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Let the wallflower bloom: my guide to becoming an art entrepreneur


Let the wallflower bloom: my guide to becoming an art entrepreneur

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Are you young, free, fresh out of university, with a creative mindset and a desire to work in the art world? If so here’s my advice on how to start developing your entrepreneurial side.

Get into the mindset…

You are aspiring to learn, collaborate, make, create, exhibit…the list is endless with all the possibilities that freedom brings. This can come as a bit of a shock after years of education, stuck inside an ‘art bubble’ within your particular art institution. Once this bubble bursts you need to transform your mindset and respond to the creative triggers around you in an attempt to find that big idea that will start you on your entrepreneurial path.

These triggers could be business orientated or something that is crying out to your creative side. Both triggers need to be activated for success. The aim is to gain both creative fulfilment and, hopefully, profit!

How to get that idea?

Keep your sketchbook and materials close to you at all times. Therefore when you see the opportunity, a flash of inspiration, have the confidence in your own ability and recreate that moment on paper. Remember ‘an artist is an entrepreneur in their own field.’ Self motivated, emerging artists do exactly this. You are out there to make something happen.

Personally I like to make this happen quicker by venturing out on two wheels. There is nothing better than having personal transport at all times. Your bike allows you to breeze into the art world (quite literally) stopping as and when your artistic pulse demands.

Building contacts

There are obviously underlying tensions between art and money, more so if you’re a recent graduate and desperate for both. You’ll soon realise the importance of a successful conversation with other artists you meet along your ride.

The key is to remember you are always in search of a good collaborator. Push the conversations, even though there may be language barriers at times. The best advice is to keep your head up and smile. It will, without fail, get you somewhere, even if it’s walking back out the door…smiling. Ask questions at exhibitions and events to determine if someone there could be interested in collaborating with you.

Route to market

Now you have an idea, a collaborator and a passion to succeed you can put your thoughts into practice and make some money!

One idea is to curate an exhibition, a group show is always fun because it can bring your work a new dimension and, of course, having some help will definitely boost your chances of a successful exhibition.

Alternatively, why not organise a local event to sell your work? What about getting a pitch at a festival, art fair or flea market? You could also try local galleries, restaurants and even bars.

Remember word of mouth buyers are longer lasting, however this doesn’t mean you can’t try selling your work online, explore sites such as eBay, Etsy, Artpal, and for more digital disciplines why not try Fiver (yes everything is only $5).

And finally, have you ever heard about art licensing? This is when you sell someone the right to reproduce images of your art (for example on merchandise or gifts) and you receive royalties on the sales. Find out more about it here.

Embrace it…

Keep aware of your current artistic context. When travelling this can change from day to day, from an old château in the French countryside to the sands of a southern beach in Spain. Whenever the art entrepreneur within you is screaming to get out there, embrace it!

Check out some of Antonia’s work at here.

Edited by Charlotte Cullen, Image Credit (all): Antonia Bamford

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