My Social Media Rules

social media rulesYou can search Google and come up with literally millions of websites that tell you all about being a success on social media sites. It can be overwhelming and it is.

So I decided to make my own social media rules. This is how I interact on the one social media site that I seem to do okay on, Facebook. And by okay I mean people actually talk to me.

Here are my social media rules.

  1. If you post or share an image without saying something about it, I assume that you think the image is worth a 1000 words and my comment isn’t necessary.
  2. The most I will do in this case is “like” but only if I truly do like it.
  3. I may share an image you posted but rules #1 and #2 apply.
  4. If you do happen to say something about an image you posted and if I want to share the image I will make a point of commenting on your post because otherwise it feels like I’m stealing.
  5. I have started random acts of sharing from my feed on my business page. It’s hard since most artists don’t post the title, size and medium of their work. It’s always just one of the aforementioned so when I find an artist that includes all that and a link to their website I get very excited.
  6. Speaking of links. I will share a poster image of your exhibition if you give a link to the venue.
  7. I started finding links and pasting them in the comment area of posts that lack them, but stopped thinking perhaps I was overstepping my bounds plus I could be there all day. And I am not the link police though given time would be. LINKS! Give us LINKS!!
  8. Nobody likes to be ignored. Your minimum required action is to like all comments on your post. The exception to this is rude people who you should actually un-friend if they’re rude.
  9. Speaking of un-friending. Should you decide that you no longer want what I share and un-friend me, that’s okay. I’ll be a bit sad but I won’t whine about.
  10. Unless expressly asked for do not critique art in public on any social media platform.
  11. Please don’t correct my grammar and spelling and I won’t correct yours. It takes all the fun and poignancy out connecting.
  12. If I continually share your stuff and you never share mine, I’ll keep sharing your stuff.

Those are my social media rules. Of course yours maybe different. Do you have social media rules that you use? If so please share them in the comments, I’m dying to know if I’m the only one.

Free Art for Sale – Donating Art to Charity

I come across various articles on why artists should not donate their art to charities. The reasons vary from…

– it brings down the value of art in general
– a lot of artists already live at the poverty line and it is unfair
– donating your art doesn’t get you the exposure you think it will
– etc, etc, etc

Personally I believe that if the only reason you are donating art to charity is for the exposure then you are doing it for the wrong reason.

Personally I believe that if you are donating art to charity it should be for a cause you actually believe in.

Generally, working artists don’t have a lot of extra cash hanging around so donating an artwork is one way for them to help charities they believe in.

Personally I believe that charities think that artists are an easy group to exploit for a means to their end. Is this not like robbing Peter to support Paul? AND What artist doesn’t want exposure for their work?

Personally I believe that exposure has nothing what so ever to do with it. Donate because you believe and truly want to help. Is it not a bit self serving to donate art to charity solely for exposure?

Don’t be fooled that you’ll get discovered this way because when you’re not you’ll feel worse or that your work isn’t good enough. Don’t prostitute yourself! No, wait, even the prostitute gets paid.

This is only my opinion, yours may be different. Feel free to express it in the comments below.

Tweet: If the only reason for donating art to charity is for exposure then it’s the wrong reason http://ctt.ec/9U5b3+

How My Dad Influenced My Art Practice.

My father has had a great influence on my life like most parents. He taught me a work ethic that lead to self employment at an early age, I was 26. But more than that he influenced how I look at the world and interpret that with my unique visual language. This is how my dad influenced my art practice.

Alan David Henigman was born in Saskatoon in 1928. He settled in Calgary in the 1950’s and bought a lot in the community of Millican Ogden in the south east. The land already had the foundation of a house and that’s it.

Not being wealthy man and no house plans he did his own design build. The story goes that he would purchase building materials pay cheque to pay cheque. He would problem solve as he went along.

Being an appliance repair man for General Electric, he also moonlighted by reconditioning old washers, dryers, fridges, and the like.  His work shop was in the basement and attached garage and he was always picking up broken appliances to fix and resell. Word spread because his repairs lasted. What he couldn’t fix he recycled, used for parts or as my list below mentions, repurposed.

Some of my favourite examples of his repurposing are…

  • Using copper tubing, more than likely left over from the plumbing, for the kitchen cupboard pulls.
  • Salvaging and using old oven doors from his appliance repairs and construction a window for our back porch.
  • The ceiling in the living room was a wood vaulted ceiling made from salvaged wood doors.
  • The towel rack in the bathroom was a salvaged oven door pull.
  • The front stairs to our home was a design of his own and he constructed and pored the concrete himself.
  • Not having enough siding to complete the length of the front porch railing he cut a detail to finish the shortage.
our-house-me-dad
My Dad and me at the BBQ slash fire pit he designed and built in the 60’s well before it was fashionable to have an outdoor cookery.

