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Rev. 6/1/05

Published in the Sonoma County Upbeat Times
Paul A. Doyle, Publisher

May 23, 2005
By: Zak Zaikine — Editor and Muse: Karin O'Keefe

     In Greek mythology, the nine goddess daughters of Zeus, King of the Olympian Gods, and Mnemosyne, Goddess of Memory, were the muses believed to be the inspiration for those that excelled in the liberal arts and sciences. Throughout history creative people have all had someone or something that inspired them to pursue their creative endeavors. The muse sends out a vibration, an unseen energy that converts it to the artist's system and then blossoms and becomes a work of art.
     One of my heroes is the artist, Georgia O’Keeffe. For her the Southwest, the light, the air, the bleached bones, the flowers she found, gave her the divine soul food she needed to embrace, feel and paint a changing landscape both internally and on canvas and paper. Mother Nature was her muse. I believe Mother Nature was an inspiration for many artists; Vincent Van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, just to name a few.
     I was befriended by Dorothy Dehner, an American sculptor, the last ten years of her life. She was a real life inspiration for another famous American sculptor, David Smith. She was his number one supporter, his muse, and his wife for twenty-three years. From the stories she told me I believe they were each others muse. Dorothy Dehner began to receive her justice due in her late 80’s and early 90’s and hopefully will continue to be embraced for her own greatness. She also contributed to the musing of her husband, David Smith, for without her, he would not have had the support needed to create his wondrous works of art.
     To all of you who feel you’ve not been encouraged or been overlooked, under valued, don't despair. Look around you or reach inside and don't be surprised to find you, too, have a muse sitting there looking at you and filling you with the inspiration you need to rise up and create. Remember that it could be as close as your always scratching behind her ears kitty or your drooling, flea bitten hound, or your foraging chickens (which by the way have a-mused me a lot). It may be your child or your parent or a friend that never doubts your talent. It may be that little voice you hear from the angel on your shoulder. Just know that your muse is there ready to inspire.

