This post is inspired by James Judd, writer/comedian/NPR storyteller, who wrote an article for Pyragraph in early spring entitled “My Day as a Working Artist.” It’s a funny piece, but also poignant because at the end of a very long day, Judd writes: “Was it artistically fulfilling? No. It didn’t include any work on my script or, heaven forbid, rehearsal. Nothing in it made me feel like I’m becoming a better artist.”
For many artists, days like this are typical: massive numbers of hours working on the business of getting their creative work out there (Judd’s day began at 8:30am and ended at 12:15am the next day). As artists become more successful (more connections with their audience and also making more $), the business demands increase: legal contracts, marketing, touring details, financial management, online presence and social media, PR, endless inquiries and communications, etc.
This is the “big squeeze” of a creative life. Artists must increase their entrepreneurial or small business skills while at the same time they are called to produce a body of artistic work. Oftentimes, the business demands become urgent and time-consuming, leaving little energy and time to write, paint, sculpt, choreograph, teach, design, rehearse or finish making the…fill in the blank. Plus artistic lives are best when they have longevity, or the time and space to work through the peaks and valleys of artistic expression and creativity.
For artists, artisans and designers to have a career that includes income (money!), participating in the business of art is increasingly required. What shouldn’t be required is that artists be responsible for the business side without serious help. While some artists relish the entrepreneurial role, many do not – oftentimes because they aren’t good at the business skills they don’t like or don’t have. Perhaps this is because of differences between right-brain/left-brain functions, but ArtSpark hears over and over again from creative people that business duties take a lot of time and, most importantly, take valuable hours and energy away from “time in the studio.”
Artists need help managing the business side, that is clear. ArtSpark knows this, hears this, sees this. We’ve provided lots of business skill training and technical assistance for a wide spectrum of artists, artisans, designers and other creatives for over 4 years in several communities. We also see the increasing trend of training artists to be entrepreneurs via start up workshops, accelerators, and “art biz” boot camps.
ArtSpark is envisioning another possibility… perhaps a far better solution. A solution that gives space and time for making art back to the artist. So stay tuned…