The Collegian
Saturday, June 25, 2022

Artist opens exhibit and offers career advice to future artists

Jackie Battenfield's print, "Along the James."  2003 screenprint on handmade abaca paper.
Jackie Battenfield's print, "Along the James." 2003 screenprint on handmade abaca paper.

Print artist Jackie Battenfield opened her new exhibition, on display at the Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art, with a lecture on Tuesday about how to make a successful living as an artist.

The exhibit, titled "Moments of Change," is on display until Dec. 13, and features a selection of 44 prints from 1992 until the present. Battenfield described her art, much of which focuses on abstract depictions of landscapes, as "extreme perspectives of natural scenes."

"Each image captures a single moment, but it represents all moments," she said.

Senior Christine Bequai, who works at the museum, said she had been impressed by both the process and influence behind the prints, which she learned about during a private showing by Battenfield for museum employees before the official opening.

"I really liked the use of color, and the different materials and paper textures she used to help get across the feeling of a particular scene," she said. "I also enjoyed the Asian influences she said she had put into several of her prints."

Battenfield said that for many of the prints depicting ripples, she had watched her children throw rocks into water in order to observe how the water was affected in different ways.

Leading up to the unveiling of the exhibit, Battenfield presented a lecture that focused on ideas she covered in her recently published book titled, "The Artist's Guide: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love." On Wednesday, she offered a workshop called "Ten Ways to Get (Re) Started: Artist Career Workshop."

Battenfield, who has had her paintings and prints shown in galleries and museums across the globe, started her career in art as the director at Rotunda Gallery in Brooklyn, New York. After she learned the professional side of the art world, Battenfield was able to apply her practical knowledge when she launched her own career as an artist.

"Years ago, artists trained from a young age alongside masters, and were able to learn every aspect of the being an artist, from how they acquired commissions to how they ran their staff," she said. "These days, artists are generally taught in an academic environment, which teaches them art but doesn't give them the professional skills they need to turn it into a successful career."

In the lecture to an audience of students and community members, she stressed the importance of learning the business side of a career in art. She spoke of the importance of skills such as budgeting, networking and the ability to market one's own art, instead of leaving decisions up to others.

"The strange thing about artists is they've already conquered the hard thing," Battenfield said. "They know how to use their own creativity and turn it into something marketable and tangible, which many people can't; however, often times the stuff that doesn't take talent, and are learned skills and chores, are a mystery to them."

Battenfield's prints have been on display in museums, galleries, and more than 1,000 collections. She said she and her husband, also an artist, had been able to make a successful living from their art because of the application of professional skills and the practical business guidelines she uses.

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"It's so important to be able to support your work, and for this you need to learn how to successfully market it," Battenfield said. "I suppose you could marry rich, settle down with a nice recession-proof doctor or lawyer, but most of us don't fall in love like that."

Contact staff writer Maggie Finucane at margaretfinucane@richmond.edu

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