The Business of Art

bagua-feng-shui-colorsAccording to Feng Shui, the Wealth area is in the far left corner from the entrance. I considered this when I decided to move my art table in the studio. Originally, I had my largest earning activity (bookkeeping) in that corner, but then a radical thought emerged: making money with art.

What if I put my creative area in the money corner? What if I had the intention to increase my income from art…to be success-full as an artist?

The word promotion comes to mind. Because if I want to sell my books, bags and assemblages, they are not really done until I promote them, which trickles down to promoting myself. And that stops me in my tracks. I’m more of a “look at you” person than a “look at me” one.

There are plenty of options for making my artwork visible, all with associated expenses.  Galleries (assuming they would take my work) take up to 50% of the selling price, but if I consider my time to be valuable, then the other options are just as costly. If I set up a booth at a local market, there are the hours of set up time, selling time, and take down. Or if I sell online, I spend my time taking photographs, writing clever descriptions and “shop keeping”. When I do the math, all of the choices seem financially equal.

In my 37 years of making boat covers “word of mouth” has always brought new work my way. The boating community does promotion for me because the work is visible and pleased customers are happy to pass along my name. But when it comes to the business of art, I have not been so prolific or been at it for so many years. I could advertise, but that seems crass, boring, frustrating. Nor do I want to spend my precious art time doing promotion.

Then, yesterday, I read an article by local artist Ann Belov, painter, printmaker and author of The Panda Chronicles. Her solution to promotion is endorsement. Instead of saying “look at me” I can say “look at her/him/them”. I’m thrilled. I’m much more likely to wax poetic about other people than myself, and every time I “like” a page on Facebook, I’m endorsing. Or when I “share” a post, or when I “Pin It” on Pinterest. Turns out that endorsing is a pleasurable pastime, turning the business of art into a virtual party. It’s another version of “word of mouth” with, of course, the unspoken part that if I “do unto others”, they will “do unto me”…

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