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Inside Innovative Minds: An Interview with Entrepreneur Patter Hellstrom.
Earning respect and a living as an artist is no easy feat but Patter Hellstrom has done just that. Working out of her San Francisco studio, the postmodern American abstract painter has exhibited in museums across the country, and has served as guest artist to the Mithila Art Institute in India in 2008. In 2012 French filmmaker Cedric Pillard created a short film about Hellstrom's process related to her installation project at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Armed with such impressive credits, Meet Advisors was excited to find out what makes this energized artist tick by asking three key questions.
Meet Advisors: You've been working as a professional visual artist for more than 20 years. How do you explain your success and maintain your longevity in a relatively small and competitive industry.
Patter Hellstrom: I work every day on both the art making and building the art business. I do not get derailed by critics or failed projects, I keep on going. Believing in my vision is at the core of who I am. This is what I do – I am an artist. Every step, every breath is informed by that clear understanding. I am fierce with myself, authentically making work that I know to be clear and relevant. I want to spend everyday innovating, so therefore I seek opportunities to keep my art growing and moving forward. I read, to inform my work and write about what I do, so I know it inside and out. That said I am delighted when I create a new way to see the color, movement, line or the composition that I’m dealing with. I seek out new materials and new ways of using them. I embrace technology and use it wherever possible. I’m on the look out for connectives, like how does what I’m doing now relate to other things that I have done and to things I see in the world? What is the place for my work in the larger world? Is there a path that I am following? These are all good questions. Ask questions and keep asking questions as you work on both the art making and the business.
MA: How do you use social media to market yourself?
PH: I use FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, About me and Tumblr. I have a website, a monthly newsletter on Constant Contact. I write articles for art and design blogs including my web address signature, driving readers to my website which I update daily. I keep it all fresh and linked. I try to use as much video as possible. On my FB, I have two pages: one for collecting info, the other as a page for my business. I post daily, following a 50% rule meaning 50% of the content about me and 50% general art related. I do post personal stuff but never too personal, the personal is more of as a way to connect with the viewer.
MA: What is your advice to emerging painters, sculptors and others who seek to earn a living as an artist.
PH: Be yourself as authenticity is the most powerful thing. Celebrate your own vision. Be brave sharing your vision even when it's not in fashion. Fashion will change; the authenticity of your work should be a constant. Spend a ton of time making the work, writing about the work, envisioning how and where you see the work exhibited. Talk passionately about what you do with others. You are your best advocate. Be creative about how your work is exhibited, where and when. Be creative in general - business is really a lot of fun if you bring your artistic vision to it. Be patient, as it will take longer than you thought to do most things. People need to get to know your work and you. This takes time. Weigh your opportunities to determine if there is value. This practice helps you to be intentional about how you spend your time. Finally, have fun! Smile, laugh and be genuine with others. We all like to work with fun people.
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