Hi there, I have a quick question before we get started. How would you like to win a one-on-one virtual coaching session with me to discuss your art business? I know I would love to connect with you.
A one-on-one coaching call is a powerful way to help you move forward on your artist journey. Whether you need help thinking through your art website, setting up an artist routine or organising your first exhibition, a personal coaching session will help you take your next steps.
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‘When bankers get together they talk about art, when artists get together they talk about money!’ Oscar Wilde
When I was studying at the art academy, talking about money was taboo and a word not to be used in the same sentence as art. Money is the subject least addressed by artists yet it's their biggest stumbling block.
And so I thought it would be good to take that 'sensitive' bull by the horns and have the money talk.
In this episode I hope to shed some new light on the subject and possibly dispel and demystify some art money myths.
1. I can’t make money with my art.
Have you been making amazing art but you are having trouble selling it.
Having great art is no guarantee that your art is going to sell.
It takes more than just making art and hoping that somebody is going to find it...it’s going to take more to earn a living with your creativity.
Statistics don’t lie. Research done at the University of Amsterdam concluded that only 1out of 5 professionally trained artists can actually make an income from their art. The rest either had part-time jobs or worst yet, had given up all together.
In the UK 50 % of the creatives calling themselves artists, say they earn 25% or less of their income from their art.
Does this sound familiar where you live?
So you have been to art school or you have taught yourself art skills, you have mastered your craft, yet you can’t earn a living from it.
Something is SERIOUSLY WRONG! What is missing in the equation. Why is this?
It's not that your art is bad….but there is more you need to consider.
There is a reason many parents discourage their children to go to art school. They have seen too few happy, working artists.
Fortunately the times have changed.
There is a whole new art market emerging and these are exciting times for artists to create and sell their work..... on a whole new level.
With familiar ways are no longer that effective, smart artists that have made pivots, reevaluated their work and made changes to their art business strategies are seeing more success.
With 60% of the world population actively using the online space, you have a huge potential market, you can start to sell your art too.
The art market of selling and buying art online is growing each year.... talk about potential.
So, if there is an art market out there why is it so difficult to find buyers for your work?
The challenge is to find out where your art audience is, what resonates with them the most and discover creative ways to connect with them.
The big question remains.....Why is it so difficult to sell your art?
If we are going to have this money talk we need to consider the economics of the art market.
In any healthy economy there is always a balance in the supply, (the amount of made) and the demand, (the amount of sold).
In the art market there is a huge imbalance.
On one side of the scale we have 1000's of amazing artists making incredible art and on the other side of the scale are art buyers, art consumers.
It’s fair to say that there are far fewer art buyers than there are artists. This doesn’t mean they don’t like art, it's because they have no idea who you are.
Normally in any other market the supply (the amount of art) and demand ( the amount of art consumers) will correct itself and come into balance.
But the art market is unique and different.
Artists want to make art. We just can’t help ourselves. It’s what we love to do.... what we need to do and so there will never be a market correction.
You can't tell an artist, the market is saturated, please don't make your art.
Artists are generally motivated by this strong inner impulse so there is, economically speaking, never a market correction. Supply (oversaturated art market) and the demand (the ill-informed art consumer) are out of whack causing an unstable market. Are you getting the picture....?
But all is not lost......
Before you head off to tear up your art and throw away your brushes.... even though the statistic tell us that being an artist is the most difficult profession to be successful in, it's not impossible.
There is something that you can do about it!
And in this podcast we will be looking at what you can do to bring balance.
It's difficult but NOT impossible. You need to be aware that building an art career, a profession, a revenue stream around your creativity, is not going to be easy! It is going to take effort, energy and extra clout to make it work.
But it is so worth it! If you want to be a happy working artist then building a solid, sustainable business structures around your creativity is essential if you want to set yourself up for a lifetime of meaning.
So let's get practical.
If you're going to make this work, if you want to create a revenue stream, earn money with your creativity…..you need to see yourself than more than just an artist …..and this brings me to art money myth number 2!
2. I don’t care about money, I just want to make my art
Many artists tell me they simply don’t care much about money and that they have no business sense.
The good news is....If you can compose a painting or set up a palette in a systematically, structured way.... you can get into the business frame of mind.
