Abbey Drucker on The Business of Art
The charming, playful and incredibly talented photographer has turned a lifelong passion into her day job—and here, she tells us how.
Bellmore, New York
MY FAVORITE APP IS
Sun Surveyor—it tells you exactly when and where the sun rises and sets
I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT
I RECENTLY READ
Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser and Art/Work by Heather Darcy Bhandari and Jonathan Melber
FOLLOW ME AT
@abbeydrucker on Instagram and Abbey Drucker Photography on Facebook
“I can close my eyes and remember that moment as a little girl,” Abbey Drucker says of a spontaneous third-grade photo session that cast a vision for her future career in photography. “Fast forward to sixth grade, I lined up my girlfriends in their bikinis alongside a pool. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was composing a fashion shoot.” At 16, Abbey made the decision to go all-in on her dreams of becoming a photographer. She quit playing sports to spend more time in the darkroom working on her portfolio, and she focused her college applications on art schools. At 18, she moved to New York. Abbey’s persistence paid off—she’s traveled the world, worked with the top names in the business (Vogue, Vanity Fair and Capitol Records, among them) and shot everyone from Emma Stone to Adam Levine and Steve Buscemi. “I wake up every day and I love what I do. It’s hard work, but it’s a really beautiful life.” We sat down with Abbey and asked her to fill us in on the ins and outs of pursuing a dream and parlaying a passion into a legit, award-winning career.
1. Get hands on experience.Seek out successful people who are doing what you want to do. I interned for Ellen von Unwerth. At the time, she was one of the only women in a business dominated by men, and I loved that. I literally called her studio and said, “I’m a photographer, I’m just out of college. I have a portfolio and I’d like to meet.” Everyone needs assistants—every photographer, every studio manager. Every museum and curator needs help in some way. If you want it badly enough, go out and get it. Walk into a Chelsea gallery and say, “Here’s my resume, let me know if you’re interested.” Go to art shows, go to museums. Know new talent. Get in the loop.
2. Find a muse.
Surround yourself with people who inspire you. Whether it’s family or an interesting friend, find someone you enjoy photographing and work with them regularly.
3. Feed your art—even on the slow days.
As a freelance artist, the inconsistencies can be scary, but you can’t let that get in your way. There are days I wake up and say, “Holy shit. Last month was amazing. Now what?” If you don’t have a commissioned project or something that’s making you money, meet with someone or create something that’s going to feed your business and help you in the future.
4. Take care of yourself: body, mind and soul.
You will be on the go, dedicating many, many hours to creating the art and world that you want. It’s time away from family and loved ones. You have to make time to recharge. You are the one person who will be most passionate about your work. If you get run down, you won’t be performing at your fullest potential. Rest and meditation can be one of the most refreshing things to do for your career.
5. Be smart about your business.
The art world seems very fun and easy breezy, but when you do it professionally, it becomes a job. You’re not just going into the mountains and taking a photograph. Half of your work will be creating, and the other half—more than half, really—has to operate like a real business: tracking invoices, generating estimates, budgeting, accounting, taking meetings and appointments, managing a team. Scheduling is incredibly important: set aside blocks of time and say, these three hours are for accounting, these two hours are for going through receipts.
6. In social media, you are your brand.
An artist used to have to appear in a major magazine to get noticed. Now, you can open an Instagram account and see that this girl is super passionate about travel. This account is really dark and sexy. This girl has great food photography. Instagram, particularly, is a great platform for sharing, learning and exploring other people’s everyday visions.
7. This one's for the moms: be cool.
You never know what can come from passion at a really young age. I love watching moms be organic with the idea of child development, and letting their kids explore. There’s so much kids can do when they’re not surrounded with the latest high-tech toys and games. Let them get dirty. Help your kids find something that excites them and just let them dream.
Portrait by: Hanuk Hanuk
Instagram photos courtesy of Abbey Drucker