What could you be doing to further your career? We asked the 35 trailblazing artists, dealers, tastemakers, and entrepreneurs on the 2022 Artnet Innovators List that question as part of this year’s report. We’ve gathered some of their insights here, in one collective interview. Take in their advice and learn more from individual members of the list on Artnet News in the coming weeks.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
There are two that immediately popped to mind. Always be honest. And always be ready to walk away.
–Linda Goode Bryant
I’ve always been inspired by my parents, who are activists working for social change in Japan. They taught me to stand up for myself and others.
To be reminded that there are many art worlds within the art world. And that if we don’t feel like we fit in any of them, we can build our own.
Focus on the little things that you do every day. That’s what builds your credibility, not the headline deals.
When I was in my early 30s, I was still working in finance while producing films and doing some art dealing on the side. The best advice I got at this time was to focus—to choose my path and plough my lane.
Stay curious, never stop learning, and ask for help.
I don’t actually believe in career advice, per se. I believe in life advice. Perhaps the best piece of life advice was from my father: To remember that even though we need our work, and we should take pride in our work, we should always remember that if there is something unsafe or soul-killing about our work, then we should get out. And what I liked about that was it’s a reminder—especially for Black people, but it’s good for everybody—that with the need to make a living, you need to be whole in that space in order to be the best servant to your work and to the people your work serves. Another important piece of advice from my father is that you’re never alone in any room. What that means is that you always have your people and traditions with you. But also, you are always serving others who are not in the room.
Take your work seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously.
Lead, don’t follow. I learnt from my grandfather and father the importance of being a pioneer.
If you’re still mulling over something, just keep saying “yes”—yes to that interview, yes to that meeting—until you say “Oh. No. No, no, no, no, no.” Be where you wish to be. If you want to be friends with that person, be in the space where that person is and have conversations with them. If you want to work in that community or in that field, then go to those things, even when you’re not at the center and you don’t have the microphone, so that you can understand the nuance of it.
To take your time with momentous decisions, and small ones, to always weigh the value of each path that is at your feet.
My father used to say that if you don’t agree with someone, take a moment and put yourself in their shoes. This advice helped me back when I was working the tile business and it helps me today in the art world. It’s about leading with empathy and compassion.
There’s one thing that every successful business had in the beginning, and that is being a magnet for talent.
It’s always darkest before the dawn. It’s the kind of advice that applies to both artists and entrepreneurs. There are times when the outlook is bleak and you have to fight through difficulties to achieve goals.
The best piece of career advice I have received was to take a chance on myself. A mentor, Courtney Willis Blair, told me this. Women and a lot of marginalized groups, we judge ourselves a bit harsher than our counterparts.
–Christiana Ine-Kimba Boyle
Being patient and falling in love with the process. That’s my biggest thing, because I’m not very patient with myself. I often do not like my own work and I’m often thinking about the future. There’s just a lot of things that I would like to do, and I would like them done now!
Art is about how we use our senses to know we are alive. Painting is about learning how to look, music about learning how to know your voice… Take time to know what makes a painting a good painting, cause now you’re learning how to use your eyes to actually see.