Monday, September 19, 2011

Business Planning for Artists - Part 1

As artists we do not normally think of ourselves as business people. However, if we plan to make a living as artists we are indeed also business people. Recently, through direct E-mail and Twitter, I have been asked about business planning for artists. Business planning in general is a topic that could fill a completely independent blog or website. Here, I will attempt to be brief but still provide some basic information and direction so that you can begin to think about writing your own artist’s business plan.  Sorry, no pictures on this one.

For starters, there are a few fundamental elements that you must think about in order to begin to develop your written business plan for your art businesses. Carefully consider the following points; in a brief paragraph or two you should be able to describe for yourself and have a good basic feel for each of these basic elements:
  • What business are you in? Describe in seven words or less
  • Your Basic Values & Beliefs --- who are you really
  • Vision --- where do you see yourself in two, five or more years
  • Mission --- why do you paint (sculpt or draw) in the first place
  • Internal Strengths and Weaknesses --- what makes you different; make you less competitive
  • External Opportunities and Threats --- gallery or museum invitations; the economy
  • Competition (like it or not we all have competitors!) --- who are you compared to
  • Your Products and Services, Customers, and Markets --- quality matters; who are your clients/collectors; what markets do you play in---sidewalk art shows, galleries
Let me say this right from the get-go: I know as artists that it is difficult to think of our works of art as products, but to the art show art buyer or the gallery owner/dealer that is what our art represents. If you or the gallery can’t sell your work, you are out of business plain and simple! Take a good look at your work or have an unbiased person take a hard look for you. Is the quality of your work equal to or better than others already in the market place you want to play in? Are your artistic skills and standards as high as or higher than those you compete against? Your work represents and speaks for you and you are judged as an artist accordingly. So what does your work say about you?

I will have more to say about art business planning in Business Planning for Artists - Part 2, or as others ask questions. Until then, please feel free to make comments, or ask your art related question using the comments area. I welcome and appreciate questions and input.

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