I’ll be honest; I’m mesmerized by the business side of art because I find the idea that people can do what they love and get paid for it fascinating. Entrepreneurs like Kelly Rae Roberts and Mary Engelbreit motivate me.
These innovative women took their artistic passions into the marketplace and changed the world for the better. Kelly Rae Roberts was my muse for getting into mixed media. I followed her instructions in her book, Taking Flight, to create one of my first mixed media pieces eight years ago that includes collage, oil painting, and embellishments (mask, feathers, ribbon, and jewelry):
I’ve also gleaned some business tips from Kelly Rae’s e-book, “Flying Lessons,” and I strongly suggest this resource for any artistic entrepreneur in need of ideas for a business model.
So, what is it about the business side of art that captivates me and so many other people as well? I can’t answer for them but sure can for me. When you make something someone wants to buy, you get a euphoric feeling because your art connected with another person. The sale soothes your doubts that tend to bubble up inside your brain with thoughts like, my art sucks. Who would want it?
Ironically, I had just posted about my tendency to prioritize making art over marketing my book, Refrain from the Identical: Insights and Inspiration for Creative Eclectics, in The Gift of the Artistic:
I’ve often wondered why the pursuit of art is so important to me. After all, I could spend a whole lot more time marketing my book instead of painting. The first would make me money but the later brings me incalculable joy as well as money.
Then at the end of the day, I checked my email and found a notification that one of the masks my daughter and I made had sold on Etsy.
I think God has a sense of humor, and I had to eat my words.
When I reread the description of the mask on Etsy, it reminded me of how a little girl’s childhood delight can transform into her big girl dream:
“This hand-sculpted mask is another one of my daughter Elya’s originals.
She designed the mask to generate the imagery of a sea creature (One of Elya’s favorite childhood cartoons is “The Little Mermaid”). She embellished the mask with a butterfly and buttons. Her paisley theme is another one of her favorite artistic delights. Black, blue, and white feathers accent the mask.”
As I wrapped up “The Mermaid” and sealed the box for shipping, my mind quickly calculated further possibilities, If only I could sell a dozen a month…Now, although I’m not in this to get rich (although I’m open to the prospect of making more money), the goal remains the same; supplement my income so I can pursue my dreams of traveling to far away places, publishing more books, and buying lots of art supplies.
When I initially wrote this post in 2012, I didn’t have a focused body of art (mine was all over the place, which is typical of a creative eclectic). I was looking forward to the day when my artistic product line would emerge.
After years of artistic exploration, I’m astounded at what I’ve created.
Yes, for some artistic souls, there is a business side of art that draws them like those mermaid-like sirens.
Fate seems to have a way of aligning the delivery of messages through multiple means. The day I sold the mask on Etsy, the two curriculums I used in one of my literacy classes coincided. Students had the opportunity to create a job resume in a READ 180 workshop and listen to a vocabulary rap, “How to Become an Entrepreneur” in a Flocabulary song.
In fact, the very definition of an entrepreneur, “an innovator who takes initiative and risks,” reveals the creative, innovative assets akin to artistic expression. So, if you feel the pull, you’re probably meant to be an artistic entrepreneur. Don’t fight the feeling, but glean from the expertise of others.
*The same day I received the notification of the mask sale, I received a Facebook email from someone asking to buy a signed book copy :).