Uncomfortable questions about generating income from your artistic efforts…

Heron by Jayn AveryGenerating 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 these questions.

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 other reasons.

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 good thing.

Jewel Case by Don George
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 this:

(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 money for?

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.

GibbywaitzkinIf 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.)

This entry was posted in Artists and their art, Basic Business Concepts. Bookmark the permalink.

0 Responses to Uncomfortable questions about generating income from your artistic efforts…

  1. David Opton says:

    Would that I had even an ounce of the creativity shown here. My wife has it, I certainly don’t. As I often say to my friends, I can’t even play the radio!

  2. For many years I have produced art that met peoples needs and consequently my needs were met. It’s been a delight to make my living from my art. However, I had to continue to duplicate what I knew would sell while many of the pieces I considered my most creative, best work lingered on the shelves. At least I was doing art and selling it but I still wish to do the kind of art I prefer and make a living from that. I’ve found that each time I change mediums I have to locate a new market. So far, I’ve not found the market for my new work. And the older I get the less willing I am to duplicate my proven sellers, they bore me. For me the biggest thrill comes from the process, selling the work is a distant second, a plesent and necessary component but nowhere near the excitement of creating new and different work.

  3. teri walters says:

    I like this article, You put it together better than I could ever say!!!

    thank you for including me in your thots and writings. You have validated me more so and for that I am going to have a terrific day! thank you for all you do for the Jax center and all the people here in floyd


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

six + 3 =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.