Mint Masterpieces

Artists, art collectors, patrons and gallery owners all show up at Mint Masterpieces, this first one at the home of Linda and David Whitaker. (Photo: Charlene Uresy)

Our second art-full gala moves to Palmer Woods, where a judge who is an artist and an attorney who is a serious collector will host our party with a purpose on Oct. 19. This beautiful event features fine wine and food, fabulous music by jazz guitarist A. Spencer Barefield and violinist Jannina North, lots of art – and some surprises. Our silent auction gives guests the opportunity to take home art by professional artists and our emerging artists.

Mint Masterpieces supports Mint Artists Guild’s growth, and creates more opportunities for youth in Detroit. A limited number of tickets are available now; buy yours today:

Learn more about our hosts in this blog post and video, and watch for updates on our blog and social media.

Mint Masterpieces is sponsored by Blossoms, DET Property Management, Eric’s I’ve Been Framed Shop, Integrity Shows, Sherwood Forest Gallery – and soon other caring businesses.

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Quotable: artist Adwoa Muwzea

Artist Adwoa Muwzea with two of her prints.

“Residual income – that’s what I live for. You’re making money while you sleep.”  -artist and educator Adwoa Muwzea, at an Artist2Artist gathering in Detroit.

Artists earn “residual income” – also known as passive income – when they license their images or creativity for use by companies or individuals. Some examples: A company pays to put your popular image on a greeting card or T shirt.

Creating Beautifully lists many sites and ways artists may earn passive income.

For emerging artists, this could mean creating a limited edition print of your work, or licensing a piece of your art to a musician with an annual payment.  Greeting cards from your art sold at a gift shop also create passive income.  

Mint teaches business skills to emerging artists, and for licensing, you may need a lawyer or at least a licensing agreement / contract.  Learn more about the three forms of licensing in these posts from Digital Media Law Project.

-© Vickie Elmer, 2019, for Mint Artists Guild

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Smart advice on writing an artists statement


Judy Sledge at the Palmer Park Art Fair (Photo © Mark L. Brown)


Artists who want to submit work to galleries or competitions may need an artists statement – and writing one may seem as daunting as landing an apprenticeship with a top Fortune 500 company.
Yet it could be easy – and valuable. An artists statement, especially for an emerging artist, ought to be short and direct, using simple language. It tells readers about your body of work; it describes your work, artist Judy Sledge said at an Integrity Shows – Mint Artists Guild workshop in Detroit.

“Introduce your personality,” said Sledge, an artist, and owner of ArtRages gallery in Detroit. “Introduce yourself.

Here’s some other good advice on writing an artist statement:

  •  Share “why you do what you do” in your work, Sledge said.
  • Write in first person and tell people why you are original.
  • Briefly tell how you make your art and what it represents.
  • Keep the statement short, often just two or three paragraphs is plenty.
  • Grab the curator or buyer’s attention in the first few words, suggests The Art League, providing eight examples of “artists statements we love.” 
  • Answer five basic questions in your statement, including what inspires or motivates you.

Writing one may clarify “your own ideas about your work” and may be required when applying for a grant or other funding, GYST said in a blog post on creating artists statements. 

Before you send it to a gallery, ask your mentor or art teacher to review it. Or get feedback from friends, especially anyone who works with words.

© Vickie Elmer, 2019

(Mark L. Brown’s photo of Judy Sledge was used with permission.)

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Summer jobs for creative youth

Mint wants to hire at least 10 and perhaps 12 young artists for our Creative Summer Jobs program. So we open up our job interviews to any artist from Detroit, ages 15 to 21, who is registered with Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, the city jobs program funded by foundations and businesses.
Come talk to us on April 17 or April 27, or wait until May 3 for an interview.
Please bring along contact information for two references – people who know you well, such as teachers, volunteer leaders, former managers, those who attend the same house of worship as you.
Practice interviewing with a friend, and watch for our blog post on interviewing tips coming soon.

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Artists, stay in a rustic cabin in the U.P.

If your art could be inspired or informed by two weeks in the beauty and untouched forests of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the Artist-in-Residence program at Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park may beckon. Stay in a rustic cabin without electricity or running water (though it has gas light and stove). The timber frame cabin has room for two people.

Artists selected must donate one piece of work and give a talk or workshop.

