I’m starting a business.
You may not be aware, but a few years ago, when I was in the middle of my undergrad degree at ACAD, I teamed up with a couple of girls from the business program at the University of Calgary. They were just starting to hold business skills workshops for emerging artists. I went to the first talk, and after the session, walked up to them and said, ” I need to be a part of this. Can I be on your team?” After that first session, it was the three of us running smART: the Business of Art. We held probably 6 or 8 sessions over the next two years, inviting artists and professionals with specific skills to give talks to our small, but loyal audience. I loved the project, and often found myself pushing it hard, as I saw it as my opportunity to fill in what I saw as the gaps in my education. Business skills are not something that is given too much attention in art school, although it is integral to the success of artists. Most artists end up learning these skills as they go along.
I have always been an advocate for the learning of these kinds of things, as there is so much more to being an artist than making art. You need to be able to write critically about your work, write applications for exhibitions and grants, sell yourself (whether or not you actually sell your work), keep proper records, have research skills, set goals, manage your time wisely, proofread, come up with accurate budgets, manage projects, work well with other people, speak in public, and promote yourself and your work. Often, this involves developing other skills as well, such as learning how to manage your website, figuring out how to handle your taxes, and graphic design, to name a few. All of this is done without someone supervising or helping you along the way.
I’ve learned a lot since graduating from ACAD, in 2011. While I was happy to graduate, I miss things that I took for granted while I was there. My peers to bounce ideas off. My instructors offering feedback on things I’m doing. Being surrounded by a like-minded community of people who were doing cool things. Being able to easily pop in to artist lectures, to see what other people are doing and how they’re doing it. Going down to the library for just one little thing. It can be lonely, post-graduation, and if there’s no one there pushing you forward, it’s easy to slip into doing nothing.
So, my little business. I want to offer a kind of support to emerging artists, aimed at those whose primary goal isn’t to sell their work. I want to create a sense of community, although that will take time to build. For now, I can offer advice, through consulting/ coaching, and I can help with proofreading, editing, and feedback on documents. I can also help emerging artists get professional websites up and running, and share what I’ve learned in the time since I’ve been done school. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that it’s been quite the ride in the last not-quite-two years.
My business will be called Arts Assist, and will be launching on February 4th, at 1pm. For now, you can see a preview at Arts-Assist.com. Please join me online for the launch!
(On a similar note, I’m running a mentorship program at work, as my Action Learning Project for the Arts Management course I’m taking. I’m really excited about it. You can find the application for it on the Alberta Society of Artists website. I’m hoping to create some good connections for emerging and established artists in Calgary, putting both sides in touch with the other, asking some good questions, and seeing what happens.)