Folks, being an artist means running a small business. For some reason artists have a hard time understanding this fact. They think that being an artist is some kind of pure en-devour divorced from the reality of things such as expenses, taxes, accounting, marketing and economics.
An artist is someone who produces a luxury good. These goods are sold for income and on the other side of the balance sheet there are all of the expenses involved in producing that good – gas, studio rental, time, material costs etc.
It is not enough for an artist to simply know their art materials and how to produce the product. That is probably 50% of the business. The other half is all of the stuff the typical artist seeks to avoid – the “boring” stuff like promotion, marketing, accounting, planning, taxes, logistics etc.
Earlier in my career I went to Boston University’s School of Management with a concentration in Marketing. We studied accounting, business strategy, market research, pricing, marketing, etc. But I went in with a strong entrepreneurial streak having made and sold various items all throughout high school. Later I applied what I learn in school and in a career in the publishing industry to my fine art photography business.
Certainly not every artist needs a degree in Business Administration to pursue a successful art career but these are the topics to study and understand though reading, workshops, seminars or simply asking the right questions to the right people.
Basic understanding of economics, the laws of supply and demand, certainly can go a long way to understanding how an artist can meet up with potential buyers of their artwork.
How does an artist get better at business? You become better at business by understanding the market, understanding the buyers motivations and understand the niche you represent in the market place.
A few resources:
* CreativeLive – CreativeLive: Free Live Online Classes (http://www.creativelive.com)
* Dogford Studios – Selling Artwork Archives – Dogford Studios (http://www.dogfordstudios.com/category/selling-artwork/)
* Book: Show Your Work
A few things to do right away:
- One thing to do right away is to start keeping track of your expenses. Income is just important but real income accounts for your expenses. You might find that you are selling your work at a loss after figuring out your time, gas, storage and cost of materials.
- Set yourself up as a legit small business and operate as such. Make goals and budget accordingly. Figure out where you need to promote your work, how much work you need to produce, what prices the market will support and the steps needed to take to achieve your goals.
- Create a five year plan. Where do you want to be in five years? Then break down the plan into 1 year, 3 year and 5 years goals. Reevaluate the plan every year and make adjustments.
- Identify your target market. Who is your buyer? Identify the buyers of your artwork and understand their needs. Why do they buy artwork? How often do they buy? Where do they buy? How do they buy? What needs does art satisfy to the them? You know why you enjoy producing art – what makes buying art satisfying to your buyers? How will you find these buyers? How will you get your art to them? Who will handle the transaction? Etc.