The Art of Business, the Business of Art, Part 1

The featured image of this post has nothing to do with the subject. I just decided to start using pieces I’d already created, since a) I like them, and b) as should be obvious by now, I’m working on the whole self-promotion issue, and I have no idea what you’ll click on.

I can’t say that I’m very fond of the intersection of art and business in practice. Previously, and in theory, I expected it to be interesting and a fun new challenge to figure out. That is partially true. There are new challenges to figure out, and some of them are interesting–not good or bad, just interesting. But I wouldn’t call it “fun.” I suppose this is another example of how anything can become “work,” in the most pejorative sense of the word, even if it starts out as a hobby.

In my “manifesto” on the “About” page, I advocated for exploring and making what you love, and not worrying about a niche. I still believe that, but only insofar as you’re doing it for fun, and not for money. Because, unfortunately, if you’re trying to build a business, at some point you’re also building a brand–however small (we’re not talking Coke and Pepsi here). You have to be known for something, even if only among a very small audience. When people look at your shop–online or bricks and mortar–it should make sense to them, be cohesive in some way. They’re more likely to remember you, to think of you when they need X. To think of you as a professional or as of higher quality in making X.

Which brings me to my second point. You can’t be good at everything. If this is for fun, it’s totally fine to dabble. I love dabbling. How will you know if you like something unless you give it a try? But unless you are amazingly gifted–and maybe not even then–it takes practice and the investment of time and effort to become an expert a master of something. Enough of one that people think, “I have to have that.” This is where the old saying, “jack of all trades, master of none,” becomes relevant.

There simply is not enough time in the day to become a master in as many things as you might dabble in, AND establish a business. The studio where I take my art class has a number of quotes posted in it. There’s one that goes something like, “The difference between the student and the master is that the master has failed more times than the student has tried.” I love that. But think about what that means for your investment of self. It also reminds me of hearing somewhere that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at anything–it might have been in the context of learning a musical instrument.

As for the business side of things, well, I refer you back to my “I want an intern,” post. That only skims the surface of marketing and social media. It doesn’t even get into the really fun things like bookkeeping, customer service, and so forth.

More to come in Part 2.

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