One of your goals this year (and for every year as well) should be to come up with ideas and make changes that will help you become more productive and efficient. You have heard the old saying “Time is money”, this applies to your art business as well. You may not think of creating your art as “production” or your finished art being a “product” but they are! Whether you create original pieces, limited editions or mass produce your art you need to be concerned about being productive and efficient in your art business.
Successful businesspeople know that any business or organization can reduce its costs without sacrificing quality or hampering the amount of work done (only to a point!). This goes for your art business as well. These costs may take the form of labor hours, materials used or technologies employed. There are probably some areas of your art business where you can reduce costs – what can you can come up with?
Being productive and efficient means:
- You are not wasting valuable time and resources
- You are watchful over the amount of time and materials that go into your art
- Your materials and supplies are there when you need them and you purchase them at favorable prices
- People involved in your production process like assistants know what to do, how to do it and are ready to go when needed
- You keep your quality high and the amount of rework low
- You workspace and storage are well organized and convenient
- Utilizing technologies that fit into your capabilities, your needs and your financial resources
- You schedule, plan and track the costs of your production process
- Your “backroom” operations run smoothly
How you can be more productive
- Client Commission / Fixed Price Works – In this business model you make your art already knowing the price it will fetch. In order to increase your profits you need to reduce your costs. For many artists the amount of time they have in creating a work may be their largest expense. Controlling this time may mean the difference between and profit and a loss. A project that take more time than you anticipated means you make less per hour – think about it!
- Limited Prints / Production Items – When you produce your art under this business model you still need to manage the amount of labor although materials and expenses for outside suppliers may prove to be your biggest cost items.
- Operations – these are all of the other things – order entry, fulfilling orders, accounting and the other activities that are not a part of making or creating your art. Look for areas in your operations that can be streamlined.
Some ideas on productivity goals:
Think like you are running a factory where you need to organize and plan the production of your art. Here are some ideas on goals to increase productivity and efficiency:
- Prioritize the activities I do in my art business
- Increase the quantity of art I am able to produce
- Better plan for exhibitions, show, fairs and festivals
- Organize my workspace and make it more productive
- Organize my materials, supplies and inventory
- Look at my choice of tools, equipment and processes and their effect on the cost of creating my art
- Streamline my art production process by eliminating unnecessary steps
- Create an inventory system to keep track of and store my art/products
- Improve my purchasing processes and supplier network
- Reduce my material costs by using less and by buying materials at a better price
- Employ technologies that will save time and/or reduce material costs
- Control my time, employee or contract labor costs
- Develop quality control standards for my work
- Develop a production plan for the year
- Develop daily/weekly schedule for producing my art
- Utilize software and computers for creative and business operations
- Streamline my ordering and fulfillment processes
- Consider outsourcing some activities
Use your own creativity and look for ways to become more productive and efficient!
The bottom line(s)…
The more efficient you are in your art business the more profitable your company will be. You should always be on the lookout for things that will make you more productive.
I would be interested to see what things you have done to be more productive and welcome your comments. If you would like to learn more about being productive and the business of art I invite you to check out my book – The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox. Good Luck!
Neil McKenzie is the author of The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox – How to Start, Run and Market a Successful Arts or Creative Business available in softcover from Barnes & Noble and Amazon and as an eBook from iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He has developed and teaches the course “Artrepreneurship” at the Center for Innovation at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and is also a visiting professor at University College at the University of Denver where he teaches “Marketing the Arts”.
Neil has over 30 years’ experience as a management consultant and marketing executive, working with some of the world’s top brands. Neil is a frequent lecturer to artists and arts organizations, a guest columnist for Colorado Biz Magazine, where he covers the creative sector of the economy, and the author of several articles for Americans for the Arts, a national arts organization. Follow Neil on Twitter: @neilmckenzphoto