“A” Is For Artistpreneur

I am by nature, curious, creative, connective, and a born storyteller. I am also independent but tribal, brave but discerning. An odd jumble of attributes, but the perfect fit for being an artist, an engineer, an entrepreneur, in short, an Artistpreneur.

When I started teaching my writing & publishing-related workshop, “Building Your Professional Platform” fifteen years ago, it took a leap of faith to talk about the Art & Engineering balance of a creative career. To say, “When you are creating you are an artist first and an entrepreneur second, when you are marketing you are an entrepreneur first and an artist second.”  Daunting for those who believe that art & business is a high-wire act with no net.

The successful working artists I know (as measured by supporting themselves financially and having their work accessed by others) have all managed to walk that tightrope of heart and mind. Things may get wobbly, lurch and teeter at times, slow down or even pause to re-vision, but they keep moving forward. They are some of the smartest, savviest, strategic, hard-working people on this planet.

Being an Artistpreneur is empowering. It’s not taking time away from our creative process it’s helping us gain clarity, stay current, and build deeper, stronger ties to our creative communities.

The origins and definitions of the word “entrepreneur” over the last 300 years were germinated by both French and Latin and are rooted in creative pursuits (to “undertake” in a theatre production) risk, adventure, independence, change, and enterprise (to rattle cages and seek opportunity for the new and unique).

There are many inspiring and varied ways to help hone our craft, a process that should last a lifetime, but not so much on how to work our art like an entrepreneur. How to get our creative voice heard in the midst of all the buzz. How to keep the wheels of commerce turning and the revenue flowing so we can keep creating.

But there is help out there. We just need to come out of the cave and into the village and events like “Work of Art” is a great place to start…or continue.

The “Work of Art” is a day-long seminar co-produced by the Arts Council of Surrey and Artscan Resource Network, a regional Arts-related not-for-profit that fosters connections in the arts and business communities, held at the Newton Cultural Centre and home of the Arts Council of Surrey. As the seminar name implies, the focus is on the businessy promo practical side of the working artist’s life.

This March, over fifty people jammed into the sold-out event designed for thirty. As the eager artists and cultural creatives of every ilk poured in, we all made room so no one got left behind.

Five presenters, leaders in their fields, offered practical, boots-on-the ground information. The hour-long presentations could easily have stretched to two or three, with the flood of questions and comments. We balanced and juggled online marketing & social media, business plan development, building an online professional profile, grant writing, the why of what we do, and my gig: navigating the publishing world.

It’s time to put on our entrepreneur pants. It’s what all the high-wire artists are wearing.

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