The world of exhibiting is robbing you…

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As an emerging artist, one thing I routinely do to look for opportunities is scour the Internet on art forums and blogs, and pour through the listings on various “call for entry” websites. These types of sites announce galleries that are looking for artists for group shows, cities that are looking to install public art, publishers looking for artists to feature in books and catalogues, artist in residency opportunities, grants, scholarships, contests, and more. …


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For those not in the know, Friday the 13th is a sort of tattoo holiday where many shops run small flash (read: pre-designed tattoos that go on multiple people) specials for a small flat fee like $13 or $31. The shop I work at ran their second of these events this past Friday, and it was the first one I’ve participated in. I expected it to be a little crazy, but I had no idea it would be as crazy as it turned out to be.

For a little context, we did have a Flash event for Halloween that was sort of the same concept, which I did participate in. I drew up 26 small Halloween themed designs. Cutesy pumpkins, ghosts, tombstones, bats, .etc. Throughout the whole day I only did 5 tattoos and wound up sitting around embarrassed that nobody liked my designs while the other artists were slammed. I ended up putting myself into the role of receptionist, answering the phone and getting everyone’s paperwork in order just to feel busy and useful. …


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“Life is relationships and chaos” Julie Kitzes, 2019

As artists we’re constantly told that we need to find a niche and be a specialist in a particular field. You have to be just a concept artist, just a graphic designer, or just a children’s book illustrator. You certainly can’t be all of the above. We’re told that if we dabble in too many arenas that it will scare off clients and art directors because they won’t know what to expect of us. But what if that’s false?

I argue that being a generalist is not actually a bad thing. It used to be that studying multiple disciplines was an achievement. One of the most revered artists in history, Leonardo da Vinci, was a painter, illustrator, sculptor, architect, and writer. These don’t even include his non-artistic pursuits such as mathematics, astronomy, and botany to name a few. For some reason the common phrase is “Jack of all trades, master of none” but why does that have to be the case? It wasn’t until the industrial revolution when workers started dedicating their lives to a monotonous single job that being a specialist became the standard. …


Chalk Art on the Streets of Denver

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Hard at work

Last weekend I participated in the annual Denver Chalk Art Festival. I applied for it on a whim thinking it’s something new to try, submitting a drawing of a kestrel I had done the year before, and didn’t expect in a million years that I would be accepted. When I was however, I immediately panicked and started worrying about everything that could go wrong. I’d never really tried to draw in chalk before. I’m physically limited and doing an 8x8 foot drawing on the ground seemed terrifying. I don’t like crowds. I don’t like people watching me. …


Overcoming the suffocating experience of lacking self-confidence.

Julie Kitzes, Bondage Ghost, 2015

A few days ago I was walking with my husband and talking about work and income when he suggested I teach an art class. I immediately said I couldn’t do that because my imposter syndrome is too out of control. The response I got back was “?????”

My husband had never heard of imposter syndrome, which then made me wonder if other people had never heard of it, or possibly even suffer from it but have never articulated it. So here I am to talk about what I know on the subject. But who am I to talk about it? I’m not a psychologist or an expert by any means. …


Aphantasia is the name given to a lack of a functioning “minds eye”. One with aphantsia cannot visualize imagery in their mind, and often people don’t even know that they are lacking in this regard until it comes up in conversation later in life. I’m one of those people, and am also a visual artist. I know, right? It doesn’t seem as though those things would go together.

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Julie Kitzes, Fireflies on the Brain, 2017

From what I’ve read there is congenital aphantasia (you’re born with it) or acquired aphantasia (it develops after an injury or procedure). I think I have the congenital type because I don’t ever remember having visual imagery in my mind, but honestly after 6 neurosurgeries and some resulting brain damage, my memory isn’t the best and it’s entirely possible that I used to, and just don’t remember them now. …


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“Iris” by Julie Kitzes, Watercolor on Paper, 2017

Unlike my other blog posts, this one is simply where I want to share some really great resources for artists and why I like them. Whether you’re a writer, graphic designer, illustrator, fine artist, or any other kind of creative individual, I urge you to glance through this list because there’s probably something for everyone. There are a million other fantastic resources out there, but for the sake of brevity I’m only listing my favorites.

First up, Books.

“Art Inc.” by Lisa Congdon is a great comprehensive book about the industry of art. It covers things like contracts, working with clients, handling finances, creating your personal brand, and more. It is meant for the general visual artist, but honestly I think everyone can probably gleam something from it. One thing from it that I personally enjoyed was the idea of creating a “praise file”. Every creative faces slumps where the imposter syndrome is hitting real hard and they feel like an utter failure. Having a file of times you were praised — whether it be an article about you or even a screenshot of a particularly thoughtful comment left by someone on social media, being able to pour over these little praises can rejuvenate your creative spirit. My personal praise file includes everything from reviews left by happy customers to a screen-grab of the day Strathmore art supplies started following me on Instagram. …


How a brain hemorrhage and a tumor taught me to accept my unlived life

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“Radium Girl”, Julie Kitzes, 2017, Colored Pencil on Bristol Board

I just had my 31st birthday and was shocked at the difference a year has made. When I turned 30 I basically had a mental breakdown and midlife crisis. I’ve always had the notion based on my family history and preexisting health problems that I wouldn’t be one of those people that lives to a ripe old age, so to me, my thirties represent mid life. As the dreaded 30 loomed on I couldn’t help but think about all the goals I had failed to achieve.

When I was in high school we had to make a life plan with a list of goals we wanted to have completed by the age of 30. In retrospect this seems like kind of a screwed up assignment and a lot of pressure to put on a kid. …


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Neon Flower Skull, 2018, Julie Kitzes

AKA “How to single-handedly ruin the industry for everyone & make enemies”

Any freelance creative has read the ad stating that a job is available, but rather than being paid for your work in money, they want to pay you in the elusive “exposure”. “You’ll be famous” they claim. “We’ll get your work seen by a broad audience where someone might hire you for real” they say.

The general feeling on the topic from artists on this matter is not a good one. Asking someone to work for free demonstrates a clear lack of respect for their hard work. It’s not a hobby that the artist is just clamoring to do. Being a freelancer is real work that utilizes real skill that they have put real time and effort into cultivating. …


Tips for facing rejection, criticism, and ghosting as a freelance artist.

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“TBH”, Julie Kitzes, 2017, Marker in Sketchbook

Something an artist needs is a tough and flexible ego. They need to learn to handle critiques, criticisms, rejection, and a fair share of ghosting. As a burgeoning artist these can be difficult things to brush off without creating emotional scars and damaging your self-esteem. The important things to keep in mind are that you are tough. You are strong. Practice leads to improvement. And that one rejection (or even one thousand rejections) doesn’t mean that every experience will end that way.

If you’ve ever taken a serious art class you have likely experienced a critique. There are tactful and untactful ways of critiquing art. The main thing is that criticisms should be constructive. They should elaborate on why something’s not working or offer solutions rather than just “I don’t like it”. Something that makes it easier to both give and receive critiques is to try to frame them as the “compliment sandwich”. It’s often easier to digest (like a sandwich…get it?) when the meaty criticism is layered between two soft doughy compliments. …

About

Julie Kitzes

Julie is a freelance artist, naturalist, and science enthusiast. She aims to inspire and educate others about the captivating world around us through her art.

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