Bridging the Gap Between Making Art and Making a Living

If you don’t know today’s guest blogger, Ariane Goodwin, then you should make it a point to do so.  She is a connector and a “people person” who has sponsored the SmARTist Telesummit for the past several years.  As a mentor for many artists, Ariane provides superb marketing and career advice. Plus, she knows everybody! So if you are looking for great information, check out the upcoming Telesummit (details below).

By Ariane Goodwin, Ed.D.

The dirty secret is that, for the majority of artists, using only one stream of income, like gallery representation, is never going to be enough.

Even up to a few years ago, finding one or two incredible galleries was a viable way to go. These days, however, everything is changing so fast. Daily, if not hourly, the online universe keeps speeding up, and artists need a new game plan where galleries become part of a larger strategy.

If you really think about, in a gallery you are one of many artists so the gallery can only spend so much time with you, and can only offer you a show once every 12 to 18 months. For another, galleries come and go like New England weather. This has always been true, and unfortunately, in the past three years this has been happening more and more.

Depending just on galleries is like putting all your eggs in one basket and then deliberately flinging it to the ground.

So, what’s an artist to do?

My recommendation… diversify. Create multiple streams of income, so when one is down, you have others to count on.

Easier said than done, I understand. First you need to know what options are even available, right?

What if you didn’t have to figure that out by yourself… what would that be worth in terms of time saved, frustration and confusion eliminated?

What if there was one place where you could learn exactly what you needed to learn about how to diversify which streams of income?

The key, of course, is that you have to know and understand your different options before you can assess if that option fits your art, or your art career goals.

  • How different would it feel if you knew exactly how to sell your art to corporations?
  • Or how to sell your art on that amazing virtual universe called Second Life? What if you knew How to License Your Art effectively?
  • And what if someone even told you the specific steps to nailing a sale – no guessing, no worrying if you are speaking appropriately to a potential collector or buyer?
  • What shift would happen over here on the Making A Living side of this bridge if you knew how to recognize a non-traditional opportunity and were all set to respond immediately to something called Vertical Markets?
  • Connie Mettler of Art Fair Inisders, and one of the 13 speakers for this year’s smARTist professional development conference for visual artists, told me about an artist who had a thriving business that went belly up in this economy. On a whim, he decided to try an Art Fair and see what happened. A couple years later and he’s flying, says he hasn’t had this much fun in years and he’s selling art. What would change for you if you knew how to do that too?
  • Not to mention how many artists have websites that they have spent a good deal of time and money on, and see zero return for their efforts – wouldn’t it feel amazing to turn that around? To learn exactly how to use your website as an art-marketing machine – and still keep the allure and aura that so many visual fine artists worry will disappear if they appear too commercial?
  • And what about the Art Print Market – do you even know enough about it to make a decision? What if you had all the information you needed, including how to identify the best place for giclee prints to be made?
  • And then, there’s the whole question about how to price your art so it sells. I have a speaker coming this year who has been researching literally everything out there on pricing and I promise what she’s going to give is the equivalent of a graduate level presentation on pricing your art.

This year, at the smARTist conference, there will be one speaker for each of these 8 streams of income, plus four more, each one invested in your success.

Speaking of success, serious professionals know that education and a level of professional awareness of their field as it changes from year to year, is essential. Artists who come to a professional development, art-career conference are making a statement that they value the making a living side of their art career in the same way they value making art.

And, honestly, if you don’t, who will?

Like any other self-respecting professional, you have to engage in ongoing education – not just for the skill of level of your art production – as critical as that is, you have to value and respect your art enough to make sure it sells, because selling your art is the ultimate honor – where it goes and lives with a buyer or collector and can engage, inspire, or simply exude beauty – it can fulfill it’s destiny!


Next step: click here to check out the all the smARTist Telesummit 2011 registration details. They are limiting registration to just 500 seats this year, to keep the level of community interaction high, so waiting probably isn’t the best idea.

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