It's more about accepting that being business-like is part of your working artist life.
First step is to get into the right frame of mind. You must come to terms with the fact that you need money to pay for your life, materials and dreams.
It’s time to develop a healthy relationship with money.
Talking about money does not make you less creative or less of an artist. The contrary is true. Having that healthy relationship with money, understanding cash flow and how to manage your budget in the best possible way, will make you a better artist. It will open up new doors of opportunity and help you grow and build a sustainable art career, no matter what comes your way.
If you're feeling this resist to talk about money I want to challenge you to explore why this may be.
Does talking about money make you shy? Do you find it difficult to get the price out of your mouth when asked what your art pieces cost? Do you find it impossible to see yourself as a business person and the word budget and investment sends you heading for the hills.
Or does the money talk evoke a feeling of shame...
Your art is a beautiful expression that comes from a deep personal place, and you may feel guilty or ashamed asking money because you love what you so much you simply can’t put a price to it.
How can you ask money for something you love to do? Or maybe money is associated with striving, hard work and that it is simply not done, to earn it the easy way.
Our relationship with money or the lack of it, is deeply rooted in our DNA.
How did your parents or surroundings talk about money? Did the money talk come with the necessary tension and stress. Or is money something you never really had to think about?
Maybe you had negative experiences with family or relations that used money to manipulate, who were dishonest or used money as power.
This is enough to give you a bad taste in your mouth. Maybe you have an intrinsic belief that money is bad and if you ignore it or are not associated with it, it will simply not matter and go away.
But not talking about it or keeping that unhealthy relationship with money will keep you from growing in your art and your art business.
It's time to see money for what it is...an exchange unit for the value that you bring.
As an artist you bring value to the table...what you make matters and in exchange for that value you exchange money...money is the currency.
Whatever resists, repels or reserves you have on this subject, it’s extremely important that you understand that how you see money will directly reflect on how others see you and value your art.
If you're shy to name your price...or stutter and mumble when people ask you how much your painting costs, then your potential buyers will not feel secure about you or buying your art.
You can write down your thoughts or apprehensions in a journal. You can practise in front of the mirror, practice with a friend or even take a video of yourself doing the money talk.
The more prepared you are, the more confident you will become. This is something you can learn and get really good at.
Your relationship with money reaches far beyond the price you are asking for your art.
Money and the money talk is intertwined in every facet of your art business. Whether you are considering commissions, working on licensing deals, organising workshops, renting a studio, or working in collaborations, these all involve a money talk.
The more prepared you are to have the money talk and the healthier your relationship is with money the stronger your art business will be.
Are you ready to embrace the role of the Art Entrepreneur?
Do a SWOT ANALYSES below and discover what areas you can strengthen in your art entrepreneurship.
When you know your strengths, understand your weaknesses, discover art opportunities and you have analysed the threats facing your art business you can start to take steps to educate and preparing yourself as an artist entrepreneur.
3. Times are really bad and nobody wants to spend their money on art.
It's true.....COVID has made a mess of our schedules, plans and even our budgets. But this doesn't mean the end...it's a start to a new way of looking at your art business.
There are opportunities out there for you.... you need to see and seize them.
The world is still dealing with many restrictions and many things that use to make life so fun are no longer possible.
People are not travelling, or able to go to the theater or the movies, and at the time of this recording all the restaurants in The Netherlands have closed again.
We are once again stuck indoors, forced to find others means of comfort, inspiration and distractions. We are spending so much more time at home that people are renovating, cleaning and redecorating their spaces.
A question....Why do people go into nature? Why do people travel?
As humans we need that adventure, we need that excitement.
Your art can offer people that escape. It can offer people an experience. People are craving distractions and are willing to pay for it.
Have you thought about it.....How can you offer people experiences with your art on your website or through your social channels?
Can you imagine being stuck indoors without beautiful music, that inspiring movie, those uplifting words in the book you are reading, the colours and shapes in the art you see on your living room wall everyday? We need art....it is an essential.
If there has ever been a need for visual storytellers, it is now. Your art matters. The more convinced and excited you are about the value you and your art bring, the easier it will be to excite and inspire others with the things you are passionate about.
