Wyland is one of the most prosperous and generous artists of his generation. His new book is an inspiring, solid read for artists. He provides practical advice that comes from more than 30 years as a highly successful artist. I first met him in the early 1990s at the now defunct ArtExpo LA show. It was a time when the art print market was booming. Posters and limited edition reproductions printed with 4-color printing were selling like crazy.
Back then there was neither the internet, email, computer-generated reproductions, nor online business. But, he already had seen success on a scale few artists achieve. And, for him, the best was yet to come.
While it took 27 years, he finally completed his 100 Whaling Walls project. It is a series of monumental public murals painted on buildings around the globe. As a result, one billion people see those walls annually.
His art is on California’s environmental license plates program, which has raised more than 50 million dollars for environmental causes.
Most noteworthy, he includes children’s painting projects when working on his murals. He tours schools and gives talks from elementary to college level students. Now he’s giving back to artists. You will find Wyland’s book, Don’t Be a Starving Artist an easy yet worthy read. It is chock full of useful advice from an artist whose career spans three decades of massive success.
⇒ Teachers can have an impact. Get kids involved in art.
⇒ We don’t need angry bohemian artists. We need productive, happy artists.
⇒ Now is the greatest time in history to be an artist. It’s a good gig.
⇒ Artists should help each other. It’s why he wrote the book. He wants as part of his legacy to be known as someone who gave something back.
⇒ When you are a creative person that is enough to have respect.
⇒ It’s the also the best time to be an art collector and to own an art gallery.
⇒ Losing funding for arts is not good, but so what? Start giving back. No matter what they throw in front us. Artists need to give back. They need to become part of the solution.
⇒ Wyland’s next book is Saving Art Education in America. He loves art teachers. Artists and those who care about kids need to take a stand now and do something.
⇒ Artists are some of the hardest working people you will ever see.
⇒ Art adds value to communities.
⇒ Wyland’s book, Don’t Be a Starving Artist, is free. He had over 1,000 downloads in the first hour upon announcement.
⇒ The government is not really the answer. We artists are responsible for promoting arts.
⇒ Don’t be jealous. Don’t be a hater. Be happy that artists can make money and sell art at high prices. It means you can, too.
⇒ He realizes making money from selling his art enriches him personally. But, it also gives him opportunities to give back in ways not possible because he has money and resources to use.
⇒ Don’t let people put you down. Let critics and naysayers be the fuel to push you to become successful. Never give up. Self-belief is important.
⇒ You have to immerse yourself in your art community. It is the most fun to get feedback. But, you need balance. Art comes first. Balance is essential. Making art, doing business and having life are all important.
⇒ Always work to make the best art you can.
⇒ Don’t compete against others. Compete with yourself.
⇒ Social media and other developments make it possible to be seen by millions even billions of people. Find the vehicles to get your art seen. They are there for you to use.
⇒ This is the right moment in history to be an artist. That’s because we create content. That is what people need. It’s valuable. It’s currency.
⇒ Artists can self-publish. You don’t need to wait for someone to think you are good enough to publish your work. You should only publish your best work.
⇒ Be your own best critic. Make some work for collectors, some work for yourself, and some work in the middle. That’s how you find what people want.
⇒ Wyland’s college professors told him you worry too much about marketing. But, he knew if he didn’t market his work then who would do it for him. The same teachers who put him down in school now ask him to talk about the business of art.
⇒ Be confident. In college, he fell asleep in class. The teacher woke him. Then asked a question to embarrass him, “What’s your problem? You don’t like art history?” He replied, “I don’t want to learn about art history, I want to make it.”
⇒ Sets your goals high. Be tenacious. Don’t give up.
⇒ Wyland battled to get his whaling wall mural in his hometown of Detroit. He used VARA, the Visual Artists Rights Act. With the power of the act, Wyland was successful in keeping his mural from being covered. Now it is seen from the new Detroit Tiger Baseball Stadium.
⇒ Be a great artist, but be somebody who gives back.
⇒ What’s important about the book and being an artist. Be a good person. It pays back.
You can download Wyland’s book at Wyland.com
Finally, thanks to Wyland for writing the book and making it free for artists. Taking his time to do this interview demonstrates how he is willing to give back to his community with no expectation of personal gain from his efforts. I’d say he’s doing a great job of being a good person. I trust you come away with some ideas and inspiration on what you can do with your career to give back and make a difference.