This is a great question and there are some great answers. Yes, we know that artists are living on a very limited income so we can do our ‘work’. The work is more important to us than material things many times. But, what can you do when you can’t pay the heating bill? This is a real issue for the local art community today. With the economy and the stock market at record lows, it seems like everyone I know is experiencing fear. Fear is our worst enemy as artists. It is pervasive into our lives and work and unfortunately, contagious. It can become debilitating if you let it take over and rule your emotions and squash your creativity. Let’s use your creativity in a much more positive way to break free of fear and get some money and ideas flowing.
Artists by definition are a creative lot. Some are savvier than others in regard to running their art business or communicating with the public to promote themselves and their work. Many are also not very good with any kind of technical skills on the computer. These issues are a big reason why some artists will continue to starve. This life is not easy to maneuver without new skills. You may be thinking that these skills take a lot of time to learn or cost a lot of money to hire someone to do for you. Be creative here. Break free from your old thinking and try some new ways of doing things with a new attitude. Be thankful for all that you have and get off your butt and go grab more for yourself with passion and good old positive energy.
I would like to offer some tips that I have learned along the way that can impact your bottom line as you develop the upcoming year's strategies:
First of all, you need a plan. Everyone knows that New Year’s resolutions fail because no one really develops a plan to make the resolution happen. Create a marketing or business plan for yourself. Where do you want to be by this time next year, what do you need or want and what steps do you have to take to get there? This may sound like corporate speak but setting realistic goals really works. Put it on paper. Be specific. That is the most important part of the plan. Write it down and stick it up somewhere so it is under your nose. Look at it throughout the year to be sure you are staying on course.
Here is where networking comes in handy. Find some new approaches to doing things that are working for other people. Reach out to peers from businesses like your own or artists like yourself who are in similar situations. Do some brainstorming as to how you can help each other to get gallery space, promote your work or get studio space as a group. If you are a lone wolf, this may be difficult at first, but you will quickly see that two heads are really better than one. If nothing else, you will no longer be working in a vacuum. Compare what is working for each of you and learn from each other. Be alert to new ideas and how they can work for you. If you don’t want to start your own group, join one of the many art organizations that can foster networking.
Work within your community. There are community organizations already in place to help you. Call your town clerk, your local church, college, small business administration, senior center, or housing authority. Then broaden your scope to Lawyers for the Arts, county Cultural and Heritage Department, county Freeholders, the National Small Business Association or whatever else you can think of that will help you address your needs. Every town, county and state has help if you just look for it. Many of these things are free. Finding a good coach can make all the difference in the world. Take advantage of all the resources that are available to help you.
This ‘community’ concept extends into your area of art as well. This is so simple but I needed to hear it from a friend and how it worked for him. My friend Ricardo wanted to publish a book of photographs. He began creating portraits of sculptors and when he had enough images to support his project idea; he went to the sculpture community for help. He sold images to them, got contributions from them, had exhibits of his work to call attention to the project and through his efforts found support from the sculpture community to publish his book. He had passion and energy which led to his success. What is your art community?
Look on-line for opportunities. This is hard for many artists who are not computer savvy. If you are not, I hate to say it but you are going to get left in the dust. Take some classes and get up to speed. Many libraries, colleges and community groups offer free lessons. You need to be current and the Internet is the only way to do that now. It can help you further your professional skills and expand your business knowledge in so many ways. You could learn how to sell things on eBay to pick up some cash for unwanted items, find supplies cheaper on-line than your current supplier, or find that your local supplier is cheaper without the shipping charges but at least you will now be an informed buyer. Use your computer to research new processes and technologies, find grants, find galleries outside your demographic that would love to have your work and so many other opportunities which will help to grow your business.
Get a website. There are many websites that host space for lots of artists together within which you have your own page. They are very inexpensive or free and have step by step instructions for easy set-up. Get in the game.
Learn how to do press releases and send them to your local newspaper every time you have a show and do anything that you can write about. Even if your gallery says they are doing it, once you get the hang of it, you can very likely do it better and in a way that helps you more. What you want is name recognition. The bonus is that it brings more people to an opening reception, and maybe there is a buyer in that group or your next gallery owner. Bottom line you get attention that you are in control of.
To say that this year isn’t coming without its challenges would be an understatement. Be positive, believe in yourself, treat the quest for more money as a creative challenge and don’t give in to fear. Be the creative person that you are, believe in that, keep smiling and you can navigate this rocky terrain with some new skills and relationships to help you get through. Just because the economy is not growing right now, doesn't mean that your business can't grow.
My Company Information:
New Jersey Media Center LLC in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey is a quality still photography and video production facility specializing in fine art photography exhibitions and sales, painting and photography workshops and has become an art coaching resource for emerging artists and high school students preparing a portfolio for college entrance interviews. All of the photographers, videographers, curators and instructors represented by NJ Media Center LLC are top notch; hand selected and have been in their area of expertise for many years. Being able to work with experienced artists and photographers who fully respect your vision in order to help you achieve your goal is unique. New Jersey Media Center LLC values innovation, service and quality. www.nancyoriphotography.com
Nancy Ori is the owner and director of all projects produced by NJ Media Center LLC. She has an interesting blend of a creative fine art photography background combined with the corporate photography she has done for over 30 years. She was Manager of the Photography and Video Services Department for Ciba-Geigy Corporation and Novartis Pharmaceuticals where she worked for 25 years. Her fine art background includes teaching at the Ansel Adams Workshop series for 8 seasons, founder of the New Jersey Photography Forum in 1994 and the Digital Arts Groups at the New Jersey Center for Visual Arts in Summit, NJ, founder of the New Jersey Heritage Workshop series in 1990 and being on exhibition regularly in numerous museum, corporate and commercial galleries throughout the state.