Creatives and Business is all about helping you build a successful art or other creative business. I have put together some great resources on this site to help you sell more art and better manage the business side of things. I invite you to check it out and share with your artist friends. Best of Luck! – Neil McKenzie
In the previous article, Galleries, Shows, and Other Opportunities to Show Your Work I took a look at a variety of options to show and exhibit your work. In this article I will explore some things you should consider before entering into an agreement to show your work with a gallery or other third party venue.
Having your work shown in a gallery can be a great way to build your art brand and support your other marketing efforts. If you are represented by a gallery you are entering into an agreement between you and the gallery. As with any agreement it is important to know what you are getting into. The same goes for having your work shown on an online gallery as well.
Good business relationships are based on having a good understanding and an agreement of what is expected of all parties. I have heard from many galleries that artists are a “pain” to work with and an equal amount of artists that say that galleries are a “pain” to work with. My suspicion is that most of this comes from relationships forged on a lack of understanding of what is expected, who is responsible for what, and typically the lack of a formal written agreement.
A gallery agreement is a legal document
I come from the business world. In over thirty years of business planning, marketing and research I have had the opportunity to work with successful (as well as my share of not so successful) startups to some of the world’s biggest and best known brands. These successful companies had a lot more in common than you might think. What they had in common was a grasp for the basics of marketing, consumer behavior and a good plan of action with the management to execute it.
When I was first asked to develop and teach the course Artrepreneurship at the Center for Innovation at Metropolitan State University of Denver to teach business to students in the arts I was excited but a bit apprehensive – I went to business school not art school! So here is my premise – selling art (or anything for that matter) is like selling potato chips, you do the basic things, you do them right and you have a chance to succeed. Don’t do them and you are set for failure.
Next to creating your art, the most important function in your art business is marketing. If you are not concerned about marketing then you are more likely just pursuing your passion or engaging in a hobby. If you are looking to grow your brand, expand your markets and make money, then marketing should be on your list of business skills to master.
What is marketing?
There are a lot of ways to look at a subject or concept and marketing is no different. People confuse marketing with sales or marketing with advertising. Marketing is a broad concept that encompasses much more.
According to the American Marketing Association, “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large “ While this is certainly a comprehensive definition what does it really mean?
The Four P’s of marketing
You need a good business card and I put emphasis on “Good”! I have met many artisans in casual situations and even at art fairs who don’t have a business card. Not only do they miss out on future sales they are not giving their brand a professional image that says, “I mean business!”. Here are some ideas and tips on putting your business card to work for you.
Now is a great time to think about all of the opportunities you could discover and take advantage of in the coming year. This year make it a point to find new opportunities for you as an artist and for your art business as well.
Knowing what your opportunities are gives your art business a solid sense of direction and a basis to develop your strategies. Opportunities come in all shapes and sizes and you need to look for them because they may not be looking for you. Examples of opportunities could be new places and venues to show and sell your work, a better way to produce your art, market trends, or a better ways to run your business. If you think about it there are probably quite a few opportunities you should be looking at right now!