“Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and good business is the best art.” – Andy Warhol.
Starting a business is one of the most creative things you can do in life. You are creating something from nothing, using your imagination to visualise a dream and bring it to life. If you take a moment to look around you, everything that you see started with an idea in someone’s head…
As a professional artist, this concept appeals to me. However, business was not something I thought about much at the beginning of my career. It took me a long time to reach the point where I could make a living from my art, as business skills were not taught at art school. Yet, every artist must present their work professionally in order to be taken seriously, sell their work and reach their goals.
I graduated from art school all ready to go and start my career as an artist. However, that dream came abruptly to a halt when I realised, I didn’t know how to be an artist! I could draw and paint well, but I had no business skills and no idea how to set up a business.
Soon after moving to Australia from the U.K, I had the opportunity to rent a small studio space. I taught myself the basics of business and worked hard to develop my skills. It was tough in the beginning with a very inconsistent income, however I felt like I was on the right track.
The more I learned about business, the more I realised I needed to learn. In 2018, I had the opportunity to join Business Blueprint. I jumped at it, not knowing where it would lead, and it changed both my business and my life.
I learnt that business could be extremely creative! And artists needed to know this. I felt like this had to be the key to why a lot of talented artists never make it. I thought; if I can create an online business program just for artists, and build a community of artists who can all support each other, then together we can change the art industry for good! And so, This Business of Art was born.
Here are some of the ways I got creative about business:
Changing my mindset from artist to artist and small business owner was a breakthrough for me.
I have now had eight solo shows, sold hundreds of paintings, and built a large network of artists. I have shown my work in several galleries, and created a business I love. But best of all, I can give back to other artists and share what I have learnt with them.
If you are creative, the business of being an artist can be just as fulfilling as the making of your art.
Making it as an artist is not a mystery. It’s about having a mindset for success, understanding the basic principles of business, and taking daily action toward your goals. The artist who does these things consistently over time has a great chance at becoming a financially viable artist.
Building a list of customers and interested fans is the most important thing you can do for your business. An email list helps you take a hobby and turn it into a real business.
Getting serious about building my email list and email marketing helped my business survive during COVID-19. While all shows and events got cancelled, I worked from home and stayed in touch with my audience. I shared my work regularly, and sold my paintings directly, which maintained some cashflow.
I learnt that at its most basic level, business is the exchange of value. I have something that you want, you have something that I want. We discuss how much of my something I’m willing to give in return for how much of your something you’re willing to give.
I feel strongly that all art degrees should include a business component. These skills are too valuable not to have. Becoming part of Business Blueprint completely changed the way I thought about business. It is hard work of course, but also creative and fun, and their style of teaching made it easy for me to take action.
Learning how to communicate my art also helped with my marketing and sales.
People do not buy goods and services. They buy relationships, stories and magic. Being able to connect with my audience and share the making of my work increased my sales significantly.
In the past, artists relied heavily on galleries to take care of the business side for them. They submitted their work and collected a cheque at the end of the month (if they were lucky). They paid the gallery 50% commission on all sold work for this service.
These days, more artists are working independently from galleries, building their own audiences on social media and engaging directly with their customers. While keeping 100% enables more artists to make a living from their art, it brings with it new challenges of running a business.
A crucial part of building a creative business is leveraging social media, not only to grow your audience, but also to connect with customers and other artists. Social media is bridging the gap between artists and buyers. Never before has an artist had the power to engage directly with their audience.
Having an understanding of running a business helps create a more consistent income and cashflow, which enables artists to make more art and continue doing what they love doing the most – create. So I wholeheartedly recommend all artists take the time to invest in themselves as business owners as well as an artist. Having an automated business, good systems in place and a growing audience does wonders for your creativity!
HANNAH BLACKMORE BIO
Hannah Blackmore is an English Fine Art painter based in Hobart, Tasmania. Creating landscapes and seascapes, Hannah seeks inspiration from the environment around her. Hannah is an established member of the arts community in Hobart, and is passionate about teaching business skills to artists through her membership site This Business of Art.
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The Ultimate Business Checklist For Artists https://www.thisbusinessofart.com/businesschecklist @thisbusinessof.art