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.
The world loves labels. And, yet, many artists would walk a mile out of the way to avoid a label.
Just for fun, though, try on the label “entrepreneur.”
I am an entrepreneur.
I think you, too, are an entrepreneur, but I’m not sure what you think about that word. Let’s find out.
Are You An Entrepreneur?
Without getting into the official definition of the word, do you relate to the word “entrepreneur”?
What comes up for you if I called you an artist-entrepreneur?
Do you describe yourself as an entrepreneur?
What would it take for you to feel more like an entrepreneur? Is that desirable?
Do you buy products, classes, books, and programs for entrepreneurs?
Can’t wait to hear what you have to say. Just leave a comment below.
Community is essential for artists. Not just for your well-being, but for the well-being of your art.
In this episode, Michael Keen and I talk about his background with artists’ communities and the value of community. In particular, community can provide:
– Constructive feedback
As you’ll hear, other things came up.
Some time ago, I learned to block out days for no scheduled calls or appointments.
These “free days” are rarely free, but they allow big chunks of time for tasks such as writing and planning. They are usually Mondays and Fridays, which means my Tuesday-Thursday calendar is pretty jam-packed.
I prefer afternoon client calls to morning client calls so that I can catch up with my team in the mornings.
I leave Monday mornings for recombobulating after the weekend, and Fridays for writing and art-viewing.
How about you?
How do you organize your week for maximum productivity and inspiration in the office and studio?
Ready for a new website?
Yes, you could do it yourself by using any of the template sites available. But when you take the step to have a site thoroughly customized to your branding and goals, there are things you can do to lower your monetary investment.
Designers can’t pull together a design from nothing. They need you to do your part.
When you do this, you will save money and have a more harmonious relationship with your designer. Here are four steps to get you started.
Step 1: Research
Look at other artist sites. When you find one you like, deconstruct it to figure out why you’re drawn to it.
When you’re on a site that you find attractive, is it because of …
– Font (styles and sizes)?
– Layout of pages?
– Image sizes?
Also, know which features you want on your site. Do you want a blog? An eCommerce platform? Email sign-up?
You should also be researching your designer in this phase.
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.)
You have a sales force right under your nose: your collectors.
The people who loved your art enough to buy it and live with it are your biggest fans and are probably itching to share your art with their friends, families, and colleagues.
Help them out!
Your first step to turn them into an art-selling brigade is to stay in touch with them. Sending email newsletters, private emails, postcards, and holiday and birthday cards keeps your name in front of them.
People are more likely to remember to recommend your art if you remind them that you’re still working in the studio.
Here are some ways you can make it easy for people to promote you and your art.
Suggest an unveiling.
Collectors are proud of their acquisitions, especially if it’s something they’ve commissioned. Gently suggest that they host an unveiling of your art.
With their friends in attendance, you can yank off the black fabric and give a little talk about the piece.
Be ready with business cards, brochures, or flyers about your work.
Have a show in a collector’s home.
Everyone likes to help out artists! If your collectors live in homes that