TRANSCRIPT: Ep. 205 Forget Perfectionism in Your Art


It’s the Inspiration Place podcast with artist Miriam Schulman.

Welcome to the Inspiration Place podcast, an art world inside a podcast, for artist by an artist where each week we go behind the scenes to uncover the perspiration and inspiration behind the arts. And now, your host, Miriam Schulman.

Miriam Schulman:
Well, Hey there, my friend, it’s Miriam Schulman here, your curator of inspiration. And I’m bringing you a round up from the art-preneur Flash Briefings for the week. Now, this is the very first art-preneur Flash Briefings round up. So, that means that you are going to be getting the Inspiration Place podcast twice a week. For those of you not familiar with Flash Briefings, this is a feature of Alexa. You can listen to this, if you subscribe via the Alexa app on your phone. Or with an Alexa device. To do that, all you have to do is download the free Alexa app to your phone. And you can search for art-preneur, or you can go to Amazon and search for art per and enable the skill. You can also ask Alexa to add artist entrepreneur Flash Briefings, the word art-preneur isn’t in her dictionary, which is why the official title right now is artist entrepreneur. But you should still be able to find it by searching art entrepreneur.

However, Flash Briefings are only available for 24 hours, which is why our team decided to bring them to you here on the podcast. So, now, you’ll be hearing a slightly different mix of content than I normally would bring to the show. I’m mixing it up every week with a careful curation of short marketing tips, art and culture that I’m experiencing in and around New York or elsewhere, if I’m traveling.

So, this week you’ll hear about the Venice Biennale, classic artist mistakes, Bansky street art in New York City, who is the artist behind the stamp, as well as the deliberate mistake. Let’s get started.

The Venice Biennale, which is kind of spelled like you mean like biennial, but it is Italian. So Biennale is the world’s longest running large-scale survey of contemporary art. And it’s looked to locally and internationally to discover who’s the next best artist. And so, they’ve carefully chosen a curator who personifies both local, and international art history fame. So, the curator of the Venice Biennale is Cecilia Alemani. And she is the curator of New York’s High Line. She was chosen in 2020 but, because of COVID, she had an extra year to prepare for the show.

Now I got to hear her speak at an art table event in New York City. Here are some juicy tidbits that you’re absolutely going to love. First of all, the curator planned her exhibition using a 3D computer model. This was critical, especially since she was planning most of the exhibit during the pandemic pre-vaccines era, when air travel was impossible, or extremely limited, and she does live here in New York City.

Now, artists are always asking me, how do they lay out their shows? And knowing that professional curators use these models is very helpful. One of my clients actually, Cindy Mall, she creates her own 3D models out of paper and cardboard. So if you don’t want to invest in software that’s something that is available to you at all times.

The other thing I found absolutely fascinating, which should help you as well is how she chooses the name of her exhibition. So, the name of this exhibition is called “Milk of Dreams.” And that is from a poetic, short story by the artist Leonard Carrington from the 1940s. Now, she said she often uses the names of poems to title her exhibitions, which is a great idea for artists who struggle to title their paintings, their artworks, whatever medium you work in. I know not everyone works in paintings. But whatever medium you work in, when you have to title it, to turn to literature and poetry for titles. I think that was a great idea.

For this particular exhibition, she focused on surrealism, and she focused on modern surrealists, as well as surrealists coming out of the ’20s and ’30s. So, one of the points that she was making with this exhibition is she made the case that surrealism came out of a political movement as a response to World War I, and the isolation people felt then, which is very similar to what is happening now in the world. She also noted that the artists she spoke to and, ultimately, selected for the show shared similar existential anxiety. And without being able to leave their homes, they turned inward for their inspiration. So, much of the art featured women’s own bodies.

And this exhibition was very heavily woman centric. So she focused on choosing a lot of artists who she considered overlooked. She didn’t rely on what she called, the “heavyweights” that normally are there. And for each theme she had in the show, ’cause she had several rooms with themes, she also had a capsule collection that featured art from the past. And most of those artists were women artists. The art is from over 50 countries, and is a diverse art. If you are so lucky to be able to go to Venice before this exhibit closes in November, you won’t be disappointed.

