative work, but I dearly miss and need regular contact with business minded associates. This experience with the smARTist telesummit has definitely clarified a need to network and, the importance of establishing measurable goals.


If, as an artist you don’t believe or understand that your work is also your business, this information may be irrevelant. However, for artists that are serious about earning a living from the work you love, I highly recommend this program for the depth of the information and the experience of the speakers. (Note: all of the live presentations were recorded for participants to download, and every speaker provided digital handouts which covered their topic and often additional information applicable to their area of expertise.) The cost of this program was under $300 for the basic level. 

Here is a list of the speakers and their topics:

Joan Stewart, The New Rules of Press Releases

Molly Gordon, 5 Money Dramas That Keep You Broke

Michael Woodward, The Changing Face of Licensing

Geoffrey Gorman, The Hidden Resource: How to Sell Your Art Through Art Consultants

Mark Silver, Create Strategic Alliances to Sell Your Art

Alyson B. Stanfield, How to Generate Buzz on a Shoestring Budget

Claudine Helmuth, Blogging Landed Me on National TV and Other Reasons Every Artist Needs a Website with a Blog

Jennifer Louden, 10,000 Way to Kiss Your Creativity into Life

Waverly Fitzgerald, Creative Rhythms: Are You in Sync?

Aletta deWal, From Part Time to Full Time, How to Make Your Art Support You…

Leonard DuBoff, Art Law: What Do Artists Really Need to Know

Michael B. Stanier, From Amateur to Professional

Eric Maisel, 12 Career-Building Habits Every Artist Needs To Know


I don’t know when the next program will be presented, but am sure you can contact smARTist founder, Arianne Goodwin for more information.



the PEACE ART project

Rainbow Women World Peace Energy by Debra Cortese

It’s been just over a year since I first thought about curating a Miami/NY ‘peace’ art project. I have notes and emails where I contacted a gallery owner/artist/curator in NY about collaborating on this project. Assume she was overbooked or not interested at the time. Then a friend(?) commented, ‘It’s already been done.’, so I put it aside, but over the past several months it keeps coming back in an increasingly persistent voice, “So what if it’s already been done and there are already many peace organizations. Ours is definitely not a very peaceful or harmonious world and a peace project needs to be ongoing for as long as it takes – until the energy shifts, until we do live in a peaceful world.”

The original vision to involve all art mediums – visual, written, performance, film, video, came to me after a second reading of “Alice Walker’s piece on ‘The Pause”. This writing includes a reference to our imbalanced energies and reposes the question, “..when will the women say stop?” which relates to ‘John Perkins’ writing of the Shuar viewpoint on balance and the male/female relationship to each other and to MotherEarth.

However, in focusing on ‘stopping’ something that is undesirable, that would be giving energy to the negative aspects and therefore perpetuating the exact opposite of what is truly desired. (reference: Abraham-Hicks, Law of Attraction, The Secret, Power of Positive Thinking, etc.). SO… the focus must be on the desired and intended feeling/energy of PEACE for all humans, creatures, plants, the air, the trees, all of Nature. In sharing the positive ‘PEACE artworks’ of artists from all over our world, we focus our collective attention and creativity on the energy of the intended message – PEACE. When we are viewing, reading, hearing, seeing PEACE, then that is the energy we expand!  The PEACE artworks emit and share magical, healing, transforming energy.

I now realize this project must be much bigger than my original vision. To collaborate with one or a few galleries and artists is not enough. This must be a worldwide project, involving as many organizations and individuals as have the interest and intent to share this energy!

So, here is my ‘CALL TO ARTISTS’, organizations, businesses, individuals, schools, to our world. Let’s renew and revive the positive energy of a peaceful planet. I’m asking for your ideas and your participation. As of this writing, the Peace project is just emerging from the thought phase, however, as Mike Dooley will surely confirm, Thoughts become Things.

Let this be the communication vehicle where we share our ideas and talents. The PEACE Project needs your ideas, your experience, organizational component, logistics, budgets, financing, exhibition venues – a worldwide plan…

I welcome your comments and promise to update the PEACE artworks project as it develops.