My Dad is the very definition of “function before form”. The most important thing to him was that it work.  The ascetic of our home was my Mother’s territory. My Dad taught me to look at my surroundings and the objects in it with new eyes. It’s not just a piece of copper tubing, it’s a door pull. It not just a window for an oven door, it’s actually a window for anything.

So when you see objects used in my work now you know why.


Do you have an unsung person that influenced your art? Who was it and how did they influence you?

I gratefully acknowledge Ann Hart Marquis who interviewed me about my work and really got me thinking. As a result this blog post was born. Thank You Ann for making me think.

Why I Chose to Support Education for Girls

I am a reluctant feminist mainly because I don’t think there should be such a thing. I have always considered myself and everyone else as people first. Gender never really enters the equation, at least not for me. The word feminist to me means believing that all people to be people is not a natural state.

I am a product of the 50’s and grew up at the height of the women’s movement. Did I participate, no, not really.

What I did do is make my own way. I became self employed at the age of 26. I owned a design firm for nearly 20 years and employed up to 12 people. When my passion for art could no longer be ignored, I sold my firm to pursue my art full time.

When I realized that I needed a website, well, I learnt how to do that. Now I have a thriving online business where I help other artists create an online presence. My point…

I had choices

With the advent of the internet and coaches like ArtbizCoach.com, there is help for the artist entrepreneur who wants to develop marketing skills and take control of their careers.

Artists now have choices

Hassani_Shamsia_Banksy
Shamsia Hassani, ‘Dreaming Graffiti with Banksy’, 2012. Image courtesy the artist.
Shamsia Hassani, Afghanistan’s first female street artist, emerges as a spokesperson for women’s rights in Kabul.

Since I have the internet and a choice, I have an idea.

Here’s the idea

Since the fundamental component of all my series revolves around women’s issues I would like to see my work help those that need it the most.

story_malala_ys
Malala Yousafzai was shot when returning from school for going to school. She survived

I was lucky, I had a college education, I was able to chose. I can not for one minute imagine NOT HAVING A CHOICE!

But there are so many girls (and boys too), but mostly girls, that due to tradition or religion don’t get to chose. They are married off as soon as they hit puberty and are often left having to fend for themselves and their children because of war, strife or circumstance.

As much as I would prefer to live with my ideals; gender inequality exists. It exists in Canada, the USA, throughout the western world and as that fight continues there are still girls, children, in developing nations that may never have the same choices that we have.

I believe in choice.

Since I have a choice, I choose to:
SUPPORT EDUCATION FOR GIRLS.
The Girl Effect

To facilitate this I have created an online shop to sell work from the “Open Book” series. This series speaks specifically to the education for girls movement.

With your generous purchase of my art, I am able to donate to Education for Girls charities.

Why am I doing this?

Because I have a choice, so I choose to Support Education of Girls then maybe someday they too will have a choice.

Please contact me if you have any questions. 

View the work and Donate, Shop, Support

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#artist donates to #educationforgirls for every piece sold @ArtbizKimBruce Click to Tweet

I Like Computer Code, there I said it

As I get to know more artists I’m finding that not only do some have day jobs but another passion outside of their art.

I have found doctors, engineers, welders and technical drafts-people. What’s fascinating to me is that these disciplines are considered left brain while art on a whole is consider right. You know, math and science.

Personally I don’t think that creativity is limited to one brain hemisphere. Einstein was very creative.

I wonder if by keeping these other careers private we are trying to live up to the artistic mystic. When in fact they may add credibility to another wise known flaky artist. OR is it the other way around? Admitting the you are a doctor, lawyer or an accountant means you’re not a serious artist?

Well these are points to ponder and I imagine you have good arguments for both.

As for me, I freely admit that I LIKE COMPUTER CODE! As they say in the WordPress world “code is poetry”. My other passion is over at Artbiz.ca

SO DO YOU THINK IT A BAD CAREER MOVE AS AN ARTIST TO EMBRACE YOUR OTHER SIDE AND COME OUT OF THE PROVERBIAL CLOSET?

Thanks to Lori Zebier whose admission inspired this post.

Irony of a Studio Accident

So I have kind of an ironic story about a studio accident I had with these pins I use so much in my art.

I was snipping some with wire cutters and try as I may to contain the pieces some went here and there around my studio floor.

One stray went straight into the bottom of my heavily soled studio shoes. Unaware I carried it around with me until it was time to take off my shoes. My shoes are backless so I just kick them off using my other foot.  Using the foot that already had the shoe removed I kicked the back of the other shoe to remove it. Missing; my foot slipped and I stabbed myself in my big toe with the stray pin. Ouch! Hopped around a bit and thought nothing of it and went to bed.

