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Many artists have dreams of creating a business from their art. Even more have dreams of growing their current art business beyond a trickling side hustle into a real part-time or full-time business that can provide then the financial and time freedom they desire.
Well, if you're one of those artists and you're tired of spinning your wheels then I hope this article will be an encouragement to you!
For most artists, one of the first big hurdles to overcome is the concept of being both an entrepreneur and a creative. I know, I can hear you now "But Matt, I'm not good at all the business stuff... I just want to create!" If that's you, then wonderful! I'm happy for you. You, my friend, have a wonderful hobby you can enjoy for many years to come. But here's the truth: you can't have business results with hobby habits. Either you learn to embrace both parts of the journey, or you come to terms with the limitations of not doing so. There's no right or wrong answer, but you can't have it both ways.
Entrepreneurship and creativity are what I like to call "harmonious opposites". On the surface, they seem like they are the antithesis of each other but in realty, they actually fuel each other when held in a healthy tension. Living in and cultivating that tension is your job. Let me explain.
Creative expression in and of itself is a wonderful pursuit for every person, regardless if they feel they are called to be an artist or not. However, for those who want to grow in their capacity, skill and function as an artist, a few things must happen, right? Mastery of skills, techniques, material usage, design, composition, the list goes on. Without these fundamentals, creating can become limited and boring. However, with this foundation artistic expression becomes and ever-expanding world of possibility. In essence, skill development is the runway for artistic freedom and I bet if you've been an artist for any length of time, you've probably experienced this reality in your life.
The same is true with entrepreneurship and the fundamentals of business. Unless an artist embraces the fundamentals of marketing, sales and running a business they simply limit their capacity to thrive in this modern world as an artist. Gone are the days where an artist can rely on one gallery to sell their work. Buyers want interaction with the artist more than ever which requires artists not only to be makers, but to be great marketers as well. It's simply a required part of the package. Otherwise, you've got to be ok with creating art as a hobby with no predictable way of seeing sales.
The Juggling Act
Now that you're (hopefully) starting to embrace the harmonious tension between being both an entrepreneur and a creative, realize that functioning in that world is not a singular path. Rather, it is much like a juggler, who starting with a single item, then adds other items to their act and keeps them all in the air. Skill and experience make that easier as you grow.
The big question for most artists is "what things should I be juggling and what things should I be leaving out?" That is, what are the really important things that I need to know - especially starting out - and what are the things I can grow into? Without knowing this, most artists will spend hours, days and months spinning their wheels doing things they think are important yet not having any data to confirm their suspicions.
A Blueprint for Success
Over the years as I've developed my own thriving art business and helped thousands of other Christian artists do the same, I've discovered there are some key elements you need to be focused on in order to start or grow your art business.
They include things like:
✅ Having a simple, clear pathway for your purpose
✅ Knowing where to focus your time, attention and resources to accelerate growth
✅ Understanding what habits make success easier
✅ Clarifying God’s plan for your life and art
✅ Discovering why people aren't buying your art
✅ Transforming lookers into raving clients
✅ How to build a personal brand that attracts buyers both online and offline
✅ Knowing the key elements every artist website should have to start making sales
✅ Feeling confident in creating a simple artist marketing plan
✅ Knowing how to handle the business side of being an artist without being overwhelmed
These key elements are the beginning of starting or growing your art business to the next level.
Matt Tommey is an artist, author and mentor who is passionate about empowering artists to thrive spiritually, artistically and in business.