Open Call: Bad Luck, Undertakers, and Pancakes

Welcome to the 10th edition of Open Call! Happy New Year, fam. Man, I can’t believe we’ve done 10 of these. You are all awesome. Thanks for sending in your questions and topics and keep it up!

The other day someone shared this dream they had with me and in the dream she was standing on a street in the company of some girl who she didn’t know, and the girl was pulling on her and telling her that they needed to go down to the end of the street and be amongst a group of people who had gathered there. The girl said to her, “We have to go to them because we can see how to make change happen, and they don’t see how they can change things, and that all they can do is accept things the way they are. So we have to go there because it’s completely up to us for change to happen”. My first thought was “holy shit”, and then my second though was less a thought and more a wave of jealousy because I don’t really remember my own dreams, and my third was that this is a badass message to take into the new year, so let’s all agree to listen to the mysterious dream girl and make big things happen in 2016.

This week for volume 10 and to kick off a New Year, we’re looking back at some questions and positive messages that came as a result of one of the past editions.

Email us at opencall@beautifulbizarre.net with any questions you have, concerns, success stories, challenges, or any other topic you’d like to discuss with a Gallery Director. Every other Monday we’ll publish a few of our favorites along with my replies. If you don’t see your email published, it does not necessarily mean it won’t be saved for a future installment. There have already been way too many good questions to make it into just one edition.

Visit my online author profile and stay updated on past editions. Some emails have been edited for length.


Hello Patrick,

The first thing I thought about this topic was in racial terms, then social and artistic finally! I discovered that no profession suffers more prejudices (super-negative!) against it than the artist! Of course, the undertaker “bad luck” and lumberjacks are all “alcoholics” (usual stereotypes…) but nobody, when he says his job, hears what fate awaits him!

And I refer to the phrase: “Ah! So everybody knows that when you die you become famous !!!” I usually reply: “you even after death!” But it hurts and if I had a euro every time I hear it, I would be rich… However, my question is: Why is there such a negative prejudice against artists ??? (I suspect it’s all the fault of the collective above Modigliani not sure ..!)

Thank you


Hi Danilo,

I have never heard that all lumberjacks are alcoholics, but when I was a kid I remember being convinced that the only food lumberjacks liked to eat was stacks of pancakes and so they only ate stacks of pancakes, 3 meals a day, every day.

Try not to get too hung up on what you think other people think about what you do. While I do agree that there may be relatively a bit more general lack of public understanding when it comes to how more creative enterprises work as a business than maybe in other fields, I don’t think the choice to be an artist suffers nearly as much negative pushback as you think it does. Being an artist may not be commonly understood to be a sound career option because most people don’t see artists as any sort of collective workforce or understand the economy around it. But this is true for a lot of things. Take some newer examples of professional choices – I would venture to guess if you were a social media manager, or ran a co-working space, or designed apps or something like that you would encounter the same sort of head-scratching from a lot of people when it comes to what it is you do and how it all works. Just maybe with fewer ‘you’ll be famous when you’re dead’-jokes.

I totally understand how it may seem to be some sort of focused disdain or disapproval from your perspective but I think these conversations usually have less to do with someone throwing down a stern condemnation of your life choices and more just not understanding how you make a living doing it. It’s important not to take that as an insult. In my experience, a lot of these sorts of interactions are a lot lighter than they may seem and it’s more just well intentioned teasing. People love doing this. When I was 14, I would wear this chain wallet and it scratched up a chair at my family’s house in Massachusetts and to this day, I still get shit for that. It’s funny.

So let’s say half of those comments are people just being corny and teasing you and reaching for the only thing they have in their teasing toolbox for artists, which are the idea that you’re downtrodden and poverty-stricken during life, and only noticed in death. LOL. You as a working artist should not be bothered by this because you – I hope – know it’s not the reality. There are many living, working, artists who both are known and make a good living doing the work they do. Some are even very well known, and some are making a killing, so there’s really nothing about any of this that should rattle your confidence too much. Then the other half, let’s say they are people who genuinely want to have a conversation about how you do it. The best place to be here is where you can educate them in a way that doesn’t come across as being defensive, and teach them how what you do works financially, and put it in to terms that are generally in the context of a job. If you are serious and professional about what you do, and explain how that all breaks down, people can understand that and I assure you it will be taken more seriously. If you aren’t, it’s okay – but you can’t expect other people to credit you with things that are not part of your plan.

tl:dr Yes, it’s all Modigliani’s fault.




Hi Patrick ! 

First of all I want to thank you & beautiful.bizarre for such an opportunity you are giving for artists, you are doing a really great work.

I just read your conversation with Julie Filipenko . Yep, internet gives us a great opportunity to be known & to sell BUT I have another one problem.

I’m a full-time painter & illustrator, I’m selling my works via internet ( canvas & on paper both ) quite successfully , I’m happy with it. But I didn’t work with art galleries ever. 

For the first time I just didn’t want to because I wanted to be independent from any kind of such collabs, it wasn’t interesting for me. But now the interest comes ) So now I’m trying to connect with galleries in NYC or to find an art agent or art curator & it`s not so easy ( I’m from Russia but I was always working only with USA or Europe not because it’s my principles, just because almost all enquiries & purchases are coming from USA & Europe).

What for I’m writing ?) Just wanted to say that the artist’s happiness is not only in sales. I just want my art to be known & seen by more people , I know that many many people can really enjoy & love it . That’s why I’m trying to begin my exhibiting . I hope I’ll succeed…

Thank you! 

With my kind regards, 


Hey Anna,

Thanks so much for reading. It sounds to me like you’re in a really good place. As I’ve said many times before I think it’s really important to start in a place where you have a passion for what you do and your plan should be simply to learn, to move forward, and to grow that as far as your ambition may go and it sounds like you’re doing just that.

One thing I’ve also said before is that generally speaking I think more of a personal one-on-one approach tends to work better for someone in your position than seeking an agent. I’m not ragging on agents in general, it’s just in my experience and in at least the part of the art world where we exist I don’t see a lot of benefit especially for an emerging artist. You can do a lot if not all of that work on your own and even when it gets to the point where you need help managing your career, a business manager, or a good gallery who can become a partner and help manage that infrastructure to me is often a better choice.

Keep doing what you love and I wish you success,



Hey Patrick,

I read about whether or not it matters to have a lot of followers and am writing because I can’t seem to get many. I follow a lot of artists and ask for shout outs but it’s not getting me anywhere. What am I doing wrong?



Hi Beau,

I’ve mentioned this a couple times before but real talk – don’t ever do this. Nobody likes it and this is going to go one of two ways for you – 1) the artist/gallery/magazine/blog whose account you are on is not going to notice at all and your request will be ignored, or 2) the artist/gallery/magazine/blog whose account you are on will think you’re annoying (or in the case of artist’s personal accounts sometimes not just annoying, but also rude), and then ignore your request.

It’s important, to at least, try to maintain some sort of etiquette even on Insta or FB especially when you’re attempting to utilize it as a professional tool.

My advice would be to ditch this habit ASAP and focus on creating a plan that puts you in the driver’s seat and does not depend on favors from people who you don’t know to succeed. A good general rule in any field is that it’s better to be a contributor. Put the work into yourself and contribute to the community that supports you and you’ll always see better gains than you would sitting back and waiting for a break.

Good luck!


Have a question for Patrick? Send inquiries to opencall@beautifulbizarre.net

Patrick Shillenn is the co-founder and director of Arch Enemy Arts in Philadelphia. He doesn’t think he has all the answers. He just wants to have the conversation.
Follow him on IG @pshillenn & Twitter @mathclub


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