How to be an artist and business-like

Sheila Chandra - Monday, May 08, 2017

Most serious artists know they need to be business-like – and yet they worry about losing their creative souls; the very thing that drew them to being an artist in the first place. How do you balance the two?

Fortunately being both and artist and business-like are not mutually exclusive. You just have to know how to protect your creative process and development. You have to know not to promise anything that would interrupt either of them in the first place. Once you have a good handle on how your creative mind works, being business-like is just a matter of heeding the following tips.



Serious artists understand that being business-like is essential

Okay you’re an artist – that’s not just what you do, it’s what you are. I understand. And you don’t have to give that up. But too many of us find ‘business-speak’ puts us off the whole idea of being both an artist and business-like. We instinctively recoil against the business world’s way of doing things. This is a mistake. It’s important to remember that we operate in the commercial world. That means that we have to have at least a business-friendly ‘interface’. A way of working that’s compatible with the business world, and that will build confidence in the business people we work with.



Serious artists see being business-like as good customer service

So much of being business-like is simply good customer service – or good client service. That means:

  • being reliable
  • sticking to deadlines
  • getting back to people within a reasonable timeframe
  • having a professional manner and being a pleasure to deal with
  • being a person of your word.

Each of these is important if you want to engender trust in the people you work with. And doing that is important because those people will spread the word about how you are to deal with – either good or bad.



Serious artists steal ideas from how businesses operate


There are some distinct advantages to being both an artist and business-like. Businesses are typically great at strategy – something that artists need to employ throughout their careers. And you can steal those strategies to enhance your career. So, instead of getting continually caught up in your creative process you should regularly take time out to look at the ‘big picture’ and consider issues such as:

  • how to market yourself more effectively
  • defining your brand identity - the thing that’s going to make you stand out, and be easy to sum up for journalists
  • how to grow your income
  • how to gain the kinds of commissions/jobs in the areas you’re most passionate about
  • new areas you want to break into – and how you can take steps to do that
  • how to diversify income streams without diluting your brand
  • how to take steps to avoid the problems you commonly encounter – so that you spend less time ‘fighting fires’
  • how to build your platform – as this will increase your negotiating power
  • how to plan your work calendar up to a year in advance so that it’s efficient – e.g. only making outdoor murals in the summer when the days are long, and working on a studio show in the winter.



Being an artist and business-like isn’t going to hurt your creative process

Many creative people of all kinds worry about being both an artist and business-like because they fear it will limit their ability to come up with ideas or find a work rhythm that enhances the way they work. This is something that particularly affects young artists who are not yet confident in their vision and their ability to come up with the goods to order – and who can blame them? Inspiration doesn’t just turn up when bid. You can help yourself to feel confident about creating to order in the following ways:

  • Keep a creativity diary – journal when and what helped you to work at your best.
  • Keep working on your skills – putting in the hours will build your confidence
  • Keep a productivity diary – so that you know when you’re best at desk work and strategy.
  • Ring fence creative time – so that you’re not interrupted.
  • Always allow a couple of buffer days on any project deadline.
  • Under promise and over deliver.
  • Stay true to your vision – stay as powerful as you can business-wise so that you’re able to protect the integrity of your projects.

Doing all this will allow you to take the best from the way businesses operate and allow you be both an artist and business-like, confident that your professional creative career is both safe and well balanced.

You’ll find more on all of these subjects in my new book ‘Organizing for Creative People’ – it sets out that essential infrastructure you need to set up as part of your professional creative career.

Post has no comments.
Post a Comment

Captcha Image


Recent Posts


effortlessly tidy productivity control clearing as you go nascent artists mess great artists parent proposal writing emotional balance creative confidence culture copyright branding critical acclaim clutter clutter addict concentrated creative time being tripped up subconscious mind feeling creative saving time time clutter clearing clutter good friend creative ambitions tidier artist workspaces making decisions commitment home organising creative person too busy green room workspaces cry overwork artistic conviction card myth VIPs staying in control popular culture diary temperament work/home life balance absences motivation procrastination 2018 goals imagination proposals wardrobe multiple lifetimes focus hostile clutter too many commitments stay tidy automatically tension cleaning your desk symptoms of creativity buying youth inspiration confident in clothes low maintenance smart artists ‘stories’ about your possessions hijacking creativity artist stop cluttering organizing for creative people professional creative career network loss tidiness in living spaces artists jealousy emotionally secure artist loving your audience ‘creativity’ car great art nipping things in the bud home care goals long-term artistic development clearing buying stardust letting go much better friend arrogance tidy people trope Sheila Chandra author clearing in short bursts how to work efficiently clean desk creative organising artist materials business interface to creative businesses morning routines housework much quicker tidy desk creative magic criteria for letting go of stuff static spaces well organized email bankruptcy why organise mature artists professional mentors email overload lazy emotional resilience diagnosis buying wealth buying happiness sacrifice wind down appointments networking display items self promotion pop culture bulk buy work efficiently emotional support email creative wellbeing crowdfunding social media networking creative commissions vocation fall of innocence efficient work patterns brilliant creator childhood warm down organise artistic chaos disorganization cupboard of shame peer-to-peer networks to do list cleaning career strategy spree artist goals partners working class artists slow and steady visualising artist mentoring living mess free stay on top of email sheila chandra coaching pop music normality theft creative career coaching collections hoarding brands binge resentment options quality magic social media nurture creativity celebrity endorsed products minimalists clarity of thought streamlining routines friendships working class culture good art work new year feel like creatiing creative career boredom missed opportunities creative spark how to save time funding dynamic spaces anxiety tips for clearing lifetimes good creative habits creative people well curated closet organisation precious memories work trips vulnerability successful artist friends introverts artistry buying hope low maintenance strategies under-confidence domestic life : clothes clear outs just in case creativity diary home life hobbies business tidy slim-line wardrobe business-like stardust fine art exhaustion inconvenience clear desk double standard nurturing creative work mornings being organized stop hoarding stuff grief work priorities elevator pitch peacefulness business-speak innocence tortoise and hare how to be naturally tidy touring buy fewer clothes artist mentors the void creative identity networking effectively creative culture writing funding campaigns storage guilty purchases creativity getting ready for work chaotic professional encouragement hotel room work life living clutter free compulsion platform