Jeanne Shoaff – StartUp FoCo Podcast

Jeanne Shoaff is a former gallery curator and current arts and creative coach passionate about getting artists to think critically about their art as a business.

Let’s get to know Jeanne!

My name is Jeanne Shoaff. I am an independent consultant for artists. Specifically I do career coaching for artists as well as other arts and culture consultations for groups and organizations.

You must deal with a lot of artists directly day to day.

I have spent almost 20 years as a curator and gallery director. I have had a lot of interaction in that time with artists in all different aspects of their careers, specifically toward getting them to exhibit in the various galleries that I worked in. I have a great network of artists whom I know personally and professionally.

What have you heard is biggest challenge in the Northern Colorado creative community?

I would say the biggest challenge is probably the art market that exists here. It’s, I’d say, really challenging to sell your art here as compared with obviously some of the larger cities across the country. And a lot of artists are looking for ways to extend their market outside of the Fort Collins region or outside of the Northern Colorado region.

Another challenging aspect is finding studio space that’s affordable for artists. Many artists do work out of their homes but a lot of other artists would love to have a space either working in community with other artists or even by themselves. But real estate is just so expensive here. The rental rates are very high, so it’s difficult to find a good place to make it work and also just working community with other artists in an affordable way.

It definitely necessitates a coach to sort of guide new artists through the Northern Colorado art scene.

I would say that that is true. I think what artists can benefit most by having somebody else kind of take a look at their career is … First of all, artists have to determine for themselves what are their career goals. Do they want to sell art in a retail or a gallery type setting? Do they want to look at more online options? How are they going to be using social media and really what is their goal? Some artists prefer to do a public art and there’s a whole different kind of direction that you would go than if you’re interested in getting your work into a more traditional gallery setting.

Or if you want to just sell independently and look at some online or even wholesale options, that becomes another pathway towards success for artists. Really, it’s a matter of artists setting their own goals and determining what’s going to work best for them for their personality, for their particular type of artwork and then figuring out, okay, now that I have this big goal, what are those action steps that I can take to get there?

If you could tell a Northern Colorado creative one thing, what would it be?

I would say be realistic. Use your strengths and find others to help you in the areas that are not your strengths. For instance in the whole business realm, a lot of artists need help with even basic things like accounting, to be able to figure out where the efficiencies in their business. And where is their money going, and how much is their art worth? How much do they really want to make? How much should they be charging? Where is the market that’s going to support that price point? And I guess that’s not one thing, but use your own strengths and find someone else that help you with the other things that you’re not as strong or don’t want to be spending your time doing.

Who’s doing the coolest things in Northern Colorado?

Oh, my goodness. There’s a lot going on. I would say Center for Fine Art Photography has met some challenges in some very interesting ways. They have recently given up their brick-and-mortar office/gallery space and they are moving into kind of a more mobile aspect of their business. And I think that, again, that reflects the affordability or not affordability of Fort Collins and they are working with lots of other kinds of organizations to present their artists and figuring out ways to do that better out of the norm.

I’d say any artist who is kind of going in their own direction and creating their own pathway. I’d say Chris Bates is one person who’s going to be a co-presenter with me. And he is beginning to work directly with developers to figure out how to incorporate art right at the beginning of these developments that happen.

There are, I think, a lot of people who are out there kind of figuring out how to make it work. Things are changing rapidly in the artist world. And if you can be nimble and creative in a way that you approach how you’re going to be going, then that’s going to be helpful to you.

You mentioned your panel at Fort Collins Startup Week & Artup Week. What’s got you most excited about the whole week?

I attended that week last year just as an individual. I’m not associated with anything. I did do a couple of panels but there is just so much to offer to artists and creatives specifically. I love the fact that it is really targeted toward people with creative businesses because artists are a different breed. They need different kinds of services. They need to think about things in different ways than your typical business person.

And to offer all the different kinds of resources and advice and the networking between other people who are approaching ideas in different ways, it’s just fantastic. I don’t know that there’s any one thing about it other than the fact that it exists, that it really does look to help the artists and the creative entrepreneurs in our community.

Tell us a little bit about your panel.

The panel is going to be specifically on helping artists develop goals and then using those goals to determine what the next steps in their career will be.

Where can we find out more about you and your work?

Probably the best place at this point is to look me up on LinkedIn. And you can contact me directly at Jeanne [email protected].

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