Hi guys, welcome back to Make Magick Happen. I want to apologise for not uploading a June edition - life got uncontrollably busy as I began work on The Earth Issue. But we’re back! And I’m so excited for this one…Without further ado, let me introduce you to July’s Make Magick Happen guest…
Frequently known as “the good witch of the art world”, curator Sarah Potter is the colour maverick every modern mystic seems to have fixated their telling eyes upon. With ever-changing bright locks (currently mermaid-green) and a dreamy portfolio of artists serving under her self-made empire of SP Projects, Sarah is an eyeful expert and all-round visual sensation. As a diverse creative and enthusiast of sharing her wisdom with the world - putting on touring Colour Magick workshops and doing Tarot readings alongside running her own business, I wanted to ask Sarah a little bit about how she finds balance in the day-to-day. As more and more of us dollop side-hustles onto our already snug schedules and the 9-5 makes way for rise of the multi-hyphenate career, we can never be too short of advice for finding a little bit of structure in our lives. Not to mention, making way for what truly lights us up. I also wanted to get the juice on how Sarah finds running her own business as a woman and if she had any need-to-know guidance for those trying to break into the art world - whether as an artist or from the business side of the pond.
It's safe to say I'm a fan of Sarah’s - her Instagram makes my heart sing (it’s definitely the colour magick, right?!) and I’m seriously excited to welcome her to July’s edition of Make Magick Happen. It's undoubtedly a must-read for those of you still figuring out your path in this world and how empowering it can feel to listen to your intuition when doing so.
I also highly recommend going over to The Serpent Cast afterwards to check out Sarah’s episode on the podcast. Annabel, Sophie and Casey are already as hilarious as they come but there was something so captivatingly joyous and outright fun about Sarah joining in the conversation on everything from dick pics to numerology!
Sit back and enjoy this wonderfully open and vulnerable conversation between Sarah and I - it's a deep and juicy one...
Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Hi! I am Sarah Potter! I own my own art advisory and consulting business called SP Projects based in NYC, the most magical city in the whole world. I do a lot of things and every day is different. As an advisor, I help my clients build their private and corporate art collections to enrich their lives through the power of art but also place their money into a solid investment. As a consultant, I make “artists’ dream come true.” I help the artists I work with define their own ideas of success, set goals, and then totally smash them! I write artist statements, grant proposals, press releases, share my contacts and social media skills, and act as a liaison between clients for commissions and sales. I love curating exhibitions and dealing art through fairs and pop up exhibitions. I like to think of myself as a “Curator of Experiences.” I want people who attend my events to walk away feeling good, a little changed by a new perspective, and like they left the stress of their everyday lives in the ether. I want attendees to have a majorly psychedelic experience without the assistance of any substances. I am interested in the intersection of art, spirituality, and modern day mysticism. I follow my intuition and it never serves me wrong because by the way, I’M A WITCH. I use my magical practice in my personal life as well as my business. I have been reading Tarot cards for 21 years and I start every day by pulling a card which I share on Instagram (@Iamsarahpotter -follow me and I will follow you). After a lot of convincing, I am now offering Tarot readings under my roster of services and as soon as I opened this up, the return has been tenfold. I feel a sense of satisfaction and connection in this form of service to others that I had never even dreamed was possible. I am so thankful for that feeling and wish to continue wherever it takes me. I have a bit of a work addiction, can you tell?
"It is essential to surround yourself with good people
because having the support system that cheers on your wins
and picks you up when you’re down is so crucial."
I imagine you experience a lot of variety in your working day, how do you find balance/ structure whilst working?
