May 1, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

How To Be Happier About Running Your Art Business

We all love some parts of our business more than others. I’d be lying to you if I told you that I loved marketing and bookkeeping as much as creating a course.

After doing this work with artists for nearly two decades, I can say with confidence that artists who happily embrace their role as CEO of their business do better than artists who don’t.

This doesn’t mean that you need to fake joy whenever you’re paying bills. It means that you rise to accept the challenge because you know it’s important.

There are ways to be happier about running a business, but first you must decide that this is what you want. As I’ve said many times, not every artist should turn their art into a business. It’s a whole different game when you start asking for money for your art.

But if you choose to go the route of earning money from your art, own it. 

You can be pouty and grumble about all of the hard work, or you can find ways to enjoy the ride.

Which way would you rather go through life?

What Makes Me Happy About Running My Business

Running a successful business means long hours and many sacrifices, but the rewards are unparalleled.

I love that …

I can work anywhere in the world and at any time of my choosing.

I am over-the-moon ecstatic when …

Clients have Aha! moments. When they really get what I’m encouraging them to do or try.

Clients implement and see results.

I connect two clients together who can benefit from collaboration, inspiration, or motivation.

I am blown away when …

April 18, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

Creative Placemaking and Public Art with Lynn Basa

Artist Lynn Basa understands the power of art to be a positive force in communities.

She is interested in the varied ways that artists are intersecting with public life. From more traditional “public art” to creative placemaking to socially engaged practice.

I talked with Lynn, author of The Artist’s Guide to Public Art: How to Find and Win Commissions, for the Art Biz Podcast. In particular, we focused on The Corner Project, an art space and community revitalization effort she founded in the blighted neighborhood of her Chicago studio in 2017.

In describing this project, Lynn said, and I paraphrase:

Every single artist … [brings] with them a certain amount of agency and value to wherever they are. They can do so much more. … It’s a paradigm shift that happens in your head where you start realizing that “I have something of value that I can contribute to society at large,” rather than just making an object and hoping it gets sold for enough money and that you can make a living.

You’ll also hear her speak this truth: Art is a billion dollar business, and someone has to do it.

I think you’ll be inspired to think big and make a difference in your community after you listen to this episode.

April 10, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

7 Ways to Wow with Your Exhibition Invitation

Every contact you have with someone is an opportunity to wow them with your art and your professionalism, so you don’t want to miss the chance to wow from the beginning.

Robert Mapplethorpe knew this. For his first solo exhibition in 1973 at New York’s Light Gallery – a show of Polaroids – Mapplethorpe’s invitation was a hand-printed image from a Polaroid original.

Mapplethorpe embossed his name on the outer edge, included the protective Polaroid cover, and inserted everything into hand-addressed, cream-colored Tiffany envelopes.

His invitation was a work of art in itself because, he believed, an exhibition doesn’t begin when you go to the opening, but when you receive the invitation.

The moment people hear about the show, they start judging. Will it be any good? Who else will show up? Is it worth my time? Is there something better I could do that night?

What experience do people have when they get an invitation from you?

Here are 7 ways to use your invitation to wow guests and set the tone for your exhibition.

Real Mail

1. Send it via post.

The simple act of putting a stamp on an envelope and dropping it into a mailbox automatically increases the prestige of your exhibition.

In these days of email reliance, almost anything you send real mail will get more attention than if it were sent via email.

April 2, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

Why Putting Your Plan on Paper Matters

Since I started my art career, I had this one figure in my head that if I made that figure as my annual income, then I would consider myself successful. I also made this my Art Biz Accelerator income goal. Well, I just tallied up my annual income for 2018, and I EXCEEDED THAT FIGURE!!!!

I love seeing messages like this one from Sabra Lynne Crockett in my inbox, and I think it’s important for artists to see what is possible when you apply your knowledge.

She continued:

Before, I enrolled in the Art Career Success System, I was directionless. I was flitting from one project to another. Now I have a vision, and a plan to make it happen through actionable goals. Quantifying my accomplishments shows me that I’m not just spinning my wheels.

ABS: How did you shift your focus?

Before I even knew that the Art Career Success System existed, I had to get myself in the mindset that I was an artist. It took me almost two decades to declare that I was an artist, even though  I made my living doing artistic things.

I always skirted around the idea. I would be asked, “Are you an artist?” I would say things like, “Well, no. I’m a decorative artist”, or,” I am a scenic artist.” I was limited by my own thinking. It was when I made the declaration to myself, and owned the label “artist” that the floodgates of opportunity opened up for me.

One of the opportunities that arose was enrolling in all four courses of the Art Career Success System.

ABS: What has made the biggest difference?

March 28, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

Why You Need a Sense of Urgency in Your Art Business

A number of years ago, I attended a mastermind meeting that had a consistent theme running through it.

The most successful people have a sense of urgency.

I believe this to be true because those I view as successful act quickly and decisively. They hustle. They get things done.

If we take it at face value, the phrase sense of urgency seems turbulent. It sounds like we should be moving hastily and acting immediately on ideas without much thought or care for anything else.

