Business Skills for Visual Artists 2012


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Led by Houston artist and businessman Taft McWhorter, this presentation offers artists tips on how to take their art career to the next level.

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Business Skills for Visual Artists 2012

  1. 1. Evolving Your Career:Basic Business Skills for Visual Artists Spacetaker ARC Workshop led by Taft McWhorter
  2. 2. “Out on a limb... thats where artists do their work. Not in the safe places, but out there, in a place where they might fail.”- Seth Godin
  3. 3. “You will never leave where you are until you decide where you would rather be.”
  4. 4. Overall Vision & Goals• What do you want to achieve with your art?• Full-time profession?• Set a long-term goal. – Write it down. – What steps do you need to take to accomplish this goal? – Start on step one this week.
  5. 5. 2012 State of the Art Survey
  6. 6. 2012 State of the Art Survey
  7. 7. 2012 State of the Art Survey
  8. 8. 2012 State of the Art Survey
  9. 9. Evaluate Your Current Status Pt. 1• Be honest about your current status.• Are you painting every day?• Are you ready to turn your hobby into a career?• Are you selling your work on a monthly basis?• Do you have an available body of work?• Do you have high quality images of your work?
  10. 10. Evaluate Your Current Status Pt. 2• Do you have business cards?• Do you have a website?• Do you have an Artist Portfolio?• Do you have a client contact list?• Do you have a current bio and artist statement?• Do you check your email and voice messages regularly and respond promptly?
  11. 11. Presentation• Look professional• Style and ability must be up to par• No ½” canvases• Paint the sides or frame your work• Pricing your work
  12. 12. Pricing your work• Price based on what your market can bear• Starting low is good ($100-$150 for 30”x40” piece). Primary goal is to move your art so that people are seeing it around – You can easily create 40-50 collectors at a lower price and then bump the price up once a year as long as you’re continuing to sell• Set your price per square inch• Always be consistent with your pricing (don’t charge one thing in one city and another in your home city).• Remember art pricing is always negotiable
  13. 13. Marketing/Networking Pt. 1• Networking is key• Go to local art exhibits• Meet artists and collectors• Create a Top 10 list of people you want to connect with• Begin inviting these people to your exhibits• Donate your best work to auctions as long as you get the buyer’s contact info
  14. 14. Marketing/Networking Pt. 2• Web presence – Website – Social media (Facebook/Twitter)• Other marketing avenues –;;• Primary goal: Build your “LIST”• Additional goal: 2 meetings a week to network
  15. 15. Exhibiting• Exhibit as often as possible; when you send your portfolio to galleries, the first thing they will look at is how often and where you’ve exhibited• Organize joint or group exhibits with other artists• Art markets, co-op galleries, vanity galleries, restaurants & coffee shops, Spacetaker’s ARC Gallery• Look for representation by galleries in other cities
  16. 16. Exhibiting pt. 2• Cater to your “collectors”• Organize small, invitation only “Collector Parties”• Ask your collectors to invite a guest• Focus on getting to know your collectors and utilizing them to grow your circle
  17. 17. Submitting to Galleries• Co-op Gallery – Run by artists – Usually pay a small fee and/or volunteer to be involved – Usually 50/50 split• Vanity Gallery – Pay fee for wall space – Usually 70% artist/30% gallery split• Fine Art Gallery – No fees – 50/50 split
  18. 18. Your Portfolio• Submit under gallery’s guidelines• If there are no guidelines, include: – Cover letter explaining your intention and professionalism – Bio • Artist Statement (3-4 sentences only) • List of Exhibitions • Gallery Representation – A CD with 6 images that show a consistent style – One or two recent PR clippings – Any other marketing materials (catalog or small book of your work)• Include a self-addressed stamped envelop so they can return the submission• Have the 6 pieces that you used for images on the CD ready for shipping (do not use these pieces for anything else).
  19. 19. Follow Up• Call the day you mail your portfolio to let gallery know it’s in the mail.• Make follow up call 1 week after mailing to make sure they’ve received your submission – If not listed on gallery website, ask: • Process for reviewing artist submissions • Who makes the final decision• Call/email every 3 weeks until you get an answer
  20. 20. Getting Signed• Read the contract. Consult with an attorney.• Only agree to exclusivity with that city.• Only agree to 50/50 split.• Negotiate that the gallery pays 50% of shipping to their city and 100% of shipping to your city.• They should offer you a group exhibit within 12 months and solo exhibit within 24 months.• Ship work immediately.• Follow up to make sure work arrived safely.• Follow up monthly to check on the status of your work.
  21. 21. Never Stop Evolving• Study with other artists – Spend the day with a fellow artist – Art Supply Dealer Demonstrations – Art League of Houston – Glassell School of Art, MFA• Attend workshops – Spacetaker – Texas Accountants & Lawyers for the Arts – Houston Arts Alliance – UH Small Business Development Center• Get an “Art Business” coach – Open Studio Coach, Andrea Rosenfeld –
  22. 22. “Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” - Babe Ruth
  23. 23. "A clear vision, backed by definite plans,gives you a tremendous feeling of confidence and personal power." - Brian Tracy
  24. 24. "Smile, breathe and go slowly." - Thich Nhat Hanh
  25. 25. Taft McWhorter Taft McWhorter Fine