To be honest, I really don’t. I have no work/life balance, and I am totally ok with that. You know that Drake song “Fuck a vacay I feel better at work”? That’s my life motto right now. I am at a point in my career where I am actually super psyched on everything I am doing and I want to see it all, do it all, and I want to be the best at it so I am doing it while I can! What is better than doing what you love with people you believe in and you are all making money together while trying to make this world a better place through art and magic??! It is a lot of hard work and I have made so many changes in my life so that I am capable of taking all of these opportunities on: I cut out all of the toxic people, I take my health seriously: I’m vegan, I’m sober, I meditate everyday. I have gone into the darkness and looked right into my shadow. I confronted and accepted her and now I live in harmony with her instead of pushing her away. I’m trying to live with as little fear as possible. It’s really fucking hard and all of this took a lot of intense work, but I think if you want to achieve greatness, you have to make a lot of sacrifices. Now I look around and my life is overflowing with love and support and inspiration every damn day. How dope is that? I wake up every morning super early and excited to work. How many people can say that? I feel insanely lucky, #BLESSED, etc because it was not always like that. I still have my bad days and my super intense days, but they are fewer and more far between. To get here, I have had jobs I hated, abusive bosses, nightmare clients, the works. I had to consciously change all of that and break my own patterns because no one could do it for me. It is also essential to surround yourself with good people because having the support system that cheers on your wins and picks you up when you’re down is so crucial. And you do the same for them, too! I love watching my friends succeed, it’s the fucking best. I work from home so I do try to make dinner plans with friends and hang out dates to clear my mind and re-charge. I love talking on the phone and connecting in person with the people I love. I really am addicted to work and sometimes I need to be reminded to take a break so if the hangout can double as work, though, it’s more likely to get me away from my computer so I bring a lot of friends with me on gallery visits for clients or as my date to events.
My number one advice, though, if you work from home: get fucking dressed and brush your hair in the AM. If you insist on wearing your pyjamas all day, make sure they are luxurious and fancy and please get the nicest robe you can afford. It really makes all of the difference. There are totally days where I am in my silk ‘lounging kimono’ all day because sometimes you even have to break your own rules. ;)
Much like many industries, the art world has so many possible roads to go down career-wise. Why did you decide consulting and curation was what you wanted to do and how can others discover the right path for them?
The art world barely resembles what it looked like when I was in college. Social media has changed everything which is wonderful and terrifying and leaves us in a bit of a “Wild West” situation. How is this all going to shake out? I am not exactly sure but I have a bit of an idea so I am just trying to stay flexible and innovative. Not having a physical space to be tied to helps. One of my strengths is being able to troubleshoot an issue creatively and efficiently so I can quickly react and transform with the flow. When I left my gallery job, I thought about everything I loved about my gallery work and how could I keep those parts while getting rid of everything I hated. I love working with artists and being able to translate what they are doing and creating it into a language that clients can understand. I write a lot: artist statements, press releases, critical reviews. I love all of that. I love curating and creating a conversation between different artists and individual pieces as they add up to a well rounded whole. I like involving the setting of the space into that conversation. I like to evoke a mood with my exhibitions. I want everyone to feel like art is for them: it’s not this exclusionary, lofty, unattainable thing. It is absolutely for you. Welcome!! Come in! Look around! Feel the magic!
My best advice for anyone who is trying to figure out their life purpose and career path is to think about what you would do with your time if money was no object. If you didn’t have to worry about getting paid, how would you spend your days? The secret is in there. We live in a time where anything and everything is possible, and we can create our own realities. It will most likely be a lot of hard work, but it is doable, and if it is your passion then it’s going to be so satisfying and worth it. I believe in you!
"If you work from home: get fucking dressed
and brush your hair in the AM."
Do you find that people feel inclined to open up to you more because of the spiritualism involved in your curation?
I do. My whole life, I have had so many conversations with people that end with them saying “Wow I have never told that to anyone else before.” I am not sure if it’s my spirituality, but I am a good listener, I can keep a secret, and I try to live without judging others. We are all on our own paths and that’s cool...I might not be able to join you on yours, but I hope you enjoy it. I am also so curious and such a voyeur...I want to know everyone’s secrets, the really good ones that you keep hidden away. I do have a lot of them stored up from over the years, and I promise I will never tell.
