The Creative Edge: Why Being an Artist Can Be Your Best Business Asset
Creatives get unfairly labeled as bad business people. We’re pegged as flighty, irrational, too emotional to make concrete money-making decisions, or just plain uninterested in taking methodical steps towards turning our creative work into a paying job. I’ve never been this type of person, and in fact, needed more convincing that I was an artist more than a person capable of tackling bookkeeping; I love spreadsheets and doing paperwork. But being a creative isn’t a downfall, it’s an advantage! Why does our creativity have to stop when we make our work? Why can’t we just keep on truckin’ and bring all that ingenuity and problem-solving to our business practices? We can!!
Now that I’ve taken the leap to full time carving and making, I wanted to more fully explore ways in which I could reframe the hows and whys of this particular type of career. Sure, the basic tenets of business are still applicable in some senses, but being a creative brings about a whole new set of challenges that are unique. Understanding how to not only adapt, but use our innate creativity to our advantage, is a monumental step in being financially successful.
I’ve been exploring a variety of resources and thought they could be useful to some of you.
Creative Pep Talk- Andy J. Miller (also on IG @andyjpizza). His IG handle alludes to his peppiness. At first I thought I couldn’t handle it, and then I found it utterly endearing because this guy actually gives a shit and it shows. Not only is he an illustrator who shares his take on how to harness your creative juices to kick art business ass, but he also gives an honest dose of the not-so-great moments that lead to his success and how that can be translated to the careers of creatives in other disciplines.
Good Company - This one just started up, but don’t be turned off by its infancy. At the helm is none other than Grace Bonney of Design Sponge, a heavy hitter in the industry. She is exceptional at not only choosing her guests - we’ve all experienced the monotone talker who can’t quite sell it like Ben Stein - but she is also a gifted interviewer, asking pointed and thoughtful questions that encourage great responses.
Art, Inc.: The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist - Lisa Congdon - I read it in a day. Granted, some of it didn’t pertain to me, so I flipped past some pages with an ill-deserved sense of accomplishment. But man, did this lady nail it. I’ve been swimming in the art-as-a-career pool for years, and even though I’ve got most of the basics down, I still scribbled an entire page worth of juicy notes to help me take the next steps in a lot of areas. And if you’re a fledgling artist, she gives a fantastic overview of how to tackle setting up your business, collecting taxes, accounting, and licensing. There’s a lot of emphasis on the perspective of an illustrator, but a lot of this book could be useful to any artist looking to whip themselves into shape.
You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life - Jen Sincero
Yes, it has a bad title that misleads one to believe it’s a humorless, utterly precious self help book. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely is a self help book, but she uses the voice of a real person to tell you how to shape up if you’re fucking up, and she does it with thoughtful examples and the kind of humor that makes me creepy smile. Whereas Art, Inc. is the how-to of getting your career together, this is the book that examines the emotional and mental components of life in general, but also how it applies to one’s career. Her honest slant makes it much easier to actually hear things we’ve all heard before but thought we were just too fucking cool for. In a few words - no excuses, stop scoffing. I’m way into it.
I know, I know, I’m a Squarespace user. When I was shopping around for a website platform I signed up for the Shopify newsletter and then never unsubscribed because they were doling out some primo info. Even though they are catering to a huge audience, they’re fairly good at narrowing down the topics into digestible snippets, which makes it easier for me to weed out which ones I want to explore further just from looking at the description in the email heading. Better still, I’ve found a good deal of useful information in some of their articles that I didn’t think applied to me. I read even more of those ones now that I’ve read You Are a Badass, because I got over myself and started entertaining ideas outside of the limitations I had unknowingly adopted along the way. Broaden that reach, shoot for the stars, and high kick your way to success!