Is it possible to turn an artist into an entrepreneur?
Take the hardworking cake-maker, painter, potter, pasty baker, knitter and writer…typically solitary and individual geniuses. But add into the mix all of the fundamentals required to run a business, such as marketing, copywriting, accounting, HR and sales, and have you really got a recipe for success, or do the business practicalities submerge the pure act of creativity and art into the murky mud of factory production?
To create the unique, the individual piece, is to produce an item of great attraction. It takes vision and inspiration. The art is the process. Today though, to make money and to generate interest in the product; requires time spent on publicity, trade, networking, social media and branding.
Could turning into an entrepreneur therefore mean the death of the artist? Does all the business codswallop erase the essence of the artistic spirit and original idea?
Most artists and craftsmen aspire to live off their creativity, to create a sustainable business that enables them to work every day on their passions. But is there is a trade-off to getting well-paid? Can you really avoid the market and its sticky web of entanglement without looking like you’re selling out? Yes you can look for a gallery, third-party institution or agent to hide behind. But these days to approach and communicate with these organisations you still need a professional portfolio, a long line of stock, pricing and brand. You can’t afford not to be your own boss, after all what else are you going to do? Give up your art and get a job instead? Entrepreneurialism is a necessity.
Don’t despair. There is light. The web can enable you to set up shop, sell your paintings, pasties and cakes, and communicate, without buying premises or standing behind the till. You can also sell direct, without the need of a gallery taking commission. YouTube, Pinterest and other social media can also help you to get your name out. But even so, you still can’t avoid branding, writing, building up an audience, choosing online marketplaces and using online advertising such as Google Pay per Click etc.
So what can you do? Should you be spending hours at your craft, or spending hours attending meetings, writing content and networking? It’s probably a balance of both and employing a good marketing agency may be the answer to taking the weight off the business side of the scales. By good, we mean support that understands the essence of you, your art and your vision. Let their copywriters handle your web content; give up the promotion to the PR and let them get you in the Guardian, or on the best-seller list. Give yourself the time to keep making and forget how many ‘likes’ you’ve had on Facebook.