Near me, on the Upper West Side of New York, there is a “flea market” every Sunday, it’s called The Grand Bizarre. I put the flea market in air quotes because although there are those typical junk shop type vendors you’d expect to find at a flea market. There are also higher end crafts people and artisans selling pottery, woven baskets, wooden cutting boards, and more. So I’ve had the opportunity to visit there a couple of times with my family and with my friends. And I just wanted to coach so many artists who were there. They could all be making so much more money.

Now, by the way, somebody criticized me recently on social media. It’s like, “Oh, you’re all about the money and art shouldn’t just be about making money.” And it’s true. Art shouldn’t just be about making money. We don’t create art necessarily to make money. But we do sell art to make money. So, if you’re spending the time to sell your art, you might as well be trying to make as much money from it as possible to support your passion.

And I grind my teeth every time I see artists make one of these classic artist mistakes. So, what I’m gonna do is I’m going to take you through a few concrete examples that I witnessed. And, by the way, this doesn’t just happen at flea markets with inexperienced artists. I’ve had the same experience going into high end boutiques with friends when we go shopping that these store owners are also making these same mistakes.

So, the number one mistake that the sellers are making is that when somebody is interested in their product so, for example, I liked cutting boards. I said, “Oh, I really like this dark wood cutting board, but I like the shape you have over here, but I really want it smaller.” And the seller of the cutting board says, “Oh, well, I sell my stuff sometimes across the street.” I was like, “Okay.” I fully expected her to say, “Hey, why don’t I take your email address, and I can add you to my mailing list, so that if we come out with a cutting board in that shape that you want, I can let you know.” And I saw this happen in many different ways.

Like I said, I was with a friend, and my friend’s husband was really interested in, I don’t even know what it was. Let’s pretend it was a mirror. And the store owner says, “Well, you can follow me on Instagram.” I was like, “Okay, what if you post it and he doesn’t see it? What if he forgets to follow you on Instagram?” We only see 1% of anything anyone ever posts on Instagram. And how do you know he even uses Instagram that often? So much better if the store owner had taken my friend’s husband’s email address down, and added it to the email list.

Another example, I went by pottery and they had one tumbler in a green that I really love. And I said, “Oh, do you have any more?” And he says, “Oh no, I sold them out this morning.” I was like, “Well, will you be here next week?” And he says, “Well, no, I won’t be here until,” blah, blah, blah, or whatever it was. Or maybe he asked me if I’d be there, here next week. And I said, no, I’m not. But he didn’t take my email address.

Now, if he’d taken my email address. And then, finally, I couldn’t help myself. I said, “Could you take my email address?” And a lot of times these vendors get very confused when I try to give them my email address. They’re like handing me their card with their email address. Like, no, no, no, no, no. That’s not how this works. If he had taken down my email address, he could email me every Friday, or every Saturday saying, not just me but everyone who he meets at these shows, “Hey, I’m gonna be at The Grand Bizarre this Sunday, I have more green tumblers in stock. Or I have more of the best sellers in stock. Hope to see you there.”

So, what’s the lessons in it for you? Are you making one of these classic artist mistakes? There are actually five common classic artist mistakes, and you can find out what they are with my free Artist Profit Plan. It’s an ebook that we just updated. And not only will you discover the five classic mistakes, but you’ll also learn what you should be doing instead. To get your hands on it, go to

I’m walking through my neighborhood on the Upper West Side. And guess what I saw? It was graffiti art by the infamous graffiti artist, Bansky. Now, in case you don’t know who that is, and no worries if you don’t he is an England-based street artist, and that is actually his alias. He’s a political activist, he’s a film director. But really his real name in identity remain unconfirmed and the subject of lots of speculation. But his art is very distinguished. So, active since the 1990s, his satirical street art, and his very subversive epigrams combine dark humor with graffiti executed in a very distinctive stenciling technique. And a lot of it is social commentary. He puts it on streets, on walls, on bridges throughout the world.

