Marketing Your Art the Right Way

Selling Art, Not Selling Out

Cracking Creativity Episode 16: Jason Alster on How He Merged Science and Art, Solved Art Mysteries, and Got to Host His Own TV Show

Jason Alster is an author and artist who has merged the worlds of science and art. He is a researcher who has studied the brain and how kids with ADHD can learn. In this episode Jason talks about using science in his art, solving multiple mysteries, and hosting a TV show for authors, among other things.

  • works in field of neuro diagnostics and biofeedback
  • started working with kids with ADHD
    • kids weren’t doing well
    • did research and studied methods to help them
    • created books with these findings
  • teaches art and solves art mysteries
  • wanted to work in psychology, didn’t do well in college, got low grades
    • got high grades in science because questions were straight forward
    • started working with the brain
  • learned you have to be in charge of you own body
    • wanted to save/help himself
  • if you want to sell, it’s not about you but helping others
  • you can use science to help art and art to help science
    • most with science background don’t try to use creative side
    • you can develop things by using creativity
  • got into video making, which allowed him to take his science learnings and share with public
  • John Singer Sargent: Secrets of Composition and Design
    • gave talks at museums
    • talked about artists as mentors
    • everything about him was a mystery
    • New Britain Museum –  Miss Cara Burch – Why is she frowning?
    • The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit – Why was one of them looking away from the painting?
    • explored the compositions of Sargent’s paintings by looking at what he knew, what his colleagues knew, what he said about art
    • Sargent destroyed his notes, so people didn’t know how he created his art
    • noticed optical illusions in his art, so he researched composition more
    • realized Gestalt principles were related to Sargent
    • mislead people on purpose so he would have an edge on the competition
  • in order to find the answers, you have to be curious and ask questions
    • keep looking for the answers
  • Leaving Home, Going Home, Returning Home – memoir while living in Israel for 25 years
  • Mystery of castle that was over his father’s bed, painted by his grandfather
    • no one knew where the castle was
    • made trips to Germany, Poland, Switzerland to find it
    • found castle while looking around Google Maps in Poland
    • explored whether his grandfather was a good painter
    • was a castle from Brother’s Grimm story
  • Mother had painting from brother who worked in Hollywood movie studio
    • sepia painting of silent movie star from 20’s
    • thought it was Clara Bow, but it wasn’t
    • figured out it was painting of Billie Dove, may be the only one
    • people used to  get photos done in sepia used in ads inside cigar boxes, went to Ross Verlag which made these sepia photos
    • artists in studio would paint copies of photos
    • Billie Dove was secret girlfriend of Zigfield of Zigfield Follies Girls
  • sixty people showed up to his talk of John Signer Sargent in the snow
    • he has groupies who follow him wherever his art is talked about
  • you have to figure out what your audience wants
  • does art workshops, pitched art mysteries workshop because his other workshops were popular
  • packaged mystery with composition lessons
  • you have to be attuned to what your audience is looking for or the gatekeepers who choose what people get to see
  • to solve art mysteries, you have to have an artistic eye
    • you have to ask why
  • when solving sepia painting mystery, he went to Anne Frank house because she had Hollywood sepia photos
    • it doesn’t happen over a day, it takes asking a lot of questions

“Everything has an answer.”

  • my article that talks about marketing your art through book trailers
  • wanted to bring ideas to people through movies
    • created videos teaching kids with ADHD how to learn
    • made video for his memoir
    • started making book trailers for other authors
    • authors using QR codes to take them to book trailer
  • find the way to get your information out, use the tools you like or are interested in
  • Being in Control – book for kids with ADHD/dyslexia
  • Creative Painting for the Young Artist – coaching, marketing, and mentoring, book on how to think like an artist and how to deal with failure in art
    • book came about because, as a kid, he wanted to get into art, but couldn’t draw
    • noticed in art classes that half the class would leave, realized that teachers weren’t good at teaching people how to paint
    • after working with kids who had ADHD/dysgraphia, he learned to teach in a different way
  • Multiple Intelligences
    • teacher has to know how to teach you in style you learn best
    • people used to believe that there was only one way to learn, teachers need to learn how to teach in three ways
  • he teaches art by showing people how to use  the artistic eye – example – negative space, seeing colors
    • you have to give people rules before they can begin drawing
  • the teacher’s job has changed from teaching directly to showing students where they can find information
  • Meet the Author Show
    • wanted to learn more about the creative process
    • figure out how/why they created books and brought them to the public
    • went to local WCTV – to talk about his teaching
    • volunteered to do a show on authors
    • Murphy’s Law – first show went well, but in the second show he dropped his microphone under the table and had to get it
    • learned you have to start from somewhere
    • you will find a way
    • my Disney quote on getting started
    • winning an award – 90% is showing up
  • everyone has their own message and style, you can’t copy someone else’s style
  • talked to people like they were one of his students
  • had Kate Gladstone, writing expert on his show
    • runs world handwriting contest
    • had his own video on handwriting that had over 60k views – Anyone can improve their own handwriting
    • wast the first one on the subject
    • Kate reviewed his video and saw things she never saw before, she incorporated into her work

“What is your message? Why does your book stand out? You’d be surprised how many authors don’t know that.”

  • you have to ask people for a review, you have to brand yourself
  • if you want to succeed as an artist, you need to know your artist statement/business plan
  • in order to work on many projects, you have to enjoy it
    • works part time for benefits, which allows him to work on other things
  • decides how to work on the next thing by making a to-do list
    • writes list of what to do each day
  • Once you tell people you’re going to do it, you have to do it.
    • it forces you to do the work and not quit
  • Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, Creative Painting for the Young Artist, John Signer Sargent
  • Creative people:
    • Steve Jobs – how to create, make things work
    • Donald Trump – how to be a success
      • you have to love what you’re doing
    • Helen Gurley Brown – Having It All

“Creativity is gathering the tools to express yourself”

“Everybody has a story to tell or a piece of art to give to the world.”


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