THE INSPIRATION PLACE PODCAST
[00:00:00] Miriam Schulman: I really wanna attract the people who share similar values to me. And, actually, I want to repel people who didn’t like, for example, my nods to progressive politics or my commitment to diversity, or recognizing that the patriarchy does play a role in the art world. These are things that are important to me and I don’t hide them.
[00:00:22] Announcer: It is The Inspiration Place Podcast with artist Miriam Schulman. Welcome to the Inspiration Place Podcast, an Art World Insider podcast for artists, 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.
[00:00:44] Miriam Schulman: Well, hey there, it’s Miriam Schulman here, your curator of inspiration. Welcome to the Inspiration Place.
Today we’re talking about values, specifically brand values. But before we get there, I wanted to catch you up about the goings on in New York City as well as a follow up to the Andy Warhol case that I talked about, hmm, I think it was about a month or two ago. And we’ll link up that episode in the show notes.
So I’m recording this in early July and it is hot, hot, hot here in New York. My daughter, Talia is actually living with us just for the month of July. Normally, she lives outside of the city because she’s finishing up her master’s degree and Columbia is a short bus ride away from our Upper West Side apartment.
Now, normally weather-wise, this is my favorite time of the year. I love when it’s hot. I don’t mind hot weather. However, with the Canadian wildfires blowing smoke down our way, I’m inside a little more than usual, which means I’m getting into mischief. I’ve been repainting more furniture in my house.
I wanted to just say to you, if you live in one of the many areas affected by climate change, I know that there are wildfires raging, not just in Canada, but also in Australia. My heart does go out to you. For me, the smog is an inconvenience and hopefully a temporary one, but I know for others this is more devastating and I just want you to know that I see you. If it’s you, if I don’t see you, I just want you to know that, yeah, I’m aware of what’s going on, so I just wanted to recognize that. Just pause for a moment to recognize that before I move on with the show.
Okay, now I’m keeping with my inside happenings. My daughter and I have been hitting museums together and there is a lot, I mean a lot right now in New York. I don’t know that we’re gonna be able to see everything I wanna see.
So Georgia O’Keefe is at the MoMA. I saw it for the second time with my daughter and it was amazing. You actually do not need time tickets to see that, so I was wrong about that. So if you get to New York City, go see the Georgia O’Keefe. It’s not a huge exhibit. It’s definitely worthwhile.
Then you also wanna make sure you see the Latin American artist Gego. I did an episode on that as well. We’ll link that up in the show notes as well. This is episode 270 so you can always find the show notes, schulmanart.com/270.
So she’s there. I actually wanna see that for a second time. Because there is a second artist part of that exhibit, Sarah Sze and I really wanna see her art as well. So I will let you know about that one after I’ve seen it. And there’s even a Van Gogh exhibit at the Met. They’re doing a theme on his cypresses.
So if you wanna meet me in New York City and you wanna go to a museum and go for lunch, actually I have time for you. I’ve set aside one Thursday a month for August, September and October. I’ve already booked the tables. To reserve your spot, you just go to schulman art.com/irl. IRL stands for in real life. The table’s already booked. I’ll treat you to lunch. I’ll treat you to museum admission. We’ll also spend up to two hours of laser-focused business coaching in the Metropolitan Dining Room that overlooks Central Park. The food’s amazing. The view is amazing. The museum is amazing. And the only thing missing is you. All right? So once again, that’s schulman art.com/irl.
Alright, so that catches you up to what I’ve been up to. Now, the topic I have for today other than the brand values is I just wanted to circle back to an episode I did a month or two ago about the Supreme Court decision on Andy Warhol. So I have a little bit more on that.
This is actually taken from the letters to the editor section from the Wall Street Journal. The Wall Street Journal had run an opinion piece on June 10th. They did not agree with me, by the way. That’s why I told you, like, not everyone agrees with what I have to say, but these two lawyers do. And so I just wanted to give you some additional information on that because so many people really enjoyed that episode and I thought you should hear from some lawyers about it.
So this first letter I’m gonna read or, or I’ll paraphrase it if it gets boring. Keith Danish, he’s from Leonia, New Jersey, and he’s a retired attorney who specialized in intellectual property law. In other words, this was his major. So the first thing he does is he criticizes a direct quote that Richard Meyer, the author of the opinion piece, says. Quote, ‘his art like all good art was not created to abide by the law,’ unquote.
So here’s what this lawyer goes on to say, but we all live in the law, including copyright law.” According to Professor Meyer, had Warhol known about fair use, the artist likely would have been a little concerned with legal repercussions.
