Thursday, August 28, 2014

What I did at Summer School aka the Artist as Entrepreneur program

I've been planning on blogging about the program I undertook in the early days of summer.  It's a program run through the  Arts Council of Baton Rouge via Gene Meneray from the Arts Council of New Orleans.  I wavered a lot on my decision to apply for the class, but finally, on the last possible day, I sent in my application.

I learned a lot from the class and, most of it, I have only started to put into effect.  Marketing yourself and your art as a "Brand" is a long term process.  An art career cannot be built overnight.  

I went into the class looking for more knowledge about selling my work online and learning about social media.  I really didn't learn as much as I wanted about social media or online art sales, but I glimpsed a future and a potential for my work that I hadn't even considered.

Digital art is one of the newer kids in the art world.  It doesn't require the same skills as painting or photography and more traditional artists will never treat it with the same respect.  Digital art requires a skill set all its own, but as a digital artist, I had gotten the impression that some doors would always remain closed to me.  By the end of the Artist as Entrepreneur program, I realized that the only real limitations for my work were the ones I created for myself.

My personal insights aside, I think I should start with a truly pivotal moment for everyone in the program, that came, interestingly, on the final day of class.  One of my fellow artists asked what the success rate actually was for artists that graduated from the program.

Our instructor responded that 25% become superstars, 25% do very well for themselves, another 25% are able to support themselves as artists, but 25% are never heard from again.

I think all of us silently asked ourselves which percentage we would end up in.

Rolling back to Day One.  We had a bit of a mixer.  Everyone introduced themselves.  We talked about what we hoped to get out of the program.  We all turned in our current resumes / Artist Statements / Biographies.  We discussed that over the course of the program, we would learn how to improve all of these.  

I certainly ended up with a much better set of professional documents than I had going in to it

Our assignment for the following week was to work on our "Business Goals WorkSheet" that came with our class binder.
 Rouge via Gene Meneray from the Arts Council of New Orleans.  I wavered a lot on my decision to apply for the The worksheet is basically a way of gauging your expectations, setting goals, and what tools you intend to use to achieve your goals.

As a sample, I set my initial goals as 1) Establishing an internet presence ; 2) Making more consistent and better sales; 3) having a clear vision of my brand (a brand is a consistent and cohesive body of work, probably at least 12 pieces)

The worksheet asked how we would gauge out progress.  I figured that I would know from generating more sales.

The worksheet also asked us to brainstorm potential roadblocks.

The worksheet asked us to consider what we are really selling when we sell our art.  (The idea is that you aren't just selling something that your client hangs on the wall.  You're selling them a story about the buying experience.  You are selling yourself as an artist and YOUR story.  You are selling your art as a potential investment, as something that conveys pleasure to the viewer, etc.)ss, but finally, on the last possible day, I sent in my application.

 Finally, what are your marketing materials?
You need an artist statement, business cards / postcards.  If you're participating in an artist market, you should have booth signage.  You need a resume and a biography.  You need a professional website, and a Facebook business page.  In order to best make use of social media, your business should have an instagram, a twitter, and a tumblr account.  Also, you should start to establish a email list so that your fans can stay informed of your activities - where you will be appearing and where your new pieces will be on display.

It was a lot to take in and consider.  

Don't think you need to do all these things right this very second.  Just start with one at a time.  Give yourself room to think about who you are as an artist and to flesh out your personal story.  It's every bit as important as the work you create.

          My personal expectations for my own potential slowly began to shift and grow. a