Most of my artist friends, regardless of what medium they work with, are independent, self-employed, non-represented (by agent, dealer, gallery owner, or publisher) business people. I am no exception. I work in my own studio space(s) and as the Sole Proprietor of my business. As a result of this independence, artists often have to wear many hats. Sometimes artists are wearing all the hats, and there are lots of them. Lets toss some hats around: these may include being the designer, creator, marketer, IT geek, accountant, business manager, clerk, shipping/receiving department, purchaser, secretary, and others specific to a particular artist’s process. It’s a lot of hats!
It’s really too many hats to wear if an artist is also hoping to stay creative and importantly, prolific! Some of these hats can be put onto the heads of others (outsourced). I work with an accountant, sometimes a professional lab, get help with computer issues, but mostly, I both try to wear, and prefer to wear, as many hats as I can balance on my head.
There is one area especially where I feel artists need to rely more on one another, marketing. My approach to marketing has always been to put myself in front of the art collector as much as possible and make the experience as pleasant and interesting as I can. What’s more, I like that personal interaction.
I’m of the belief that many art collectors also prefer the personal interaction with artists. For them, acquiring work directly from the artist is part of the experience and fun of being a collector. I can’t see ever relinquishing that responsibility to an agent or art dealer; being an artist under those conditions would be less enjoyable for me. I do however think that there is another kind of representation from which artists can gain. More and more I am finding artists wanting to collaborate on their marketing, and as a result fostering their individual efforts. I think that this strategy is good for the artists involved, and creates a “world” that their collectors find more engaging.