Chapter 18: The Business of Art by Judy Vienneau
As an artist, I also have to be an entrepreneur. I have owned and operated several businesses over the years: a Graphic Design studio with a staff in the late 80’s (before moving to Florida), then a freelance Graphic Designer, and the galleries – 7 years as Snooty Judy’s in Dunedin, and also founder and manager of several co-operative art galleries in Clearwater and now St. Pete. Before opening Snooty Judy’s in 1997, I did a couple of years in the outdoor show circuit (see blog post #10). I have worked at several non-profit and for-profit art organizations. And during and in-between doing all of this, I have continued to make and sell my mixed media artwork and wire sculpture.
I have always prided myself on being able to use both right and left sides of my brain. I love coming up with creative concepts in my artwork, but I also get excited when my bookkeeping balances. I have often thought I should have gone back to school for an accounting degree, but that idea quickly goes out the window when I get into my studio! I am a one-woman show – creator, marketer, and business manager.
It has often troubled me that as a career artist, my profession is not appreciated as such. Customers constantly feel compelled to dicker about pricing; they would not dream of trying to talk down their accountant or attorney, or negotiate with the cashier at a grocery store. When did buying art become equivalent with shopping at a flea market or yard sale? I have encouraged other artists NEVER to work for free, or donate work to a non-profit just “for exposure”. I’m sure many artists have heard the comment: “Making art is fun…why would you charge money for it?”
On the other side of the coin, when an artist becomes “famous” or dead, the artwork becomes a collectible commodity, and less appreciated solely for its aesthetic value. So, even if I never attain “fame” and become a commodity, I am dedicated to advancing my emergence as a fine artist.