Well, Warhol and his lawyers most likely did know the elements of fair use defense because, while they were not codified until 1976, those principles date back to Judge Joseph’s Stories, historic 1841 opinion in Folsom versus Marsh. Now, Warhol may be a quote towering figure in modern art as justice Elena Kagan wrote in her dissent last month in Warhol Foundation versus Goldsmith. But the court in a seven to two opinion written by Justice. Sonya Sotomayor fairly concluded that the work of the photographer, Lynn Goldsmith, was entitled to copyright protection quote, even against famous artists.
Okay, so that was the letter number one. I wanted to share. Letter number two. This one is written by Roger Schlaifer who was actually the exclusive worldwide licenser for the Andy Warhol’s Estate and Foundation for four years after Warhol died in 1987. So he is also very familiar with the law and as well as Warhol’s work. So this isn’t anti Warhol letters. This is understanding what the law was in place. So here’s what he had to say. What Richard Meyer, the Supreme Court, and most of the opinion pieces on its decision have completely missed about Vanity Fair’s using a second Andy Warhol painting of Prince is that the case had virtually nothing to do with fair use and other theories about Warhol’s Art. Warhol had gotten the photographic source material for his painting only because Vanity Fair had paid the photographer Lynn Goldsmith, a $400 fee for a single use.” And that was something I talked about in my episode. The fact that Warhol made numerous variations, as he often did, was not covered by the single use provision. The real issue wasn’t about fair use, but breach of contract. I’m sure hundreds of thousands of dollars that should have gone to needy artists were wasted on lawyers. Really, really good opinion piece there.
So now let’s get into today’s topic. Brand values. It’s a subject I’ve been thinking a lot about, especially as I’ve been expanding my team. I have a full-time US employee, many of you have met her, Anna. And not only is she full-time, she has paid time off. She has healthcare, she even has a 401K. And I’ve added another full-time employee. I have some part-time contractors including video editors and podcast editors, and show notes writers. And as I add people to my team, it’s been really obvious to me that it’s important for me to communicate my brand values to the team.
So listener, if you don’t have a team, this is for you as well. One of the things that I like to tell my artist, incubator clients is that they do have a team, they’re just wearing multiple hats for their team. So let’s just take, artists named Julie, so there’s boss Julie, there’s marketing Julie and there’s artist Julie. And if marketing Julie sends out an email every week and there’s no sales boss. Julie should be very happy with marketing Julie, that she did what boss Julie wanted her to do. We don’t beat up marketing Julie that maybe the results you wanted didn’t happen. You took action, you did what you say you were gonna do, and you should speak kindly to yourself and reward yourself. And again, artist Julie, there’s a whole nother set of things. So as we go through this, I want you to think about how you are all these different roles inside your own business.
I’ll be talking about this in the way my company interacts with our customers, how we interact with each other, how I interact with my friends, and this should make it more clear about what this really means to you. But it’s also about me being transparent to you, my listener, about what my brand values are because I want you to know.
One of the things that was important to me in my book is that the book represented my own values in there. And one of the very negative reviews I got is somebody who disagreed with those values. And guess what? I’m okay with that because there are people who think differently and I really wanna attract the people who share similar values to me. And actually I want to repel people who didn’t like, for example, my nods to progressive politics or my commitment to diversity, or recognizing that the patriarchy does play a role in the art world. These are things that are important to me and I don’t hide them.
Okay, so lemme back up. I took a course back in 2020 about values. Actually, it wasn’t about values, it was about running your team. And one of the things that this coach wanted us to do was to have our employees sign our core value statement. And she provided her core value statement with us. So I actually have a copy of it right here. And what I did at that time was I just copied over this coach’s core values and I had my team sign it. And over time it became obvious that these values were not our values, and these values actually contradicted many of my own core values.
So I’m gonna read to you what these core values are that this coach shared with everyone who took the course. I’m not giving the person’s name, so I think I’m not gonna get sued for doing this. They all sound lovely, but when we dig into how my own values contradict it, you’ll see why I had to write my own.
Okay, so this is this person’s core values, and if I have to refer to her name, we’ll just call her Jane. Jane’s core values.
