As a writer, newly focused specifically on writing as my business, I face a lot of new and different matters that require — at the very least — my consideration, and possibly my full attention. This can be particularly daunting, because a lot of the how of this process — most of it, frankly — remains somewhat of a mystery to me.
Artists tend to have ideas and notions that differ from the norm. We have ideas and concepts that trend towards being unique, and which can be tough to understand. No matter the medium the artist uses, you are faced with not just the creation of your art, but getting it out there.
Thus, you have to work on the business of art. Some artists are better at business than others. What matters, and what we can do to support and encourage one another, is worth exploring.
Cross-promotion between artists
While I was on vacation last week, I was surrounded by artists. So many incredible works of art in so many mediums, it was really awesome.
The majority of this was focused on medieval reenactment stuff since that’s the event I was at — but nonetheless, the art and artists were everywhere. Metalworkers, woodworkers, ceramic artists, tailors, glassblowers — you name it, someone was probably doing it AND selling it.
I also can across another writer. He was selling his books with a non-writing vendor. We talked some, and I expect we will connect further down the line. Then, I bought a copy of one of his books.
This is something that will be in my reading queue, and I am looking forward to it. But more than that, I am happy to help a fellow writer along his path.
Artists are in this together. Many of the vendors I encountered last week have a pretty good handle on the business end of art. For those of us who are still working out how to be both artist and business, we need to work together to encourage and support each other.
Even if our art is similar, it’s not the same. But more than that, you and I are not in competition. We are seeking to make the business of art work for us. For me, that means figuring out things I have not done before — or at least, not done as well as I could before.
I want to pause a moment to explore an important matter in the business of art.
This is not a competition
A huge part of our fear-based society is the perception of lack and scarcity. Because you and I are constantly bombarded by messages of not enough, insufficiency, and lacking, it’s easy to believe in competition for things. This included resources, relationships, associations, and anything and everything else you could conceive of.
Professional athletes are competitors. Sometimes against their own best self, other times against others. Whatever sport you care to consider, competition is a huge part of professional athletics.
This is the only place in which competition truly exists. Given that competing is the nature of the sport, whether football, baseball, fencing, horseback riding, NASCAR, wrestling, golf, or what-have-you, competition is a huge aspect of what drives these.
Elsewhere, however, we are not in competition. This is something a lot of businesses tend to lose sight of. They set themselves up to compete in various ways, often to make the most money or have the best reputation or similar. When you are looking at art as a business, it’s easy to get swept up in this.
Yet it’s good to remember that this is not a competition. Artists in especial can make use of working with one another to share, cross-promote, and encourage each other, and our businesses. This is especially important for each of us who works alone. The writing process is pretty singular, but sharing the experience with other writers helps improve what I am doing, and can help them, too.
Even when competing for parts such as actors do, it is not a competition for a finite resource, but more for a specific aspect. If one is not right, there is always another opportunity to be found.
Mindfulness and its role in art and business
Competition is a product of fear, lack, and scarcity. Mindfulness of this opens doors you may not see otherwise.
No, I am not about to get all hooky-spooky on you. This is important to track.
In pursuit of your art, whatever form that takes, you have had to be mindful of the process. Despite well-meaning warnings and breaking free of societal expectations, you know what you desire to do and have chosen to take it on and work with the process.
Mindfulness means you took hold of the thought (i.e. I am an artist) and worked with what and how that made you feel (i.e. I love writing/painting/singing etc). With that awareness, you began down the artists’ path. You made choices to learn, expand, and live your art.
When you make that decision, you become not just an artist, but a business. Your art is your work, and the business of making/marketing/selling your art becomes a singular entity. However, when this happens, it often gets shunted to the subconscious.
I focus on my art. I write. The words come pouring from my mind to my fingers across the keys and onto the screen. Then, I share that in some form or other — a post on Medium and/or my blog, my podcast, a new book, and so forth.
Great, my art is out there. Now — how do I market it further? How do I increase sales? How do I build my reputation? That’s business — and it can be rather daunting.
Approach the business just like the art
The business of art is different from other businesses, despite similarities. Yes, you are working on making money, covering overhead, paying taxes, using your money to pay bills and such, just like any other job experience. Yet this business is much more personal, and as an artist, rewarding.
There is a long-standing trope about the “starving artist.” Again, the particular medium doesn’t matter, it is expected that as an artist you will suffer. And if you accept this as the truth, congrats, you will get to be a starving artist.
Despite the idea of nobility in being a starving artist, I believe this is total bullshit. Your art is your business, and like any other business should thrive. The time and effort you put into your art is worth money. There is value in your work just as there is value in you.
The hard part of this is, as an artist, while I have some experience and business understanding, I know there is much I do not know. There are ways to promote myself and my works which remain a mystery. Yet like the characters and worlds I create in my writing, exploring the world of the business of art can be just as exciting and rewarding.
Guess where this goes? Mindfulness, of course. If you take a negative approach to the business of art, you are going to get negative results. Consciousness creates reality, so what you focus on you attract to yourself. Even if you don’t entirely buy into this notion, negative focus and belief just makes you feel bad — so why would you do that to yourself?
The business of art can be scary. But you are not alone in it.
Working together rather than reinventing the wheel
I am sharing these ideas here because I am pretty certain I am not the only one coping with this. You may have a similar experience, and questions about the how just as I do.
This business of art has been done before by others. Thus, you don’t need to invent the how of it, you just need to find prior examples and mentors to work from and with to get to where you desire to be.
I know there are any number of writers who have succeeded with blogging as well as publishing books on their own. For me, one of my fears has always been reaching out to people to ask for help and guidance. Since the worst that is likely to happen is that I will be told “no,” maybe rudely, this is an issue I need to overcome and a step I need to take.
Artists should not be afraid to work with one another, in especial because art in every form generally makes the world a better place. You and I can learn from one another, support each other, and make the business of our arts successful and fulfilling. You are worthy and deserving of this — and so am I.
Thanks for joining me along this journey. The business of art will be as easy or complicated as you and I make it. Let’s work together to encourage each other to make it as exciting and rewarding as the art itself.
You are worthy and deserving of using your mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you matter, and the business of art should bring you as much fulfillment as the art itself.