On March 27, Clifton Henri ’01 visited the Clarke University campus to share his experiences and help promote his photography exhibition in the Quigley Gallery. His Artist’s Talk, “Artist Entrepreneurship: How I Made $40,000 in One Weekend” described his path not only as a professional artist, but how he markets and sells his work.
Aimed at students in the university’s Art + Design program, the informal presentation welcomed questions from the audience and covered everything from understanding how to present and price pieces, to finding your audience through galleries, festivals, and other avenues.
“Sometimes people worry about chasing audiences,” Henri said. “My best advice is to create authentically, and people will find you. You may not know the time or place, or even how a piece will speak to someone, but if you create work that means something, your circle will continue to grow.”
Based in Chicago, Henri is an award-winning photographer whose works focus on representation and identity, especially of the Black community. He received his bachelor’s degree in Communication from Clarke University and a Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from The Savannah College of Art & Design in Savannah, GA. Henri began his professional career as an Art Director before becoming a full-time independent artist. He now exhibits across the country in art festivals, including Old Towne Art Festival in Chicago, New Orleans JazzFest, LA, Cherry Creek Art Fest in Denver, CO, and many more.
Henri also spoke to the challenges of being a Black man in the art community, and how some festivals suffer from a lack of diversity and representation. For Henri, that lack of representation serves as a catalyst to create new works from his unique perspective.
“Intentionally focusing on portraits of Black and Brown people and the environments they live in; I visually illustrate and narrate the African diaspora using my own personal experiences and feelings as fuel,” Henri states on his website.
I want my photographs to speak in a language that inspires empathy, empowerment and strength while embracing themes of social justice, cultural currency and the power of perspective.
Henri’s exhibit featured a wide collection of his works, including “Wings” which was photographed on the Clarke University campus in 1999 and remains one of Henri’s most popular pieces. You can find his work at cliftonhenri.com.
To learn more about other upcoming Arts @ Clarke events, visit clarke.edu/artsatclarke.