The space between creativity and marketing
Different approach to art business?
I have been trying to figure out where I fit in on the content creation space regarding art. What might be useful for you AND what would I be excited about thinking about. Also, where might I have a slightly different outlook that would make my perspective valuable to share with you. I often hear that if you show up as yourself that is unique enough but I still need to start somewhere, and I'd prefer to start in a unique spot.
My love of spreadsheets
I have been thinking about this a lot. One recent clue was when sharing with my artist peers, I suggested they use spreadsheets to plan their product offering. They said they did not do spreadsheets and sent the eye roll emoji. WHAT?!? This baffled me as I cannot think of a day, I don’t open an existing spreadsheet, start a new one, or just create a blank one for some rough calculations. Another clue was that I have a few business school notebooks from over a decade ago that I keep on my shelf near my desk and review consistently. The notes are still valuable to me. However, spreadsheets and business plans don’t sound like a very exciting topic to consistently share on. Or are they…
From my research and chronic course taking, there are excellent courses for artists on creating art to lots of perspectives on marketing and marketing tools (Etsy, newsletters, Pinterest, social media, etc.), to well-being & mindset, to scheduling your day, etc. It feels like it has all been done before.
Inspired by my latest read
As I was doing some travel last week, I wanted to pick up some books from the library for my time away. I specifically wanted Ryan Holiday’s book on stillness (“Stillness is the Key”). I was listening to the audio version while painting and really enjoying it. After visiting the philosophy section and grabbing the book, I scanned the business book section to see if anything stood out. Ryan Holiday’s name stood out… as I was just looking for him in the Philosophy section. How was he in the business section too? I quickly skimmed the book and decided to take home “Perennial Seller, The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts”.
I read Perennial Seller in less than 5 days and today I started listening to the audio version. I am hopeful the content will be as good the second time. In the past, I’ve tried to read books I love twice, and I sometimes realize the book only triggered my own thoughts making me think the book was good when in reality it was my mind. So, the second time the content itself doesn’t inspire me.
Ryan has bridged the gap between making art and marketing art. He has a whole section on Positioning. I realized that my spreadsheets and planning is in the space between those two phases. Those internal facing documents that I consistently write without hesitation: the goal setting, the number crunching, the planning – all the thinking that leads to clarity in my art practice.
The understanding of why I pivoted back to landscapes and hyper-focused on forest scenes of Mount Seymour, rather than continuing to play in the tech-art space with painting robots. My robotics work had an huge amount of visibility. It was featured by Google on their Instagram channel and was getting promoted internationally from media outlets including BBC news and CBC radio, but robot art was not paying the bills. Media outlets wanted to share the shock factor of robots making art, but it was not a sustainable business. But painting forest scenes is.
I think Positioning of these two projects is the difference.
Engineering might be my unique perspective
I am trained as a mechanical engineer. The first half of my career is in research and development (also known as R&D). Reflecting on this work – it is mostly the planning and modeling stage. Inventing new ideas. You take the briefing from management and develop a plan for a physical product keeping in mind competition, performance, manufacturability, cost, and schedule. Once the product is designed, you then handed off to the manufacturing department to produce it and to the marketing department to promote it externally. This is that space between idea and marketing - and there is a lot of internally planning the public never sees.
So perhaps spending my formal training and first half of my career in this area, I inherently bring it to my art practice without realizing how valuable this internal thinking and planning is for an artist. To be able to plan your art practice to be a sustainable business so we can make more art. Sustainable being both in the ability be creative but also to make the income that is required to allow for creative time.
So I am excited to jump into my thoughts on this and see where this blog goes.
Below are links to Ryan’s two books I mention from Amazon (these are Amazon affiliate links so I get a small compensation if you buy from these links).
Products mentioned above
- “Stillness is the Key” by Ryan Holiday
- “Perennial Seller, The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts” by Ryan Holiday