“The most common money-related mistake artists make is a reluctance to invest in their own careers.” Carol Michels
I’ve been asked this question too many times: “Will you represent me?” Or, “Do I need an agent to represent me?” I’m getting asked this a lot, probably because I actually care about the success of an artist when I see that they have potential. My short answer is the following: Find someone who can market your great stuff. There are a lot of mediocre artists that make a good income from their work no pun intended. A good agent can get you deals that you never would have gotten on your own. Think of you wanting to shoot a campaign for Dior, Channel or any of the big brands. Your agent is like the intermediary person who works to finalise the deal. You can’t just randomly walk into a luxury brand shop and show them your portfolio; the chances are the gatekeepers are hard to get a hold off. The agent earns his/her commission by being able to reach them. If you’re not interested in being represented by an agent I recommend you take Gary Vaynerchuk’s advice, just be prepared to do the creative and business work by yourself. Striking a balance is key, should you focus all your energy on being more creative or just find someone to run your business? I’ll let you answer that question yourself. Here’s a video on YouTube Titled
“How to get an advantage as a creative.”
Far too many creative’s are too romantic and obsessed with creating beautiful work, it’s intriguing, refreshing and brings joy to our heart when we see other people’s appreciation for our work. But here’s the wake up call, the phone needs to ring and you must find ways to earn a living. If this is just a side project by all means feel free to carry on as if it’s a hobby. But if you’re planning on making a living its business not a hobby. It breaks my heart when I see talented people tell me that no one wanted to give them a chance. There’s a big elephant in the room that no one wants to address. For the past 12 months I’ve noticed a trend that too many creative’s including myself, we lack entrepreneurship mindset and ways to monetise our passion. We would rather focus our attention on the process of creating work as supposed to finding a balance between creating and turning that work into an income.
The decade of starving artist should be over by now or at least I would hope that is the case. I visited an art gallery the other day, after exchanging conversation and visiting the exhibition. I was informed by one of the gallery managers that there’s a surge of people going to Art College. In a decade where Apple are the pioneers of popularizing the use of mobile apps. There seems to be more demand for graphic designers and design related work. In this day and age there’s absolutely no reason why an artist shouldn’t be making a living or be willing to give away 30 to 50% on representation!
1) It’s not 1970’s anymore, we have something called, the Internet allowing us to reach people and places we might may not have before. There are message boards where people can discuss ideas on any topic. People can find others that have a similar interest in whatever they are interested in.
3) NO ONE, and I repeat NO ONE will be more knowing of one’s art or have as much faith in his/her work as the artist him/herself.
Back to the topic, I want to focus this article on how we artists can make a living from our work. It really irritates me, when people don’t take artists seriously or have a preconceived notion that artists should get a second job to support their dream.
I’m not trying to be overly romantic and suggest that every artist should quit their job and hope to God they get a pay cheque just because they’re an artist. I get that 93% of people might not make it in this industry and that’s completely fine. I think the traditional view of how artists make a living is redundant and a new business model needs to be developed so we can see talented creative’s contribute more beautiful work to the world.
At one time those in the art world were so reluctant to share what they knew as perhaps they didn’t fully understand that no one steals your technique and really duplicates it or your wisdom, or your intelligence and the more you give the more you receive in all those areas.
Again I’d like to coin the phrase by calling it what it is “scarce mentality”. It’s much more fulfilling to have an abundant mindset rather than compete with each other. We as artists are our own worst enemy we have the mindset that someone will steal our technique, client or wisdom. Any successful artists I’ve met who have been around a long time in this industry have always been encouraging of other artists to succeed at what they do.
From this day on forward, I’m going to dedicate myself to finally figure out ways I can help at least 30% of creative people out there to make a living on monthly basis for their talent. Forget about waiting for a magazine editor to book you for a gig, or waiting for clients to book you for a campaign or licensing your images. What I really want to focus on is how YouTube made it possible for entertainers to make a living from entertaining online or how you can earn a living from ad word by running a blog that’s very successful.
I think we as creative’s need to work together on solving this issue, it’s 2014 and I sincerely believe there’s no reason for the creative market to be the way it is. You make a living by selling, so if you’re reading this and think we can solve this issue. I’d personally like you to email firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions or a business model that’s used somewhere else one related to our field of interest or ideas that hasn’t been experimented with. My philosophy in life is let’s all win together rather than compete. If we all win together and make it our job to figure out, how to make an income from our passion. It means we can bless the world with more creativity and inspire others to follow their inner calling.
For those of you who lack marketing skills or business skills get yourself an agent right this moment or find a business student or marketing student if you believe you have what it takes. Then focus 70% of your time on how you can make a living from your passion and then spend 30% on improving your skills as an artist.
If you are going to go down the agent route here’s what you need to know. Here’s how it usually works with agents: A good agent will be accountable to help you get commissioned work, put the sale together, and deal with the contracts (in some cases), and do the follow up, ensure payments are made on time, trust me, you don’t want to spend a year chasing payments yourself it’s frustrating especially if you’re depending on that payment to get you by for that month, and sometimes help with marketing your name and art.
How payment works with agents: Some agents keep anywhere from 25% – 50% (depending on your deal with them. I’ve even heard of some charge 80% commission depending on how big the agent is). However, to get a sale or commissioned work, it could take the agent up to 100-200 hours of prospecting and phone calling and footwork and that’s why it’s good to have an agent. Unless you want to spend 100 hours doing the prospecting, this will often take time from your creative work, and deplete you of your creative energy.
My recommendation to any artist looking for an agent: First put in the time and market yourself as an artist. If you are not willing to represent yourself, you must question whether you are truly ready to make money from your art. If not, that’s OK, but you must set your expectation accordingly. It’s the classic catch-22. Marketing and promotion takes a LOT of time. It is time away from creating that which you are marketing. Yet, if we don’t budget any time for marketing we end up a mere hobby artist with a house full of unclaimed masterpieces. Finding the time to do both is extremely challenging. Plodding ahead will someday have its payoff.
I have written articles on the following topics, which you might find useful.
Get better educated on selling yourself. I recommend you check out one person in particular on YouTube for those of you who are dead serious about making a living from this industry in order to give you the mindset of how to monetize your passion check out Gary Vaynerchuk ‘s YouTube channel for more. Read good blogs and websites for artists, like www.creativelive.com, I highly recommend that you check out themoney & life classes section and don’t be afraid to spend money on social media marketing or pay someone to market your business for you, which is actually a lot cheaper than paying an agent or manager. I’ve practically spent all my personal income and savings to keep Flawless Magazine going, from hosting fees, to paying interns , graphic designers, web designers and a team of others people that keep the magazine going. The list goes on. Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself or your dream. What you put in you would get out especially if you believe in yourself and work.
I really believe there needs to be a revolution on art monetization and monetization in the creative industry especially. I think art colleges’ needs to start teaching art students some business skills or at least partner business or marketing students with art students. In my honest opinion that’s one of the ways we can solve this problem together.
I want you all to be successful! Or if you want to make suggestions on how artists can make a living from their work. Please, let me know what you think of this topic. Drop me an email at editor@flawless-magazine.