In her over 20 years supporting Seattle’s art community, Robin Held has served as a curator for the Henry Art Gallery, Deputy Director for the Frye Art Museum, and Executive Director of Reel Grrls, and currently works as the principal of Held Consulting. She was part of the leadership team responsible for changing the creative direction of the Frye, and in 2011 was hailed as “Seattle’s most interesting museum curator” by the Stranger.
In all of her pursuits, Robin is driven by a deep love of working directly with artists to realize ambitious projects and help them thrive in their careers. Her peers have described her as “direct, meticulous, and brave” and an “amazing reader of individuals around [her, with a] tremendous amount of compassion that is not to be taken lightly.”
On March 3, Robin will be leading “Cultivating Professional Relationships for Artists” at Hugo House in Seattle, and on March 10, she will be back at Hugo House for “Optimizing Your Artist Resume.” I recently caught up with her to learn more about the workshops and her advice for artists looking to further develop their business skills.
What are some common things you’ve seen artists struggle with when it comes to business skills or building their careers?
At the core of my endeavors and accomplishments is a sustained engagement with artists, at every life-stage, from curious student to seasoned professional to entrepreneurial outlier. As museum curator, scholar, producing partner, advisor, fundraiser, teacher, and executive, I have worked directly with artists to execute and finance ambitious art in a wide range of media, from traditional to experimental (including painting, sculpture, film, video, performance, sound art, robotics, artificial intelligence, digital media, social enterprise, and entrepreneurial start-up).
Over and over, I witness two struggles:
1) An artist’s focus from project to project, new work to new work, grant to grant, without periodically stepping back to assess the big picture of envisioning your career, can drain an artist’s energy and resources
2) Not setting long-term and short-term goals, can create “mission drift,” distracting an artist from an energizing passion, a focused art practice, and even one’s core values
What advice do you have for artists who might be thinking about improving their business skills?
Do it. It will help you create the structure to free your mind for the deep work of your art practice.
1) Commit to an annual “retreat,” a few hours of focused time
2) Identify your values. Does your vision for your art practice and career align with these values?
3) Set priorities for your long-term and short-term goals that align with your values
4) Set your goals: great goals are outcome focused, aligned with your values, and stated in the positive. They are SMART: specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-bound
5) Put aids and supports in place to help you meet your goals
Interested in upping your business skills as an artist? Join Robin for Cultivating Professional Relationships for Artists on March 3 and Optimizing Your Artist Resume on March 10.
Megan Gallagher is a writer from Redmond, Washington. She currently serves as Artist Trust’s Communications Intern.