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


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