Meet Tom

“The people who succeed as fine artists are those who are constantly working and do not pass up opportunities.”

Name: Tom Clinton

Field of Study: Printmaking

Year of Graduation: 2002

Current Position: Attorney for TPK U.S.A.; Exhibition Coordinator for Site:Lab; Artist (represented by LaFontsee Galleries), Grand Rapids, Mich.

What was the most important thing you learned about your field while at Kendall?

The people who succeed as fine artists are those who are constantly working and do not pass up opportunities.

What was your most shocking realization about your field after graduation?

I clearly underestimated the difficulty of keeping up with the business end of making art for a living. Applying for shows and exhibition opportunities, maintaining an up-to-date website, documenting your work – it's all essential but takes time and discipline to make sure it happens.

Give us your best interview tip.

Always have current work available when showing your portfolio. Showing work that is several years old is a sign that you are not currently producing–a great concern to a gallery that will expect consistent production of new work.

List three ways you network in your field.

  1. Participate in events that provide exhibition opportunities: Art.Downtown, Site:Lab, ArtPrize.
  2. Attend openings–there are more of them in any city than you think.
  3. Keep in touch with classmates and colleagues. Most out-of-town exhibition opportunities come about through a personal invitation.

What was the worst interview moment you've experienced?

Sorry – I really can't think of one. I guess I've been lucky.

List three résumé "don'ts."

  1. Don't ever overstate your qualifications. Not even a little bit.
  2. Don't overlook nontraditional skills that could distinguish you from other candidates.
  3. Don't try to ignore or cover up blemishes in your résumé.

List three résumé "do's."

  1. Carefully review for consistency in format. Attention to detail means a lot in design-related fields.
  2. Be concise.
  3. Consider having different résumés for different positions.

Name the most essential skill, tool or software program relative to your field.

Perseverance. More than anything else (including talent), I think this is what distinguishes those who succeed from those who fall short. And no computer program will replace it.

How did you make the first connection that led to a job in your field?

My current position as exhibition coordinator at Site:Lab came about because I heard that Paul Amenta, who I knew about from attending a few of his events with ActiveSite, was doing an exhibition at the old Grand Rapids Public Museum. I had a common friend set up a meeting where I told Paul that I wanted to be involved in the project and was willing to do whatever he thought I was suited to. A year later we are partners in Site:Lab. The obvious point is that there are great opportunities out there if you to choose to pursue them.

Make it
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