I had the pleasure to attend a presentation on professional development for visual artists by Heather Darcy Bhandari and Jonathan Melber. Heather and Jonathan are the authors of ART/WORK ______Everything You Need To Know (and DO) As You Pursue Your Career In Art. Heather is the Director of Artist Relations at Mixed Greens Gallery and Jonathan is a former lawyer at a prominent arts-and-entertainment law firm where he represented artists, galleries, and collectors, as well as a host of creative individuals and companies.
Being the professional development dork that I am, I have attended many of these lectures before and actually own 3 similar books which I have read cover to cover and found completely useless. However, their presentation was incredibly enlightening, to-the-point, and very realistic. They had advise that was very grounded in today's reality and it was applicable to most artists.
The book is nicely laid out (remember...your target? Artists. Bad graphic design=no one will actually buy your book. We're artists. I buy CD's based on the cover art). The book is also written in a language that is easy to understand. Most terms and complex language are explained very clearly and every detail is covered. These books usually bore me to death, but I have read most of this one in one sitting and it is very entertaining and highly informative. The book is very specific and it does not address Utopian concepts of life as an artist but rather it says things like
"We're not telling you that if you do everything we say [in this book], you will be the next Damien Hirst" and "Every artist has a day job (almost) (...) The average income of an artist at an emerging gallery, from sales of artwork, is less than ten thousand dollars a year (...) Whatever kind of job you decide to get, remember that it is just that- your day job. It's not your real job and it doesn't dictate your identity"
All in all this is a very smart and well thought out publication. It is cheap and useful, a very helpful tool for anyone who is not Jeff Koons. The entire publication is backed up by quotes one every page from artists, curators, gallerists, collectors, lawyers and critics: living, working, relevant professionals in the art world. Also if you get a chance, make sure to attend one of their lectures- it is great, and they are very nice people. Make sure to check out the useful links on their website.