"Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art." - Andy Warhol
“Stress is caused by being 'here' but wanting to be 'there.'”
— Eckhart Tolle
Stress is caused by being here but wanting to be there. I would add that not even knowing how to get from here to there adds another layer of stress.
When I consult and coach artists on developing their businesses so that they can sell more art they are most often working out of sequence and therefore their business focus is blurred.
Look. There's no sensible cookie cutter approach to developing any enterprise but businesses do evolve in a general sequence.
Recently I was consulting with a painter. She's talented, she works hard, she is industrious, and taking action is not her problem. In fact, she has been taking industrious action for about 30 years and still she is struggling trying to make a living as a painter.
The problem? Her sequence has been off. She has four damn websites. Yes. Four. Each a separate attempt to market her work while each to a degree is compromising her creative integrity. This is the first sign of things gone astray.
Once, a venture capitalist friend, Dr. Raul Deju, reviewed my business plan. Yes. Artists need a business plan. He told me that when he funds businesses he looks for two qualities in the entrepreneur, passion and focus.
Artists generally have the passion down and artists are very capable of creative focus but focus can drift in their business efforts.
Why? They don’t know how to get from here to there. And don't feel bad. They don't teach you this stuff in art school and generally the art majors don't hang out with the business majors. It's too bad. Let's not pretend, fine art is big business.
So how do you get from here to there? What I learned the long hard way is the sequence below.
Establishing these general milestones will save you an extraordinary amount of time, money, and effort and you may even thrive as an artist.
- Have a substantial body of work that demonstrates your unique talent.
- Articulate your creative passion (hold the boring artist’s statements.)
- Create a Blue Ocean Strategy.
- Define your unique value proposition.
- Define your target market.
- Write a business plan.
- Run the numbers and set up your accounting. (Prove that their is a profit. This is about making money not just selling some art.)
- Write a marketing plan.
- Create a graphic identity program. (Usually DIY. Don't do it yourself, it's like cutting your own hair.)
- Launch an eCommerce site. (Usually DIY. Don't do it yourself, it's like cutting your own hair.)
- Define an annual SMART goal.
- Outline an annual Action Plan.
Here’s the sequence that the painter I spoke with followed.
1. Articulate your creative passion. (Artist's statement.)
2. Create a graphic identity program. (Did it herself.)
3. Launch an ecommerce site. (Did it herself.)
4. Launch an ecommerce site. (Did it herself.)
5. Launch an ecommerce site. (Did it herself.)
6. Launch an ecommerce site. (Did it herself.)