4. Nobody can afford my art
Have you ever exhibited your work and heard people say that your work is just too expensive? Or you have shared your art online and your followers comment why art needs to cost so much?
The reasons for these reactions can be varied but if you are hearing it multiple times and find it difficult to sell your work then you should investigate.
Have an honest look at your work. Is your art priced right? Have you found your pricing sweet spot? Have you found a balanced price level between the level of your work, your market and the context in which you are selling your work?
We will be looking at pricing in next section but before we get there... what do you do when you feel people don't value your work correctly, even though your pricing is fair and appropriate.
First of all....You are not alone because many artists struggle in this area.
The art market is unhealthy, your audience is ill-informed and does not understand the value of an art piece that has taken time, energy, skill, training, materials, to create.
Many people see art as something they purchase at the dollar shop, put it in a frame and 'voila' it is art.
We live in a time where on the one hand we have an art market that is oversaturated and on the other an art consumer that is taste deprived. Consumers spend more money on gadgets than on an art product and are at a loss to what good art actually is.
Loud marketing campaigns and social influencers steer art consumers in a predetermined direction leaving artists with a small marketing budget in the shadows.
Audiences are confused and it is part of your job as an artist to educate your public. You can do this by what you share on social media or what you post on your website.
Just being aware of the present day climate will help and hopefully inspire you to play a bigger part in your art business success.
Because the biggest myth of all is that your art is just going to sell itself. You need to inform and educate your public.
Cultivating an informed opinion is crucial. You can leave this to the gallerists or the other art experts or you can take this role on yourself and make this part of ‘growing your art business’ responsibility.
Find ways to filter out the noise, start a conversations, share your art story, building engagement and trust with your potential art collectors.
5. It’s difficult to put a price on what I love to make
As soon as capitalism, 'making money', enters the art conversation the whole landscape changes and as artists we seem to get into trouble.
Many artists find it difficult to put a price on what they love making. How do you ask money for something that is so near and dear to us?
The first step is finding that validation. With yourself, with your art and with your art audience.
We already discussed this but once you get to that place of acceptance you can put on your business hat, take some of the emotion out of the conversation, and just simply get practical about pricing your art.
There are many methods and formulas you can use to find your pricing sweet spot. You need to discover what works for you.
Here are some of the factors that influence the price of your art:
The size, materials, mediums, the level of your experience, your market, demand, print or original, framed or unframed so much more.
To help you discover your pricing sweet spot, I have included a free artists resource for your to download.
Download this practical guide to pricing your art by clicking here.
Getting that price right takes time, trail and adjustments. If you are selling out to fast your price might be to low and if you are having trouble selling then you may need to elevate your audience's experience of your art by improving your photography, upgrading your website and strengthening the communication about your art....or adjusting your price.
Your pricing will grow with you, the more experienced you are, the more your audience will be willing to pay for it. So develop a look term strategy for your art pricing.
Head over to the pricing guide to find out more.
Do any of these misconceptions or myths ring true in your art and art business?
As artists we need to nurture a healthy relationship with money.
Determine the value of your art and communicate it loud and clear. If need be, practice selling your art with somebody you know and trust.
Find confidence in who you are, what you are selling and why you are selling it. Be bold and name your price and don’t make excuses for it.
We need money to sustain our art careers. In this difficult (yet not impossible) market we need to be creative in selling our art. We need to reinvent ourselves continually, have a keen eye for the opportunities that present themselves and have the confidence to stand out and be heard and seen.
Paul Verhoeven, a successful Dutch filmmaker puts it this way: “ I don’t make the movies I want to make, but I make the movies I can make.” Our budget and means have a voice and we need to be realistic as to what and when projects are feasible and or possible.
Many artists don't have good business sense, not because they can't do it but simply because this has never been taught or developed. If your art career is not where you want it to be, if you are making the coolest art but not selling it then it's time to investigate.
It may simply mean that there is something you still need to learn, embrace or understand so you can start to see and run your art like a business.
Economics and finances may seem daunting but ask for help. Find people in your area that can help you or look for resources online.
Did you know that Rembrandt did not belong to the artisan’s guild but to the tradesman guild? Rembrandt understood that his art had economical value and that without seeing his art as a business he never would have been successful!
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