Art Business: Develop Collectors of Your Work (Pt. 2/5: Consider Your Objectives)
NOTE: Michael Damico, owner of Damico Frame & Art Gallery, presented a workshop at O’More College of Design in Franklin, TN on November 4, 2016. The following was adapted from that recorded event, entitled Business Sense Q&A: How to Develop Collectors of Your Work. It has been broken into five parts. This is Part 2.
Now that you’ve established a pricing foundation for your art business, move on to the second step: consider what your objectives are. This is hard. It might take you weeks, months, or longer to determine these. It simply varies according to each person. Here are some questions to ask yourself in order to determine your objectives:
What do I want to do?
Where do I see myself going?
Am I a hobbyist? If so, am I comfortable with that?
Do I want to make this a full-time career?
Set your objectives and then go after it. If you don’t know what you’re trying to do, then consider where you want to go in order to figure this out. Think about it as if you’re going on a trip: Where do you want to go? Let’s say Atlanta. Okay, now what’s in Atlanta? Let’s go find out. Figuring out your objectives is the same thing: an adventure!
Art Business Objectives: Trial and Error
It isn’t necessary to have every detail of the adventure figured out today. Of course, you could set an objective and overthink it for 10 years. But then you’ll never accomplish anything if you don’t start trying. So be thinking in the general vicinity of what you want to do or where you want to be, at the very least. Otherwise, it will be hard to nail down the questions and confusion.
If you still don’t know what your objectives are, just start trying stuff. Talk to other artists, including those who have an art business or are hobbyists, and see what they are doing. Follow them on social media to get an idea of their work. The idea here is to make the transition from stagnant to active.
I’ve Set My Objectives. Now What?
Now that you have determined the objectives for your art business, begin by catering your work, look, products, everything you were questioning… and start funneling your energy in a particular direction. That may be a gallery, an audience, a product, licensing, mailbox money, or whatever. Just be deliberate.
Do the research and see what kinds of things you like, what other people like, and so on. And then you have it: That’s what I’m going to make! Just always be open to change and be okay with that change. When I started my frame and art gallery brand in 2006, I did six months of due diligence, planning, and preparing. But it doesn’t matter how much progress I made or didn’t make. The only thing that mattered back then was that I got started.
The keys here are to just always show up and always stick with your objectives. Then your natural talents and skill will emerge organically. So give yourself the grace to change and fluctuate, to organically figure out what makes the most sense to you.
What’s It Worth?
One more element of art business I want to address before moving on to building your market is the question of value. Specifically, people are always asking me: Is my work any good? I just started. Is it really worth $25/150/etc.? Whether someone has just started or they are a life-long artist, I always answer these questions the same way: What are you trying to do?… How well did you do it? When critiquing any piece, these are necessary things I ask every artist. To understand what I am saying, use this example. If you are trying to do hyperrealism, but you can’t tell what the image is, then maybe you didn’t do it right. Conversely, if you’re drawing gestures or expressing a movement, and you spend 5 seconds on one simple brush stroke that really captures the feeling you were going for, then you nailed it!
I’m a portrait painter. And skilled. Sometimes I’ve spent 50 hours on portraits, but I don’t focus on areas at which I am not skilled because that’s not my genre. I leave that to the artists that excel in those areas. But I still have to ask myself: What am I trying to do? What’s the best way to execute this? After all, we all know where we’re cheating. And it shows.
Continue on to Part 3: Build Your Market.