The Art Festival Newsletter
March 2018
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Artist Statements: Capture Your Speaking Voice

Cartoon by Bill Watterson
July 15,1995
Does your current artist statement reflect the artist you're becoming this year? is the question posed by Gigi Rosenberg.
Telling your story and your artworks' story is valuable to both you (the artist) and to your reader (jury/grant committee/patron).
As an artist, this is an opportunity to create a living document reflecting your art and aspirations. For the reader, the statement provides a window into understanding who you are and what your vision is.

I have read hundreds of artist statements as a show director and juror. These are my tips to help  improve your statement.
Don't Sound Generic
Almost every artist statement I have ever read starts out with the words "My work is", "My painting/drawing/sculpture/jewelry is inspired by", or "In my work". You are in a competitive field and need to stand out. Develop a strong first sentence. Explain clearly and precisely why you make art, what it means to you and what materials you use. Tell a story about something that moved you into making a specific body of work. Draw the reader into your world.
Keep it short, this is an introduction and a supplement to the visual information, not your life story . Use first person, it seems to help in writing a clear and straightforward narrative.
Phrases like "creative expression of feelings," the description that X artist has been "making art since they were a small child," the declaration of "finding the extraordinary in the ordinary" and the "juxtaposition of daily life and spirituality" are all general and derivative. 

Instead ask yourself "What are you trying to say in the work?" "What influences my work?" "How do my methods of working (techniques, style, formal decisions) support the content of my work?" "What are specific examples of this in my work" "Does this statement conjure up any images?"
Qualitative descriptor of the work like "excellent" or "beautiful" is also off limits because they are subjective and don't get to the heart of what the art is doing. Viewers don't need to be sold on the quality of the work - the statement should, instead, explain what the work DOES. 

Use active rather than passive tense, and find verbs and adjectives that really strike to the heart of what it is you do.,, and are useful websites to help with finding great descriptors.
Materials and Media
In an age where art is usually experienced first online, you need to explain what the work is. Don't assume your viewer knows what and how you do it. Always include an explanation of your media. What materials do you use? What tools do you use? What is the scale of the work? Be as specific as you can.
Concept and Subject Matter
Your subject and concept are not necessarily the same thing. Your subject is the actual image you depict or reference. Your concept is the reason or idea underneath it all. Concept goes deeper and offers the reason for making the work in the first place.
Historical Context
Explaining one or two influences on the work and placing it into an art historical continuum shows that you understand what you are doing and why. It also may invite smart comparisons to your work. Avoid artspeak and pretentious language. If your statement is difficult to read, it will NOT be read. Don't try to impress the reader with your extensive knowledge of art criticism or vocabulary.
Be honest and try to capture your own speaking voice. 

One of the best resources is Gigi Rosenberg's The Artist's Guide to Grant Writing. This book provides concrete steps in grant writing but those lessons are directly applicable to writing a great artist statement.

Robin Markowitz
Please check out my BLOG on the Art-Linx Website
Last Chance to APPLY:  Click logo for more information!
Rochester, NY
Application closes 3/18/18

Loring Park Art Festival
Minneapolis, MN
Application Closes: 3/15
Haddonfield Crafts & Fine Art Festival
Haddonfield, NJ
Application Closes: 3/19 

Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras
Morgan Hill, CA
Application Closes: 4/1

Mount Gretna Outdoor Art Show
Mount Gretna, PA
Application Closes: 4/2

Click HERE to view more Calls to Artists:
Spotlight on Shows: CCM Events

This month I had the opportunity to talk with Darren Skanson, Show Director at CCM Events.

Please tell us about CCM Events: "Artist First" For over twenty years, CCM Events has excelled at creating memorable and crowd-pleasing events. Our approach is "artist first" by keeping the size of our shows manageable which allows us to connect with and serve every artist. We also believe that engagement by the public comes from sharing not only the artist's work, but also their story. Traditional advertising is great to get the general word out. We always employ local TV with any features we can, newspapers ads that are almost always full pages, posters to local businesses, and direct mail to people's homes. But our special social media focus of sharing about our artists is what drives all of our greatly successful events. Patrons want to know about the work but they also want to know about the artist. How they create, why they create, and special circumstances that has lead the artist to persure their passions. Those artist stories are create a special connection with patrons and artists that leads to engagement in the artist's work.

What is your favorite aspect of running these shows?
I am a people person: serving the artists, getting people to know them, and giving the the best chance I can to be successful is what drives me everyday. I have been participating in art shows since 1993, well before I started promoting. That time introduced me to so many artists. I talked with them, spent time at their homes, learned about their work, listened to their concerns, and truly became a fan of what it takes to become a professional artist. It was also that time that created a genuine earnestness to serve their needs. Everyone of my shows has been created with the artist first mentality of giving them the best possibility I can to connect with patrons and sell their work. 

Your shows are located in some of the most spectacular places - can you discuss art fair tourism and the strategies you use to reach destination travelers?  Colorado in the summer s feature warm days, cool nights, and no humidity. So it is no wonder that it is the state for your summer schedule. But I believe in targeting so e ach of my shows targets a different clientele.

Park Hill Art Festival  targets the residents of Denver's Park Hill neighborhood (the #1 most desirable neighborhood in the state last year!). Its residents vary from elaborate multi-million dollar homes to very well to do professional families.

The new Evergreen Western Arts Celebration  targets a different area of the Denver metro area.   Evergreen is west of Denver in the mountainous foothills and has become a bedroom commuter community for upscale professionals and business owners. The folks that live here are here because they choose to be here and embrace the Western, mountain, and rustic vibe of living in the foothills.