April 20, 2005
By Zak Zaikine and Karin O’Keefe

     Monday morning, February 28th, there was so much snow in New York that our flight was canceled and re-booked for much later that night. We arrived at JFK airport Tuesday, March 1st, at 5:30 a.m. We were picked up by our patron, Elaine, and our driver, Nicolas, and driven through the pristine snow to a wonderful Brooklyn deli for a yummy breakfast, then on to Elaine's warm apartment for a cozy nap. Then up at 2:00 p.m. to load a van with 13 boxes of my works of art, ride through the now not-so-pristine snow to Javits Convention Center in Manhattan to drop off the goods.
     It has been 20 years since I've been back to New York where I was born and raised. Quite different from Sebastopol where I now live and had for over 13 years. Just to cut through all of the red tape and to deal with the various workers at the convention center, it took all of 10 seconds to bring forth the New York moxie needed to get the job done.
     In the past 43 years of showing my art, the Art Expo New York is, with out a doubt, the most immense show I have ever participated in. Because of the enormity of this show, once we arrived, it took 4 hours to get through the cold snow, around the big trucks with big, tough drivers, unload and deliver 13 boxes to my booth. (I was not allowed to set up on the same day.) Wednesday, we woke up after a good night sleep in Elaine's cozy apartment and went on our way to Javits Convention Center to set up my booth. Eight hours later we rode back to Brooklyn to a wonderful Kosher Deli for a fabulous New York meal, then back to the apartment to rest up for the four day expo.
     Thursday morning, early, while riding in to Manhattan, I noticed that although the snow was melting it was still cold and windy (especially from a Californian's point of view). We were grateful to have Nicolas driving us door to door and not having to deal with the subways. We arrived just in time to fine tune the booth, tie up any loose ends, take photos of the completed booth and pump up my New York attitude getting ready for the small, lively, intense city energy and the many expected visitors to this event.
     This being the largest show I've ever worked, 3300 booths, I anticipated intense competition. This was the first year that this event offered solo booths to artists not being represented by a gallery. The solo booths were 4' x 10', although I opted for a 10' x 10' to fit all of my works; bronzes, ceramics, paintings and etchings. Thursday and Friday were "Trade Only" days. This allowed dealers and other businesses involved in the arts to more leisurely look at the many artists' work. Saturday and Sunday was open to all. Each day held it's own unique energy. Thursday and Friday held, for the solo artists, the hope of an art dealer wanting your art for their gallery. Saturday and Sunday was quite different, more of a hustle and bustle of the crowd compared to the somewhat hurried stroll of the art dealers. During the show I was visited by both friends and collectors, some of which I had not seen in 20 years. Either way there were characters abound.
     I walked as much of the show as time allowed me and was pleased to be showing with the other high caliber artists in New York. Whether you have ever attended or worked an art festival, an event as immense as this expo is almost overwhelming. You need the entire four days to truly experience all of the art in all of the booths.
     After I made the decision to travel to New York, my mouth had been watering in anticipation of all of the wonderful food I'd been missing all of these years. Every night was deli, deli, deli. Either at the deli or delivered from the deli. The restaurants gave such large portions that we had left-overs for our lunch the next day at the show. One night, after eating at a Kosher deli, we walked a few doors down to a Russian take out and found a paradise of food. Our eyes popped out of our heads at the beauty of the pastries, salads, fish and other wondrous assortments of food. (During the 4 day show and at the Russian deli, I was able to practice my ancestral language. It seemed that every 7 out of 10 in people in New York were from Russia. Seemed like old home week to me.)
     The Monday after the show was sunny and warm. Had to spend a little time shipping things back home with full intension to go out and enjoy the spring-like day after a short nap. (We were quite exhausted.) Woke up late afternoon in time to bundle up (the sun had gone down) and go to our favorite deli. The next day we would go to the Metropolitan Museum. On Tuesday we woke up to rain that turned into wind and snow. Due to unforeseen circumstances we got a late start but still ventured out, in spite of the weather. We got to the Met with a half hour to spare. Although we only got to see a few rooms of the museum, they were filled with Matisse's, Picasso's, Braque's, Monet's and Van Gogh's. There were no crowds to deal with so we viewed with inspiration and pleasure. We then walked toward Central Park to catch a bus discovering the last few Cristo Crimson Gates flowing against the white, white snow. A striking view to behold. Soon after we met a friend for dinner at an Indian restaurant then boarded a subway train to return to Brooklyn. In true New York fashion, three stops from our station the signal lights broke down, due to the cold weather. We waited 45 minutes for the cold, cold train to start moving again. Brrrrr.
     Early Wednesday morning we flew home arriving to an early, warm spring day. It was wonderful to be home. Although the monetary gain from the show was not as I had hoped for, the shift caused by our Big Apple Adventure is still going on. I am seeing the possibilities of other avenues for my art. I am giving more workshops, working less art festivals, looking forward to showing more of my work through galleries allowing myself more time in my studio painting my newest series and working towards my next children's book. I have a group show on now at Plaza Arts in Healdsburg where I am showing my ceramics. (Call 707-431-1970 for more info.)
     All in all, my trip to the Big Apple was a wonderful experience. The art, the people and the food were memories being made. Feel free to email me with any questions or comments you may have about working art festivals:

