The art of honouring your audience

Jennifer Keeler-Milne,  NSW desert plants , 2011

Jennifer Keeler-Milne, NSW desert plants, 2011


I’m forever banging on about loving your customers and yet I know I can be pretty shoddy. I forget to follow up, forget to say thank you and certainly don’t ‘over deliver’ anywhere near as much as I know I could and should. Perhaps if I did I’d have a waiting list like the one Jennifer Keeler-Milne has. I think she’s a legend, see what you think.

It's not easy making a living as an artist and in this podcast, Jennifer tells us that if you're not making a good go of things from a revenue perspective by your forties, well there's a fair chance you'll chuck the towel in. Thereafter art can become more 'hobby' and less 'business'.

Happily for us, Jennifer is powering and as you'll hear, she most definitely runs a business. The work above, that comprises over 48 individual drawings was purchased by the prestigious Art Gallery of New South Wales and joined an earlier work already in their collection.

She's won and been shortlisted in more awards than you can poke a stick at, but it's her innate skill in understanding and honouring her customers - whether buyers of her work or students of her courses - that is the focus of our conversation.

I think that would be a bit boring
— Jennifer's response to taking the easy option

Jennifer understands the power of word-of-mouth and does a great deal to help it along. None of it pushy. None of it jarring. All of it thought-through, crafted and truly artful.

I particularly love the way she uses Mailchimp both as a visual and written summary of her students work AND a means of archiving her class content for possible future adaptation. When I mentioned that the Gerrish household have made the reading of her newsletters something of a family event, I sensed this came as no surprise.

Again, considered design. Bloody clever. Beautifully delivered.

It's funny, but as I get further into this little series I realise it's the people who are diligently working away without fanfare, those getting really, really close to their tribe, who are having the greatest success and the most fun. 

Hmmm. Methinks it's time to spread the love a little more around these parts. 

Read more about Jennifer Keeler-Milne on her website, maybe join the queue for one of her workshops and be sure to watch this beautiful video covering her 2016-2017 touring show, Drawn To A Cabinet Of Curiosities.

And if you'd like to view her work, her next solo show is at Sydney's Australian Galleries from the 14th to the 30th August, 2018.

Finally, if you'd like to see the extent to which her students flourish under her tutelage, I reckon this one's an absolute cracker ;)

Mellow Brick Road has now been replaced by my new show, Rekindle and you can subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts and iHeartRadio. And if you’d like a gentle nudge each time a new show is published, subscribe to my newsletter.

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Robert Gerrish