CHRISTINE HANNON - BFA in Illustration, 1990
On her work:
I am a full time, self-employed mural painter and faux finisher based in North Scituate, Rhode Island. I am working with several different clients right now, in projects that range from "grisalle" murals to "faux bois" work to trompe l'oeil tapestry.
On her recent accomplishments:
In March 2006, I was juried into the National Society of Mural Painters. Currently I'm also serving as chairperson of the Wickford Art Association in Rhode Island, and as a member of the Lyme Art Association. Perhaps most exciting, Benjamin Moore will be doing a story on Hannon Art Works in an upcoming issue of Profiles Magazine
On her proudest achievement as an artist:
In March 2006, I had my first gallery opening at Wilson Scott Galleries in Wickford, Rhode Island. It was then that I felt I was finally a "real artist."
CVPA taught me the "process" of creating my art. As an illustration major, my art education centered on creating a visual solution for a defined message. The repetition of that process over my years of study groomed me well to be customer-focused, first as a graphic designer, and then as a self-employed artist. I also took six semesters of calligraphy and typography work. I am surprised how often I use hand lettering in my murals and decorative painting work. It gives me a competitive advantage. My work study job was at Campus Design, first as an artist and then as the manager. I learned a lot about managing a creative staff, which was challenging but ultimately rewarding. Those management skills stayed with me after graduation, when I became an operations manager at Verizon, responsible for eight staff artists. One of the reasons why I selected CVPA for an art school was the fact that, as part of larger University, I could complement my studies with courses in literature, history, and anthropology. Those courses have had as much of an impact on my work as the art courses I took.
On lessons learned in the "real world":
Confidence in one's professional abilities is the only way to be profitable, whether one works for someone else or themselves. It is a balancing act however. Staying humble is most important in one's ability to improve and to stay happily married to their artist spouse for thirteen years!
Advice for today's students:
Learn how to sell yourself! At least one summer job while in school should be centered on commission-based sales. Most companies have excellent training programs on the steps of a sale (intro, features & benefits, create desire, client buy-in, the close, etc.) It really doesn't matter what it is you are selling... mattresses, steak knives, electronics, what matters is the confidence-building process of talking to people, handling rejection, delivering customer service, verbally communicating a non-tangible concept or product. The last part is very important for an artist since much of our work is contracted before production. Sales and marketing courses are helpful, especially for writing one's advertising or grant applications. Without that experience, I would have never had a successful business. I truly believe the inability to sell one's services is more often the failure of a potential art career, not the artist's lack of skill.