Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Setting up for business

So you have some paints, bushes and canvas in the spare room you call your "studio". Some of the canvas are now covered in paint and you're nodding to yourself these aren't too bad. You find yourself standing at a fork in the road . . . What now?

Am I an artist? Or is this a hobby? ???

This is what you want it to be. However if you keep painting and store your work in the studio eventually you won't be able to get in there to paint. Soon or late you need to decide what to do with the stuff? Do you give it to friends and family or do you load it in the trailer and toe it to the dump.  Noooooooooo!

How do you know if it's any good?  What about all the hard earn cash you brought your art supplies with.  The fork in the road might require you talk to other artists. So what do you know about art?  Do you visit art galleries and art exhibitions that are the result of competitions? Do you know local artist's what their producing? Do you know the monetary value of your work?

Artists make very interesting people to talk too. I say interesting because the longer you talk to an 'artist' the penny starts to drop is this a professional artists who has a professional and business like manner approach to their work or is this the new kid on the block trying to work out; whose who? What's hot and what's not?

Like most people new to the arts, there's those around us just wanting to blow their own trumpet's without testing the market place.  If all you want to do is create work this plan, is fine.  However if you're wanting to sell yourself as a professional you need to take a professional approach.

Step one is to listen too and observe other artists. Ask to visit their studio, take note on the tools they use, how the stored. If you see a piece of work you like ask them about the creative process. Where does the creative process start.  On the sketchpad or the computer?  How many drafts?

Fact many artists are self taught. As a self taught artists I knew nothing about canvas preparation and sealing work.  If you want to build your repetition and prolong the life of you artwork then prepare you work careful.  Theirs nothing wrong with being self-taught as long a your prepare to put your ear to the ground and learn trips.

Read! (or watch Utube) Read about other artists, how the set-up their studios, who were there mentors, how did the get started?  It's fine to fake it for a few hours at exhibition openings, but you need to be a professional in training.

Play! Play with different bands (especially if you work in watercolours) different brands behave differently and you should be testing paint reactions. Are supplies can be personal but generally you get what you pay for.  A professional knows how their tools work and how much the costs. Very few artists know their production costs. Then it comes time to price their work.

Accept! Accept that you're not going to live off the sales of your art.  But if you don't know what you're tools are worth, how can you ensure you charge enough.  Forget about hourly rates start by covering your costs.  Otherwise you paying some else for your love of making art.

One for business! If your in business then I assume cash is either going out, and hopefully coming as well.  Most business aim to have more money coming in than going out. As an artists it helpful to calculate your costs. A professional artists has a general feel to how close they are from even.

If you're entering competitions, working with professional galleries and applying for grants you might need an Australian Business Number and a separate bank account (then you know how much money your not making!) At least having the kit out said 'I am serious about my work.'

Then there's the business of telling people your in business.  Highly likely you're working from home. So how do people find out about you? Do you have an online presence and where is your point of sale?

Do you need a business card and at what point to do think of doing a business plan.  Ummm! The stuff the don't teach you at art school (if you went to art school)

For this I find working with mentor and networking essential. Otherwise you're stabling in the dark.  Business is still very much trial and error and try something else but working with others gives me a reference point and a sounding board.  A word of warning you want to whose your sound boards well.  You want people you know their stuff and are going to honest.  Someone who really respects you is going to push you to do your best, not just say what you want to hear.

So how do I spot an artists who's putting up the opening sign.  Simple, there sleeve's are rolled up, the apron is not only on but its got wet paint on it and their got noses in books and ears to the ground.

That's why I am passionate about professional development, because there's always more to learn and those who are eager to learn are generally those who are the most successful. Keep seeking out opportunities to learn from others!

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