Maintaining Momentum in an Evolving Art Career – Etsuko Ichikawa

Satsop, art, nuclear

As an artist who follows the inspiration as it strikes, Etsuko Ichikawa works in a variety of media from performance, sound, and film to glass installations, sculpture, and drawing. She’s known for her pyrographs and aquagraphs, or drawings made from fire and water. She’s also a 2015 Clark Hulings Foundation Business Accelerator Grant Finalist.

We had a chance to sit down with Etsuko and talk about her next career move as she rebrands herself and her artwork. Her nearly hour-long interview offers an insightful look into public art commissions, the importance of vetting galleries before you work with them, and how to tackle brand management even as your career evolves.

Re-Branding Your Art and Business:

  • Following the inspiration vs. following the money
  • How to maintain the momentum of your career without losing your soul
  • Marketing and sales as key components of your business plan
  • Controlling and budgeting for your artwork
  • Breaking into new mediums as alternative sources of revenue
  • Creating sustainable financial systems out of your art career
  • Changing the direction of your work can result in more value being placed on your ‘limited edition’ products

Project Management in Public Works Commissions:

  • Know the mission behind your commission
  • Collaboration with organizations, architects, and engineers
  • Use public works as an opportunity to reach beyond the gallery and meet new audiences
  • Public works and grants as alternative sources of income

Audience Building:

  • Incorporate a performance element in your artwork
  • Don’t be afraid to include your audience in your process
  • Attend events as shameless promotion of your work
  • Network amongst local galleries, get your face out there


  • Creating & maintaining relationships with galleries
  • Vetting galleries you want to work with
  • Establish trust with your gallery
  • Cutting ties with galleries without burning bridges
  • Galleries vs. art fairs

Future Directions:

How to Sell More Art

Sell More Art

Sign up (free) for an introductory course for professional artists: Sales Strategies for Growth.

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Daniel DiGriz
Daniel DiGriz is CHF's Creative Director and Director of Educational Programming. He's a founder at corporate consulting firm Free Agent Source Inc., and Digital Ecologist® at MadPipe which provides creative direction and marketing leadership to multiple firms. His background in Fortune 500 life is in sales and education. Daniel is a corporate storyteller and collector of brand stories who speaks at conferences and hosts podcasts, including The Thriving Artist™ Podcast. His personal website is

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