Artist speaks from life experiences

Jackie Mantey

Local artist Todd Volkmer of Stow talks to a group of students in the Verder Hall lounge last night about how to market and earn a living as an artist.

Credit: Ben Breier

Get ready to hear the words “You suck.”

Todd Volkmer, local artist and Hudson native, told students that getting used to rejection is necessary when entering the art field.

Volkmer joined Kent State students in Verder Hall last night and offered tips about marketing one’s self as an artist. The event was sponsored by the College of Communication and Information Commons.

Drained by the intensity of fashion school and the building pressure of a low bank account, Volkmer dropped out of Kent State years before he became an artist. He said he wishes he knew then what he knows now.

“I got frustrated early on because I wasn’t in any art classes,” he said. “I wish I had known to access places where my art could have been shown.”

After quitting school, Volkmer worked as an insurance salesman for a family owned business. He said that was where he learned to face rejection.

“Selling insurance showed me to not take it personally when you get rejected,” he said. “It’s like you love what you do, and when someone else tells you they don’t like it, it hurts.”

Now, Volkmer has a strong resume built up by, an Internet gallery he created that displays work and information by more than 900 artists from around the world. He also works for the Cleveland Artists Foundation, an online cultural newsletter.

Volkmer even had a guitar display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

With all these credentials, Volkmer offered the following tips and guidelines for those aspiring to show their work:

ƒ-S Collaborate

“There are two types of artists: those who want it to be all them and those who don’t mind working with others,” Volkmer said. “Those who want to work with others should be your friends.”

Not only can you learn from one another, but it is easier to set up events together and draw a larger crowd, he said.

ƒ-S Invest in a tent

Festivals and art fairs are rampant in Cleveland and other large cities. If you can get into the right ones, it is easy to sell art, Volkmer said.

ƒ-S Make a press kit

Putting together a resume, clips and slides of your work not only makes it easier for possible employers to see your creations, but also shows them you are a professional, Volkmer said.

“You are marketing yourself here. You are trying to show yourself and sell yourself,” he said. “Art is 50 percent creativity, 50 percent marketing.”

ƒ-S Check out the news

Volkmer has appeared in several broadcasts by Fox 8 news. They usually have him on for the whole show and often have him display his artwork.

“Many news stations are begging for local artists to come and entertain on their shows,” he said.

He also suggests asking small coffee shops for any available space.

People feel less intimidated to buy a smaller artist’s work if it is in a comfortable setting versus a large gallery, Volkmer said.

“Don’t let people tell (you) you can’t do it,” he said.

Contact College of Architecture and School of Art reporter Jackie Mantey at [email protected].