(I am going to be quite busy for the next few days and will not be able to post new articles, so I am reprinting this post from October 2006 for those of you who would like to increase your post-corporate income)
income from your artistic efforts is the first step towards supporting
yourself. It is entirely different from technical expertise. Read on
only if you like getting paid for your efforts.
Generating income as an artist may be more difficult than
generating income as a business person because the answers to the
following questions can be harder to answer:
What need does your product satisfy?
Who has that need?
What are they willing to pay to satisfy that need?
Like it or not, your chances of creating a viable career in the arts
or any other form of business depends on how accurately you can answer
Before you throw up your hands and say, "He’s trying to apply
business logic to art and it won’t work!" consider that every buying
transaction involves satisfaction of a need. People buy books, hand
crafted articles, and paintings because they want to be entertained,
amused, enthralled, or validated. They also buy them for countless
Generating income involves a customer exchanging money for something
you provide. Trust me, it is a good thing and will do great things for
your self esteem. It will also make others happy, which is always a
If you put attention on satisfying a need, you are putting your
attention where it belongs, which is on a future customer and what this
customer needs, wants and is willing to pay for. You are already
thinking of your creation as part of a communication. It works like
(1)You create a work with a message,
(2) A potential customer recognizes the message,
(3) and admires it enough to purchase your work.
(4) You are validated by the acknowledgement and set about creating more work.
Now, you don’t have to consider a future customer while creating your
art but ignoring customers is a certain route to nonviability as a
businessman or as an artist.
Here is a way to turn the first three questions inside out. Try asking yourself these two questions instead:
What problem do people have that I can solve?
How can I solve it for what they are willing to pay?
There are at least a thousand ways to exhibit your creativity. Doesn’t
it make sense to choose a few ways that people are willing to exchange
If you would like to have people validate your creativity with cold,
hard cash which you can exchange for food, housing and trinkets, try
working through these questions until you come up with answers that
make sense to you.
If it seems too difficult, leave comments and let’s see what others can suggest.
Here’s to your success!
(All of the items pictured are produced by artist/members of the
Jacksonville Center in Floyd, VA. Examples of their work are on
display in the Retail Shop or the Hayloft Gallery.)