Empty Easel's goal is "to publish helpful information for both new and professional artists - without any of the vague or confusing "artspeak" common to the art world."
These articles add information that until now has only been available to my individual clients. You won't find these tips anywhere in my own Blog. I write them exclusively for the Empty Easel online audience.
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In my time as an artist advisor, I've found that all too many artists ignore the need for legal documents and contracts in their business.
After all, you can sell your art on the strength of a handshake or write down a commission agreement on a napkin. . . but there really does come a time when well-written contracts are a necessity.
√ Decide to protect your rights.
Now let's look at why you need to get it in writing and how to make sure you get what you need.
√ Document your rights so you can protect them.
One of my favorite Marx Brothers skits is the contract negotiation skit in A Night at the Opera. Here's an excerpt:
Groucho Marx: All right. It says the first part of the party of the first part shall be known in this contract as the first part of the party of the first part -- look, why should we quarrel about a thing like this, we'll take it right out, eh?
Chico Marx: Yes, it's too long anyhow. Now what have we got left?
Groucho Marx: Well I've got about a foot and a half. Now what's the matter?
Chico Marx: I don't like the second party either.
Groucho Marx: Well, you should have come to the first party. We didn't get home till around four in the morning. I was blind for three days.
√ When you're done laughing, keep your sanity.
Pricing is one of the hardest aspects of marketing. While there are many factors that go into pricing, there are no hard and fast rules that artists can use, nor are there any absolute benchmarks. There are, however, six common mistakes to avoid.
When a potential buyer looks at your work, price is not the first thing they're interested in. First, they decide whether they like it enough to want to know more. If they do, then they'll want to know about the price.
Regardless of how you sell your art, you are in charge of your pricing strategy. To bridge the gap, and to ride out the ups and downs of any economic climate, you need to build up four pillars to support your art pricing strategy.
There are many good ways to determine how you should price your art. . . but in addition to making sure that you're covering costs of material and hours worked, I believe you should also have an overall strategy in mind. Take a look at 8 smart pricing strategies which are designed to help you build a resilient, successful art business.
How would you like to own a calculator that could calculate the perfect price for your art? All you'd have to do is punch in a few numbers, and it would tell you exactly how to price your work. . . no guessing, no stress.
Unfortunately, that calculator doesn't exist yet, but you CAN create your own art pricing formula fairly easily.
In my opinion, every artist should have a version of these two notices on their own sales page. I call it an Art Purchase Policy. Basically, it's a written statement that you display on your web site, indicating the terms that the buyer agrees to upon purchase. The reason for an art purchase policy is because copyright laws and accepted practices for art sales can be confusing. It's good business sense to put into writing exactly what you're transferring to the buyer of your art, as well as what you're not.
Most artists take great care of their art making tools. . . that's a given. But whether you are naturally creative, or have developed your talents through training, it's just as vital to care for and nurture your creativity. I recommend nine techniques to all of my artist clients who need a creative boost.
Anyone else out there ever decided to lose weight and get fit? The first time you go to the gym, you can't just jump into an Olympic level workout. If you try, there's a good chance that you'll injure yourself, or strain muscles in your body that you didn't even know you had. Instead, the key is to develop a habit of going to the gym. Over time, that good habit will bring healthy rewards.
You may have the best art in the world, but if you're talking to the wrong people, you won't have a business. Conversations with the right people at the right time, in the right place, about the right things can lead to relationships. It's those relationships, carefully nurtured, that lead to sales. I tell all my clients that you can learn to have those conversations and market your art successfully. There are just three parts to a successful conversation: the beginning, the middle and the exit.
Emerging artists are typically consumed by making art. The thrill of creating is mesmerizing and intoxicating. Everything is new and absorbing. You'll go through alternating periods of exhilaration and frustration. You will produce work that pleases you one day and looks unfinished the next. That's just how it works. It's normal. When I work with emerging artists, one of my goals is to help them understand and refine their signature style, so they can move away from that constant up-and-down of exhilaration and frustration.
In every profession, you don't just leapfrog from the bottom to the top - instead, you progress through a series of stages. You learn the ropes in an entry-level job and pay your dues as you climb the ladder. Describing artists as "emerging" "mid-career" or "established" is shorthand. Some artists dislike these terms, and prefer not to be pigeon-holed as an emerging, mid-career, or established artist. Please don't interpret the three stages as limiting. I'd rather that you choose to see them as a realistic context for taking certain actions at certain times.
At some point, the hobbyist might realize that this is an awfully expensive hobby and maybe they ought to think a bit about putting together some sort of business - at least so they could deduct the costs on their taxes. As their confidence and skills grow, amateur artists may start to seriously consider art as a profession. They like the money they make from selling their art and it's great to deduct the costs at tax time. After expenses, they're actually making profit! If you decide to go ahead and move from being a hobbyist to an amateur, you don't have much to lose if it doesn't work out. You can always go back to being a hobbyist. If you want to move from being an amateur to a professional artist, you are making a much bigger commitment.
Clichés and myths persist because they contain at least a kernel of truth. There's just enough truth in them that people take them at face value. But beyond every myth, or cliché, there is a much larger reality. . . and you can find it by looking at the facts.
P.S. Please link to this article in your Blog and post on social media sites for artists. We appreciate it when you tell your friends about Artist Career Training. We encourage forwarding this publication in whole. Copying without acknowledgement of the publisher is against the law (and highly unprofessional!)
P.P.S. If you need an accountability partner for your art business or someone to roll up sleeves to produce art marketing materials or work on your web site, just let us know. We have a whole team to help you. Start with a complimentary 15-minute conversation. Sign up here: http://www.artistcareertraining.com/request-a-conversation/