The entrepreneurial artist: Marketing & media / communications context (Part I) (2001)

Creative Business & Entrepreneurship | 21 November 2011
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I’m someone who admires the independent-thinking artist. Certainly after meeting and interviewing maybe 200-300 artists, who live and work in the United States, Europe, and East Asia. And after the first 50 artists or so, I noticed that many of them were saying the same things about their artistic context.

And I began to ask myself this question: How can the independent artist in the studio become the independent artist conducting business?

How can artists be independent art professionals, by focusing almost exclusively on their art production? When media and communications, and the business of art are so very much a part of the professional artist’s career.

It’s like the candlemaker in Holland, who makes beautiful and unique candles, but doesn’t know where to sell them outside of his country. The candlemaker has to find someone, or pay someone, to do their marketing and find opportunities. The marketer has to find something in it— for them.

This, of course, can be very difficult.

Now, for me personally, I appreciate art in different situations, in museums and galleries, in rented spaces, and in studios. And I don’t think that the quality of the art changes, when it is presented in these different settings.

Of course, good art can be in the studio. It can even be a secret artwork, that only the artist knows about it.

But many artists want to do something more with their art. And once the artist shows their artwork to someone else, or has even talked about it, they have already begun their communications.

[From an art purist view,] perhaps I know nothing about Art. What I do know is that I’ve received a couple of art-related degrees, have taught at some universities, have published over 100 things in different places, in different magazines, for different editors and readers.

I’ve helped organise and publicise shows in different countries, which drew from my experience as an art journalist, and studies in media and communications, and [my experience] now as a company writer.

Also luckily, I’ve received a lot of good advice.

But the best advice I’ve received was NOT from art people. Not at all. My best advice was from a friend working in press relations, who worked with politicians. Everyday at his job, he talked to writers at newspapers and magazines. He knows the principles of media and communications, and he can apply them to anything.

Being an art-centred person, I was sometimes shocked at how he would respond. He rolls his eyes at art media— thinking, it’s not the centre. It’s like other specialist presses for specific groups— like that for design, hotels, and travel; meetings and conventions; plumbing fixtures; and bridal wear.

In other words, for him, art media is peripheral.