By Lisa Kava
Miriam Schulman and her husband moved to the Upper West Side from Westchester in 2022 when they became empty nesters. “The allure of the Upper West Side’s rich intellectual life was irresistible to us,” she said on a Zoom interview with West Side Rag. “There is definitely a culture that leans toward the arts and literature here.”
Schulman has considered herself an artist ever since her teacher designated her “class artist” in the fourth grade. As an adult, she loved to paint, but thought of art as a hobby, rather than a potential profession. “I didn’t believe I could make a living doing it,” she said.
For many years, Schulman worked in finance, both for a large bank and a small hedge fund. But after 9/11, she said, she could not go back to that world. “A crisis makes you evaluate what’s important,” she explained. She began devoting more time to painting. “I painted my young son in his Batman costume and hung the paintings in my hallway. People admired them when they came over for playdates and I started selling.” She became a full-time artist, finding customers through word of mouth and social media. She also started a business teaching watercolor-painting classes online, and created a podcast called Inspiration Place, talking about the mindset of artists selling their work. In January 2023, she released her first book, Artpreneur (HarperCollins), a step-by-step guide for artists who want to “build a sustainable living from their creativity.”
The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
WSR: What inspired you to write a book that teaches artists how to sell their art?
Schulman: In 2020, the world shut down and artists who had depended on in-person shows didn’t understand how to take their skills to the virtual world or run an email list. I wanted to share what I had learned. It was the right time. I quickly found an agent to represent me who connected me with a publisher.
WSR: Who is the book for?
Schulman: My publisher did not want it to be only for fine artists, rather, any kind of creative entrepreneur: music teachers, musicians, visual artists, all types of artists. The skills I am teaching about marketing and mindset could be geared towards anyone. It’s really a self-development book in disguise.
WSR: Can you summarize your advice to artists?
Schulman: I identify and describe five areas artists need to work on: pricing, production, prospecting, promotion, and productivity. [They also need] the right mindset to make a living creating art. As human beings, when something new is suggested, fear arises and it leads to doubts. The brain comes up with reasons why you shouldn’t do this, which stop you from taking action. Many people lack confidence, which is defined as ‘self-trust.’ Much of the book is about believing in yourself. Belief is a very powerful thing.
WSR: Tell me about your podcast.
Schulman: I dive into topics such as social media marketing, selling art online, shifting your mindset to banish your inner critic, and how to beat “starving-artist syndrome.” I interview top art and marketing leaders and authors.
WSR: Is the Upper West Side supportive of the arts?
Schulman: There is definitely a culture that leans toward the arts and literature here. I felt at home right away. The Upper West Side combines the charm of a close-knit community and the vibrancy of city life.
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