Entrepreneurs R Us (Curious Monday)

The world loves labels. And, yet, many artists would walk a mile out of the way to avoid a label.

Pastel of palm by Susan Klinger
©Susan E. Klinger, Coconut Palm II. Pastel, 24 x 15 inches. Used with permission.

Just for fun, though, try on the label “entrepreneur.”

I am an entrepreneur.

I think you, too, are an entrepreneur, but I'm not sure what you think about that word. Let's find out.

Are You An Entrepreneur?

Without getting into the official definition of the word, do you relate to the word “entrepreneur”?

What comes up for you if I called you an artist-entrepreneur?

Do you describe yourself as an entrepreneur?

What would it take for you to feel more like an entrepreneur? Is that desirable?

Do you buy products, classes, books, and programs for entrepreneurs?

Can't wait to hear what you have to say. Just leave a comment below.

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37 thoughts on “Entrepreneurs R Us (Curious Monday)”

  1. This was a timely post for me as I spent Friday at “A Gathering of the Sixties,” a sadly constructed excuse for having a reunion for each year that was held at my Alma Mater. One of the many classes I saw that it both warmed my heart to see and broke it at the same time was on becoming a successful entrepreneur.

    I left art college with literally no guidance on what to do with a BFA in Fabric Design (now called ‘Fibers’.). I ended up working as a shop girl and got married not long after. I made some art now and then but didn’t return to it full time and full steam until the 80’s. I then ended up actually writing – in collaboration with my husband – a three part series for The Artist Magazine and lecturing at a number of their conferences on marketing. He and I had learned how to market ourselves the hard way, by just throwing ourselves out there and giving things a shot. We did well. But I think that had I not had his assistance, I’d have simply given up.

    If you plan to be a professional artist, you have to be (these days) an entrepreneur. It’s a given. Even if you have gallery representation, you have to think and act like a marketer. It’s the world we live in.

  2. Wow! Thank you so much for using my image for this post! Serendipity at its finest. Just arrived in Florida for a few days, so the choice of image was spot on! And the question for the day? Well, yes I am beginning to consider myself an entrepreneur or artrepreneur. After retiring from teaching high school art for 34 years, I have discovered that to build a second career focused on art, one must wear many hats. Finding different venues, marketing, recordkeeping, and of course production are all part of the process. I believe that to be successful, especially in a difficult economy, an entrepreneurial spirit will be key. I embrace that ‘label’ with a smile. I am doing what I have always wanted to do.

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  3. This is a great and timely topic.
    I attended the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center’s Business planning course when I was conducting my decorative painting company full time in the Bay Area….it was.fantastic, and I feel that this kind of exposure and training is invaluable to the artist…to broaden our education and knowledge base. I also joined a networking group for 2 years…another invaluable growthe experience.
    Knowledge is empowerment…and however you choose to use it, learning about business and how it works is imperative in this day and age. It is a lot of work, but gone are the days for most of us when we can put our work and soul nto the hands of galleries or agent doings, and call it a day. Seth Godin as well as Alyson are amazing thought leaders around this.
    The only issue is…there really are some folks who will never be business people…they just are not built that way no matter what they do…and yet are amazing artists and should be seen.
    I don’t know what the solution is in that case…

  4. When I had my design business in the 80’s, I considered myself an entrepreneur. And, my biggest challenge was charging clients – I always gave away too much. When I worked full-time after that I considered myself an artist working for funds to do my art. (my graphic design, an occupation; my art, my life’s work) Concentrating fully on my fine art now, I consider myself in my art business – so I guess that makes me an entrepreneur. But, I feel I will financially support my art more with grants than sales – so I think I am stretching the definition of entrepreneur a bit.

  5. Having recently sold a non-art business I built from the ground up over the past 35 years, I remain the business and operations consultant and the licensed contractor for 2 years. That has given me the unique opportunity to observe the successful business I created being managed under a different business model. The two business models, in addition to providing quality and timely service, share the one thing which I believe best characterizes the one essential element for success, and that is a strong concern for future productivity, the key being “future”. An entrepreneur is above all, forward-thinking. That should be the motivation for everything, from creating new opportunities to paying the bills, to handling difficult or unhappy clients. The entrepreneur is motivated by a future pay-off. Every expenditure of time or resources should be thought of as an investment. We invest time and resources in our art; as entrepreneurs we invest time and resources in our ability to create more art, enabled by sales and everything it takes to generate sales.

