power artist excellence in art and social media

Over the past month we have met the talented and popular #PowerArtists Annie Strack, Robert Girandola, Tara Reed, and Robin Pedrero. This week I am pleased to introduce you to artist and community activist, Kelli Bickman.

Kelli’s wonderful, intricate paintings and designs on everything from fine art paintings to murals, t-shirts, mugs, buttons and more! Some of you might remember Kelli from her popular FineArtTips guest article, “Tips for Selling Art on Facebook: A Success Story”.

“PowerArtists are the social media ‘rockstars’ of the art world! Not only are they talented creatives, but they understand how to harness the power of social media and use it to promote their art careers. #PowerArtists are inspiring and freely share their knowledge with others.”

kelli bickman artist in front of paintingKelli Bickman is a multi-media artist. Her work has been seen in many publications and in galleries in the US and Europe.  Her client list includes: Budweiser, Citibank, Harper Collins, Neil Gaiman and many more.  She is an award winner of the ‘Art in Public Places’ grant in Jacksonville, FL as well as two ‘ArtsAlive’ grants from Arts Westchester and her work has also been showcased by MTV in Times Square.
Her current focus is on large-scale community engaged mural projects.  She is the director and founder of the Youth Mural Arts Program in Peekskill, NY. Bickman is  also an avid traveler and brings art materials along to directly translate the experience of a new culture onto canvas.  She currently lives in the Hudson Valley in New York.
“With great energy and flair, Bickman invites us to soar beyond the mundane to find inspiration in both the ordinary and extraordinary experiences that make up our lives. Her work is “larger than life” and she proves, once again, that art can illuminate the recesses of the human soul with both joy and beauty.” ~Ann Niven, Sage Woman Magazine

©2011 Kelli Bickman

Describe a typical day in the life of a #PowerArtist:

It’s hard to describe a ‘typical’ day because every day is so unique…last week I was zipping around the highlands of Scotland doing research and painting a private commission for writer Neil Gaiman. This week, I am in my studio getting caught up on paperwork (the dreaded artist task) and getting my head wrapped around finishing the commission that sits on my easel for a client in Texas.  I am also working on several outreach projects which involve writing grants (see #4) as well as private commissions and commercial work.
There are several hats that need to be worn through out the work week – the business and the creative – and they work from opposite sides of the brain.  As a professional artist, one often needs to be able to work from both sides at the same time.  Not always an easy task.

  • Most days I am up around 6 am and at the computer shortly thereafter (with a strong cup of black tea) to take care of emails and necessities, and the afternoon is spent painting or creating.
  • I am also the mother of a two year old who is with me most of the time, so striking a balance presents certain challenges.

©2011 Kelli Bickman

Give an example of how you use social media to promote your art career:
I’ve had wonderful success selling art on Facebook and am now getting more involved in using Twitter as a platform for connecting with other artists and like-minded people.

If you could meet any artist: past, present, or future, who would it be and why?

Tough question.  My first impression is Picasso, because I am so inspired by the massive body of work he created but I don’t think he was really that nice of a person…so really, I think I’d like to meet Monet when he was painting the waterlily series.  I am absolutely in love with  the grandeur & beauty of these large scale paintings.  Meeting him isn’t as important to me as being able to watch him paint.  That would be magic.

If your art could be displayed anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I’ve always wanted to do a large scale banner project for PS 1 in NY, and the Museum of Modern Art, and the Pompidou in Paris as well…the biggies.  I want to make art that is visible from the outside, not just hanging on the walls inside where people have to pay to see it.  I’d create murals or banners that hang on the exterior so that everyone who passes by can see them, for free.  Art should be shared and this type of work would seen by everyone.

"Mind" ©2011 Kelli Bickman

What sage advice would you give an artist who is just starting out in his or her career?

I just wrote an article on this titled, “10 Tips for Young Artists”.

1. Learn everything you can in art school and then forget it all
Art school is great for teaching you how to use your materials and what is available, but beyond that you must develop your own personal style. There are galleries out there who won’t even look at your portfolio until you’ve been out of school for five years. Develop a style that people will look at and say “that is a – insert your name here – painting – I could spot one anywhere.”

2. Document your work – take quality photographs
This is important. I’m not going to tell you how to do it here, as there are plenty of places to find this information. But if you plan on making a living as an artist it is useful to be able to show a portfolio that accurately represents the originals. And 10 years from now you will really appreciate having photographs of your “early” work so you can be adequately embarrassed at the work you once thought was genius, and you’ll see how far you’ve come.

3. Create a website, and then promote it
If you don’t have your portfolio on a website it will be very hard for the world to find you. Succeeding in art is a numbers game. The more people you connect with and share your work with the better. Your website should reflect your personality while remaining professional and easy to navigate.
Post interesting content along with your art…

For the rest of Kelli’s 10 Tips, please read here: 10Tips for Young Artists

©2011 Kelli Bickman

As a #PowerArtist, what do you do to ‘give back’ or ‘pay it forward’ to your community:
Because of budget cuts to the Arts programs in schools, in 2010 I developed the grassroots community engaged ‘Youth Mural Arts’ program working with at-risk youth in Peekskill, NY.  The end result was an 8′ x 22′ mural that now graces the side of the youth bureau building in our downtown area.  The project was a huge success and over 30 youth worked on the project.  It gave the youth a voice thru the creation of a large scale work of art that will be shared with the community for many years to come.
For 2011, I am taking the program a step further by collaborating with the  Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art. The program will expand to include 7 other artists &  youth groups to create 8 large scale banners to decorate a parking garage in the downtown area.  This project will engage over 60 youth and be witnessed by over 30,000 people locally. The project will be funded through grants and individual donations.  My hope is to create a platform for paid positions in the arts for youth as well as artists and work together to share the beauty of art on a large scale.


People like Kelli help to make the world a better place. We are lucky to have such an amazing Ambassador to the Arts in our social media community. Kelli’s zest for the arts and her community is infectious. I hope you enjoyed getting to know her! ~Lori

To learn more about Kelli, please follow the links below:
Website: http://www.kellibickman.net
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kelli.bickman
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/kellibickmanart
Please consider donating to Kelli’s Youth Mural Arts program that helps bring the Arts to students-at-risk in New York: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/990592600/the-contemporary-banner-project-youth-mural-arts

PS. I would love to meet you on Facebook and Twitter! ~Lori

You might like to read these other related articles:
25 Twitter & Facebook Artists Come Together For A Cure
#PowerArtists Interview with Art Marketing & Art Licensing Expert, Tara Reed
10 Great Ways to Market Art & Develop Your Brand

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