It's Never Too Early
By: Deanne Gertner
Perhaps you’ve heard that early childhood is the most important phase in one’s overall development, determining one’s future well-being, risk of obesity, mental health, heart disease, literacy, numeracy, criminality, and socioeconomic standing. Beginnings, as you can see, establish long-lasting and definite trajectories. The Butterfly Effect in chaos theory proposes seemingly insignificant changes can drastically affect events later on. Sir Isaac Newton also understood the importance of beginnings when he wrote his First Law of Motion: an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion. Clearly, the secret sauce to future success is starting out positively.
Why, then, do most artists in training postpone the “business” side of their practice until after that BFA or MFA thesis is complete? For starters, artists and educators are both guilty of perpetuating the fallacy of the Ivory Tower Artist. The Ivory Tower Artist has no material needs: she does not leave art school with a penny of debt nor does she need healthcare, food, an apartment, transportation, clothing, or a cell phone because, as everyone knows, Art exists on a plane light years away from Life. Who are we kidding? The sad truth: ourselves. I’m all for art for art’s sake, but even conceptual artists need a sandwich once in a while. Hand in hand with the Ivory Tower Artist is the Starving Artist. Perhaps if more art schools and artists focused as much time and energy on marketing and invoices as they do on composition and execution, the Starving Artist myth would be eradicated, once and for all.
So, what’s an emerging artist to do? Slog through the drudgery of a business degree? No, heavens, no. Luckily for us, the MBA types have caught on that the arts mean business – the nonprofit arts and cultural sector alone (which doesn’t even count individual artists’ sales) generates $135.2 billion of economic activity per year according to Americans for the Arts – and have started developing software solutions tailored specifically for artists, making the business side of being an artist that much more straightforward and, dare I say it, fool proof.
Take Artwork Archive, for example, a cloud-based artist inventory software that enables artists to track, organize and maintain their body of work in one secure online location. But as amazing as an online inventory on its own is, Artwork Archive provides enriched inventory data such as a geographical heat map to show where your work is selling best and advanced inventory reports that graphically chart your production and sales values over time. Suddenly you’ve got cold, hard data that could translate into sales and not just a drying rack full of lonely, unsold intaglio etchings! You’ll know exactly what your body of work is worth at any given time broken down by type (sold and unsold) and location (studio and gallery). You’ll know exactly what pieces you have available for that summer artist market in Santa Fe. You’ll know exactly which piece is ready for that juried competition you’ve been eyeing in New York.
What’s more is that Artwork Archive also provides you with templates for consignment sheets, portfolio pages and invoices, so when you do finally get your gallery representation or sell the piece to the art consultant who you gave a presentation to last month, you’ll be able to speak their language. You’ll be labeled as competent (i.e. easy to work with), which will give you more street cred than a traffic light.
As an emerging artist, you’ve got a relatively smaller body of work which means your initial get-your-art/self-organized time will be significantly less than someone who’s got ten years’ worth of work to upload. What could take them days to do, will take you minutes, hours max, which means you’ll have more time for creating and selling your work. Moreover, as someone who has probably grown up on a computer, you’re more familiar with only the techie lingo but also the rules of engagement. You’re actually brush strokes ahead in this game, so start leveraging your art now because we all know just how vital beginnings are to our future successes.
To learn more about Artwork Archive, visit https://www.artworkarchive.com/.