Can an Artist ever be an Entrepreneur?

One of the biggest mistakes creative individuals make is not understanding the value of their work

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur Asia Pacific, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


Artists, like entrepreneurs, have a product or idea to sell, and they need to get out into the marketplace. To do this, artists need (at the very least) basic business skills and a willingness to approach selling art as any entrepreneur would.

If you're serious about building a sustainable art career, there are definitive steps you need to take to build and maintain your business.

Art that Takes You Big

Your idea or your approach to work is ultimately what you will be putting out in the market. By determining what it is you do, how you do it, and the content, subjects, and form/media, you will be defining your signature style. Once you have developed a style, you can then present it seamlessly to your audience. By defining your brand or style, you are unwittingly determining your audience.

Understand What the Audience Wants

Who collects your work is important information to have. Every entrepreneur studies the habits of their audience. They know what prices their audience are willing to pay, where they are willing to buy, when, and how often. An artist should know this information too.

For example, they know that buyers will be different at local art fairs than at trade shows or galleries. By identifying your audience early, and re-evaluating often, you'll be better able to keep up with demand, price your work, and know where to spend your precious time selling (and more importantly where to avoid).

Right Price and a Right Fit

There are many methods of pricing and evaluating work. Getting real about the process, business, and selling your work, knowing how to price one's work on a price-per-square inch basis as well as various other methodologies are common in the art world.

Also keep in mind the cost of overhead, materials, and supplies, as well as a recommended markup for retail pricing. One of the biggest mistakes artists make is not understanding the value of their work. So often artists either overinflate the value of their work or undervalue it—either way, they miss the opportunity to sell their work. Entrepreneurs understand that pricing is a fine art and so should artists.

Marketing and Sales Practices

Every entrepreneur knows the key to getting their idea or product to market is through marketing and sales. Artists too must employ marketing strategies. That means you need a website that reflects your signature style, which includes high-resolution pictures and descriptions of your work, as well as a means to buy the work directly from the site (or has links to contact information or the galleries that represent you).

It should also include an artist statement and a section with a regularly updated blog or newsletter. Keeping in touch with and building an audience is key to selling your work. With social media tools like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and search engine tools like Google and Pinterest, there are more ways to reach audiences.

Keep Your Books Clean

Every business needs to keep track of money going in and out, as well as inventory. Maintaining and cataloging your work is key to your success as an artist. You simply cannot overlook the details—often they are what make or break artists.

Good People, Strong Mentors, and Individuals

Entrepreneurs know that networking is more than trading business cards. Business is all about relationships. And having a network of great people around is a key to success. Most entrepreneurs know they can't run a business on their own. They get advice from other successful business people and they reach out when they need help or don't know what to do.