Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Balancing Art and Business

I saw a sign recently that said 'If you're an artist you're already a success.' It's a nice thought and true to some extent, but there are still bills to pay. I'm always interested in how artists manage to juggle the demands of art with the demands of practical life, whether in history or at the current moment. As a working artist, my interest in the question is not academic. So in pursuit of answers to the question, for myself and in general, I went to the SURTEX/Stationery Trade show last week in New York. So much color, so much design and pattern, much cuteness and cleverness - aisle after aisle. I learned a good deal (for example, did you know that there is an award called the Louie for the best in greeting card design?) and picked up plenty of useful information. Some booths took up a lot of real estate, but as I wandered I  kept my eye out for the smaller, more personal approach. I found quite a few artist/entrepreneurs who are managing the balance very well. Amy Smyth has had enough success with her basic line - http://www.amysmythmadeit.com - that she has initiated a second one, Ecka & Pecka, named, charmingly, for the imaginary friends of her niece. She spoke of the satisfactions of taking the business side seriously in order to make a life from her creative work. Further on, I found a couple of family efforts. J-Dig cards - http://jdigcards.bigcartel.com - is the product of two brothers who share the creative work (one for the ideas, one for the designs) with the help of a spouse who does the marketing, while Clouds & Ink http://www.cloudsandink.com is the combined effort of a daughter and her father - he creates paintings from which she selects patterns to use with her line drawings in card designs. They all reported success and satisfaction with the creative and business sides of their efforts. If you're an artist who has found a good balance, leave me a comment and let me know how you do it - I'd love to help spread the word.

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