On the Business Side

As I sit here writing this I feel the glare of the 78-page document I’ve been ignoring since receiving it yesterday.  It’s printed, ready for a coffee-propped highlighting and note taking session.  That’s as far as I’ve gotten.

The document I need to slog through is an insurance quote; better yet it is an up-front detailed description of the entire policy.  Reading this whole document, and determining the value offered, is my mission for today – “should I choose to accept it’.  If I get bored or confused my brain will self-destruct.  But read it I must.  I suppose I am lucky, in a weird way, because I’ve had to read trust agreements, white papers, vendor contracts, etc in other jobs.  But it doesn’t make me look forward to this part of the business of art any more it just means I know I can do it.

Time spent on this is time away from my studio and my artwork and just one example of how much it takes to pursue an art career; much of it more than most of us are equipped to handle.  For instance, while I’m pretty good at scheduling, planning, budgeting, and inventory control I am lousy at marketing.

I’m learning but the closest thing to marketing I’d done until now was writing a resume and interviewing for jobs.  In those cases that was mainly about the skill set needed for a particular job and somewhat about me as a person (how would I fit into the current ‘team dynamics’ sort of thing).  Marketing your work is not just about your resume, bio, artist’s statement and your artwork it’s about marketing yourself and your vision.  I don’t know about most artists but I find that truly challenging.

I don’t crave talking about myself or my art – I’d prefer it be able to speak for itself.  But in the vast world of fine art there are so many styles and approaches, not to mention huge numbers of artists, that marketing has become as equally important as creating the work. And we don’t compete with just other fine artists we are now in ‘competition’ with photographers, digital artists, and crafts people.  So you have to figure out how to set your work apart while remaining true to your vision and character.  The last thing I aspire to is attracting attention to myself.

When I was young my mother always wanted me to wear clothes that were red because “red was a good color for me” according to her.  To me wearing red meant getting noticed in the way that you notice a flashing red light; look at me, look at  me, look at me!  It’s the same today although many years of having to be in front of people for presentations, running meetings, or teaching courses has softened the anxiety.  In fact, I confidently wear red now; and orange, and purple and bright pink.

Marketing is just one of the things we have to do as artists that our clients don’t see.  It’s not all about painting pretty, strange, exotic, disturbing , provocative (choose your adjective) pictures.  So all artists should check into insuring their work, equipment and transport thereof.  In some situations even when the work is hanging in a gallery you may not be covered.

Even homeowner’s insurance likely does not cover your work and equipment if you have studio space there.  In addition, most outdoor festivals now require a certificate of insurance so they won’t be liable if a massive gust of wind tears down your tent, displays and ruins your work.  Only recently I discovered that even if you leased space the building owner’s insurance doesn’t cover your work.

Part of me resisted this not only due to the cost but because I know in my heart if something happened to my work no amount of money would make me feel better.  Each piece is a special journey with a unique outcome that cannot be replicated.  But I have to be realistic and practical as well.  I would need something to help keep me doing what I love.

So finding affordable insurance coverage, if such a thing exists, has become part of my hypothetical imperative.  Now off to my quasi mission impossible.

Below are some links for research I’ve located if you find you’re in the same situation.  Please comment here if you have other resources you have found useful and/or affordable.







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