February 25, 2005
By Zak Zaikine and Karin O’Keefe

     It has been a month since the last issue and a been a busy month for me as I'm getting ready for a whirlwind trip to New York with an exhibit at the ARTEXPO New York on March 3, 4, 5, and 6. This art exposition, under new management, is one of the largest assemblages of art, artists, dealers and the public under one roof. I will be happy to write more about it on my return.
     Now I will touch on the subject of “Selling Your Art Not Your Soul.” I want to write about one way of generating income from your artistic accomplishments. The greeting card industry is good way to not only share your images (with the possibility of finding a collector) but gainfully selling your art. There are greeting cards for every occasion including blank ones for letter writing. The images vary from mild to wild, hand-drawn to photos, colorful to black and white. (Don’t forget, blank cards also make for a nice gift set.)
     You can create in the morning, sell in the afternoon, then enjoy your profits in the evening. To begin with you will need stock. First, choose the images you will be using. I recommend you have at least 6 to 12, creating a nice assortment of greeting cards. You can either print the image from your computer or use a copy center. (Some of you might need a photo of your work to properly transfer your images.) On the back of the card you will want some information: your name, website, contact information, a brief bio, the name of your image, a stock number and a retail price. Stock numbers help to identify your inventory. To decide what size card you will print depends on the size of the envelopes available to you. Cardstock comes in a variety of precut, printable sizes that will have envelopes to match and can be purchased through one of the larger paper dealers in the area. I find that 5”x 7” works the best and seems to be the most popular in sales. Cardstock is also available at most copy centers but may need to be cut to size. If you use your computer for printing, remember that a fixative must be used. (Certain copy machines actually bake this on in the process.) Without this, any exposure to moisture will cause the ink to run, or if you use too much sealant the cardstock will warp. First do a mock up of each card, black and white on copy paper, so you can be sure it will print properly with out wasting good cardstock. Now you are ready to print your deck of greeting cards. Then gather up your treasures and beginning with family, friends, and neighbors, find which images are most beloved for future perspective customers.
     You are now well on your way to having your own business utilizing your art. You have your images, cardstock, envelopes, and a good feeling for which of your cards will sell the best. Now it’s time to go out in to the marketplace. Remember there are many places to sell cards . . . mall gift stores, stationery shops, florists, grocery stores, flea markets, to name just a few. Keep your eyes peeled for anywhere you see card racks. Ask to see the buyer or find out if you need to make an appointment. Sell yourself along with your art. A story about the image or a story about yourself will help you and your buyers sell your product. Keep track of your buyers and periodically check to see if they need a refill. Occasionally adding new images to your inventory will keep your customers interested in you and your art. Before you know it you will have your business up and running.
     Another few suggestions: You may want to have a post office box for your new business, a constant address. Find an artist friendly copy center and develop a good working relationship (I use Superfast Copy, a family owned business in Santa Rosa). Also, if your work is too big to copy and you need a professional photographer, look at my website for samples from a photographer-for-hire such as Owen Kahn. A good photo of your work may be an important step to a quality greeting card. (I also have other recommendations on my site for additional people in the business that can help you to acquire success.) Cards can be sold wholesale or on consignment. Wholesale is usually a 50/50 split; consignment is a 60/40 split or whatever you and the buyer may agree on. Who knows, you may become so successful in this business that you will need to find a rep to handle your sales.
     Good luck to you all. I hope to soon find the steep competition out there.
     Well, I’m off to New York and sure to come back with interesting tales!

January 22, 2005
By Zak Zaikine — Edited by Karin O’Keefe

     It's 8:30pm and I've just returned from a brisk walk in my neighborhood and I'm sitting with freshly prepared canvases contemplating what image will appear on them.  Then my mind wanders to earlier today and my conversation with Paul A. Doyle, the publisher of the Upbeat Times for which I'm now writing this monthly newsletter. He was sitting right where my primed canvases now sit. Paul, as you can gather from reading his paper, tries and succeeds to print news that confirms life is worth living, and also shows that treasures of all sorts exist in the smallest of places.  He asked me to write a column, an artist's column, with an emphasis on living the life of a career artist subsisting on the earnings from one's creative endeavors.  Having been an artist all of my life, and living from my earnings solely as an artist for over 40 years, I thought it would be good for me to write about my life and experiences while hopefully inspiring others for their own creative endeavors.
     I have begun again to give workshops on "How to Sell Your Art, Not Your Soul," sharing what I have learned along the way.  (I began these workshops 5 years ago.)  These classes deal with both art and businesses involved in and around the arts.  I collaborate with guest speakers from various fields related to the arts and the various means of production.  All are top in their fields; some I have known for years and other are new friends/business associates.  During these workshops I help the participants learn You Can Do It One Step at a Time.  Start where you are now.  Realize the knowledge that you have acquired on your journey; your own personal bank account with years of interest to draw from when needed.  I also work in the metaphysics and believe that most artists/creators are close to this unseen reality rendering it each in their own way.  My art has been a metaphor for my life.  I believe that any art created is a personal account, an autobiography so to speak.  Also taught is that self empowerment is simple.  It is always there for the taking.  It will not cost you your paycheck, your savings, your life or your soul.  It is truly free.  Inspiration is everywhere. If Van Gogh gave you his brushes would you then assume a role of genius?  If Michelangelo gave you his chisels could you then also envision the Pieta in a block of marble and bring it out?  Will owning Georgia O'Keeffe's bleached out bones that she collected on desert walks near her home make for greater influence on your own works?  These things may certainly contribute to your empowerment, but you would still have to turn your own key and go through your own door and connect with your own spirit and create the story you personally carry and express it in the way that moves you.  Following your own dreams and doing what feels good in your heart and your mind will reinforce your spirit.  If you bring beauty and/or enlightenment in to the universe through your creations then you are in unison with the flow of life and can't help but be empowered.  Live in the moment and reveal what is yours to offer and you will succeed.
     Comments and suggestions are welcome, just click on Contact Me on the menu, or email me at  And don't forget to sign up for my next workshop on February 6th at Riley Street Art Supply ( or call me 707-823-9340.
     Until next month. . . .

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