I've been asked numerous times about the business of art because it is different and can be difficult to connect in this life/business. After many years of trial and error, sometimes very good and sometimes very bad, I have found certain things to be true. I have learned that everyone's path to success is different because we are all wired so differently. Some teach. Others write. And still others create prints or license their work. I like to paint, to write, and to encourage art and artists so I exhibit, publish and work as an Art Program Co-ordinator. But in every part of my life as an artist, I have learned these valuable lessons:
1. Do the work of your heart & soul...unless you want to be in a business of manufacturing by creating things - whether it be sewing, painting, ceramics, dance...really anything creative - because you believe or someone told you that they may 'sell', you will become tired and frustrated very quickly. When you love what you do others will love it, too.
2. Do a lot of that work...create a series of pieces to not only build on your strengths but gives others the opportunity to know you. Series can mean different things to different people, whether that means utilizing the same materials, subject matter, colour palette, medium, substrate, etc.
3. Pricing can be the most challenging and I've been fortunate as I have received guidance from professionals but it is always good to research what others are doing. I have found that pricing per square inch, even though some pieces take longer than others or require more medium, helps me to keep everything sorted in my mind. Others price based their personal connection to the work but always keep in mind the cost of materials and time involved. I was also given wonderful advice from several successful Canadian artists some time ago...keep the small works reasonably priced as that way when your new patron can afford it, they will often invest in your larger works. Plus it's a wonderful feeling to be able to share your work.
4. Utilize the knowledge & expertise of others in your field of interest if you can...but remember to trust your own instincts. You should always feel comfortable with your final decision. And keep in mind never to invest what you cannot afford to lose.
5. Business cards can be created quite inexpensively. I never used to realize how important they are but am asked for them almost every time I'm out and about...and even if I don't hear from that person in the near future (or ever) it amazes me how often I am contacted because someone else connected through that initial business card. I deally I think that they should be a reflection of you and your work, which should also be a reflection of you.
6. Initially I spent money, too much in my thinking without a lot of return, on things like a website or shows but then was given the opportunity to attend a three-month Government of Canada business workshop where I learned how to create my own website among other things. The biggest things I learned about web design was to keep it clean, no flashing lights, no dark colours, and have someone else proofread what I wrote. When the screen is cluttered or difficult to navigate or upload many viewers will not bother, plus not everyone's browser (computer) can view those special items or colours. Several years ago I started on Blogger but then moved to Weebly two years ago because I wanted a website and blog all together. Weebly is easy to navigate and free though I did purchase my domain name (www.veronicafunk.com) many years ago and still utilize it. You can pay to add additional items but I'm happy with what it offers as is.
7. I used to send artist packages to galleries complete with portfolio (slides at the time) but now have everything (with a small portion of my portfolio) on my website. I also keep a Word document of my portfolio (photo, title, size, medium & date) in a binder. I have another binder for all the press I have collected through the years and a third for my gallery inventory. Because I never learned about any of this in college I found out through reading - my first great read was 'Taking the Leap' by Cay Lang about how to approach galleries. The biggest thing I learned was to make everything neat and tidy, to present myself and my work professionally as though it was a job application (which it really is), and to do research...visit galleries and see how my work would fit, see if the gallery wasn't representing someone who worked too similarly and to see how the space felt for me. Of the six galleries I had initially contacted, five called to arrange an interview.
8. A curriculum vitae (artist's resume) is really important to keep up...not only professionally but personally. It is really nice to be reminded of the things you've accomplished. And, believe me, unfortunately you do forget.
9. I haven't spent money on anything besides my supplies and business cards in years. The galleries I deal with advertise and along with my free website and facebook I send out quarterly e-newsletters through MailChimp. Because I was being asked so often what I was doing I decided to send out newsletters to share my excitement.
10. Finally, I have made it a habit to send hand-written 'Thank You' notes whenever I can. If not for those who support what I do, I couldn't do it as big, as often, and as long as I have. I am positively grateful.
Whether I blog, write articles or newsletters, I remember to speak in my own voice. I want to stay true to who I am and don't want anyone, ever to feel obligated to support my work. I want what I create to live in a home or business with someone who loves it as much as I do. It makes me feel glad and honoured when others respond to this work of my heart. I like knowing that my work lives 'out there'. I really do feel fortunate.
AIRdirondack Art Project