Deadline to apply for this year is March 31, but since they must be mailed, they need to be completed days earlier. The program is offered through the Friends of the Porkies, a nonprofit organization.   (Photo: Michigan Department of Natural Resources)

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Quotable: Cézanne Charles

I want creatives to be able to be paid and respected for their work.

Cézanne Charles of Creative Many, on what she hopes for in Detroit’s future. She spoke at a Detroit Creative Corridor Center event on the Saint Etienne Biennale. 

More money for artists! (Photo: MorgueFile)

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Quotable: Scott Hocking, on art

“When you’re making your art work, a lot of it you’re doing for yourself.”

Detroit artist Scott Hocking, on not caring what other people think of your work. He spoke at a MOCAD forum in Detroit. Learn more about Hocking’s site-specific installations in a Kresge in Detroit video.
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Eighty percent of success is showing up.

Woody Allen, the actor, director and movie maker
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Smart & beautiful insights, advice in pricing artists work


Dorothy Jett-Carter creates beautiful bags and purses from vintage African cloth. Her creative work is sold at the Detroit Institute of Arts gift shop, at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History shop and in galleries and art fairs. She also has experience selling creative work to department stores.

And in all those places, she strives for consistent pricing. Artists must price their work the same in many venues, even if the commission or cost to sell varies, she told Mint Artists Guild teens at our March 2016 workshop on pricing. 

“You can’t go up and down with your price. You can’t have a gallery on one side of town selling it at once price because they would buy it wholesale and then on other side of town, a different number.  You need to be consistent with your pricing.”

Artists and galleries use many methods to price their work – from measuring the size in square inches to evaluating competitors prices. Some price their work based on the customer’s economic status. We wouldn’t be surprised to see some prices based on social media followers!

However, Jett-Carter recommends artists consider all the costs of producing the creative work – including equipment and supplies and time spent on delivery or promotion. Then add in some amount for the  artist’s creativity and reputation and figure in the commission too.

She described the various ways artists may sell their work and noted that the commission rates may vary from 20 to 50 percent, and payment terms vary too. 

A wholesale client will pay for your work upfront, but will expect a 50 percent discount from the standard price. Many galleries take artists’ work on consignment, often for 90 days, and pay only after the piece sells.  And a few galleries will rent space to artists for a set payment each month plus a low commission of 15 to 25 percent. “I don’t recommend those galleries for emerging artists,” Jett-Carter said. They work best for artists who already have “a tremendous following” or for work that is more commercial, such as art made into coasters or calendars, she added.

Jett-Carter, who runs a small training company, has worked with many businesses and artists. Her expertise on artist pricing is much appreciated by the Mint Artists. Here’s three other pieces of pricing advice Jett-Carter gave at the Mint workshop:

  • Cost of your work.   When you consider how much it costs to produce a piece, be sure to add in costs of tools such as paint brushes or a sewing machine. And calculate both time and labor – and the value of your creativity, she says. Many artists forget to add in miscellaneous costs – gasoline, electricity, studio rent, art fair admission fees and promotional costs – often  about 10 to 15 percent of the price, Jett-Carter said.
  • Art fairs. You mark up your price to cover commissions galleries take. Yet your price stays at that higher level at a fair or art pop-up, even if you have no gallery has signed up to accept your work. “Gallery owners shop art festivals looking for new talent all the time. It is the best way that I know to have gallery owners find you,” Jett-Carter said. (She joined Mint Artists at the 2016 Palmer Park Art Fair.)
  • Left unsaid.  If a customer asks how long it took to make a piece, it’s best not to answer that question.  Or to give a very vague non committal answer, Jett-Carter said. If you say it took three hours, they may try to calculate a price be based on an hourly rate for your time.  

Take a very limited approach to discounting on prices.  “A discount is taking a very small amount of money off the piece – just enough to say thank you” to a repeat customer, said Jett-Carter. That amount will often be around 10 percent. If someone asks for a discount, consider the request. “Before you say yes, stop, breathe, think. People will try to talk you down….. Don’t give your work away.”

  © Vickie Elmer 2016   (Photos by © Rod Carter, courtesy Dorothy Jett-Carter)

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This new video about Mint came from the Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers, its executive director and founder Satori Shakoor and producer Don Wellman of 248Pencils. We are so grateful! 

Watch it to meet three of our teens and hear a sliver of our story. Then if you feel moved, please donate to our campaign and help Paint Detroit with Generosity! Or if you want to meet 15 emerging artists, join us on Saturday or Sunday at the Palmer Park ART Fair.