Now, there are many places you can still see his art. Sometimes it does get removed. Sometimes it gets vandalized. Sometimes it gets resold. I don’t know how that happens. I guess, they dig it off the wall. They are ridiculously funny. So, the one that I saw, it had a boy stenciled to the wall and he was holding like a big, I guess, what’s it called? Like a sledgehammer, a big mallet. And it looked like he was about to clonk the existing water spigot that actually was in the sidewalk. So, that’s what he does. He like combines existing objects with his art.

Like, for another example, you might see a hamster on the bottom of a clock face. So, it makes the clock look like a hamster wheel. So, he might add a tongue to a statue so it looks like the statue is sticking out his tongue. So, the particular one that I saw appeared in 2013, it’s still there. If you want to go see it, you can either ask Aunty Google to show it to you. Or, if you’re in New York, it’s on the south wall of the Designer Shoe Warehouse at 79th Street and Broadway. And it’s still there. The owners of the building Zabars have put plexiglass over it, so they are trying to protect it.

I love when I go to the post office to request anything but the flag. And it’s not any disrespect to the American flag, but I just like to find the most interesting stamps I can. So, I always ask the clerk behind the desk, just give me what you got. What’s interesting? And for Black History Month, they featured a portrait of Edmonia Lewis. And I never heard of her before. So I had to know who was the artist behind the stamp?

All right so I’m going to tell you. She was the first sculptor of African American and Native American descent to achieve international recognition. Her father was Black. Her mother was Chippewa Indian. She was orphaned though, at an early age. And Lewis grew up in her mother’s tribe where her life revolved around fishing, swimming, making and selling crafts. However, in 1859, she attended Oberlin College in Ohio. Now, this was one of the first schools to accept female and Black students. There is where she developed a interest in the fine arts. However, she was accused of poisoning, probably a racially motivated incident. And that incident forced Lewis to leave the school before graduating.

But that did not stop her from achieving international fame. First, she traveled to Boston, establishing herself as a professional artist, studying with a local sculptor, creating portraits of famous anti-slavery heroes. And then, she moved to Rome in 1865, where she became involved with a group of American women sculptors, and began to work in marble.

You have to ask Aunty Google to show you her artwork. It is amazing. So, again, that’s a Edmonia Lewis. Now, if you want to learn more about Black artists that you should know, I did a whole podcast episode on it, which you can find at The Rise of The Black Portrait Artists.

We’re gonna talk about the deliberate mistake. So if you listened to my Flash Briefings, I talked about how I visited a potter and he was out of the pottery that I really wanted, but I did buy some bowls from him. And he also gave me a small cup. And he was giving me the small cup because he said, well, first of all, I spent a lot of money there with him. But he said it had a mistake on it. And I said to him, “Well, do you know that Tibetan rug makers in many Persian rugs and carpets, you actually will discover a deliberate mistake.” So, the followers of Islam believe that only Allah makes things perfectly and therefore, to weave a perfect rug, or carpet would be an offense to God. That only their God should be perfect.

So, the deliberate mistake is usually in the execution of the pattern. So, for example, maybe they’ll purposely make a flower petal the wrong color. So, these are not accidental like in the dying of the wool in the silk, and it’s not in the quality of the weaving. So, genuine deliberate mistakes, they may be difficult to spot and they can be very subtle. So, in reality, with all handmade Oriental rugs and carpets, mistakes are going to creep in whether deliberate or not.

Now, if you’re plagued with perfectionism and that keeps you stuck, I want you to keep that in mind, that only The Divine should be perfect. If you are plagued with perfectionism, you’re going to love my nine affirmations for quieting your inner critic to go get them head on over to

Well, that’s it until next week. Until then, stay inspired.

Thank you for listening to the Inspiration Place podcast. Connect with us on Facebook at on Instagram and, of course, on


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