A couple of times recently I’ve been asked how much of my time do I spend making my art and both times my reply has been a surprise.  This got me to thinking…the reality or running an art business is obviously not as ‘glamourous’ as it may seem.

An art business

In fact I think sometimes the term ‘art business’ is seen as a bit of an oxymoron but in reality, if I want to make a living as an artist I also have to be a business woman and entrepreneur. This is where my answer usually surprises people as I it means I am artist, marketer, book keeper, teacher, video editor, it support, business manager, administrator and more!  So you can imagine with so many roles to cover my making time is limited.  In fact I have to work hard to maintain an 80:20 balance with 20% of my time spent on making or creative development.

I have a couple of strategies to do this. The first is to do more than one thing at a time.  Now, this is not something I would advise as a generally good strategy but I’ve found a way to combine my making time with my studio membership time and it really seems to work.  I have to be in the studio for the membership six mornings a week and I use this time to make whenever I can.  I’m available to answer questions, offer help and give advice so have to be able to stop what I’m doing on occasion but members have said that they find it inspiring to see how I work and enjoy watching me make while they are working on their own builds so the blend of the two seems to work well.  I still have to load/unload kilns and manage the studio too so I don’t get to make for the whole time but I’ve certainly been making more with this structure in place.

The second strategy is to find people who are good at specific elements that are either a weakness of mine or that I simply don’t enjoy so much.  I’ve been really lucky to have found a couple of people who are excellent at what they do and who have made it possible for me to confidently hand over book keeping and the studio evening opening times.

The thing I find most challenging about running an art business is finding balance.  Balance between making art and running the business.  Balance between making to sell and making to express myself.  Balance between all the different and varied ideas I have for both new work and new ways to move the business forward and managing the business’ day to day operations.  And of course, balance between work and home time (technology has a lot to answer for with this as I now do much of my social media and communications work on my mobile phone anytime I can grab a few minutes in between day to day stuff🙈).  I don’t have the answer to this yet but I’m working on it…

As part of finding balance ‘time management’ is key.  Choosing how and where to spend my time and put my focus is fundamental in getting things done.  However, I’ve recently decided that we can’t really manage time so I’m choosing to focus on priorities and making sure that I spend my time on the right priorities to move forward in the direction I want to go.  I am a bit of a haphazard kinda gal and tend to flit between different tasks that seem to be important at the time, so I really have to work on my focus.  I find it really easy to get lost in the day to day studio and business activities and fire fighting when problems arise even though I recognise that this responsive way of working is not conducive to building a thriving business.  I like that I can be adaptive and respond to opportunities quickly but I also need to make sure I have the overall vision and strategy clear in my mind to guide my actions.  I need to give myself time to think, review and build as well as manage the business.  Then I need to plan in the time and priorities to make it happen.

It can be can be challenging, as any entrepreneur will tell you, but I actually enjoy the variety most of the time. My work encompasses so many roles that there’s always something different to do next, so life is never boring.  It can be overwhelming and the struggle for balance is very real but I love working for myself and am proud of what I have achieved so far.

 

Find out more about me and why I do this and check out images of my work and the studio life on my instagram.