PDP Stories: Audrey Phillips on Finding Her Authentic Voice

"Breeze" by Audrey Phillips

“Breeze” by Audrey Phillips

2013 is a landmark year for Creative Capital—we’re celebrating the tenth anniversary of our Professional Development Program! In that decade, we’ve worked with more than 6,500 artists in 275 communities. In honor of each of those artists, we present the new monthly series PDP Stories, in which we’ll share our participants’ accounts of how we’ve impacted their careers and lives.
This month’s PDP story comes from Audrey Phillips, an artist from Maitland, FL, who attended a 2007 Core Workshop hosted by the Florida Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs.
The Creative Capital PDP program made me aware of the task ahead: if you want to be a successful professional artist you have to diversify and stretch your talent. Even before the big market crash of 2008, the PDP program was introducing artists to different ways to get your art seen and purchased. It was making artists aware that the days of being solely represented (and funded) by galleries is over and we have to diversify our venues—and we, as artists, have to take charge of that. It was a hard-hitting message and a valuable lesson. 
The weekend workshop was a bit overwhelming because there was so much information presented in such a short period of time. It felt like Boot Camp. I felt a range of emotions: overwhelmed, insecure, proud to be there, excited to learn new things and exhausted when we wrapped up. But in the end, I had so much information to put to use. That initial weekend was a great overview. Because there was so much info, it took a while to process and percolate.
I chose to focus mostly on the new marketing skills I learned since they seemed to best support me in where I was in my career. Immediately after the first workshop, I changed my portfolio based on comments by Jackie Battenfield. My coaching session with Jackie, along with dedicated hours in the studio, came together in the next few months with a much better portfolio package and I gained representation in some strong galleries. So that was an immediate pay off.
Public speakingDuring that weekend workshop, it became painfully obvious that I wasn’t comfortable talking about my art. I have since pushed myself in this area by doing more artist talks at galleries and have become very comfortable with this. I say that so easily, but it’s been hard work. Those two-minute elevator speeches and the presentation we were required to do will always be a great, great lesson for me. I delved deeper into why I was creating the art, finding my authentic voice, not someone else’s words. Now, I truly enjoy talking about my art and had an invigorating artist talk at a recent solo exhibit. The room was packed, people were engaged and one visitor who said they never “got” abstract art was enlightened and “got it” as we openly discussed, back and forth, the need to not understand it in our thinking brain, but experience it from a deeper level. Part of my mission is to help people open up to this part of themselves: a place of non-thinking, a more transcendent place. By talking more about art and the process, I hope to help people slow down and be intrigued enough to dig a little deeper to enjoy and understand the art and, ultimately, themselves.
You can learn more about Creative Capital’s Professional Development Program at http://creative-capital.org/pdp.

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