Finding your inner artist, day 29: About initiative

Today’s quote:

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. ~Andy Warhol

English: Andy Warhol
English: Andy Warhol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Andy Warhol’s quote applies to art itself, but also to the business side of things.

Be honest: When did you last feel annoyed that financially, things aren’t going as well as you would like them to go?

And if this is the case: What are you doing to change this?

Many artists I know spend all day creating art, truly incredible art on top of that. And then they wait. And wait. And wait for the buyers to come. Sadly they don’t, and they won’t if you don’t also devote time to your business. Your business is not just creating art – it is also selling it if you want to make a living. The skills needed for this are what some artists are sorely lacking. So if you are not a natural salesperson, there are only two ways:

  1. Become a better one (even if you still don’t love that part of your work).
  2. Have someone else doing it for you.

Most artists I know, especially when they are starting out, feel they are not able to afford option 2 off the bat. However, working through an agent (or manager) is always a possibility. This is a subject on its own, and one with many pitfalls, but it still IS an option.

If you want to go it alone, you HAVE to invest in your business skills. No one will know how amazing your art is if you don’t learn how to sell it. Which will most certainly be something I will discuss on this blog sooner or later, so keep your eyes peeled 😉

© Petra Raspel 2013

6 thoughts on “Finding your inner artist, day 29: About initiative

  1. This is SO incredibly true! What a huge (but rare) blessing it is to be both a gifted artist as well as business savvy!!! I have so much respect for artists because I understand their struggle. But you are right on with this post. And this does not just apply to artists. No matter WHAT you do for work, if you are unhappy with your finances, no one is going to change them for you! It’s all about initiative! Reminds me of a quote I recently read by Gary Keller; “Sometimes you’ve to to shut up, get up, and giddy up!”

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    1. Hi Tony,

      I think you are not alone with this problem. I used to have it myself when I started out, and I also know many artists, performers and musicians who are/were the same. The worst mistake is to set prices too low because we’re worried no one will buy/hire us (a massive problem in the music industry, and a homemade one on top of that, because so many musicians are willing to drop their prices or even play for free – it’s a perpetual downward spiral). My partner is a photographer, and he could also tell you stories about the whole industry trying to outprice each other. And yet, there are the ones who are doing well despite not being the cheapest (and we’re not even talking the “celebrity bracket” now, but I guess they are proving that what could be called “overpricing” is not really an issue once you found your niche).

      I think this is the main mistake: So many people only take what others charge as a marker. Checking the competition IS of course important, because some (!) customers compare, but it should never be the main consideration when setting our prices. It’s actually more important to find our niche (that’s rather what sets us apart from than what we have in common with our competition), think about the clients WE WANT (and forget about the ones who only go after price, as hard as that may seem at the start) and specifically market what we have to offer to them.
      Know your customer, and you’re halfway there. But only halfway: Pricing from an economic point of view is very easy – it’s doing the networking, marketing and right kind of advertising that’s hard.

      Find the ones who are willing to pay your price; have a good marketing strategy and impeccable networking skills. Sounds so easy, but is really hard work.

      I actually intend to offer a bit of advice regarding these questions, there’s a little poll in the making 🙂

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  2. Thanks. Great piece of advice, and useful to other readers of this blog too, no doubt. I will take it as far as I can, though am probably still at that point where I’m not sure which market to aim at. More research is needed! Still, I’d be interested to read your next blog. I’ll take your point about not charging too little; I’d thought to take all my production costs including time, and multiply by 2 for myself then add 50% for the gallery (their fee is 30% of sales). Does that formula sound reasonable as a starting point? Many thanks, Tony

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    1. Hi Tony!

      Apologies it took me a few days to answer; Easter time, family time 😉

      The pricing strategy you describe is sometimes also called “keystoning” (I’m sure you’ll find a lot of info on it if you do a Google search).

      It can work; if you’d want to use it as a formula, the one thing you’d most certainly need to think about is: How do I price my time (overheads like materials, and even gallery- or agency costs, are comparably straightforward).

      Is an hour of your time worth $10 or $100? And how much of this will be profit in the end, taking off things like tax or insurance?

      This “hourly rate approach” can sometimes lead to major headaches, because it is something more commonly used to price services than products (and can therefore lead to prices that are too high or too low).
      It can work however if it is backed up by some market research (and then actually adjusting your first rate accordingly, depending on your target clientele).

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