Be Smart About Art

Marcus McAllister: Artist Coach

written by: Be Smart About Art Team Aug. 27, 2015 2) 1-2-1 Support: stories and inspiration 10582 views

Marcus McAllister: Artist Coach

#besmartaboutart Creative Specialist Marcus McAllister is an artist who coaches artists.

In general terms, what type of support do you provide creative professionals?  

My support is mentoring from my own experience as a full-time professional artist. Here is the general presentation that I send to new persons expressing interest in my coaching sessions:

Let me give you an overview of my coaching sessions.  As a full-time professional artist I pull on my own experiences from 25 years of practice to help you advance in your creativity, both in getting work done in the studio as well as in getting works out into the public. I do not claim to have any sort of "magic bullet" to turn you in an international superstar, but I have a lot of hard-won practical advice for the nuts and bolts of making a living as an artist.

While the actual make-up of our sessions will depend on your particular needs and where you are in your own practice, in general, my coaching sessions entail:

1) Portfolio review: looking at your work with a professional eye, how you are presenting yourself, what you are trying to accomplish, and how you can polish your presentation. We also look at how to constructively critique artwork (one of the most valuable skills I learned in art school).

2) Healthy work habits/discipline: one of the most important aspects of being a professional artist is getting new work done. We look at your studio practice and habits to see where you might be blocking your own creativity. We also talk about juggling creative work with administrative restraints and general life demands, as well as how to build confidence in one's own practice.

3) Professional relationships: a lot of my coaching sessions deal with developing and cultivating relationships with galleries, clients, the public, and other artists. I have a lot of experience showing in a variety of venues, and there are many pitfalls to avoid and hard lessons to learn.

What are five core areas that you often address (including types of specialism)? 

  • Confidence building
  • Motivation (to do the artwork and then to get it out there)
  • Portfolio review/constructive critiquing of artwork
  • Juggling art practice and life constraints
  • Building professional relationships/networking
"[The 1-2-1 with Marcus] was encouraging, practical and grounding in ways that I will be reflecting on for a long time to come."

Marcus McAllister is a full-time painter with over 20 years of experience in the industry.  He has participated in multiple one-man and collective shows in France, the United States, England, and elsewhere in Europe and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Louisiana State University in the US. Marcus currently lives and works in Paris.          

Investment for a 1-hour coaching session:
Non-Members 75 GBP | 115 USD
BSAA Members 65 GBP | 100 USD



NEED MORE INSIGHT? SPEAK WITH MARIA (Programme Director, Creative Biz Specialists) 

Excerpt from The Artist, 1st November 2012: 

Case Study: An American Artist in Paris 

Marcus McAllister is a full-time professional artist who had lived and worked in Paris for 16 years. His first experience of exhibiting highlights the importance of artists' general networks. Marcus's first show, a restaurant show, was secured because the Parisian restaurateur was a friend of a friend. A problem arose at the private view, because whilst Marcus viewed the occasion as an art preview, the restaurateur saw it as an opportunity for increased trade and was not amused when Marcus's friends, and friends of friends, packed out the venue. When Marcus returned a few days later, all paintings had been taken down. The show abruptly ended and Marcus and the restaurateur fell out. 

Thus Marcus learned an important element of exhibition preparation: set expectations and communicate with the exhibition partner. Find out what the other party wants. Ask the question: 'Can our goals meet in the middle?' Be willing to compromise, but only if each party's aim will still generally be met. This applies to shows throughout an artist's career, no matter how green or established they are. 

Despite all this Marcus got one fundamental right, which led to his next opportunity. He had presented a clearly defined body of paintings and, as a consequence, was invited to exhibit at the Art Lovers' Association.

Here, Marcus met the curator of the Parsons School of Design, who subsequently visited Marcus's studio event (note point: regularly exhibit) and, on seeing that artist's commitment to his practice alongside presentation of strong bodies of work, offered a solo exhibition. 

By the time of the Parsons show Marcus was well on his way to being able to make a full-time living from his art. In the gap between the open studio and solo exhibition, he was picked up by agents who sold his pieces to private clients. Art consultants, curators and consultants recognised that this young American in Paris was committed to his career. Furthermore, that artist's positive attitude made him an easy, enjoyable collaborator. Marcus sold a number of pieces at the Parsons show, and some of the fellow arts professionals that he met at those early events are still associates today.

In this 13-minute video, Marcus gives insight on the Artist-Gallerist relationship: