I recently gave a seminar at the Art For All Canada Conference here in Toronto. My presentation was titled “Introduction to Marketing for the Commercial Artist” and while I was writing my presentation I had an interesting thought that I would like to share with my fellow artists out there.
In my presentation (which can be downloaded in full from: http://www.benfrisch.com/download.html) I placed an emphasis on the fact that as artists, we are entreprenures and must think of our art as a business, if we want to survive doing what we love. So the thought I had was if we need to change our mindset then why not also change our label?
The term “Artist” has a bit of a stigma attached to it. I mean, when you picture an artist, what do you see? Now if you picture a small business owner, do the two look anything alike? Chances are those images were different and it is because they are different, and more specifically it is the more negative connotations surrounding the artist, that bother me the most.
An entrepreneur is defined as someone who takes on financial risk to operate their own business or businesses. As a manufacturer of fine art, I know all about financial risk and I believe that an artist and entrepreneur are one in the same. If I am producing art or some type of craft then I am developing a product, establishing a brand and marketing that brand in order to expand awareness to ultimately sell more product and grow my business. These are effectively the actions of an entrepreneur, however, the labels seem to set each other apart into two very different categories.
So what I propose is that if you make a living from selling art or if you are trying to, that we change that label for good. We should all redefine our own label as we see it not as others see us. From now on, when someone asks me what do you do? my answer will be “I am a Creative Entrepreneur”. doesn’t that sound better? it certainly sounds more stable, more professional and yet the meaning remains exactly the same when you think about it.
Language is a powerful tool and in a world where marketers are changing the way we speak every day, it’s about time that we creative entrepreneurs get on board. I think it’s important to not only change the way we are perceived as artistic individuals by society but to change the way that we perceive our own roles. So try it; I think you’ll feel better telling someone you’re a creative entrepreneur or a manufacturer of fine art or how about the president of your own company. It certainly sounds a lot better than a “Starving Artist”. I mean, who has ever heard of a starving president?