Crucial lessons I've learned running an art business
There is no better way to learn than by making mistakes, and lucky for you I've made plenty!
1. Windproof your booth display
Bungee cords, table clamps, and weights are your best friend. I can't tell you how many times I have lent bungees or weights to my neighbor who's tent nearly went flying. Outdoor events are super windy 7 out of 10 times, so just expect wind and be prepared! I recommend using sand bag weights that you can strap to each tent leg, then hook a bungee from the sand bag handle up the length of the leg and attach the other end to the tent cover for extra stability. If you're using a free flowing table cloth rather than a fitted one, use table clamps to keep it from blowing in the wind.
2. Filing Taxes
Okay I'm not even going to pretend like I have even remotely figured out what I'm doing when it comes to taxes, but I know someone who has and she can help. Sunlight Taxes is a company run by a painter named Hannah who also has a finance degree and helps artist and creatives file taxes. I attended one of her workshops last year before filing taxes, and she saved my life. Rather than attempt to relay what I learned, I would encourage you to take one of her workshops!
3. Say no to projects you want to say no to
I cannot emphasize this one enough. The art you create correlates with the art projects you attract. If you continuously say yes to painting people's dogs even though you really have no interest in pursuing animal portraiture, you're doing yourself a disservice. People will see you as a pet portrait artist, and the customers interested in abstract art (your hypothetical true passion) won't be knocking on your door. Saying no to projects that disinterest you gives you the power and time to say yes to, attract, and create the projects that do.
4. Create a budget
So maybe don't raid the sale rack at Michael's every time you go in to buy a new marker? Art making cost money, and sometimes it can take months before that money comes back to you through sales. I recommend keeping your product line small at first, as well as your inventory. When I first started making buttons, I ordered 2,000 of them. (Yup, I wrote that right lol! You got a discount the more you ordered, and I love a good discount.) That was approximately two years ago, and I still have stock leftover from that initial order. If I could go back in time I would advise myself to buy 50 total, see how the do, and if they fly off the shelves use that information to determine how many I reorder rather than having static inventory.
5. You are an artrepreneur
When I met up with one of my college friends for coffee a year ago he said, "You need to stop thinking like an artist, and starting thinking like an entrepreneur." He was a business man, and this blunt statement stuck with me. I was thinking like an artist. I had a laid back mentality of creating pretty things and getting excited if someone wanted to buy one. This mentality is fine if you want to be a hobby artist, but I had intentions to grow a business. Shifting your mentality to match your goals is the only way to achieve them. I'm not suggesting you ditch your artist way of thinking, but rather grow you business brain. I will be writing a future blog on this concept alone because there's a lot to unpack here, so stay tuned!