By Lauren Panepinto

Over the years I’ve been writing for Muddy Colors I’ve dedicated a lot of time (and late nights) to writing posts that can be educational for artists. As an art director, I listen to a lot of artists, and it’s obvious to me that everyone has the same fears, doubts, and is asking the same questions. My posts always come from real conversations I have had with artists that I know other people are also trying to figure out. I never expected so much of my time would be spent trying to solve artists’ problems — technically artists are supposed to be solving the art director’s problems—but it’s not in my nature to sit back and see so many people struggling alone when we could pool resources and questions and shed more light on the always difficult matter of creating (and maintaining) a successful art career.

You wonderful Muddy Colors readers have also been around to see the evolution of Drawn + Drafted, the group of Art Directors who feel, as I do, that helping artists learn more about art business from the other side of the portfolio review table will help them (and in turn, help us) make better art and have more sustainable careers.

First we condensed as much knowledge as possible into cheat sheets, which became our Art Business One Sheets. Then Marc Scheff & I spent a few years presenting Art Business Bootcamps, based on those topical onesheets, to groups of artists at conventions like Spectrum, Illuxcon, and ICON. Finally, after a great deal of website building—and way too much listening to ourselves talk on camera—we launched our first iteration of those Bootcamps online, so artists who weren’t at the conventions could also access those crash courses.

Although Marc Scheff & I are the most visible members of the team, there are many partners and fellow ADs helping spread knowledge, especially on our ask-an-AD-anything tumblr: Dear Art Director.

DearAD cat illustrated by Kyle Webster

I’m a big supporter of community, and I truly believe raising the
general tide of knowledge raises everyone’s boats—just like everyone who
writes for this blog, or who puts demos and classes online, or who run
podcasts, or pools their knowledge with others. And as Marc & I were taking what we’d learned from the first rounds of the online Bootcamps and rebuilding the site, more and more artists came to us requesting more Bootcamps on specific topics. Topics that we set out to match with expert instructors — people who we know and respect and enjoy working with, who have mastered topics artists are really clamoring to know: How to knock an art kickstarter out of the park. How to make social media really work for you. How to properly construct a creative proposal and pitch it to the right people. How to write about your work and craft a great artist bio.

Marc started a “project” podcast specifically to interview artists who had a project idea and went on to make it a successful reality. We grill them about budgets, pitfalls, tips, and mindset, so you can take their knowledge and apply it to your own projects. (Second season starts soon)

Check out the first season of the ProjectCast here.

And once we started looping more experts into our project, we realized calling it just “Art Business Bootcamps” was too small a name. When we got down to the nuts and bolts of why Marc & I started the project in the first place, it was because we wanted to empower artists to understand and handle all the business and marketing and promotion that you need, as quickly and efficiently as possible, so you could get back to making more art work. So that’s what we’re calling it: Make Your Art Work. Drawn + Drafted will continue to be the umbrella where you can find all our projects — both the educational projects and the projects we produce with other artists. But the Art Business Bootcamps, and the new single-topic focused Intensives, are both relaunching on a new site,

First up, we’re very excited to have Stephanie Law, who raised over 100k for her art book, teaching a 5-class course with 4 live sessions on how to crowdfund an art project. Class starts Sept 25th, and continues Oct 2, 9, and 16. Classes will be recorded for enrolled students in case you miss any. Check out the FAQ here.

In the next few months we’ll be rolling out more Intensives, and gearing up to run our Art Business Bootcamps again live. Check out the site and the new blog we’ve been writing, and sign up for the newsletter so you don’t miss any news or class announcements.

We’re really excited to take this project to the next level, and we’re thrilled to be able to get some of the smartest artists we know sharing their knowledge for a cost that artists can afford, but one that helps support the expert taking a break from their work to teach and pass on the knowledge!

Enrollment for Kick Start Art closes 9/22. Class begins 9/25.

Don’t miss any news or class announcements! Sign up here for the Make Your Art Work newsletter.