There are no set steps that can take you from the beginning of your art career to the pinnacle of success.
I know you would feel much more at ease if I could advise you to first do this, and then do that, and then do this other thing, and if you follow each step precisely, you’ll be assured a spot in the history books. But I can’t do that.
What I can do is give you some sort of idea of the phases artists work through over the course of their careers: a timeline of artists’ career moves from just starting out to the highest levels of establishing and cementing a reputation.
First, a word of caution: Because an article is linear, you might read this and think that you have to implement one step before you can move on to the next step. This isn’t the case.
I can’t come up with a single artist who has hit on each one of these points.
Artists who are full of confidence and forging their own paths can jump past entire sections!
Hopefully this list will plant the seeds for your next move.
Beginning Your Art Career
Start your mailing list immediately. You will have no idea what to do with this, but trust me. Just
Your art opening is not the end. It’s only the beginning.
It’s common for artists to be bummed after an opening. So much work went into making the art, promoting the event, and installing it. No wonder you’re deflated when you wake up the next morning.
This is when you must soldier on. You have artwork hanging in a public space, and it’s the perfect time to get some things done that couldn’t happen if your art had stayed in the studio.
The fun starts now with these 5 To Dos.
1. Schedule a Photo Shoot
When your work is hung in a beautiful setting, you want pictures!
This is no time for amateur hour. You need fantastic photos to use in your promotions and to document the occasion.
Get photos of:
If you have exhibiting your art on your list of goals (as you should), you’re probably overwhelmed.
First, there’s the research into potential venues. As soon as you begin the process (and it is a process), you will uncover venues you never knew existed if you live in a metropolitan area. One leads to another which leads to another…
Which brings up the second phase of overwhelm. Once you have this list of possible spaces, how do you determine which ones might be good choices for you?
What makes a venue attractive for an exhibition of your art? Let’s look at the pluses and minuses of potential venues using the checklists below.
It’s surely too much to ask that one venue might meet all the criteria for being a desirable location. You will have to weigh the positive and negative of each space. What can you live with?
On The Plus Side
The favorable aspects of a particular venue might be that it:
It’s a New Year and new start.
Everyone is talking about either setting goals or why you should avoid setting goals or making resolutions at all costs.
I’m not big on resolutions, but I stand firmly in the “goals are good for you” camp. I’ve seen them work for my clients and know they’ve propelled me further than I would have been without them.
So, let’s set some goals!
I’ve adapted the questions from the annual review and The See Plan to help you set goals for the New Year.
Promise not to go crazy with the process. Aim for 3-5 big goals for your year. This list is a starting point.
It’s hard to keep up with weekly emails about your art business, so I thought I’d point out some things that you might have missed or forgotten about this past year.
These are 12 valuable actions, from 12 different Art Biz Blog posts in 2015, to help you grow your art career while staying sane.
Marketing Your Art
1. Reduce the Boring Factor: Add Variety to Your Marketing Message
Why it’s on the list: Please, for the love of Pete, read this before you send another email.
Your art exhibition, class, workshop, or event has so many facets that there is no reason to send the same emails and social media posts for your promotions. They get a little stale after a while.
I have some ideas for you.
I thought I could get by without a personal review for one year. Or at least I thought I would skip mine.
Then I thought that you probably don’t need a reminder either. Who will notice if I don’t send? Who has time to do a personal review anyway?
Then I thought again. (There’s been a lot of thinking going on.) It’s a terrible idea to skip the personal review. And it’s a worse idea to let you think it’s okay to skip it.
As an entrepreneur, it’s critical to review actions and to celebrate accomplishments before moving on to the next phase. We’ll never improve our results until we understand where we are and how we got here.
So, it’s time to look back on your year and assess your progress.
This year, try using the elements of The See Plan – the 8 C’s – to structure your questions: creativity, commitment, clarity, community, connection, confidence, completion, and celebration.
Grab a notebook and a pen and get started.
In 2000 I had been working in art museums for 10 years and had a great job as a director of education.
And I was miserable.
I had a choice. I could keep being miserable, or I could do something about it. I chose the latter. The next year I sold my house and donated many of my belongings. Then I packed up a U-Haul and moved to a small garage apartment in Denver.
I started an art-consulting business and was instantly happier.
I had no steady paycheck, no health insurance, and no idea how to run a business. But I was blissfully happy.
I chose happiness over the security of a museum job.
It was rocky in the beginning, but I kept getting requests for help from artists I had known in my museum career and others who found my art-consulting business online. I chose to listen to them.
I could have easily held firm to my original plan, but I made a different choice that has worked out pretty well.
Choice v. Sacrifice
We often think that building an art career requires sacrifice. You might sacrifice:
1. The janitor who cleans your gallery or apartment lobby.
2. The housekeeper who does good work, so that you can focus on your good work.
3. The gardener and lawn mower who tend to the outside of your space.
4. The tech person who was so patient with you when you thought the world was falling apart.
5. The person at the shipping company who “gets” that your art needs white-glove treatment.
6. The mail carrier who delivers important correspondence and packages.
7. The coffee shop owner who lets you mooch wifi for two hours in exchange for a $5 cuppa joe.
Most business and marketing plans are linear, and most artists are anything but linear.
What if, instead of having a traditional business plan, you nurtured a holistic approach to your art career?
That’s what I want to help you do with The See Plan, a new tool to help you see your art career in total. I want you to see that a successful business is not all about making and marketing (the M’s).
The See Plan: 8 C’s for Getting Your Art Seen is circular rather than linear. You need all of the C’s for a healthy business and balanced life, however you define these.
Let me tell you about the 8 C’s.
Everything begins with the art. Without the art, you are not an artist.