Lastly, The Lake Dillon Arts Festival is my longest running show that targets a whole lot of 2nd home owners and tourists to the most spectacular area of Colorado.  Dillon is strategically located between Keystone Resort, Silverthorne and the high end ranching communities to the north.  The show has all the elements that make it attractive to these folks including a central location, convenient parking, great music, and a genuine enthusiasm by the Town of Dillon for the show. It is a festive weekend you should not miss.
This Issue's Quote:
"Your artist statement already exists even if you haven't written it. It's left in the tracks of paintings, journals, dances, and melodies. It's written all over you." Gigi Rosenberg
Tax Planning for 2018 - What You Need to Know

Art-Linx reached out to an expert -  Susan Lee, EA, CFP® 

to help you plan your tax strategy for this year. Susan has prepared taxes for freelancers and artists in New York City for over twenty years and is a Certified Financial Planner™.

Freelancers and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017

The first thing you should know is that there is a difference between itemizing on a Schedule A for things like state and local income and property taxes, medical expenses, and contributions and listing expenses on a Schedule C which is where you put the income and expenses for your freelance business. A number of people have asked what they are going to do if they can't itemize their business expenses? The answer is that they can take the same expenses as they could before for their business. They may or may not be able to itemize any more on their Schedule A depending on their particular circumstances.

The second thing is that effective tax year 2018, there will be a new passthrough rule that will enable many freelancers to take a 20% deduction of their Qualified Business Income on their Schedule C's. An individual taxpayer will qualify for this deduction for qualified business income (or pass-through entity deduction). This deduction will not change the amount of self-employment tax they pay but it will reduce the income tax paid.

What is a pass-through? A pass-through is any entity that passes through the income to the taxpayer. What qualifies? Schedule C income, S-corporation income and partnership income. A freelancer can be a single member LLC or simply a sole proprietor.

What is Qualified Business Income (also now known as QBI)? Look at the last line on Schedule C. If there is a positive number on that line, that will be the number that will qualify for the 20% deduction. If there is a negative number, there is no pass-through deduction.

How will this work: as with so many things in the tax bill, we are not exactly sure where the deduction will be taken or if it will be taken in the same place depending on which of the pass through entities you are. We'll know when the IRS issues the tax forms for 2018.

Are there are any limits on this deduction: Yes, for most freelancers, the 20% deduction is the lesser of 20% of QBI or 20% of taxable income. Taxable income is not adjusted gross income on page 1 of the 1040. Taxable income is the amount after the standard itemized or deductions are subtracted from the adjusted gross income and appears on the top of page two.

What is thought as of now is that all passthrough's of earned income qualify up to taxable income of $157,500 for a single person or $315,000 for married filing joint people. If the threshold amounts are exceeded, reduced amounts of deductions are allowed for taxable income up to $207,500 for single people and $415,000 for married filing joint people. How the computations will be done on this is not yet available.

For whom do the threshold amounts matter? Here is where more lack of clarity comes in. If you are a specified service activity and earn above the threshold amounts (and phase out), you won't be able to take the deduction. What is a specified service activity? It means activity in the fields of health, law, accounting, actuarial science, performing arts, consulting, athletics, financial services, brokerage services, including investing and investment management, trading, or dealing in securities, partnership interests, or commodities, and any trade or business where the principal asset of such trade or business is the reputation or skill of one or more of its employees.

What this means is that if you are in any of the named fields and your taxable income is more than the threshold amount or the phaseout amount, you are out of luck and don't qualify for the deduction.

The lack of clarity is in the part which I've underlined where the business's principal asset is the reputation or skill of one or more of its employees. At this point, we don't know what that means.
What about a writer? Isn't her principal asset her skill and reputation? Same with artists. Don't photographers fall under the same thinking?  One would think their livelihood also depends on their skill and reputation. It looks like these and a lot of other people may not be able to take the deduction above the threshold (and phaseout) amount.

Will this be disputed? I would think so. At this moment, before there are private tax letter rulings, tax court rulings, or even better explanations from the IRS as to what falls under this provision, this explanation is being held by various accountants.

What must be understood is that when tax bills pass, there can be years of uncertainty about certain things. This tax bill was passed without lengthy congressional hearings so that we don't even have congressional intent as to what this phrase means.

Further there are additional limitations of the 20% deduction to percentages of W-2 wages, if paid, when taxable income is above the threshold amount (or phaseout).  These provisions expire after 2025.

It is not yet clear if each state will allow this passthrough deduction. If they have not done so before, each state will have to issue their instructions on this for the 2018 tax season.

Besides the pass-through provisions, filing Schedule C's for the 2018 tax year as a freelancer will remain the same as before. Filing the rest of the tax returns as an individual person or as married filing joint people will change in many ways especially regarding itemizing on a Schedule A or taking a standard deduction and taking exemptions.

*This article is republished from Susan's website with her permission. is the website of  Susan Lee, EA, CFP ® , tax preparer and financial planner.
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*...and much more!

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10 NEW Topics for your Art Blog from Art-Linx for March 2018. 

Get customers excited to buy your art by telling them more about your artist story, as well as promoting the exciting happenings in your art career.


10 New Blog Ideas 

*How to choose the right size art for your space


*Write about your process when you get frustrated


*Discuss your favorite artists and how they inspire you


*Talk about the tools you use to create your art


*Interview another artist you admire


*How does travel influence your art?


*Share tips for framing or hanging your art


*How has your process evolved?


*Share patron feedback


*Tell a story about how a specific piece of art moved you.

We would love to hear what works best for your blog and any advise you have to give other artists.

Let us know what topics interest you and Art-Linx will work to include them in the next Art Festival Newsletter - Published May 16, 2018

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