The most critical part of business most artists ignore

One of my favorite Linda Bergvist paintings.

One of my favorite Linda Bergvist paintings.

About 12 years ago when digital painting was taking off, people would see works online by greats like Craig Mullins, Linda Bergvist, and Don Seegmiller.  Artists would pound the forums and obsess about which apps and/or Photoshop brushes they used.  Usually there would be at least one veteran who would quell the masses by saying, even if you had Craig Mullins’ brushes you still couldn’t paint like him.  That is of course unless you’re as skilled as him to begin with, and if you are, the brushes don’t matter.  

In business there’s no one brush or simple fix but it does really only come down to three things: 

Marketing  

Production  

Operations

These three are what make businesses run.  If you are having money issues, chances are excellent you’re not putting time in the proper place.  Most artists spend about 75% of their time in production.  Draw, draw, draw, paint, paint, paint, ink.  About 20% is spent in operations (paying bills, ordering supplies, web sites, etc.), and about 5% is spent in marketing.   

If you want your art career to thrive you need to put at least 30% of your time into marketing.  Minimum.  Why?  Because almost every problem that businesses face can be corrected with cash flow.  Marketing is sales and that’s what allows us to do what we do.  Last I checked, I couldn’t pay any of my bills in Photoshop brushes.

You may be thinking, I don’t have time or I hate sales.  All you have to do is look at your checking account.  If what’s in there makes you happy, you don’t need to focus that much on marketing.  If what’s in your account doesn’t float your boat, you need to get busy marketing.  

If you don’t like sales, don’t fear, there’s two different strategies you can use.  One is push and the other is pull.  Push is more like traditional sales, it’s about asking people to buy.  Pull strategies are more about educating and making yourself magnetic so people want to learn more about you and what you do.  

Keep in mind there is no replacement for amazing art skills.  I’m not saying to ignore increasing your skill set, you should always be sketching, doing studies, etc. you just can’t ignore marketing until your phone is ringing off the hook and much of your time is spent declining job offers.