Next day the big toe hurt even more and two days later the big red streak appeared. I was infected! What the heck? I prick myself with pins all the time.

Off to the doctor thinking I was going to have to have my toe lanced. All he gave me was antibiotics and suggested that the pin had some bacteria on it.

A few days later while taking my daily look at my unfortunate big toe to see how the infection was receding; I noticed a tiny pin head (pun intended) size dark spot, hum.  So I mustered up some courage and placed an ice pack on my toe for 10 minutes to numb it. Then I got a needle, tweezers and some alcohol swabs, disinfected them and held my breath.

I opened the sore and called my husband; this was a two person job. While I held back a piece of skin he was able to grab a hold of the dark spot (which we thought was just dried blood or something), pulling out a 3/8” (I measured it) piece of pin; the pointy part.

The body is an amazing thing; it was trying to eject this foreign object from my toe. My big toe feels so much better now, thank you.

The irony is that while I am using pins and needles to make an artistic statement about what stilettos can do to harm your feet, this very item ended up harming my foot.

Do you have a studio accident that you survived to tell the story?

Bev Tosh – A Finer Artist

I met Bev Tosh in the early 90’s as a student in her figure drawing class at the University of Calgary. Later I attended her figure painting workshop at Series in Red Deer – twice. When I left my design business to pursue my art career full time an opportunity came available for studio space with Burns Visual Arts Society. Bev is one of the founding members of BVAS and I was honoured to have my studio space in the same building as her’s.

My tenure at BVAS was 4 1/2 years during which time I met some pretty amazing artists and made some great friends. I would still be there today if I hadn’t moved away from Calgary. I miss the creative energy of BVAS.

In 2007 I had the privilege of showing with Bev and our dear friend Elizabeth Clark (1947-2008), in our exhibition “Home Bodies” at Profiles Public Art Gallery in St Albert.
For me as emerging artist, this was a milestone and an exhibition that I will always be proud of.

Home Body Exhibition
Home Body Exhibition

Bev also provided me with the opportunity to work on her first WarBrides.com website when I was just starting Artbiz.ca.  We recently converted the old HTML site over to WordPress so that Bev could add and maintain her content. But more than that – At the time I was developing the WordPress Help site for artists and Bev generously acted as my editor, going through each tutorial one by one and offering feedback and telling me where to insert my commas (I’m really bad with commas).

Bev was very generous with her time; in fact Bev is simply a very generous person, period. Her work with the war brides is nothing short of profound. Collecting the stories and painting portraits about these amazing women who gave up life as they knew it to venture forth to a new country, Bev has captured the essence of a generation.

Bev Tosh War Brides New Zealand
War Brides, Otago Settlers Museum Dunedin, New Zealand

As a documenter and artist, Bev has single handedly become a historian and lecturer about war brides. Her exhibition “One Way Passage” has been shown as far away as New Zealand and she is currently working on a Dutch War Bride exhibition. For little or no monetary gain other than honorariums, Bev funds the travel, insurance and crating of her work.

Passion is just one of the best words that I can use to describe Bev. That and modest; she achieved R.C.A designation with little fanfair. R.C.A. is an acronym for Royal Canadian Academy, one of the highest honours for a Canadian Artist.

I once heard someone in the arts community say that Bev’s pursuit of the War Brides work was a career killer. I was shocked because I have always been under the impression that success as an artist wasn’t about the money but truth. Truth of concept, truth in passion, truth of self. If you sit and talk with Bev you will experience what passion is, what it looks like in someone that has it and aspire to reach that level of belief in yourself and your work.

So while we are all pondering where our next sale is going to come from, perhaps we could  define what it is to be an artist. When I moan and groan over my lack of commercial sales I think about what Bev has accomplished and ask myself what does my success as an artist really mean?

High Art

henigmanbruce.com - PinPoint

I have been very fortunate to have had a few studio visits over my career. The last one is of considerable note but before you get all glad on me; even though it lasted 3 hours, alas it did not lead to representation. But he was very generous with his time and for that I am very grateful.

This gallery owner said as he was viewing the piece that is pictured here, that it was “high art”. So what does that mean exactly? Is it just a nice way to say that my work isn’t salable?

This is what I found when I did a search on the term “High Art”.


Let’s make a list of the things that characterize high art and distinguish it from low art.

