You have probably seen it before: ARTIST + ENTREPRENEUR = ARTREPRENEUR. This got me thinking a lot about all of the creative people who want to earn a good living from their artistic endeavors. Maybe you are currently a part-time artrepreneur or haven’t yet made the leap. Perhaps you are still creating art, design, animation, or characters for a company that has clients and customers.
There are so many similarities between entrepreneurs and artists, and here are just a few:
- Both groups just ooze passion. You really don’t choose to be an artist; you are created as one. It’s what you do and are!
- Artists and entrepreneurs are compelled to push boundaries in all creative directions. It doesn’t even occur to them not to keep experimenting, trying, and testing.
- Both artists and entrepreneurs have to find and walk their own paths to success. There is no established career path or road map.
- Since there is no set career path or definitive road map for either artists or entrepreneurs, both must learn from other like-minded people through education and networking.
- Artists and entrepreneurs, when first beginning their careers, are both required to compromise what they want to meet the market demands and find success. It is only after you have proven your viability to the objective working world, or have enough equity and market share for your art or brand, that you can venture off and lead the way into your own new areas. Anything else is a day-dream.
Is it any wonder the name ‘artrepreneur’ is catching on?
Today there is a lot of desire, pressure and respect put on becoming your own boss, having your own business and being your own agent. It is rapidly becoming a necessity. And, Of course, as with everything, there are pros and cons.
On the positive side, art licensing is one of the few areas where you can actually agent yourself and build a successful business. Unlike, for example, in the children’s book publishing industry, an author or artist is encouraged not to represent or agent themselves. As an artrepreneur, you are in control of your own destiny, yet it comes with a price.
On the negative side, which isn’t always negative, the price is that being an artrepreneur means having to do it all yourself. You are responsible for your own marketing, sales, production, warehousing, accounting, and distribution of everything you create, as well as having to continually motivate yourself every step of the way.
Remember, for the most part, artrepreneurialism is being ‘positioned’ as an opportunity, one that has its roots in the new information age. But in reality, it is more of a necessity, since everyone understands that today no one can count on someone else to give them a job.
Most artrepreneurs are artists and serial entrepreneurs in the same body. They have the talent of an artist and the mind and motivation of a business person. They create businesses with their creativity either sequentially, one after another, or simultaneously, several at the same time. To be an art licensor is truly the definition of ‘serial artrepreneur,’ you are creating business deals, and signing contracts, with multiple manufacturers at the same time. This is what it’s all about.
One of the great things, a good licensing contract allows you to do is to ‘slice and dice’ the rights for one piece of art into various product categories and create entire product lines with several manufacturers using the same piece of art, design or character over and over again. Licensing is also one of the best revenue generators that has no real financial cap, since it creates royalties based on usage of the art, rather than being paid per piece or based on your hourly efforts.
Artrepreneurs often need to create art licensing collections, while also illustrating books and magazines, or creating graphic design work, teaching, doing gallery shows, drawing cartoons, and animating characters, in order to generate the multiple channels of revenue needed to build a good income. It is challenging, but worth it to make a living doing what you love.
The number of artrepreneurs has grown exponentially since the new millennium. The competition is fierce. The unmotivated quickly drop away.
The most significant factor in the success of the new artrepreneur is the Internet tools which have become readily available, allowing one to create, promote, sell, and deliver directly to businesses and the end-user. Today you can reach your potential customers both at a speed, and on a scale, that in the past was only in the sphere of the bigger corporations which earlier had nearly monopoly on marketing and distribution. Those who learn and use these tools have the best chance of success.
So if you haven’t in the past thought of yourself as an artrepreneur, now’s the time to get on board and make your mark. One thing about being an entrepreneur…artistic or any kind…is that you need to develop certain skill sets in order to be successful. And if you don’t currently possess them, then you need to study and learn them. I suggest you answer these 20-questions to see what skills you have and those which still need developing. You can answer with a lengthy paragraph or simply a quick ‘agree, disagree or needs improvement’ note-to-self. But you need to be completely honest.
1. I have a strong overall drive to succeed.
2. I have determination to tackle problems.
3. I can prosper in a ‘gray’ environment, where there are more questions than answers.
4. I take responsibility for my own actions, including successes and failures.
5. In the beginning, I am willing my art to meet the needs of the market.
6. I willingly do the tasks necessary to succeed.
7. I can persevere in hard times and quickly recover.
8. I convincingly communicate with others, whether clients, vendors, bankers, freelancers or manufacturers.
9. I believe that I can solve whatever problems arise.
10. I deal with others with honesty and integrity.
11. I value and utilize the management and control systems necessary to run a business.
12. I have the ability to anticipate and troubleshoot problems.
13. I can connect with others and build strategic relationships.
14. I can scan the marketplace and assess potential needs and gaps.
15. I provide for my own emotional needs and know how to find the support I do need.
16. I believe that I have the finances required to support myself and others who depend on me.
17. I have or can get the finances to get the training and help I need from experts along the way to achieve my goals.
18. I have a basis for making effective, profitable business decisions.
19. I can pick the right people to help execute my vision.
20. I can identify the biggest obstacle in starting my own company, whether it’s knowing where to begin, finances, training or fear of failure.
After 20 years of teaching and training hundreds of artrepreneurs, I know that the successful ones all have passion, confidence, self-discipline and a great willingness to learn. I know that you can do anything that you truly want to do. If it is indeed becoming an artrepreneur, then go for it! Don’t let anyone or anything stop you.