Becoming a skilled artisan who onlookers admire and fans try to emulate is not always… well, a dream.
Without the right plan, managing your own fine art business can look more like a nightmare.
Julie Gill the stained glass artisan behind Big Glass Art says that you have to play nice with others and be tied to a strategic business plan or else your business will be nothing more than an expensive hobby.
Julie sat down with Ad4! Group to clear up 8 common misconceptions about making a living as an artist.
Julie values her professional business team, built of accounting, law and marketing (Ad4!) professionals as “incredibly important.”
“To protect yourself, you do not have to do it all by yourself,” said Gill. “There are people who are in the business themselves of helping businesses – so take advantage of that.
My best advice is: get a good attorney and a good accountant. Treat them very, very well. Treat them to dinner as often as possible.”
Nope, sorry. Well-established artists with lots of clients and personalized studios are in this business because they love it, not to make money.
Julie laughed aloud as she said this one. Like number one said, you should not do it all on your own, but you’re going to end up doing the most work no matter how many people are on your team. And you may not always make the highest dollar for it!
Ha! You are going to be broke, and you are going to work 24 hours a day.”
4. Cash-flow is never a problem.
Julie admits that her biggest struggle as a small business owner is cash-flow and that she did not set out on a get-rich-quick scheme when she started her business.
“There are projects that I have to force myself to do,” said Gill. “I don’t want to do it. But that is the business part of it.
The everyday work, things that are less fun – you have to have those things to keep your overhead going.”
6. Success as a Fine Glass Artist looks the same as the success of a CEO for a large corporation.
“When you walk into my studio you see a professional, clean, well-organized layout,” said Gill. “I’ve tried to present myself as the professional I would like to be thought of and have something that appeals to everyone.
Sometimes, I think people get the impression that I am probably a lot wealthier than I am. Not that I’m a starving artist but…I’m still making it.
I’m not there yet, and I don’t know that it’s possible to really be what is considered in other professions as successful.
My success is different than what other people view as ‘success,’ but I’m proud of myself.”
7. Time-management skills are optional.
Time management skills are everything. Julie explained that in a job with costly materials and multiple projects at once, controlling production time translates to controlling how much you will make on a project.
“You just got up early in the morning and worked until you went to bed. If I didn’t have that, I don’t think I would be able to do this and be any measure of successful.”
8. All artists make great business people.
Alright you got me, I don’t think most people see artists as great business minds, but the thing is they don’t have to be as long as they are diligent and have a strong team behind them.
“It’s not that I don’t want to do the business aspects of the job. I want to have it done. It’s just that I’m not driven in the direction. I’m not driven to do paperwork.