Heidi Gray is a previous gallery owner, speaker, and marketing consultant with over 20 years of professional experience. As a graduate of Columbia University, Gray has always thrived in helping and guiding emerging and mid-career artists in every aspect of career development. Gray has curated over 600 art exhibitions in every art media, hosted over 500 gallery openings, and conducted international gallery business in Tokyo, Rome, London, and Hong Kong.
What inspired you to write this book?
The tuition to attend some art schools is now almost $50,000 per year. With most universities not requiring a single business class, it is difficult for an artist to survive in the art world. So, over the last 5 years, I gathered as much information as I could about the different strategies of building a successful art career. With the help of luminaries like Barbara Guggenheim, Alma Ruiz, Mary McDonald, and so many other distinguished people, I was able to compile a very comprehensive book filled with practical tools, business forms, legal contracts, as well as laughter and inspirational stories.
What is the greatest advice you could give to an artist?
In order to be an artist, you have to be able to deflect the criticism and have the confidence to keep moving forward. It takes a considerable amount of courage and determination to be in this field. So, my advice is to believe in yourself and keep the negative people out of your life. Every great artist had to start somewhere.
Why did you transition from being an art gallery owner to an author?
Between installations, openings, and events, I found that I had little time to focus on what really mattered in my life. So many times artists would approach me after a speaking engagement or at the gallery, and I would find that my time was always cut short by a phone call or the next meeting. My grandmother said it best in her poem:
My days are a series of Post-its
Taped to my bathroom wall
“It’s Aunt Em’s birthday tomorrow—
Be sure to give her a call.”
“Plan to scrub the kitchen”
It’s work that is long overdue
“How about all those letters”
On your desk the past week or two.
“Be sure to get out your checkbook
And pay all those pesky bills”
And when you get finished with that chore
There’s always the windowsills.
I’d rather be sketching or painting
Or writing a poem or two
Or tickling the keys on the ivory
There’s so many “fun” things to do.
But now that my day is over
I am sure that you will agree
I was a slave to my Post-its
There just was no time left for “me.”
So, my hope is that Artist’s Road Trip To Success will make up for all of the lost time when I was swimming in the Post-it notes instead of helping those around me.
You seem to have a great passion for helping various charitable organizations.
My passion stems from my brother. His smile would light up a room. He was an extraordinary artist that could sit down and draw a photorealistic picture of the person standing in front of him. Unfortunately, he passed away one month prior to his 41st birthday from cystic fibrosis. This is an incurable disease that is debilitating on a daily basis. Yet, my brother never once complained about his condition. He was always thanking God for allowing him to be here just one more day. My hope is to give other artists a chance at survival, a chance to know that they are making a difference in the world around them.