Boost Your Career with Targeted Business Training

by Sofia Perez

You need solid business expertise to make a sustainable living from your art, but how do you acquire these skills? Apply for a 2019 Business Accelerator Fellowship with The Clark Hulings Fund for Visual Artists to earn free tuition for a graduate-level art-business education, accessible online.


Kristen Brown was selected as a Fellow in the Accelerator program at the Clark Hulings Fund for Visual Artists.

Kristen Brown was selected as a Fellow in the Accelerator program at The Clark Hulings Fund for Visual Artists.


To succeed as a working artist, you’ve got to do much more than just create great art. You’re an entrepreneur, which means that you’re also your own marketing and PR director, accountant, sales executive, financial planner, inventory manager, and a host of other job titles. It’s a lot to manage, especially if you’ve never learned the necessary business skills, which art schools rarely teach. So how do you handle it all?

One answer is to apply for a 2019 Business Accelerator Fellowship with The Clark Hulings Fund for Visual Artists (CHF), which will be accepting submissions from September 1st through the 30th. Through an innovative web-based program, this national nonprofit organization offers professional visual artists an intensive MBA-level business education that’s specifically focused on the art industry. CHF Fellows learn tangible skills and strategies for how to make a complete living through the creation of their art. “For the first time since becoming a full-time artist, I have a plan,” says current Fellow Paula Ensign. “I know what my goals are and what steps I’m going to take to achieve them. Best of all, gaining a clear direction for my work has increased my confidence, both in my business skills and my work.”

A total of 20 Fellows will be selected to receive free Accelerator tuition, which provides them with customized business training, network-building opportunities, publicity, and one-on-one support to boost their careers and make their art practices self-sustaining. At the end of year one, each Fellow will have established a viable business objective and developed an “investment-grade” business plan for an entrepreneurial project that furthers that objective. A select group of 2019 Fellows will be chosen to continue on to the program’s second year, during which they will work directly with CHF’s Accelerator team to hone their skills, ensure accountability, and capitalize their proposed projects.


Blake Conroy (left) and Juliana Coles are artists currently in the CHF Fellows program.

Blake Conroy (left) and Juliana Coles are current artists CHF Accelerator Fellows.


“What struck me most about this program,” says current Fellow Nadia Fairlamb, “is that it says, ‘Here’s your overall picture. Let’s break that down into milestones, into tasks,’ and these tiny stepping stones build up to something quite large. I love that process. And it’s not an overnight process, but when I stick to that formula, it works.”

For sculptor Kristin LeVier, the process has resulted in setting up new administrative systems for monitoring her workflow and expenses, rethinking her approach to marketing, and expanding her online presence. “I’ve been scrutinizing the ways I spend my time and money,” she says, “and have made some big changes, or started figuring out how to make changes.” After just a few months in the Accelerator, Kristin made more sales than she had the entire previous year. To boost direct sales, she now sells through her revamped website and an Etsy shop, and her increased online profile has led to exhibits in nine shows across the US. “I think it will take a few years until I streamline everything, but I am on the right path now.”

Through the program’s monthly workshops, interactive labs, and required assignments, participants learn how to develop a business strategy, hone their brand narrative, be proactive about marketing, find buyers for their art, negotiate contracts, communicate more effectively, manage their finances and taxes, handle copyrights, and more. Every session is led by a subject-matter expert, and labs include extensive time for Q&A, allowing the Fellows to get feedback on their specific business questions and hear each other’s perspectives.

It’s this last part—learning from their peers and building a powerful network of allies—that has proven to be especially pivotal. Being a visual artist is often a solitary pursuit, but CHF’s Fellows communicate with each other directly on an ongoing basis through workshop, labs, a closed Facebook group for current and past Fellows, and other one-on-one and small-group interactions. “The best part of the Accelerator program has been the conversations with other artists across many media,” says current Fellow Bethany Taylor. “It is very helpful to hear the ideal expectations of working artists and the methods through which they hope to achieve their financial goals.”


CHF’s 2019 Business Accelerator Fellowship opportunity has concluded. View the selected artists here.


  1. How does one apply for this , please?

  2. The form filling is closed or is it open?

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