We all have many paths in our lives. Obvious statement, I get that, but think of the many paths that brought you to this article.
Are you seeking to learn more about the business of being an artist?
Are you looking to enhance your relationship with money as an artist?
Are you a collector looking to understand the artist behind the work a little better?
Or did someone pass this along because they think you would benefit from hearing the nuances of running a business selling art?
Whatever the path that brought us together-- and set you on the road to art to begin with-- let’s take a moment to respect that path.
Cause shit’s about to get real, dear friends.
Artists listen up-- understand business. Period.
I know, the two, art and business, don’t often coexist in our minds. In fact, the need to derive money from our art could be the very thing that’s stopping you from making your true art. I get that, I’ve wrestled with that very thing for years.
So, don’t. Don’t make money from your art-- for now. Keep creating, keep dreaming and keep pouring your passion into your creations. But don’t sell them. Yet.
WTF? Isn’t this an article about business and art?
Yes, exactly. If you can’t separate your art from the business side of things, then don’t. Start a tiny (or big) side hustle that uses a tiny fraction of your amazing artistic abilities and make money from that. And here’s why....the very act of running a small side hustle (either online or off) will grease the wheels to your relationship with money.
Your side hustle will also introduce you to the nuances of making money without the romance that can cloud your decisions because you’re too emotionally connected to your art.
Start an Etsy store and sell the materials that you use to make your art.
Launch an Etsy store that sells vintage finds that you dig up from your local thrift store.
Start an EBay Hustle that flips objects or items connected to your passions-- or not. Just flip things that have good profit margins.
Launch a BigCartel.Com store that’s connected to Etsy and dropships your graphic design prints or kitchy t-shirts.
Set up a booth at the local flea market and sell handmade coasters of digital prints from your artwork.
It doesn’t matter what it is. Make your sidehustle something that fits in your work schedule, is somewhat related to your passion (so you don’t have to relearn a new skillset) and is something that is low-cost to launch and maintain.
And while you’re doing this side hustle, understand the many aspects that make selling your goods work. Branding, marketing, advertising on social media, setting up ecommerce shopping carts, writing descriptions for products, keywords, P&L statements, Quickbooks, Paypal, Stripe, customer service, project management, managing your work and your life, etc, etc, etc.
Play with business. Win and lose with something that’s not so closely attached to your heart. And when you’re turning a profit with your side hustle, roll those extra funds into launching your art business. Use the same digital tools and processes you applied to your side hustle.
Because truly, at the end of the day, running an art business is a numbers game. Once you’re able to detach the romance from your art products, you’re able to make solid business decisions based on what’s healthy for the business, not how the art community will perceive your pricing or what your art professor will think of commoditizing your art.
Fuck that, we all have to eat. And here’s the cold hard truth-- if you can’t make a living and a profit from your art, you won’t be able to give your passion and your art the wings it needs to change the world or impact a person.
Being able to create powerful art that moves people is not cheap. How much more powerful could your art be if you weren’t worried about making rent or feeding the kids? How much more art could you create if you didn’t have to shuffle off to a 9-5 during the week to survive in this world? Not to mention the soul crushing vortex that working in a cube for the Man will do to your creative energy.
So, let’s get real. The artistic excuse of being right-brained and unable to manage a SquareSpace website or a mind-numbing easy Etsy store is just that-- an excuse. Stop it. Right now.
Just like any skill, understanding how to run your art store takes time, effort and practice. So set your ego aside and dust off that inner-entrepreneur that’s dying to get ahold of your bank account.
Start your side hustle and begin learning how to run a business.
You’ll know when the time is right to then flip the switch on your art business. When you can look at a clear opportunity, run the numbers (and understand the numbers) and know that the time to profit from your passion is now, then go for it.
The world needs your art, lovely one. But the world doesn’t need your art to drive you into a poverty tsunami because you won’t learn the business side of art
You can do it. I can see it. And if you have questions, just ask me.