So number one, ambitious – always striving for excellence. Okay, sounds innocuous enough. Two, whatever it takes – not afraid to get our hands dirty in the details. Hmm. What did she mean by whatever it takes? Again, kind of sounds lovely but there’s a dark side to that. Next compassion – our customers and communities’ biggest cheerleaders, supporters, coachable. Take feedback. Ownership, take extreme pride in the work we’re doing in our own projects. Like a boss. Resourceful – never say it can’t be done, we will find a way. And now on number seven, healthy work life integration. Develop personally to thrive professionally. And I’m gonna show you how some of these things, kind of, contradict themselves, at least in my own interpretation. The final one she shared is, we are leaders. Encourage our team members to have a voice, take initiative, engage in healthy conflict and make decisions. So now I’m gonna go through what I, what I value, and how it’s different than this other person’s set of values.
Okay. So my very first core value is an employees first company. Meaning we value balance over burnout. Do you see how that’s very different than what this other person said their number two value is whatever it takes or resourceful, never say it can’t be done. What does this mean? This means my team members are never required to work on holidays. They’re never required to work on weekends. However, I will allow them to if they feel that doing their hours during the weekend gives themselves more flexibility. So prioritizing my employee’s needs and work balance over quote unquote, getting things done no matter what. Do you see that? Other ways I implement this is I value paid time off for my employees. I value healthcare benefits for my full-time employees, and that is both for my American employee as well as my full-time Filipino VA. I also take sides with employees if customers are rude to them, so my employees come first over a rude customer. I’d rather lose a rude customer than take sides with them. I also support work life boundaries and we foster a positive work environment and emphasize transparency and honesty in all employee communications. So that is how we value balance over burnout. And a lot of times I’ll check in with them, Hey, do you have too much work to do? Let me know. Hey, do you need a day off here? I wanna know because they’re no good to me if they work too hard. All right, so that’s number one. Employees first.
Number two, customer experience. So we do have employees first company, but that doesn’t mean we don’t value our customer experience. So how does this show up? We provide exceptional experiences for our customers, meaning I invest in high quality software. I’m never trying to nickel and dime things. I’m not looking to use the cheapest this or the cheapest that. So if anything is gonna improve my customer’s interaction with us, whether that is listening to this podcast, whether that is they take an online class, we invest in tools like Kajabi for online classes. We have a full service podcast editing team, and we also invest in catering to different learning styles. So I know not everybody learns from listening, some people need the visuals. That’s why we put things on YouTube now. Not everything, but a lot of things. For my inside my paid programs, we have the visual component for everything. We also offer the textual component, the auditory component. So whatever your learning style is, whatever your preference is, we offer that. Most people don’t know actually that for this podcast, I have a transcript made. Costs me extra, but I value your customer experience. Even the customers who aren’t paying me, they’re people who aren’t paying me a dime but they like to read the transcripts and for those people, that’s why I have that. I know that not everybody can listen. Maybe they have auditory processing disorder, like I do, that makes listening more challenging. Maybe English isn’t their first language, maybe they have a hearing impairment. So for whatever the reason we provide that. We also promote creativity and innovation in all customer touchpoints.
So that brings me actually to my next value number three, which is creativity and innovation. And this is very high on my list. We value experimentation. We value risk-taking over maintaining the status quo. So I am willing to do things that may not work out. There’s something that I share with my students, and that is successful people are willing to do things that unsuccessful people aren’t, and part of that is willing to do things that might fail.
How does this show up? We find the most effective and cutting edge ways of delivering content and offering value. We emphasize the value of creativity and problem solving. I also foster a culture that encourages my employees to think outside of the box and come to me with new ideas. I love seeking innovative solution to challenges and pushing the boundaries. That’s why I’m embracing things like chat GPT and AI, doing whatever we can to automate. And it’s not getting rid of my employees, by the way. If anything, it allows me to grow. It allows our company to focus on more meaningful work and less menial work. So we value meaningful work over just doing things that may be, not necessarily to be done by a human, but human touch is very, very important.
I also, and this goes back to employee first, whenever there’s some sort of training that I feel that my employees would benefit from, I will pay for them to get trained in it because I want them to have the skills to grow my company and push my company further because that helps you, the listener, whether you are someone who’s just consuming this content for free, whether you join one of my paid programs, however you are interacting with us, it benefits you.
Okay. Now we’re up to number four. Collaboration, teamwork, and communication. So promoting a collaborative work environment where teamwork is valued. How does this show up? So, twice a week I meet with my two full-time employees over Zoom. Anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. I meet with my Facebook ads manager over Zoom sometimes as much as an hour. And by the way, some of the time that we’re meeting we’re sharing personal things ’cause I think it’s important for me to get to know them as people and value them as people, and it just allows us to be more open and transparent. I want them to feel comfortable bringing me ideas. I want them to have strong relationships among each other. So, my video editor is from the Manila greater area, as well as my full-time virtual assistant, so they’re meeting with each other without the rest of the team over Zoom because that really helps them communicate.
