Artists Can Make Great Business People September 29 2008, 0 Comments

Working in the arts, is a privilege. It can also be a challenge. With most other industries, one sells a product or service. It is either accepted or rejected and as a sales person, we either take care of our new client or move on. For artists, creating and selling a product or service is much more personal. Rejection is sometimes taken as a rejection of the artist, rather than the work. But there are ways to sell your work as an artist if you are willing to wear a business person’s hat and look at the selling of your art as a business rather than personal acceptance or rejection. The following are steps for making a successful business out of selling your art.

First, decide who you want to sell your art too. Who are your potential customers? Where do they live? How old are they? What is their average income? What is their educational level? Are you selling to individuals, or corporations? You will not be able to market your art to everyone. You will want to choose the segment of people that fits your type of art the best. The people you choose to market too must have a need to buy your type of art. What is that need and how can you fill it? What makes you stand out from other artists?

Once you have decided who want to market your art too, you will want to have a website that displays your work and is easy to navigate. In nearly every situation, when I am presenting my company to a potential customer, the first thing they ask is, “Do you have a website?” Sometimes, a potential customer will want to view your work before a meeting. So, it is important to have a professional web designer create a site that brands you as the artist but presents your work in a very professional manner. Do not use music or animation. It may look cool but your goal is to sell your art. You do not want the distractions of music or animation. These tools may make some computers slower to get into your site and potential customers may just log off!

Third, decide what product lines you are going to offer. How long does it take you to produce each product? How much does it cost you to produce each product? Do you have products that fall into a wide price range? The more limited your range of products and prices, the more limited customer base will be. Keep that in mind. It is not necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps you will be selling to people who will pay $5000.00 plus for each piece of your art. But you need to know how many of something you need to sell in order to pay the bills and keep your studio going.

Taking this information and creating a formal business plan is essential. No bank will provide financing without a sound business plan. There are many organizations that will help you with this free of charge. In most communities, a SCORE organization can assist you with this. Also, most states have a small business organization for the sole purpose of helping small businesses to get up and running.

While these steps are just a beginning, the internet and community resources can offer detailed suggestions. Your public library will also be able to assist you. We have a wonderful public library here in Charleston, complete with a well staffed business department.

There are no easy ways to begin a business, especially in the arts. It is only for those who like to eat, sleep and drink their work. I laugh when someone comments, “Oh you are so lucky! You own your own business!” But all that means is that we work longer and harder than most people we know. We pray for good economic conditions, keep the coffee pot on and have a steady supply of Excedrin! One thing is true though, working at what one loves to do is a privilege. You can probably make a living at it if you are willing to put the time in!