    1. “Every expenditure of time or resources should be thought of as an investment.” I like that a lot. Might have to post that above my desk : ) thanks!

  6. Marrianna Dougherty

    I love the responses to your question today. I’ll check back for more of them. I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur and maybe that’s why nothing in my art career has ever stuck. I’ll keep following your blog, your Curious Mondays, Facebook, and more. One of these years, I’ll be able to visit Golden, CO, for your Art Biz Breakthrough. Even if I wanted to, my fractured vertebrae that are slowly healing as I wear a very uncomfortable back brace wouldn’t allow any travel. But I look forward to reading about the event from the attendees. Maybe you’ll record some of the sessions and put them up on your site for sale for us who can’t travel. Just a thought. And probably not practical. Maybe somebody will use Periscope during the sessions or just walking around the venue, etc.

  7. Recently, a friend told me that I am an entrepreneur. I realized she is right if you take the view that such folks are innovative in some way. But I never really thought of it like that. I am just interested in putting unexpected things together, making things work and solving problems, networking, anticipating needs, earning a living, and if I am honest, being recognized. Maybe that’s what she meant.

  8. I love the word entrepreneur and realize now that I have always been one. Working full time and freelance in the N.Y.C film animation industry I was always looking to be involved in the next new trend, and was. It’s hard to explain but I was the product, my skills in that industry. Now I’m in the process of starting a business selling my abstract / fine art photography. So now my art is the product that I’m going to sell and it’s been a big and kind of scary transition for me. Still an entrepreneur but I guess it’s the transition from being a commercial artist which is kind of anonymous to those outside the workplace to promoting my personal work. Very scary for me right now. An artist must be an entrepreneur if they want to be in the world.

  9. Of course, what artist create is a product and it needs to be shown and if somebody likes it and buys it is even better. It takes a lot of dedication, knowledge and marketing skills, which we as artists have to update constantly.

  10. I’ve been listening to the tapes of Dr Shefali Tsabary (contemporary psychology), recently, on YouTube (Oprah loves her). She says her mission is about inner freedom.

    Now if I can just force myself to get the housework done, I may become a success as an artist. If I were to write my memoirs now, I would have to admit most of the hours of my life have been used up as a scullery maid, Cinderella.

  11. As a full time painter for over fifteen years and having owned an art gallery for the past ten years I am an entrepreneur. This summer taking Alyson’s Creative Content Camp I am learning just how much I don’t know! All my energy has been in the art making and I am so greateful for the support and sales over the years…now it is time for a more formal business end of the stick. It is actually fun…slow to implement but coming along. For the first time I am creating an online support system to help me along. Thanks Alyson…looking forward to Breakthrough!

  12. Very interesting question. I thought about it a lot before posting. I do not consider myself an entrepreneur. I do consider myself a businessperson, marketer and artist [and I refer to myself that way]. I think I associate ‘entrepreneur’ with ‘inventor’, since in the 80s in college that’s how the word was framed. Entrepreneurs invented cool new gadgets and found a way to make a new niche for them, market, produce and sell them. Artists were artists. An artist who managed to support herself with her art was a businessperson. That works for me.

  13. As a retired person– purchasing agent– I’ve had enough business. I don’t want to spend any more time being “entrepreneurial” than possible. What I am hoping for is breaking even on my materials and other costs. If I get something for my time, swell. If I was much younger, I’d probably feel very different. The possibility of a self sustaining artistic vocation is very alluring. However, it is simply not one I share. What time I have will be spent making things, and, as time permits, making them available. If I wanted further involvement in business– marketing, I suppose– I’d have remained employed and changed disciplines. But I opted for what I have, and am satisfied. (This year, at least, I’ve already broken even.) That extra kick comes not from sales per se. It comes from someone wanting something I’ve made enough to pay for it.

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