You’ve had years of experience in the industry…What advice would you give to someone trying to break into the art world today?
You must create your own opportunities. You want something? Go get it. It is very unlikely that someone is going to knock on your door and offer you all of your dreams in a nice package. (If someone does this, please let me know, and send them to my home next!) Do not be afraid to reach out to someone you admire professionally and let them know that. See if you can intern with them. Internships when done properly are so valuable. All of my interns have found me. They are strong, creative, powerful young women who let their dreams be known and I love that about them. Is there someone you want to collaborate with? Contact them and make it happen. We can reach anyone through social media now...the gatekeepers and all of the mystery is basically gone. Take advantage of that! We have to remember that no one is able to read our minds. (I am a freaking witch and even I can’t do that!) This is a lesson that goes beyond professions. Do not be afraid to say you want, how you feel, what you need. We, especially women, do not need to be afraid of being ambitious, aggressive, and dreaming up (and accomplishing!) the biggest dreams. Be prepared to work hard. This is not the industry for a 9-5er…it should consume you fully and in the best way possible. See as many gallery shows as possible and attend openings. Use Instagram to connect with other artists and creatives. Build your network and collaborate as much as possible. If you are an artist, treat that as the very real job that it is. You must be in your studio and creating and be disciplined about it. Get in there even if you don’t want to. (And by studio I mean, your bedroom, the tiny corner in your apartment, wherever it is creating. Don’t make excuses, just do it!) When things get hard, keep going. Be friends with other artists. You need each other. Have as many studio visits as possible, get some fresh eyes on that work! And please don’t make it so hard for me to find you. Update your social media regularly and answer your emails in a timely fashion. ;)
What stigma (if any) do you experience as a woman who runs her own business?
OMG SO MANY. I am not even going to tell you what some people have pulled with me in the past. (You wanna know? Email me, and I will tell you, and I will use their real names!) Honestly, the hardest part can be the delicate balance of emotions and when to allow their involvement in decisions. I absolutely believe you can be a strong business person while still being warm and kind. Showing and feeling emotion and compassion does not mean you are a doormat. At the same time, there is a time and a place where showing your emotions is appropriate and when clients are involved, you must have some self-control. After I graduated from college, a close friend and I were interns together where we had supervision and were completely in over our heads so we smoked a lot of weed and somehow got through while constantly joking that we were just like the girls on The Hills (we weren’t) with their glamorous internships (ours weren’t) and how much we wanted to be just like Kelly Cutrone (still do). And I still think about how Kelly famously said to one of the ladies, “if you have to cry, go outside” and I still think about that because you just cannot let people see you get rattled in a work situation. You must get through it, and you must do it with strength and finesse. We are all hiding in a closet or bathroom crying somewhere, some time at work, I know I have done it! You just won’t ever see it. My Moon is in Cancer! I feel EVERYTHING, I just don’t let my clients see it. I am a shrewd negotiator, I want to get the best deals for my artists and my clients, but man sometimes it still stings when I get called a bitch for that. The reality is, men do not deal with any of this. Times are changing, but change takes time, and I am encouraging all of the young ladies to be total bitches, just remember that it’s ok to have feelings, too.
"What you would do with your time
if money was no object?"
How did you find the process of setting up your own business?
Setting up your own business is hard! I had barely any idea of the bones of setting this up, but I had the perfect mix of naivety, stubbornness, and a strong vision and determination to make this happen. It was like a perfect storm. I think it is also essential to know if you have the financial stability to start a business. It is very real that many businesses fail and it can take a while to turn a profit. I made the decision that I did not want to take money from anyone in order to start SP Projects, and I also did not want to go in debt by taking on loans or credit cards so I sacrificed a lot of my 20s working insane jobs, boring jobs, service jobs, and bizarre hustles to raise the start up money to get my business going. I sprayed shoes in a bowling alley, I booked punk bands at that same bowling alley, I produced and starred in a traveling show with two of my friends where we played bingo and gave out sex toys as prizes, I house sat, baby sat, pet sat, I sold my old shoes to perverts on the internet, I assisted an artist, I sold merch for bands, I filed paperwork, I worked retail, I did ghost-writing, I did all of this on top of my gallery day job with the goal of having enough money to start my own business without having to answer to anyone. And any time someone treated me badly because I “only” worked in the service industry, I reminded myself of my goals, I didn’t back down, and I kept going. I sprayed those fucking bowling shoes and I made sure that I smiled at every guest because I knew one day I would be living my dream and all of that would be worth it. And you know what? It is! Also, everyone should work in the service industry. It gives you an appreciation for hard work and how to treat others respectfully.
