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Homework Gallery provides practical advice for Miami’s career artists

Written By Josie Gulliksen
September 23, 2022 at 10:25 AM

Panelists (L-R) Florencia Franceschetti, moderator and founder of Raygun Agency; Allyn Ginns Ayers LegalARTLink Director at Locust Projects; Michelle Solomon, editor of Artburst Miami and Miami Artzine and Aurelio Aguilo, co-founder of Homework Gallery. Photo credit Raygun Agency.

Beginning a career as an artist can be a daunting task. It entails navigating the world of gallery owners, ensuring the work itself is protected through copyright and licensing, understanding legal terms for deciphering contracts, and creating publicity and buzz.

It’s a lot.

That’s where Homework Gallery comes in; they make it their mission to help emerging artists enter the art world with all the tools necessary to succeed. They recently hosted the talk “Painting the Picture: Practical Advice for Career Artists” at their pop up space in The Knoxon Hotel at 7411 Biscayne Blvd. in the MiMo District.

“Since we work with emerging artists, we want to help them launch their careers and use our shows as a springboard. We felt this was a great way to teach emerging artists about all facets of the art world: publicity, dealing with legal issues, approaching a gallery,” said Aurelio Aguilo, co-founder of Homework Gallery. “For this particular talk, we wanted to choose panelists that could help artists in the practical world.”

Panelists (L-R) Florencia Franceschetti, moderator and founder of Raygun Agency; Allyn Ginns Ayers LegalARTLink Director at Locust Projects; Michelle Solomon, editor of Artburst Miami and Miami Artzine and Aurelio Aguilo, co-founder of Homework Gallery. Photo credit Raygun Agency.

Held within their industrial yet welcoming nomadic gallery space, surrounded by the work of local artists Thomas Bils, Faloapas, Beth Rhodes and Dylan Matamoros in an exhibition entitled “Salad Days,” Aguilo along with speakers Michelle Solomon, Artburst Miami and Miami ArtZine editor and Allyn Gin Ayers, director of LegalARTLink at Locust Projects, shared their insight on the evening’s topic. Florencia Franceschetti, founder of Raygun Agency, served as moderator.

Topics covered by Ayers from LegalARTLink included forming an LLC, the role of galleries as a stepping stone for emerging artists, terms of a contract such as option to extend and exclusivity, compensation terms including commission of sale, intellectual property, and joint authorship. Ayers also discussed the importance of understanding confidentiality/non-compete/non-disclosure terms as well as employment relationships.

“Artists, when they’re starting out, take on several different roles including office and business manager, public relations, etc… and so we look at how to help them develop those business skills,” said Ayers.

Describing the concept behind Homework Gallery, Aguilo said, “Our style and concept of a nomadic gallery was created as a reaction to the art market, particularly in New York City. The art world has a specific calendar so we decided to develop something to deviate from the traditional art world model.”

Aligned with that mission, their hope is also to alleviate the need for artists to be everything – both creative and business savvy.

“Artists need to focus on their art, not so much the business side, so we step in with ideas for these artists, help them out, and are the stepping stone to get their art seen, particularly those we believe need that assistance,” said Aguilo.

Providing advice and insight into how to work with media to get exhibitions covered was Solomon, who brought her nearly three decades of experience as a journalist to the panel discussion.

“I know it is really difficult for artists, kind of like the separation of church and state, to not feel like a sellout,” said Solomon. “How do you unpack it and separate it, be creative but also do the business side?”

Solomon says she has seen many artists represented by galleries get disheartened because some galleries are just better equipped than others to promote artists they represent.

“I’ve privately told artists to nudge the galleries that are supposed to be working for them,” said Solomon. “I have also suggested they ask their galleries if they can do publicity on their own.”

And how to garner publicity? Solomon suggests artists point out what makes them different and to know the publication they’re pitching and that outlet’s voice.

“All publications have a specific voice so artists should write a blanket press release and then tailor the lead to each particular publication,” said Solomon. “Make the first page conversational, about you, the artist.”

Networking is essential too, especially with writers and editors “which artists should develop a relationship with and artists should also carve out time to make themselves and their work stand out. Pick out that interesting nugget about themselves and pitch that,” she said.

Then the trio tackled the question of digital art vs. real world art, which in this age of NFT’s is on everyone’s mind.

Aguilo said “it depends on the type of success and exposure an artist is looking for. I see NFT’s as a tool, it’s a medium but there has to be a physical medium. This is vital to an artist’s success.”

Solomon echoed his sentiment saying, “Completely digital isn’t off the table, if it’s interesting.”

Ayers gave her insight as an attorney, addressing legal issues and saying, “There are some risks involved in both. Digital opens artists up to the threat of being copied, it’s easy to just right click and download. There are certainly ways to prevent online work being pirated.”

The risks for physical shows Ayers said, include someone getting injured in the exhibition space and the work being damaged by the elements. She also discussed fair use, especially for collage artists.

“Collage artists have to ask themselves how transformative they are with the underlying work and how much of it are they taking?,” said Ayers.

At the end of the night, the artists in attendance left armed with the knowledge to tackle the art world and face whatever comes their way.

Next up for Homework Gallery, a pop up space during Art Basel, to be open sometime between Dec. 1-4. The space is yet to be announced.

Learn more about Homework Gallery on their website at homework.gallery and about LegalARTLink at Locust Projects at LocustProjects.org. Read about the upcoming move and expansion of Locust Projects to the Little River neighborhood HERE.

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