How do you think about being creative versus the business aspects of success, like marketing? Do you see them as separate, even mutually exclusive?
Do you think of creative expression as something more “spiritual” or “pure” than sales or business?
We may see and read about many examples of successful – even extravagantly successful – artists, but they are usually celebrities, and mostly not solitary creative workers.
There is not much media attention on the millions of creative people with careers in film production, book cover illustration, fashion design, video game creation and so many other creative occupations – many of them often working as entrepreneurs, responsible for their own achievement and success.
Many creators probably don’t think much about the value of marketing to get their ideas and creations out to a wider audience, to have more impact and success.
It’s something I’m thinking about more, with a new year commencing, and a continuing need to create income – especially as I don’t get paid directly for any of the research and writing of my blog posts here and on other sites.
Combine multiple talents
In her article Combine multiple talents to become a successful artist, Andrea Kay addresses possible attitudes about being creative.
“So you want to make music, act, produce films, design fashion, dance or write movies?,” she writes. “No sweat. That is, if you tweak your thinking a bit.
“That includes eliminating the term ‘starving artist’ from your vocabulary. For one thing, if you think that’s what you’re getting into when you pursue a creative career, well, that’s what you’ll get. Just as predictable is the possibility for success if you can envision a wider path – not limiting yourself to a particular title and, you’ve got them, combining multiple talents.”
She cites the example of Nick Radina, who “plays guitar, cuatro and percussion and is also a singer, composer, band leader, sound engineer and public-relations master. He wears all these hats to be a successful musician.”
“It’s not just how well you play your instrument, it’s about treating your career like a business,” he says.
Kay comments, “Musicians in particular understand the advantage of combining multiple talents. A professional musician might be a composer, performer, teacher and an arranger, says Elaina Loveland in her book Creative Careers: Paths for Aspiring Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers.”
Andrea Kay is author of Life’s a Bitch and Then You Change Careers: 9 Steps to Get You Out of Your Funk & on to Your Future.
Especially in the current economy, you may need to be more proactive about promoting your creative work – and yourself.
There are many ways to realize an income from your creative interests.
Valerie Young points to a number of ideas on her site Changing Course, and in her articles such as Want to Work for Yourself? Those Dream Jobs Don’t Just Happen, They’re Created, in which she mentions a speaker at a Rotary Club meeting who “had to cut his presentation short because he was being flown down to Disneyland to carve elaborate Halloween pumpkins for the park festivities.” The various Disney Company entities hire many thousands of creative people.
Art careers consultant and author Alyson Stanfield writes in a recent post (“You Are in Charge”) on her site ArtBizCoach about how important attitudes are for successful artists.
“There are six principles of no-excuse art marketing that guide my teaching and my book. The first principle, I believe, is the most important. It states:
“You are in charge of your career. You have control over words, prices, artwork, and your image. People will take as much from you as you give them, so guard this power to remain in charge of your destiny. Accept 100% responsibility for your actions and make no excuses.
“It might seem as though your power is in the hands of galleries, curators, granting agencies, collectors . . . anyone but you! But all of these people have only as much power over you as you give them.”
She quotes from the book The Success Principles, by Jack Canfield:
“You only have control over three things in your life – the thoughts you think, the images you visualize, and the actions you take (your behavior). How you use these three things determines everything you experience. If you don’t like what you are producing and experiencing, you have to change your responses. Change your negative thoughts to positive ones. Change what you daydream about. Change your habits. Change what you read. Change your friends. Change how you talk.”
Better business skills for more success
Elia Woods, an Oklahoma City artist, has worked with Alyson Stanfield, consulting by phone and e-mail on how to develop her business plan and market her fiber art and glass earrings.
“As an artist, my weak areas were marketing and the business aspect of selling my artwork,” Woods said. “I have put a lot of energy into learning my artistic skills but not a lot into the business side.”
Woods said working with Stanfield was hard because it made a lot of work for her and took time away from creating art.
The effort was worth it, however, because it has helped her get her work into local and national exhibits and her jewelry is now selling at stores in the state and nationwide. Stanfield also helped her design a brochure that landed her a teaching spot at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
“Marketing to me was terrifying,” Woods said, “But Alyson was very positive and very enjoyable to work with.”
From my Inner Entrepreneur post Business Success for Artists – ArtBizCoach Programs.
Learn more about Stanfield’s programs for artists – including her book “I’d Rather Be in the Studio!” – at her site ArtBizCoach.
Not even thinking about an audience
In one of her posts [The Eternal Battle between Art and Marketing (and Why the two Needn’t be at War)] on her site, Emilie Wapnick reports part of a conversation she had with Scott, a photographer, who admitted he has “trouble marketing my stuff. I like creating art for me. I don’t want to even think about appealing to an audience.”
Wapnick replied that she understood, and said, “But creativity and marketing don’t need to be two separate things. The key is finding a motivation or theme behind your work– something that is both personal for you, and resonates with other people. Then you express that theme and allow your work to stand as an example of it.”
She wanted to post about this conversation because she thinks “it represents a really commonly held belief held by artists: that art and marketing need to be separate and distinct, and that art is this creative and beautiful activity, while marketing is about selling or changing your vision to be more commercially appealing.
“This idea may have been true in the past, but the face of marketing has changed radically in the last five years.”
She adds, “It’s important not to see marketing as an altering or dumbing down your vision. Instead, see it as an opportunity to better communicate the meaning of your work and touch more people.”
She notes that she goes into these ideas “in depth and provides a number of exercises to help you find your overarching theme” in her book Renaissance Business.
Another site with programs and products for creative entrepreneurs is Artizen Coaching by Jennifer Lee. One of her courses is The Right-Brain Business Plan. Visit the site and click “About” for her free newsletter.
Also see the site for the 6th Annual smARTist Telesummit 2012
- “The Professional Development and Career Conference for Visual Artists” – January 26 thru Feb 3.
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Last reviewed: 25 Jan 2012