It’s not enough for artists to bank on creativity alone – they need business skills to turn their craft into a sustainable career. Struggling artists who can’t afford an MBA can now learn the ins and outs of finance, marketing, taxes and more through a free online resource called Work of Art.
Developed by Creative Exchange, an arm of the Minnesota-based arts nonprofit Springboard for the Arts, the program consists of a 14-part video and workbook series for all types of artists, from painters to performers.
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Creative Exchange founder Laura Zabel says that budding Beethovens and Banksys may not have the most up-to-date marketing and financial information from school – if they had any at all.
“More and more artists need to be small business owners,” she says. “Far fewer are going to hire you (for) a full-time job. You need to know how to run your (craft) like a business, and unfortunately a lot of people haven’t had access to that kind of training.”
Zabel offers the following tips for artists who want to start thinking like entrepreneurs:
1.Find your audience
If you want your art to gain a public following, the first step is figuring out who, exactly, you’re creating for. Find the people who value and resonates with your work.
Does it mean money, fame, validation or something else to you? “Spend time thinking about what your goal is,” Zabel says.
3. Know your worth
Creative endeavors often require huge investments of hours and capital. “Understand how much time and what your cost is to make an object or performance,” says the expert.
4.Be a good bookkeeper (or hire one)
Diligently tracking your earnings and spending “can be a really important tool in helping your small business move forward,” Zabel says.
5.Draw up a realistic business plan
“Maybe (it) isn’t a business plan that looks the same as a restaurant’s,” Zabel says. Still, it may have similar categories, like market segmentation, goals, pricing and cash flow.