By Alexia Lang
As your days in art school come to a close, it’s time to start thinking about what comes next. You must soon make the transition between dreaming of being an artist and making a living as an artist.
Artists are entrepreneurs. As an artist, you must organize and manage all aspects of your business – from the creative to the financial. And, in order to be successful, you must manage both well.
The good news is you don’t have to do it alone. Organizations with the mission of connecting artists to collaborate on best business practices are popping up across the United States.
Susana Bruhn is the director and founder of GUILDit, an organization based out of Kansas City, Mo., that seeks to connect artists in order to build a thriving art community. GUILDit helps bridge the gap between art and business. Bruhn notes that organizations like hers are forming because more and more artists are realizing the benefits of learning from each other.
“Entrepreneurs tend to get isolated,” Bruhn said. “Collaboration and ideas being exchanged can help you feel rejuvenated about your business.”
Looking back at what she’s learned since founding GUILDit in 2015, Bruhn offered up her top tips for students preparing to make a living as an artist:
The importance of getting out and meeting new people can’t be stressed enough. Meeting new people offers the opportunity of finding new clients as well as fellow artists who will make great sounding boards for ideas and business practices. Find an organization, like GUILDit or 1 Million Cups (www.1millioncups.com), which currently has groups in cities across the country, that will help you connect with other artists near you.
- Keep Learning
Just because you are out of school doesn’t mean you are done learning. There is always more to learn. Sign up for business workshops and sit in on forums about your trade. Definitely find a class on grant writing. It’s a skill that will come in handy. And Bruhn notes not to get discouraged about grant writing once you start doing it. For every three grants that artists write, only about one gets approved.
- Have Reasonable Aspirations
Once you graduate, don’t set yourself up for failure by having unreasonable expectations.
“Don’t have an idea you will reinvent the wheel,” Bruhn said. “Realize you have to build your brand as an artist. And always be aware that brand can be tarnished.”
- Help Others
This tip goes back to the importance of networking. The art community is just that – a community. It works best when there is collaboration.
“The more you are willing to help others solve their problems, they are willing to help you,” Bruhn said.