We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Beth Schwartz a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Alright, Beth thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. If you could go back in time do you wish you had started your creative career sooner or later?
I loved my career as a physician. As a visual thinker, pathology was the ideal specialty for me (think microscope, not forensic crime drama!). Not only was I able to provide essential medical care, support my children and be a foot soldier for feminism, I was also able to feed my brain. But in the shadows, on the weekends, I was making art. As I lurched towards retirement, my creativity was blowing up. I was soon to be the proud possessor of closets full of interesting creations, seen and enjoyed by few. So I took a deep breath and started a business. I was faced with learning product photography, website development, marketing, booth set up, social media promotion, etc. Great! More brain food! And perfect timing, since I was winding down my conventional career and I am not one to sit still. In deference to a lifetime in health care, I donate 15% of my sales to my local Health Care for the Homeless.
Beth, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
My work is predominantly comprised of unique mixed media collage. Mixed media, quite frankly, means that I get to play with whatever art supplies I can lay my hands on. My favorite supplies are my own photographs, random images, acrylic paint and found objects (otherwise known as junk). Although I love it when people buy my larger paintings, it can be easier to sell giftable pieces that live usefully on a tabletop. So I specialize in smaller mixed media collages that end up on wooden keepsake/jewelry boxes and on journals. There is a front and a back to a box lid and to a journal, so both sides become my canvases.
Recently, I’ve done deep dives into digital collage to create tree ornaments. Art globes and art dolls, paintings and assemblages are also in my wheelhouse. I have my first solo show coming up in Baltimore this November at Highlandtown Gallery – so exciting!
We’d love to hear a story of resilience from your journey.
One of the most interesting lessons I’ve learned from this part of my life journey is how to deal with rejection. Don’t get me wrong; like everyone else, I’ve had my share of “slings and arrows”. However, an artist reveals her essential spirit and vision to the world. I liken it to taking off one’s clothes in public. It takes courage, and even more courage to remain committed if you get rejected from a show, if a gallery doesn’t respond to outreach, or if there’s an hour when everyone walks by your booth after a quick glance. Maybe it’s the wrong venue or the wrong cross section of shoppers or the wrong price points. I try to learn something from rejection. Happily, I’ve had more than my share of intrigued shoppers at my booths, encouraging gallery owners, and sales. When someone tells me that I have the best booth in the show, it is a gift I hold onto.
Have any books or other resources had a big impact on you?
Just before the pandemic shutdown, I signed up for a business class for creatives given by Katie Stack of Stitch & Rivet, in the Washington DC area. It was before everyone learned to Zoom, so Katie did the class by phone, giving each student a personalized multipart tutorial. Her lessons changed everything for me, opening new avenues for success. Katie still offers a version of the class: https://www.
- Website: https://bethschwartz.
- Instagram: @ bethschwartzstudio
- Facebook: @bethschwartzstudio
- Other: https://www.pinterest.