1. Complexity of formal properties.
2. Complexity of the responses to the works, which sometimes have no name.
3. The fact that a full and fuller understanding of the work (either the form or the content) allows for an ever fuller enjoyment of the work. One has to gradually grow into the work. It does not reveal everything it has in one exposure.
4. The fact that a full understanding of the work can enhance an understanding of other aspects of life as well.
5. The fact that great works of high art are cross-cultural. They can be enjoyed by people of other cultures who have no other experience of the culture that generated the great work. Each great work of art is potentially a work of world art, not subject to the conditions of its composition.
6. If, according to 5, the work does not fade with distance, it is also true that it does not fade with time.
7. Works of high art are deeply related to morality, in the widest sense of the term, and sometimes problematize morality itself.
8. High art has a history, in which styles, techniques, genres and the entire orientation of the work of art is changed. Properly speaking, low art has no history.
9. Works of high art are individual. They bespeak a personality behind the work. Low art is best when it is anonymous.

Read the rest of this article by Lawrence Nannery


So according to this particular gallery owner rather than trying to find gallery representation apparently I need a patron (one that supports, protects, or champions someone or something). So here goes…

WANTED: One (or two) filthy rich self made entrepreneurs from “high culture” with an appreciation of “high art”. Preference given to those with a slight feminist bend. Please apply within.

Gallery Rejections: I’ve had a few

Over the years I have made 100’s of submissions and like you I have had gallery rejections way too many times. This isn’t an article about how to handle rejection. We all know that we just pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off and try and try again.

This is a list of my all time favorite rejection letters, emails. Here goes…

“We are not accepting any submissions right now because we have too many artist.

Good Luck,”

If they have “too many artists” would this not be a disservice to their gallery artists.  Okay; moving on…


“I wish I had the space, you would not believe how jammed up my backroom is!

We damaged two pieces this morning just trying to move things around… : (“

Good to know how you handle the work in your care…moving on.


“Are you doing a new series of encaustic work for the summer in a brighter palette?”

Not the right question (see my post Paint, sculpt, print what you want)


“Thank you for the update, but yours is not the work for me. Best of luck to you.”

Straight and to the point.


“Please remove us from your mailing list. Many thanks.”

Okay then…


One of my favorites:

“Thank you for your submission but upon review we feel your work does not fit with the curatorial vision of the gallery as we are looking for landscape artists.”

I submitted my encaustic landscapes.


My all time favorite:

“Thank you for contact. We love your work and hope to further talk with you on your preferences for an exhibit in our space.”

“We would be interested in knowing if you are comfortable with showing single pieces or if you favor the all story with the all number in the series. Either way we would set dates with you for exhibiting in the coming year !”

“If this is conciliatory with your vision let us know and would be rather exciting if you were to send an example of your work for our tactile appreciation of it.”

I know it reads as an acceptance but here’s what happen:

I was thrilled that I received such a quick response, like the next day and in response to my email requesting their submission guidelines. It wasn’t a formal submission, but I do send all my emails with a link to my website in the signature. So I thought that they clicked through to my website and voila. Also I know that one of the gallery artists recommended me so I thought perhaps they prescreened me.

I decided rather than email back and forth that I would start the relationship off on the right foot and phone the gallery to talk in person. Which I did but was put through to voicemail. So I left a message thanking them and asking for a call back to discuss which series and which piece they would like me to send.

Nothing – no response.

So I sent an email, still no response.

Well anything could have happened. Maybe they went on vacation the very next day. Maybe (god forbid) someone died. I waited a week, still no response. I tried again to phone; voice mail and I left another message. Nothing.

Finally I sent one last email and to this day have never heard back. I can only guess about what happened and it is my guess is that they sent the email to the wrong artist and didn’t have the courage to fix or admit the error. Obviously I will never submit to this gallery again.

Moving on…

Do you have a favorite rejection letter you would like to share?

Paint Sculpt Print What You Want

© Kim Bruce- Sad Tail

no images were found

I was talking to a fellow artist last week about the in’s and out’s of being an artist and in that conversation I found myself saying quit profoundly:

“Just tell me what you want me to paint and I will paint it”

This was on the heels of a discussion about how the gallery system tries to manipulate the artist voice and steer the artist in one direction or the other to make them produce work that in invariably the same but sale-able.

It is kind of a double edge sword. On the one hand we want to sell our work so then why not produce what the market wants and your sales are hence forth guaranteed… aren’t they? The gallery said they would be. But on the other hand, hum… are you copping out?

We want to paint, sculpt, print what we want to paint, sculpt, print and the dam market is suppose to come breaking down our doors to get it.  But they don’t.  So you compromise and paint, sculpt, print what the market wants so that you can paint, sculpt, print what the hell you want and decorate your own walls and the walls of your family and friends (hey that’s their job, to support you with their walls).

So tell me what do you think about creating what the market wants so you can create what you want?