Creating a business plan may seem like a monumental task.
A lot of artists fear that it requires formal education and skills to draft a business plan. Au contraire!
While a business plan can appear to be complicated and technical, a one-page program can be potent medicine for your art business. Why? Because it compels you to think in a more focused way about your practice, your goals and your way forward.
To run a business effectively, a professional artist has to think beyond paints, color palettes, sculptures, or photographs. One has to find the funds and specialized workforce to support and maintain an art studio.
The first challenge is where to begin.
The fear of the unknown, of risk-taking, failure, and rejection is standard in every business. For artists this has long been part of the territory. But too many artists respond by hiding from the very tasks that can help them.
That’s why I recommend that your very first step begins in your mind. Picture success and be honest about what that means to you. Don’t put numbers to it yet, just bask in the feelings of your pictured achievement. Really connect with the vision of who you would be when you are truly thriving as a professional creative.
Now get out some paper and a pen. We’re going to face the blank page.
Define Your Art Business.
Three things will help you define your art business – mission, vision, and goals. Find clarity by asking yourself:
- What is your medium? Oil, acrylic, watercolor, photography, wood, jewelry, etc.
- What is your art type? Illustration, painting, graphic design, etc.
- What are some other possible uses of your creative skills? Can you take it outside the box?
- Is your art practice confined to the traditional gallery approach? Is it more commercial? Or do you have a freelancer approach?
- How will you show and sell your art?
- Will you limit your artwork sales to your studio or involve yourself in museums, exhibitions, public art, interior designers, or even marketing art online?
Defining your art business will help you to move ahead.
Devise A Marketing Strategy.
Once you identify who you are and what you do as an artist, it’s time to plan a marketing and brand strategy. This strategy will help you reach your target audience in a focused way.
Your art business expresses your brand personality. Try to keep it consistent and well-defined.
For example, if you’re a portrait photographer and wish to get commercial work, your art brand might convey your style through black and white matte-finish photos that present your unique aesthetic.
Brand your work by showcasing photos that evoke the same look and feel, don’t confuse people by mixing it up. Your biography, portfolio, social media channels should all reflect your overall aesthetic strategy.
Your website is a powerful channel to reflect your ethos. Update your website regularly with portfolio samples. Don’t try to post everything you ever did, stay on brand and on message. Just because you can make work in many different styles, doesn’t mean you need to show it. This only confuses your audience and waters down your brand.
Reach out to previous clients for testimonials for your website. Create an artist’s bio section on your website to show your vision, execution, past and upcoming art projects. Include a picture of yourself to humanize the page. And keep in mind your brand the whole time.
Get Out of the Studio.
Art doesn’t live in a vacuum. Vital art world relationships don’t happen on a screen. Joining an artist community and supporting your colleagues is important. Try to attend networking events and go to museum openings and art galleries for artists.
Set Time-Bound Goals.
Now that you have started crafting your vision for your plan, set specific goals. Whether your goal is to earn more money, win an award, or find gallery representation, defined goals will motivate you to actualize them.
List down your SMART goals when marketing art online or in-gallery. Here are the SMART goals every artrepreneur should keep in mind.
- Specific: This helps you identify your precise aim in your art business – when, where, with whom, the resources in hand, and the new resources you wish to add. Identifying specific goals helps you chalk out your business roadmap.
- Measurable: Goal measurement is essential to know the accomplishment of the business task and not to leave it vague.
- Achievable: Define your short-term and long-term goals and identify your knowledge and skillsets to help you achieve them.
- Relevant: Identify whether your set goal helps you meet your ultimate vision. Or is it a distraction?
- Time-bound: Fix a timeline to accomplish your goal. Just like every task needs a completion timeline in minutes and hours, base your art business on a similar principle.
An example of a SMART goal for artists might be: Doing your research to identify three local or regional art galleries that have similar art styles, pricing, and subjects as yours. And then learn their submission policy.
Create An Action Plan.
After making goal identification for your artist business, write and define your actionable steps.
Include everything you want to do and itemize it. Remember your intentions, branding and marketing strategy, your goals. Let the greater picture help guide you as you shape your plan.
Look at your calendar, and for every quarter, identify two or three big actions you can commit to. Set your goals with actionable steps.
And don’t be afraid that it’s written in stone! You can fine-tune and even drastically change your business and creative goals seasonally. As your world changes, you can adjust.
Write your artist action plan in a document and don’t be afraid to update it. The real crime is in putting it away and never looking at it again.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a mentor or artist’s coach.
List And Price Your Offerings.
You could sell a tangible item, like a painting, or intangible services, like a website design. Be clear on what you are offering. Then price appropriately.
The Bottom Line
Revisit your plan frequently and stick to your targeted actions to become a successful artepreneur.
Learn as much information about the art business as you can. Identify your strengths and competencies in your creativity and temperament. Work with yourself, not against yourself.
Allow room for creative and execution changes in your art business plan. Take regular feedback from other artists and art-world decision-makers to realign your path forward.
But most important: remember that action makes the real difference, not just the plan.
Working in the international world of contemporary art, Crista Cloutier has spent her career selling art and marketing art to art galleries, museums and private collections.
Using her professional experiences, Crista has created The Working Artist Masterclass, where she’s developed a global reputation as an artist’s coach. Crista can teach you how to be an artist; including how to sell your art, how to sell art online, how to sell photographs, how to price your art, how to succeed at art fairs, and even how to find your art style.
Crista has worked with established, blue-chip artists to raise their profile and attract greater opportunities. And she’s also helped thousands of emerging artists to build a professional art practice. To learn more, visit https://theworkingartist.com