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Perspectives, Issue #004 -- The business of Art
April 24, 2008

"Perspectives" - The Business of Art.

The hot, steamy months are behind us as we enjoy the coolness of evenings and the freshness of early mornings.

Ever observant, Frieda comments -

this early morning,
small lizards stretch, start moving
a place in the sun

Have you started on your haikus about nature and a moment in time?

As promised, here is the first of my articles about the business of being an artist.

The Artist as a business person.

You have had an ability to draw for most of your life; you are dexterous and creative. Perhaps you have completed an undergraduate arts-related degree or other qualification.

Good beginning!

But now you need to make some money from your passion. Graphic artists seem to be able to find work quite easily but for “fine” artists the path to fame and fortune is not so smooth.

In fact, it is strewn with obstacles, uphill struggles and wrong turnings!

Having been involved with artistic pursuits and artists for most of my life I understand that a career in the Arts is rarely a road to riches.

But it seems to me that money is not a motivation for the majority of artists; in fact, I would argue that if people set out with the sole aim of making money from their occupation of drawing, painting or sculpting then what they produce is hardly ever “Art”.

Mind you, most artists wish to be “successful”, to earn the recognition and respect of their peers and, in so doing, a comfortable living from their efforts.

Here’s the first step to your business success:

Keep records. Keep meticulous records that you will understand at the end of the year – and so that your accountant will not have to charge you for hours of labour sorting out your mess.

It’s not too difficult. Buy yourself a cheque book, a receipt book and a cash book.

The cheque book is, obviously, for expenses; the receipt book records income from sales of artwork or payment for your services (eg teaching, painting a mural for a shop etc).

Keep all receipts, in order of when purchases were made. If you use petty cash then draw a set amount for this purpose by writing a cash cheque (but all receipts must tally with the amount of the cash cheque).

The cash book should have various sub-categories (columns) showing various types of expenses (eg rent, materials, electricity, advertising ) and income ( exhibition sales, market stall, teaching, commissions) and so on.

Now, most artists’ brains just don’t work this way and record-keeping sounds like the biggest “turn-off” to many.

But, take heart. Although your brain might mostly be working in “Right brain”, creative mode, it is possible to switch to “Left brain” engagement with just a little effort.

The best way that I know around this little problem is to set aside a few hours, or less, every week and stick to it.

The routine of, say, every Monday afternoon at 2pm, doing your bookwork gets it done fast and painlessly – plus you will have no more guilt associated with undone chores hanging over your head.

You already do that? Fantastic! Now go and have fun!

Cairns Ceramicist, Lone White, writes of her recent trip to China.

More about Lone White
More tropical haikus by Frieda

Please feel free to forward this e-newsletter to friends if you think that they would enjoy it.

Until next time


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