Take it from the professionals: you need business to excel in art

By Bradi Zapata
Marketing & PR Intern

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The Creative Waco team is gearing up for our new professional development program for artists and creatives, Work of Art, which kicks off next week. The eight-week course will be held in downtown Waco from Sept. 24 to Nov. 14. and will teach artists and creatives essential business skills on how to sell their work.

Work of Art instructor Luann Jennings reached out to artists from various states and creative disciplines, and asked them to share why they believe business knowledge is essential to succeeding in the arts and creative businesses. Here’s what they had to say:

  • “[Viewing my writing as a business] forced me to change my relationship to the work and to my audience. My work is more relational, and holds more respect for the people who receive it. I'm less self-indulgent. I'm also braver, far more willing to try things, see what connects with people, and follow that.”
    Ellen Seltz, novelist from Birmingham, Ala.

  • “One of the most pivotal realizations for me as an artist was that it actually IS a business and I actually AM a business owner. This allowed me think more holistically and strategically about the less glamorous parts of art-making, as well as more bravely and confidently about the artistic product and process. The work I'm doing -- whether it's budgeting, event planning, painting, designing, directing, producing, performing, etc. -- is work and it is worthy of remuneration.”
    Hannah Holman, theatre leader and advocate from Minneapolis Minn.

  • “This profession is a marathon; not a sprint. I personally had to sober myself to the financial realities of this business and learn to navigate the ebb and flow of getting work, then not getting work, and how to spend my time in the ‘in between times.’”
    Brit Whittle, actor from New York City, N.Y.

  • “Sacrifices are necessary for anything you want. Sacrifices include but aren't limited to: money / material goods, health, relationships, fame, fulfillment and time. The balancing of all of these is in constant flux. Many folks my age are embarking on one or more of the above that may have eluded them in their younger days.”
    Barbara Hawkins-Scott, voiceover actor and studio manager from Atlanta, Ga.

  • In my years of working freelance, we came to the end of each month with almost enough money to make ends meet. Almost. It was creatively draining to work so hard and then fall just short. I finally embraced the idea that we would never be financially comfortable. It seemed like embracing one of my biggest fears. But once I did it, everything got better.”
    Laura Robinson, costume designer from Kansas City, Mo.

Work of Art was developed by Springboard for the Arts in St. Paul, Minnesota. Instructors have taught the course in over 80 communities in the upper Midwest. This fall will be the first time that Work of Art will be held in Waco.

The eight sessions will cover: planning for a financially sustainable and fulfilling career, goals, productivity, effective communication in person and in print, what and how to charge, keeping the lawyers and the IRS happy, and more. The first session will cover Why Artists need Business Skills and is free of charge.

Register and find more information at creativewaco.org/work-of-art.