The Business of Being You – 5 ways to get started
Written by Corianne Wells | firstname.lastname@example.org
Congrats! You are doing a great job, because of course, you are being you! Like many of us, you probably have a good understanding of what you like to do and where you’d like to see yourself in the near future. But how will you get there? What about the business of being you?
Like it or not, your art is your product and your name (or pseudonym) is your brand. You should begin thinking of yourself as the CEO, CFO, Sales Rep., Brand Ambassador, and entry level intern of “You INC.”. In order to achieve success, YOU must begin working and growing at every level of your brand. No task should be too small or too mighty to accomplish; The perfect balance of grit and glamor.
Most creatives would agree that resumes, artist statements, contract negotiations, and invoices are some of the least enjoyable parts of being a creative professional. This unpleasant and ever-more important list of paperwork might as well be the devil resting on your shoulder. However, when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the larger goal of sustaining an art practice, set aside time every week to focus on one of these 5 crucial aspects of the professional creative career.
Geek out about your favorite artists, notice themes in their work, patterns, and colors. Identify what captivates you most and write it down. The more artists you look at, the more ideas you collect, the easier it will be to explain your own thought process and the importance of what you’re making. Remember, the more you know and study every nook and cranny of the mold, the easier it will be to break it!
Get organized. In addition to creating your resume, CV, and letterhead, begin indexing your work; documenting materials, time, dimensions, value, and location. Draft a general contract for purchasing and leasing your work, which protects you and your intellectual property regarding loss, damage, theft, and payment. This is a constant hurdle, so schedule a portion of your week that doesn’t distract you from the studio, to work on these small yet crucial tasks. It will save you time in the long run.
You don’t need a portfolio review or upcoming exhibition to focus on presenting your work professionally. Start by setting aside some time to document quality images of your work. Even if you don’t own an expensive camera or fancy lighting equipment, you’d be amazed at what a smartphone camera and a small purchase from the app store can do! Organize your files with a simple name, number, or folder system, and have them ready to drop in an email or online if a gallery or collector asks. You may also want to consider keeping hard copies of your images in a small travel portfolio or on an iPad, in case an unexpected opportunity presents itself.
Let the world know that you’re out there and you’re working hard. It’s easier than ever to share your work with social media, so think of it as free advertising for your brand. Share the things you’re researching, working on, or celebrating. Present yourself honestly and professionally and people will flock to LIKE.
It can be hard to step away from the studio when you’re grooving, but ‘showing up’ is your greatest asset. Get to know people working in your field, show up to events, art mixers, exhibitions, and stand around a little longer than you are comfortable. Pick your favorite gallery first and prioritize their openings. Introduce yourself and talk to gallery owners and directors about what artists and exhibitions they’re paying attention to; And though it may be tempting, don’t begin by asking a gallery director to consider showing your work #badmanners. Instead, engage in the work and write down your conversation or findings on a show. Lastly, keep showing up to the events and spaces you admire most. Soon, you will find yourself just one degree in separation from your dream gig or exhibition.