When most artists start to sell their art, they don’t think of it like a business yet.
They’re just selling a couple pieces to make room in their studio to create new work. Or they’re excited to bring in some play money on the side.
And that’s totally fine! It’s great, even, to start off selling your art with a relaxed attitude.
BUT IT DOES BREED THE PROBLEM THAT WHEN YOU DO START TO TAKE YOUR ART BUSINESS SERIOUSLY, IT’S TWICE AS HARD AND SOMETIMES IMPOSSIBLE TO CRAWL OUT OF THE MESS.
Naturally, I liken the foundational systems and strategies in your business to the physical foundation of a house.
A good foundation doesn’t just keep the house up, though that’s crucial. It also keeps moisture out, insulates the home, and helps it stay sturdy when the earth makes those slight shifts over time. And it has to be trusted to last since you can’t go knocking down your house, ripping out foundation, and rebuilding everything every few years.
SO IF YOU HAVE A BAD, OR EVEN MEDIOCRE, FOUNDATION IT CAUSES MAJOR PROBLEMS.
But in your art business, a mediocre foundation doesn’t just cause major problems when you’ve build your business and have money rolling in and art getting hung in loads of loving homes, it can cause major problems well before that.
For example, if you’ve been pretty lackadaisical about everything, when you’re ready to really try at this you’re faced with frustratingly ineffective systems that you have to not just rework but then revisit much of what had been done with the previous system and redo it with the new system.
Around 10% of my clients come to me with a stressful storage system for the digital images of their art. They end up spending tedious weeks streamlining the process and refiling everything so that they can find what they need when they need it.
And that’s just one system!
THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF SYSTEMS AND STRATEGIES THAT MAKE A SUCCESSFUL ART BUSINESS.
When you ask an expert in construction about foundations, they will tell you that the foundation of a building has to be tailor-made for that building in particular.
THERE’S NO ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL FOUNDATION.
FOR A HOUSE – OR FOR AN ART BUSINESS.
From time to time artists will ask me why I don’t have a course that just teaches “how to build an art business” and I tell them that it doesn’t work. I know it doesn’t work because I tried it!
A few years ago, when I was fairly new to teaching art business, I built a one-size-fits-all course meant to teach you everything you needed to know about starting and running an art business.
I had tested the content and researched like crazy to make sure everything I was teaching was solid. I think about 10 artists went through the course. None of them came to me later saying the course taught them everything they needed to know or that they were suddenly selling tons of art.
So I worked with more artists one-on-one before I released another course. I knew that something was off and it wasn’t that any of the content was wrong, so I knew I needed more information. Through working one-on-one with artists, I realized that there are loads of different ways to run a successful art business!
I couldn’t create a course to teach it all because there were too many options for each artist and different combinations are necessary for different art, different artists, even different target markets.
Every course, worksheet, and webinar I’ve released since then has been designed to tackle one particular part of an art business.
BUT IT’S BEEN A FEW YEARS AND I’VE LEARNED EVEN MORE!
And now I know that most things can’t be one-size-fits-all art businesses. But the foundational elements of business apply across the board to practically every artist trying to make a living selling their art.
When you set up these sorts of foundational elements of your business – goals, a business plan, getting your mindset straight, finalizing your branding, etc – you won’t run into a toppling business, whether you’re serious about selling your art now or you get serious in the future.