Value Proposition for Creative Entrepreneurs

 

Value Proposition for Creative Entrepreneurs

Creativity is a unique skill. Artists have the advantage to create and demonstrate the value they provide simply because they’re creative. This is not a skill available to everyone. Creativity is a currency. Overall, your value just needs to be rendered in the right way, to the right audience at the right time. You know that not all art sells. So what do you promise to deliver to customers should they choose to buy your product or service? That is the definition of a value proposition (VP).

Trending

Sometimes a VP sticks because it's trendy. It pops up at the right time to the right audience. Today, right now, I see popularity sits with graphics and stories about self-care, mental health, and work-life balance – all flourishing on Instagram. We see these in the form of quotes, comics, posters, and strong illustrations with a cohesive colour pallet and brand story. This lands with people because it is human nature to go through emotional peaks and valleys and to try to self-actualize and evolve. We want to relate, we don't want to feel alone, and we want to feel better.

The fact that artists and writers are tapping into a trend, or zeitgeist of the moment (however you see it), is a win-win situation. It is what the audience is craving and the story that artists share. Talking about self-care and mental health also helps to remove the stigma around mental and psychological growth. Health and wellness are universal. In many ways, we know art is also universal.

Do you need a Value Proposition (VP)?

Just because you’re an artist, and "the medium speaks for itself," it’s understandable you don’t desire or want a VP to convey to a potential buyer, manager, producer or client. However, if they don’t have access to your work, how will you hook them and get their immediate attention through a conversation? What will you place in your social media bios and artist statement? Apart from that, how can we know with certainty that your art will land, on its own, into the minds of audiences? Sometimes the art becomes even more memorable due to the story behind it. You write this as an artist statement. But the artist statement is meant for those who more often understand art, which is not always the general public or potential customers, and plus it's quite lengthy. That's where you want to introduce the VP.

Exercise

Check out three artists you admire, review their website, the about, artist statements if they have, and bios.

How would you describe them in one sentence to someone? What stands out to you? Why do you like them? What's cohesive about the value they provide? How would you describe them in three words?

Lost in Translation

Art doesn’t translate to every audience. Similarly, listen to conversations in a museum where everyday people try to interpret the art. However, that is not to say that you can’t get people’s attention. If you’re clear on what you want to convey, chances are it sticks and is something they want to return to (and maybe even purchase).

While the artist statement depicts the deeper purpose and ethos of your work, you need a much shorter 1-2 sentence statement about your work that sounds good when you speak it. For example, Beyoncé’s VP is tapping into the ethos of the feminist women's empowerment movement. Thinking of Beyoncé, you might consider the words strong, beautiful, independent, to ‘run the world’ and ‘get in formation.’ We won’t argue the merits of ‘feminism’ through Beyoncé here, but the point is to the suggestion that her ethos and unique value and message is clear – for independent women to be themselves, and to remember how strong they are. Arguably this is an underlying theme throughout her career, but now more explicitly so.

Banksy, as we all know, is the anti-art graffiti artist whose message can be summed up as social justice and politically driven, with a lot of nuance to each piece. The point is you want to be recognizable without feeling compartmentalized – you are not your VP. It is just part of the story you share today. That VP will change with the seasons if you want it to.

Top Tips for your VP

  1. Don’t bury your VP in meaningless slogans, buzzwords or a story that doesn’t move cohesively throughout your brand and products.
  2. Make it strong because people generally have about 7-11 seconds to latch onto your message and get it. From your website to your in-person ‘elevator’ pitch.
  3. Keep it simple. Be quick and explicit about pointing out how your product or service is unique and powerful. Why do you do it – make sure your passion and truth speak.
  4. Make it even simpler. Test it out on people. Is what they interpret, what you think you are?
  5. Frame it as a relationship. You are creating a relationship with your thoughts and experiences to produce art; likewise, through art, you create a new relationship between the observer (or listener) and the art. What relationship are you creating? What are you building – trust, honesty, integrity, curiosity, inspiration, or a feeling?

So which comes first, the art or the VP? There’s no correct answer to this. With Banksy, he was driven by his artistic vision and the value he expressed to the world and people took note. With Beyonce, she evolved over time into the women’s empowerment movement more explicitly as a society did too during a pivotal time. Finally, in an economically driven society and in the attempt to destroy the ‘starving artist’ trope – your VP is the reason why people will buy from you.

MoMA writes in there about,

“We’re committed to sharing the most thought-provoking modern and contemporary art”

This is simple and different. Ultimately, not all spaces focus on ‘thought-provoking’ art, and this VP will be reflected in the decisions MoMA makes in curation. Likewise, you as an artist are curating not just your work for the sake of creation, but for an audience. Your work deserves to move and stir in people whatever it is that you want to propose to them, just make it clear.