The Business of Art or the Art of Business

I have been meeting a lot of artist lately, all kinds of them, from painters, sculptors,  jewlery,welders and photographers. Many of them are creating a continuous flow of art and looking to sell their art to those who love what they do. Many of them have such amazing works, well worth hanging in galleries, homes and even museums.  They work hard to create their work, some are emotionally attached to the work and they want to get their art in front of the right clientele. But they don’t seem to have a clear plan for how they are going to accomplish their goals.

The more I talk to artists I come to realize they, like many business owners, don’t have a clear understanding of the business beyond their product. Some artists try to convince me they are not in a business, they are artists. I ask if they are trying to sell their products and they tell me that indeed they are. So, if you create a product, and you want to sell the product to customers, to buy more raw material to create more product, is that not a business? Of course it is! If you intend to sell something then you are doing business.

Just like every other business there is a need to have a few things in place, regardless of what you are trying to sell. A solid network of people who can help connect you to the people you need to know, a target market you want to pursue, and a sales process are all important to your ability to sell your work.  Here are 3 of the most important networks you can develop:

Your Support Network – these are the people who support you when you need extra help. They are more than willing to help you set up a show, mind the store, run the errands or help you in any way you ask them to. Often these are our friends and family.

Your Information Network – these are the people who help you get the information that you need to succeed in your business. For the artist, this may be attorneys, agents, managers, association heads, columnist, critics and so on. They can tell you what is going on in the industry, how to get things done and who you might need to know. They can direct you in invaluable ways. This is actually one of the most important networks an artist can develop.

Your Referral Network – these are the people who are willing to refer you to others who can help you, buy from you or identify other customers for you. They will support you in your social media, post your blogs, find other people who have a passion for art and refer them to you. This network has to be trained to help and you must to be willing to invest time and effort to help them in their businesses also.

Putting a system around your network will substantially increase your ability to connect your art to those who want your work. Once you have a strong network and a process around it, you must have a good process for your sales. When I go to art shows and galleries I watch and listen to how the artist sell their wares. There is no process, no questions being asked, no desire being created. So many of the artists,  like so many other businesses, have no training or concept of the sales process and without a good sales process few things get sold on a regular basis. As the saying goes, even a blind squirrel can find a nut sometimes, but that is no way to store up for the winter.

Like every well run business, the more systems you have in place the more effective you are going to be in your business, even the business of art!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *