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Living and Succeeding as an Independent Artist
How to succeed as an artist, ditch Corporate and become a full-time artist, or how to collect art as a business.Share Tweet LinkedIn Embed pszr.co/uLBfF 330 views
|3 publishers interested|
According to the 2016 Department of Labor Statistics there are only 53,400 jobs on the market for “Craft and Fine Artists”. Further, most of these artist’s average about $49,160. Yet there are so many more artists not classified properly by the government who slip through the support cracks. For example, Facebook lists 205,414,060 people that self-identify as an artist. This book is designed to help artists - not only build their brand - but move past issues that cripple them in business such a) procrastination and singular focus on content creation only b) disconnect between their art and what consumers want to buy c) how to setup a business and find funding d) for art collectors, how to find ‘sleeper artists’ who will increase in value. Because according to the Department of Labor and SBA, 8 out of 10 businesses will fail in two years, half in five and a third in ten – and for artists – those stats are even worse. Teaching at art schools and business colleges, my art students will fail at a more alarming rate than my business students – and I want this to change. Take away for readers are simple steps to building a brand in a more streamlined manner so they can focus on creating art content which is their passion – not business – plus tricks to overcoming common issues non-linear artists face such as procrastination, disorganization, emotional depression preventing work output, work/life balance issues and more. This book will connect with self-employed artists wanting to grow their business and generate an income, creatives in the corporate world that want to leave and start an art business, parents concerned their children are going to fail in art, and those wanting to collect art and need to understand artist branding and where to find ‘sleeper artists’.
Section 1: The Art Landscape
Chapter 1: Artists as Entrepreneurs
Chapter 2: Types of Creatives
Chapter 3: Education & Incomes
Chapter 4: Art and “art”
Chapter 5: Artist: Know Thyself!
Section 2: The Mechanics of Business
Chapter 6: Setting Up an Art Business for Success
Chapter 7: Setting Achievable Goals
Chapter 8: Standard and Unique Financing Options
Section 3: Technology and Resource Tools
Chapter 9: Procrastination Busters/ Sedona Method
Chapter 10: Good Habits via Technology Tools
Chapter 11: Making Lists and Checking Off
Chapter 12: Find and Respect People Who Keep You Honest & Focused
Section 4: Inspiration that Sells
Chapter 13: Concept and Product Development
Chapter 14: Market Research – Test Your Ideas
Chapter 15: Subjectivity vs Objectivity in Business
Chapter 16: The Problem with Being a Master
Section 5: Marketing Brand = Success
Chapter 17: Building a Marketing Brand
Chapter 18: Successful Networking Tactics
Chapter 19: The 5 Marketing Ps – Product, Place, Price, Promotion, People
Chapter 20: Contract Negotiations
Chapter 21: Digital and Social Media Efficiencies
Section 6: Art Collecting
Chapter 22: Understanding the Art Market
Chapter 24: Where to Find Sleeper Artists?
Chapter 25: What Creates Artist Value
Chapter 26: Evaluation versus Valuation of Art
Section 7: Information
Chapter 26: Helpful Tips and Planning Guidelines
Chapter 27: Resource Guide
Artists cannot be taught like business students yet that is how colleges are shifting. Artist entrepreneurs need unique case studies in a different language from business students. After a conversation about the struggling artist issue with a Director at the National Endowment for the Arts, she told me to write a book. So while they support the artist’s education, they acknowledge gaps in teaching and support artists as business owners. They also define artists narrowly when it should include all creatives such as hair/makeup artists, seamstresses, crafters i.e. quilters, knitters, and more. Even Chanel is buying up all ateliers because they are not self-supporting yet required in fashion. The Department of Labor lists about 53K formal art jobs, yet when placing ads on Facebook and Instagram, they list 205,414,060 individuals as self-identified artists that can be targeted for the book. Also, DeviantArt is a younger demographic between 12 and 24 who are starting their art careers and they list an audience, as of 2017, over 26 million members and 251 million submissions. There is also a built in audience of artist support systems including family, instructors, colleagues and more. Additionally, this population may not include creative professionals working in the corporate world who do so to pay the bills but looking to escape because they are creative and would prefer to do art than business. This book can be supported by seminars either as a lecture or workshop to help give artists structure by putting their learning into practical application.
As an inter-disciplinarian between Business and Art, Amy Keely combines both worlds into her work. She teaches classes in business/management, marketing, HR, photography and fashion merchandising classes. She holds a BA in English, MBA, Masters in Education and is a PhD candidate for a Philosophy and Aesthetics of Art Theory program. In 2018, she had her first year student paper "The Evaluation versus the Valuation of Art: An Artist Dilemma" published in the International Journal of Art and Art History and also publishes case studies and industry white papers in the corporate workforce management industry. She was published in a national fashion magazine for creative direction. Amy has dedicated her Instagram page to her photography but with a business focus and she currently has over 5,000 followers by targeting artists and the millennial generation plus she is dedicated to growing her Facebook followers as well. She has been a guest speaker at Veterans Biz Central (an SBA outreach), American Staffing Association, Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Chamber of Commerce Women’s Conference, MI Government Financial Officers Association and CWS Summit on the Gig Economy. She provides ongoing mentorship to her business and art students and for her art cohorts careers.
