4 Critical Points to Help You be Successful in the Art Business
Art is Everywhere
Art has taken over the world. Look around and there isn’t a single industry that does not require the visual music of an artist. Luxury brands appropriate street art. There are dozens of online sites to sell your art - you just need a modest marketing budget. Simply put, a lot of art today takes place outside the art world entirely and no longer take place only in galleries.
Artists can be laser-like in their work that they forget the larger world they can mold and shape. You are not an amateur, you the artist can shape the present and the future. Artists shape how people think, what people buy and how people consume. Don't underestimate the ways art speaks to the masses.
Don't Just Play it Safe
If you’re not playing it smart, you’re playing it safe - and safe artists seldom make history. Remember the art world is like any other in the game of life. Move the chess pieces in your favour regardless of what your objectives are. Many artists want the respect and esteem of their peers. Artists hope people will appreciate the ethos behind their work in some shape or form. However, artists must answer: what do you do well and why do you do what you do? (aka your value proposition).
Ultimately, you must notice when you assert yourself confidently and when you retreat. Are you playing a game you enjoy or a game that's set up to make you fail? Return back to why you’re making art. Don’t ignore how the world thrives on changing the rules for womxn and for people of colour, and so it’s more important than ever to invest in your game.
Game Recognize Game
Whether you’re pursuing creativity for yourself or a higher purpose, recognizing game gives you the advantage of changing the game. You can make new rules, and put up goalposts for others to also take their shot. More importantly, be sure to invest in your art mentally and spiritually so that others will do the same.
- Learn to play chess: think ahead, plan and learn the difference between making decisions and making the right decisions.
- Rules: make a list of rules you see others following and break some of them to stand out.
- Be a radical: rebel against ‘that's the way things are,’ be inventive and different, share that passionately with someone in the industry.
- Seek sage advice: identify a mentor who’s successful at the game.
- Find a community: if you don’t belong to a group (online or in-person) join one and exchange ideas (or create one and enhance your own credibility).
- Points: scoring doesn’t make them win, training and playing so you can’t lose does - so balance competition with others in favour of competition with yourself.
- Getting called out: in an era of PC language, of being misunderstood and of cancel culture (which can really destroy your reputation), if you’re unsure of an idea wait a few days. If you’re still really unsure, ask someone about the ethics before moving forward.
Ultimately, base business decisions on your present and future needs, and not on the needs at a point in time where you felt small and unsure. Artists don't want to drown in labels. Artists avoid societal cages that diminish the creative process. Similarly, and do not overlook the counterpoint, you get to define what playground you want to play in, and what labels you want to wear. If you don’t, someone else will do so for you.
Move with the Seasons
Above all, while the art industry is subjective and what’s considered ‘great’ art likewise, you can still create ways in which great can shift with the seasons. (We don't all want to see comic strip art forever.) Similarly, that’s not to say that the few people with decision-making power will always be the ones moving the dial in the art world. After all, you’re an artist and you know exactly how to create something from nothing.
Community Economic Development, retired analogue photographer, and other fun social justice chit-chat. Toronto. MBA ’19. Twitter @SalomehA