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Life and Work with Alyson Stanfield

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alyson Stanfield.

Alyson, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I left a safe job after building a 10-year career in art museums in June of 2001. I packed everything from my 3-bedroom house with the big yard into a U-Haul truck. What didn’t fit was left behind. I took the wheel with two cats that didn’t like each other sharing the space of the small cab and headed north. I left the museum world not because I didn’t enjoy the work, but because in museums, you go where the jobs are and I was lonely where I had landed. “Life is too short to be unhappy” was my mantra. I was going to the Promised Land: Colorado! It was a dream and had always been a second home. I had $10,000 to my name and landed in a 2-room apartment over a garage. I decided that I was going to start an art-consulting business. Buying art with other people’s money sounded like a lot of fun to me! And I was serious about this. Because I had a two-room home and because I was serious about building my own business, I turned the tiny bedroom into an office and put my bed in the living room/dining room/kitchen. The office needed its own space. To get to the point, 9/11 occurred three months later. The last thing anyone was thinking about was buying art. The last thing I wanted to think about was marketing my new business. What I was getting at this time was inquiries from artists who had heard that I left the museum and was starting my own art business. They didn’t exactly know what I was trying to build. All they knew was that they wanted help selling their art. I started exploring this new idea to see how I could help artists.

Has it been a smooth road?
I build my business online from the beginning since I was in a new place and knew few people. It was the Wild West of the internet in those days! Everyone was trying to figure things out, and I was absorbing all I could about leading a business. It took off immediately because I had little competition online and artists were grateful to have the support. It grew quickly because I am a natural content creator. It’s what I did for ten years as a museum curator and educator. The weekly newsletter went out for 16 years without missing an edition. I let go of that story in 2018, though I still email “almost” weekly. Artists bought the classes and services immediately because they were affordable and there wasn’t much else out there to help them. That was the smooth road. The struggles have been many. In the last few years, I have been having an existential struggle with Facebook ads, which I was coached into using. They sure do work! But I sure didn’t like them. Now, I’m trying to figure out how I can be happy with them and they can fit with the way I want to serve my artist-clients. I think we’re all struggling with a new world order for service businesses. Many of us were taught to organize big 3-day events to enroll people into our programs. Those worked, too, but I stopped those two years ago because they didn’t align with how I wanted to show up. I’m lucky because I love change and challenge. They’re difficult roads to maneuver, but it’s fun to figure out the puzzle.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Art Biz Success – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
I’m an artist advocate. I help artists build confidence by giving them business and mindset skills. My signature program (the one I’m most proud of) is the Art Career Success System. It’s a year-long program that gives artists essential skills for growing their recognition and income. Whether your goal is to increase your income, expand your venues, become more articulate about your work, enhance your online reputation, or nurture your audience, the Art Career Success System gives you what you need. The lessons and worksheets are applicable and repeatable at any point in an artist’s career.

Which women have inspired you in your life? Why?
My grandmother owned a small gift store in a small town and was the Martha Stewart of her community. I learned about the presentation and details by watching her set the table or plate a meal. To this day, I strive to be half the hostess she was, whether it’s at a dinner party, a live workshop, or hosting students in my online courses. My mother was, at one point, a volunteer extraordinaire. She was out to save the world and taught me to value community involvement. Without all of her activity, I probably would have nestled myself safely in my room for the rest of my life. Dr. Susan Havens Caldwell was my first art history teacher. I admire her as a feminist and scholar. She set the bar high and I always wanted to do well for her. I have such a girl crush on Elizabeth Gilbert. I’ve read her book, Big Magic, more than once and recommend it to everyone I know who wants to check in with their creativity. It has become a go-to resource for me personally and for me to be a more effective advocate for my artist-clients. Right now, after reading Ninth Street Women by Mary Gabriel, I’m inspired by Elaine de Kooning and all she did to hold up a generation of artists in New York in the 1940s and 50s (and beyond).

Pricing:

  • The year-long Art Career Success System is just $997
  • My book, I’d Rather Be in the Studio is $20

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Regina Mountjoy, Bob Coates

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