I also invest in my own relationships, so I’m investing in time with my customers, obviously, my team members. But I also invest time with ways that are very indirect to the bottom line of my company. So, although I think it makes such a huge difference. So for example, every month before I moved to New York City, I used to host a monthly lunch. Now that I do live in New York City, I actually host a monthly dinner. So I treat my friends to dinner, and these friends are work friends, people I met through work. And that way I’m able to really stay in touch with what’s working, I stay inspired. And you’ll know that I’ve shared that one of the success secrets of successful artists is to surround yourself with other artists.
If you look through time, artists have always done this. Think about Helen Frankenthaler was friends with Grace Hartigan and Joan Mitchell. Andy Warhol with Basquiat. We have Gogan with Van Gogh, and I’m laughing ’cause of the, I think that ended with Van Gogh cutting off his ear. But for a time they were friends. We know the Impressionists were buddies and hung out together. Mary Cassatt with Dega, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So it’s really important to surround yourself and invest time nurturing those friendships. They will matter in the long term for your art career. So I put that under collaboration, teamwork and communication. But that’s really, could be its own value, is investing in relationships.
Next is diversity and inclusion, which I thought it was really odd that other one that I read to you, the eight values, not a single one had diversity on there. I’m sure that Jane, who we’re calling Jane, has added some of that I hope. Diversity matters, representation matters, and how this shows up is, for example this podcast, you’ll notice that I have very diverse guests, whether they are black, Latina, gay, marginalized identities, Muslim. We have all people on the podcast to express diverse points of view. This also shows up in my advertising, if I use stock photo imagery, we always as a team make sure that it’s both racially diverse and it highlights men and women and people of different ages. That we’re not just in a youth culture, that we’re also showing older women, older men. This matters. You want people to look at your site, look at your things and say, yes, I belong here. I also highlight case studies of my students. One of the things that was a very important value of mine in Artpreneur is whenever I had a positive story to share, I went to the artist and I asked them permission to use their real name in the book. So whenever I got permission to use their real name for a positive story, I did. But why? Because it helps them. So I am interested in helping my students beyond what happens in the class, beyond what happens in a Facebook group. I want their careers to thrive, and part of that is giving them exposure in my book, giving them exposure in my podcast. Another way diversity inclusion shows up is I have a diverse team. I highlight diverse examples of artists, not just the people who are guests on my podcast, but when I talk about them. I talk about Latin American artists like Gago or. Filipino artists like Pacita Abad. I also highlight different thought leaders. You’ll notice in Artpreneur, every single chapter there, it begins with a quote, and it’s a very racially and gender diverse group of people that I highlighted. I wanted people to see themselves in the podcast. I wanted people to see themselves in the book, and I want people to see themselves in my community. So that is very important. And then of course, I’ve already mentioned, and this is just part of the umbrella of diversity inclusion, about how we address different learning styles by including transcripts and also providing different means for people to learn within my program and also outside of my program.
Okay, so we’re gonna wrap up, but one thing that I just wanted to add about the inclusivity is that although I have a premium coaching program, The Artist Incubator, no matter what your income level is, you can enjoy the content for free, which is why I have this podcast. I also have an audiobook of Artpreneur, which actually is also free with an Audible subscription, or if you’ve already have an Audible subscription, it’s just a monthly credit. Or you can read the book, which is a paperback, so it’s less than $18. Or you can get the Kindle for 9.99. Or you can march on over to your local library and request it absolutely free. So whether you join one of my programs and are able to have that deeper relationship with me or not, or you just wanna learn from me for free, I have that available to you.
Okay, so let’s wrap up. I wanna just sum up my team values. And that is number one, employees first, we value balance over burnout. Number two, customer experience. Number three, creativity and innovation. Number four, collaboration, teamwork, and communication. And number five, diversity and inclusion. Alright, so that’s it for my brand values.
I would love to hear about your values and, in fact, If you can, why don’t we meet in New York City? I’m reserving a table just for you. We can go over your brand values, we can go over your website, we can map out really your complete success plan for the rest of this year and to end 2023 with a bang. So if you wanna meet me for two hours of coaching, lunch and museum to fill your creative juices with inspiration. Go to schulman art.com/irl.
To hear about anything else I talked about in the show, remember this is 270. So show notes schulmanart.com/270.
Alright my friend. So that’s it for today. I’ll see you the same time, same place next week. Until then, stay inspired.
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