The secret to making a living as an artist is that there are no secrets. Artists find their own paths and each path is unique.
There are some qualities, however, that you must have:
And … a willingness to learn, adapt, and grow.
It also helps to have a positive outlook, people skills, and a grateful heart.
Elizabeth St. Hilaire has all of these – in spades. I have always admired her business savvy and work ethic.
I was delighted to spend 3 days with her recently. During a hike together, where we talked mostly about art and business, I blurted, Hey! We should do a podcast while you’re here.
So we did.
In this podcast, Elizabeth breaks down where she generates income (teaching, licensing, art sales, books, and DVDs). She also outlines the various teaching models that are available to artists today.
You thought …
It sure would be great to have someone help me with my art business. Any old warm body will be better than nothing.
Boy! I am going to have all of this extra time to work on my art and I won’t have to do anything else. (Scene setup: I think you were smoking somethin’.)
So you hired an assistant to work in your studio or office. Either would be fine with you.
Hooray! Your first hire.
Fast forward to the inevitable:
Yikes! What was I thinking? This person can’t do anything right and I’m spending too much time teaching him.
Wait just one minute.
It’s not the employee’s fault if he’s not a good fit. It’s your fault because you didn’t hire correctly in the first place.
Assistants can’t do a good job if they don’t know what’s expected of them.
The onus is on you, the employer, to get super clear on the person you want and need to help your art career grow.
You won’t get the right person until you’re certain what you want from them.
So stop deluding yourself that any warm body will do. The any-warm-body mentality usually results in wasted time and money.
Use this outline to write an ad that helps you attract the perfect assistant.
Artists tell me there is too much work to be the creative director, CEO, chief marketer, and social media manager of their businesses.
If you could wave a magic wand and have help in your art business, who would you hire?
What would their responsibilities be?
Would they help you in the office or in your studio?
Is it a single person? Or multiple people?
Do they need to work in your space or can they work virtually?
Since you’ll never get help until you define the parameters of the job, let’s start with those questions.
Doing business on a handshake seems to be the easiest and best way to do things – until we realize it was a really, really, really bad idea.
Putting terms and conditions on paper will save your butt.
And … I know that artists don’t always go to the trouble to get things in writing.
So, here’s what I want to know.
What situations/projects/venues do you have contracts for?
When do you do without contracts?
Have you ever been in a situation in which you would have been better served with a contract? (You kicked yourself by not having a signed agreement.)
Every day takes too much thought. – Gwen Meharg Gwen left this comment in our Art Career Success System private group. I was struck by her insight because I had been reading about this at the time. “Decision fatigue” is a real phenomenon in contemporary society. According to researchers, we make over 200 decisions per day about food alone. Just food decisions! I don’t know about you, but all of these decisions wear me out. As an example, I spent 3 months last fall researching espresso machines – dreaming of holding the perfect cup of coffee while still in my jammies. But I could never click the button to buy. My husband took me out of my misery. He decided on one, bought it, wrapped it, and put it under the tree. Best. Gift. Ever. No decision (on my part) was required. Don’t get me started on making travel reservations. I can’t stand to make plane reservations or to find a hotel. What if I book “the wrong” flight or land at the wrong airport? Don’t laugh. I recently did this when I was confused about a small airport name, and it cost me a lot of extra driving time. I contend that we’re happier when
The history of art is a history of artistic breakthroughs. Consider these significant achievements:
– Scientific perspective
– Oil painting, and then acrylics
– Abstraction (Gasp! Art doesn’t have to be a window on the world?)
– Collage (Huh? Glue paper on top of paper??)
– Constructed sculpture (rather than carved or modeled)
My first artistic breakthrough came in 1974 when I rendered a blue jay and cardinal in oil pastel. I’m an artist, I thought.
I wasn’t looking for a breakthrough. I didn’t even know what one was at that young age. I was just trying to make a pretty picture that my grandmother would like.
I had another breakthrough in college when I realized that I liked my art history classes better than my painting classes. Again, I wasn’t looking for a breakthrough or to change my major. I was merely trying to make it through another semester.
My biggest breakthrough came in 2001-02 when I listened to artists who were looking for help with their careers. I could never have imagined this line of work that has been so rewarding.
What Needs to Break?
The dictionary defines a breakthrough as …
Know that you are not alone in wanting to know the answer to this question.
It’s asked of me so often that I thought I’d throw it out to you.
Loyal reader Tami Bone put it this way …
How do other artists juggle or balance studio time with time to focus on marketing and business?
I find the switching back and forth to be difficult, and it seems I need full days to focus on one or the other.
So, what say you?
How do you find the balance? How do you divide your time between business and making art?
If you ever doubted that routines are important for doing strong creative work, read Twyla Tharp’s book, The Creative Habit.
What is your morning routine?
What do you do each morning without thinking? What do you wish you would be able to do in the mornings?
Do you rise and shine early? Or are you a late starter?
Respond on this first Curious Monday post.
Even if you work with a bookkeeper and accountant, as I do, there’s still much work to be done this time of year.
Every year I learn something new at tax time that I wish I had known in advance – insights that would have made the filing process much easier.
These three actions are a compilation of what I’ve learned from my experiences and those of my clients, which should eliminate some of the crazies around tax time.
1. Take charge of your business finances.
Don’t rely on a spouse to take care of your business finances. You, as CEO and CFO of your art career, need to know how to manage the money. You must take 100% responsibility for your future.
As sad as it is, I’ve heard many stories about people being duped out of their life savings by spouses who made poor financial decisions. These weren’t features in the paper or characters in a television exposé. These were artists and clients.
At the same time,