The marketing plan includes targeting both the artist and their support network via social media and through my guest speaking and lecturing to create brand awareness. Messaging would continue to show the link between art and business by providing case studies and inspiration. To target the artist, the primary sites are DeviantArt, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat for the younger demographic with Facebook trending older as well for other artists. On all these sites, I would continue posting inspirational messages using stories and my photography (because it connects with other artists) which I do with showing art and the business implications to average likes on Instagram of 300 per post. I would expand the use of video and podcasts (targeting the Millennial and GenZ generation) on all social media sites with links to my www.professorkeely.com site. The continued use of social media influencers would be used to grow awareness of all sites. All social media sites (including Soundcloud for the podcasts) will link back to www.professorkeely.com for consistency. Partnering with art colleges as a guest lecture could allow me to promote the book as a text addition to art classes and/or target art students. At a national business diversity conference - with a majority of the Fortune 500 businesses represented) – I tested out an art gallery exhibition rather than a traditional display. In this test study, a large proportion of business executives stopped to show me photos of their children’s artwork. The shared stories of their challenges and concerns for a viable income as an artist and relief when they get into art education. The overall reception was extremely positive. This provide evidence that targeting the support audience for artists including friends and family will be extremely successful because they also have the income levels to purchase the book as a gift. To target the support network for artists, LinkedIN is the business social media site. I have 1600+ connections which provides a 10M secondary network connections that can be targeted with support messaging. They can also be reached with corporate events for public speaking opportunities. Finally, from my market studies, there is a very high population of creatives working in the corporate world who would prefer to work as an artist but they need to pay the bills. This group would be marketed similar to the artist supporter audience. Messaging for the book should be targeted to each group separately and positioned appropriately. With these three target audiences, all can be reached through a speaking tours and social media. For artists, there would be workshops can be developed included to help them better understand elements of the book. This would also help diagnosis the artist type to understand if they could handle the business side of if they should seek business support.
Amazon Books. Studies show that an average 1% to 5% of purchases leave feedback. This looks at both art business books and entrepreneur books that may be of interest to artists.
The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business by Josh Kaufman $13.99 (4.5 Star reviews by 635 people) No academic or art credentialing listed nor validation of understanding of the art community, only entrepreneurial. "The Personal MBA" has been featured as the #1 bestseller in Business Training and Business Management on Amazon.com. The widely-acclaimed Personal MBA manifesto and business reading list has been downloaded over 3 million times by readers around the world.” Per Amazon.
Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence—and How You Can, Too by Gary Vaynerchuk $23.94 (4.5 Star reviews by 675 people) Author only has a real estate background and zero art credentials, only a Gold Stevie Award for Real Estate.
Art Money & Success by Maria Brophy (5 Star reviews by 171 people) $19.95 No credentials. Corporate business experience and left to be her husband’s art agent. No other academic or art credentials.
Art/Work - Revised & Updated: Everything You Need to Know (and Do) As You Pursue Your Art Career by Heather Darcy Bhandari and Jonathan Melber $14.99 (4.5 Star reviews by 114 people) No information on the authors for academic or art credentialing.
When I reflect on my six years of teaching at both business colleges and art schools, I realize that there are significant differences yet many similarities. Most profoundly, that my creative students need more business and my business students need more creativity.
While that may sound obvious, this problem is just coming to awareness at art schools based on student feedback. And yet, in their rush to help artists, they are missing many key factors that will lead to an artist’s overall success.
First, you cannot take an artist and shove them in a business or marketing class and teach them with case studies from beverage companies, global retailers, mega conglomerate organizations, or automobile manufacturers. They will grow bored because they cannot relate to the examples and you are not speaking their language.
Second, there is a truth in that statement that is profound because art does have a different language as I’ve learned taking PhD level courses in Art history and Aesthetics of the Visual Arts. For example, there is Art and then there is art – and that capitalized ‘A’ is a significant difference in the minds of the art community. As a hard-core business professional with a creative mindset, I feel like I’m back in junior high trying to grasp words and concepts that we NEVER use in business and industry. Never.
Third, that artists are cognitively different thinkers. If you are a business professional then you are linear process-driven thinker and if you are creative – you are not. Artists are non-linear thinkers and to train them to be linear thinkers is to take away everything beautiful about how their minds work.
As a business person, are they frustrating to work with professionally? Absolutely! The often cannot be pushed, work on their own timelines, they are highly intelligent, their work must have personal meaning or they are not engaged, they can be cluttered and disorganized mentally and physically but typically can find what they are looking for - eventually, they are more open and in touch with their emotions than business professionals as well as having many other key characteristics. A further complicating factor is that these characteristics are in varying quantities within each individual. This means understanding and supporting artists is highly individual and unique with some commonalities.
Forth, there are some creatives who also have taken business classes or who have linear business thinking mindset. But even they may still struggle and I see this with some of my colleagues. The closer you are to your creativity the further you are from the dispassionate and almost clinical approach needed in business.
Most critically, there is also a misconception in the education community about the type of support needed for artists. Their student feedback shows a demand for more business experience and they are just now grappling with how to give future students this support. But answer is not partnering with business schools but in developing a new educational model consistent with innovative historical models I will discuss later. This ‘gap’ is why there are so many more art students who do not go to school, who withdraw from school or who will find jobs in corporate, never realizing a career in the arts.
And that is at the heart of goal of this book. To help artists better understand what level of support they need to be successful. But if they do try to go it alone, how to provide easy a DYI success tactics they can use to help move them to the next level.
As college professor, and award-winning marketer, who has twenty plus (20+) years of global business experience - I can say with complete transparency - it is not business that they need – it is Marketing. Business is focused on the operational components of running a business – and don't get me wrong they are important – but not as hyper critical as Marketing is to growing a business. Because you can make amazing products or services but if no one buys – you will go bankrupt. On the other hand, if you sell but cannot deliver, you could go bankrupt but it will be through mismanagement of money not because you cannot make money. The truth is that there is an intersection and delicate balance between the business and marketing. But from my position, it is better to struggle filling orders then it is convincing people to buy your product and services.
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