Sticking to the knitting – or how to build an arts business

Copy of Copy of Anika Kohler (1)I wanted a comparable arty phrase but couldn’t come up with one, so sticking to the knitting it had to be.  What am I talking about?  Being focused and keeping with a plan, or how I have gone about building an arts business.

I’m an emerging artist.  I have been a painting for about eight years and intermittently showing my work for the last three or four years. I’ve sold some paintings and run some workshops.  I’ve had some very small success.

Early this year, as lots of you will know if you read my blog, I completed the Creative Visionary Path with Nicholas Wilton and  I found my artistic voice.  Which has been incredibly exciting.  As a result I also felt readier than I ever had to start putting myself out there, hopefully selling work and building a profile as an artist.

I had set up some decent support for myself with an occasional Virtual Assistant to help with admin,  I’ve just appointed a bookkeeper and although I have a sales and marketing background, I also have a marketing support person to bounce ideas off and to share the workload.

Very quickly I found myself with so many opportunities I could potentially pursue.  Because I’m already a therapist and teacher I could see the possibility to bring some of my teaching and psychological work into my art.  I could develop my art workshops and offer coaching for artists.

However,  it was during one of the conversations with Fiona (my marketing support) as I was considering these options that I realised needed a clear plan otherwise I could just get completely overwhelmed, run around doing nothing very effectively and end up feeling disheartened and demotivated with my lack of progress and success.

Screenshot_20181116-133955My focus was and is my art. I want to paint. Workshops and coaching are great and I love doing that kind of work. But for now because I am an emerging artist with, as yet, a fairly small audience of interested people I need to focus on making work.  Continuing on this path of exploring and developing my authentic voice, now that I have found it, and getting that work out into the public. I decided that people would be interested in my workshops and coaching organically from seeing my work, my posting on social media, and my writing and talking about art and creativity. So, that’s what I have been doing and it has been paying off.

Since completing CVP earlier this year I have held a pop up shop, exhibited at Derbyshire Open Arts, Art in the Pen at Skipton and twice in Buxton.

I have run two art workshops, demonstrated at a local art group and had a people begin coaching with me.

I have been invited to provide work to a gallery Number Four in St Abbs and applied and been invited to join Peak District Artisans.

I’m beginning next year’s planning and it will be similar to this year. I will be exhibiting at some key events in the local art calendar.   Derbyshire Open Arts, some of the Artist and Designer Fairs in Buxton, the Great Dome Art Fair.  The earliest chance next year to see my work will be at the Chatsworth Exhibition in the Stables from 10th January to 28th February 2019 with Peak District Artisans.

What else?  I am running two workshops this year focused on abstract art .  An Introduction to Abstract Art and, a follow on and more advanced day, Colour, Collage and Texture in Abstract Painting.  I’m open for more coaching work which can be online,  or in person in Buxton.

So this year has been all about sticking to the knitting, having a plan and seeing it through. I’m delighted with how it’s gone and I’m eager and looking forward to more.  Are there any “how to’s” from this?  Here’s my top five:

  1. Decide on what your focus needs to be, mine was making art and getting it out there.
  2. Develop a plan of activity to support your focus. In the main don’t do anything that takes you away from this.
  3. Delegate and outsource. If you can find someone to do a tasks either quicker or, at less than it costs you to do it yourself, then outsource.
  4. Follow up, follow up, follow up.  From little acorns etc. Make a note of every interaction that has potential and follow it up. If not now, then maybe at some point in the future.
  5. Recognise and celebrate every success.  You deserve it!

Has this year gone as you hoped?  What are your success stories? With hindsight would you have done anything different?

I’d love to hear from you and of course if you are around do drop into the Octagon in Buxton between Friday 23rd and Sunday the 25th November for a chat.  I will have lots of smaller works, prints and boxed notecards with me that make great Christmas gifts.

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