There are a lot of really unglamorous parts to being the boss. Making the big decisions and handling all of the major responsibilities like taxes, accounting, budgets, numbers, and projections. I think it’s important to know your strengths and then hire a good team to handle your weaknesses. (Shout out to my accountant, the coolest insurance agent, my rockstar assistant, and my two hard working interns who have been sent by the goddesses because I couldn’t do any of this without you. I am SO grateful and appreciate you.) If you cannot afford to hire employees (which is a luxury...SP Projects was a very DIY one woman team in the beginning!), then you must get very well versed in Google and YouTube! Luckily the internet is a wealth of knowledge where everything we need to know is literally at our fingertips and accessible! It has done wonders for me, especially when I was starting out.
You not only run SP Projects, you also run Colour Magick classes. Although they’re both visual entities, they're entirely separate crafts as skills. What benefits do you see as a multi- hyphenate with different streams of income?
I work best when I have my hands in many different jars (is that the saying? LOL whatever it is). I have minor ADD and a short attention span so I need constant stimulation and challenges to stay at my most productive. My Color Magick classes get me away from my phone and off of my computer and connecting with people face to face. This class is meant to empower all who take it and remind you that the magic is within YOU, I just help you activate it. I think it so important to remember that now more than ever. I love when people who have taken the class follow up with me and share how they have used the power of color in their own lives to manifest all of their heart’s desires. FOR REAL! It’s not just color, it’s so much more. I changed my whole life with the power of color, and you can, too!
I have started doing more collaborations involving color magick including co-teaching a Sex & Color Magick class with my friend Kristen Sollee (author of Witches, Sluts, Feminists) which has been insane and amazing for facilitating conversation and connection through what we call “sensual synesthesia.” It’s such a blast and never feels like work because the groups that partake are always so open with their feelings and so much fun.
"Money makes things easier, but it doesn’t
make your problems go away."
Finish the sentence: ‘Success is…’
...how we define it and that definition is allowed to change. In art school, I said that I would be successful when I was getting fancy manicures as often as I wanted. (My hands were always wrecked back then.) I am still friends with people from that time of my life and they always check my hands when they see me to make sure I am doing well. I love getting my nails done in the flossiest way possible because I am from New Jersey and ‘more is more’ is my ultimate aesthetic…Plus it’s the only time that I am truly unreachable because it is physically impossible for me to access my phone. It’s the loveliest indulgence and a break to truly clear my head. Now, I define success as being able to do whatever I want, whenever I want. Money makes things easier, but it doesn’t make your problems go away. I love fancy shoes, but as I am getting older, those shoes get so uncomfortable, and I am valuing time so much more than anything else. Everyone I know is very busy so when someone shares their time with me, I do not take it for granted. If it’s a Tuesday afternoon and the weather is gorgeous, I don’t want to sit in an office or be in my apartment on the computer, I want to go to Tompkins Square Park and drink coffee with my friend Erik, take a walk, see art in a gallery for pleasure, and enjoy the moment. And I do that! Now that’s real success.
If like me, you have been totally captivated by Sarah: her philosophies in work culture, her outlook towards following your dreams and life in general, please follow her on Instagram, Twitter and on her website.
Image 1: Christos Katsiaouni
Image 2&3: JM Photo & Design
Image 4: Sarah Potter