Moving From A Weekend Hobby To Career In The Arts


by Lise S Richards

Building a career as an artist takes hard work. Because the field attracts so many talented people, jobs in this field remain competitive. If you major in an art program at the university level, the focus is not on business, but in studio art, graphic design or humanities. So it's wonderful that you learn about how to perfect your skills in art - you need these skills. And, if you want to work for someone else, this education may be all you need to succeed. But many artists and creative professionals wish to sell their work independently from home. There maybe a looming gap in the education you receive in art class and I believe it is about basic business.

I've heard people say that you're a sell-out if you are distracted by tasks unrelated to creating your art. That may be true, but if you want to create your art, and put food on your table you will quickly understand that beautiful art does not sell itself. Turning your hobby into a career takes effort. Being a paid professional means you must understand and apply basic business practices.

While I won't bore you with a crash course on business, I recommend that you grab some paper and start by jotting down some general things you may wish to consider, as they relate to your creative arts business.

Business Strategy & Objectives - In this category, let's focus on your overall goals. When you're listing your goals, be very specific. Don't just say I want to sell my art, instead provide the details. Describe your art/product. Will you try and exhibit your work, or sell it from your private studio? Do you want to sell it - locally, regionally, or internationally? Will you focus only on one medium or will you diversify? Can you exhibit your art at a gallery, or is it commissioned public art for everyone to enjoy? What are some obstacles you face in producing or exhibiting your work? Make the plan work for your situation and be flexible. You'll find as you take action on your plan, things may change. Be open to that.

Sales & Marketing - Who does your artwork appeal to? Describe your perfect client. What do they read? Where do they go in their spare time? How can you get your art in front of them? At the very least you will need an artist's bio, resume and portfolio of your work. What other materials do you need to support your artwork - a website, print advertisements? Add a creative spark to your marketing materials to make it unique and memorable.

Promotion & Public Relations - This is a gold mine for an artist. If you don't have the budget for paid advertising, you can volunteer your time, teach classes, give seminars or speeches, and promote yourself and your work in other, more subtle ways. The goal here is to get your name out in front of as many people as possible. When they see you, they think ART. Produce press releases on your work, classes, seminars and exhibit schedules. Make sure you have business cards printed and give them out frequently.

Finance & Accounting - While this is often one of the hardest parts of writing a business plan, it needn't be too complicated right now. Price your artwork to reflect your time, materials, any overhead and your profit. Determine your current budget. What are your financial targets? How much of your profits will you reinvest in your materials and supplies? How do you plan to keep track of the money you make? Writing down your basic financial goals will make it clear what you need to do to achieve them.

Production & Operation - How much of your art can you reasonably produce and where do you make it? Can you hire someone to help with repetitive tasks? I'm not suggesting that you crank out art in the way a candy company produces bubble-gum. Instead, focus on creating high-quality art, using the best materials you can afford to use - and by all means make sure that is reflected in your final price.

I know that thinking about your art as a product takes all the romance away. But it is rather essential to do if you want to become a creative professional. You are your own company, you produce a product that is full of your creative spark, your imagination, and your ideas. Marketing your art product simply becomes the effort it takes to let people see and gain an understanding of your work. Make an impact with your gifts!



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About the Author

Lise Richards is the Executive Director at the Creativity Center, Inc., a creative arts education center and gallery. Her Aspiring Artist Program helps people develop their art and market it to a diverse audience. Visit the Creativity Center online at http://www.centerofcreativity.com.



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