It’s Not Really About Hurrying

As I read more about a sense of urgency as it relates to business, I discover that it’s not necessarily about hurrying.

John Kotter, who wrote the book A Sense of Urgency, says the following.

True urgency focuses on critical issues. It is driven by the deep determination to win, not anxiety about losing. Many people confuse it with false urgency. This misguided sense of urgency does have energized action, but it has a frantic aspect to it with people driven by anxiety and fear. This dysfunctional orientation prevents people from exploiting opportunities and addressing real issues.

March 14, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

Caring for Your Most Precious Asset as an Artist with Missy Graff Ballone

Missy Graff Ballone, artist and founder of Wellness for Makers, joins the show to discuss the importance of taking care of your most precious asset for making art: your body.

She shares her own background as an artist, massage therapist and yoga instructor, and why she saw a need to provide resources that help artists take care of their bodies so they can make more art, and in turn, run their businesses. She also provides tools artists can use to get started in their new journey towards better health.

In this interview, you will hear Missy talk about:

  • How she blended her background as an artist, massage therapist, and yoga instructor to motivate and empower artists through education, mindful living, and movement.
  • Why she felt it important to teach artists accessible self-care to improve the longevity of their bodies, and ultimately their careers.
  • How it’s never too late to invest in yourself and focus on the key assets—your body and health!
  • The importance of creating extra variety in your movements in the studio.
  • How we can become more consciously aware of the patterns we create within our bodies, and the most common ailments artists typically endure.
  • Some gentle techniques and tools that she finds important and effective.
  • The theme of resilience and how it relates to wellness for artists.
February 28, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

How to Decide Whether to Take on a New Project or Not

You are in charge of your art career.

This means you are the person who decides what to do immediately and what can wait for tomorrow, next week, or next month.

This sounded ideal until you realized how hard it is to prioritize your life and business by yourself.

You might have been accustomed to a boss telling you where to focus your energy. No more.

Entrepreneurship issued a wake-up call. You want freedom? Here it is! Go decide for yourself.

If you’re actively looking for opportunities, as you should be, there will be a time when you have more opportunities than you realistically have the bandwidth for. You’ll be hit with new invitations and requests from all corners.

But it’s unrealistic to involve yourself in every opportunity that comes your way.

Intellectually, you understand this. Emotionally, you want to believe you are somehow superhuman.

The projects might be exhibitions, commissions, licensing deals, wholesale contracts, teaching possibilities, separate jobs, or something else. They’re all projects that beg for your time, and they sound so exciting!

Your resolve is being tested by a voice that some people call a gremlin or troll. I call it The Tester.

How serious is she about this other project—really?
How good is he at knowing what he wants and needs?

All good entrepreneurs struggle with decisions in moments like these, especially if there is the potential for a big pay off at the end.

This is when you must ask yourself hard questions to help you answer the biggest question of all:

February 14, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

How to Be a More Confident Artist with Gwen Fox

Artist Gwen Fox describes a situation many artists have found themselves in.

You know the scenario. Your work was selected for a prestigious art show and during the show you happen to overhear a man talking about your work. As you listen, your heart sinks. He hates your painting.

The man then moves on to reveal his ignorance while commenting on several other paintings, yet what he said about yours has destroyed your confidence.

For the rest of the evening you don’t hear all the glowing remarks about your work. You keep replaying what the man said over and over in your mind. By bedtime your confidence in yourself and your art dwells in an empty vile hole.

Thoughts keep running through your mind. He was right, my work just isn’t good enough. Or … I knew down deep I wasn’t a real artist!

Your confidence has been stolen so now what can you do?

Lack of confidence is something we all struggle with at one time or another. In this episode of the Art Biz Podcast, you’ll hear guest Gwen Fox discuss this critical topic that sidelines so many artists at one point or another.

February 7, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

8 Time Management Tips for Artists Plus 2 Truths

As an artist and one-person business owner, you are the talented maker, gregarious promoter, delightful conversationalist, and head honcho. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all of these simultaneous roles.

Know that you are not alone. Perhaps it’s comforting to know that every artist at every level seeks more effective time management skills.

The first truth I want to share is this: It’s impossible to manage time. The clocks keep ticking and the sun continues to rise and set. There’s not much you can do about that.

Rather than talking about Time management, you need to focus on Self management. Use these 7 tips and be comforted by the second truth at the end.

1. Learn to say No (and mean it).

When you are very clear on your goals, it’s easier to say No to the opportunities and requests that don’t serve your long-term goals. This is the hardest lesson you’ll learn when trying to build your art business. If you master saying No, you’ll master yourself and your business.

Invitations bombard you from every direction, and you have to have the strength to know what is critical to add to your calendar and, more importantly, what doesn’t deserve a place on your schedule.

2. Turn repeated tasks into systems.

Stop reinventing the steps it takes to publish a newsletter or blog post, or to promote an exhibition. Create reliable systems for every task you undertake on a regular basis. Well-defined systems will save your behind and help you rest easily.

A system is a series of steps that answer the following questions.