“Most art schools didn’t teach you to go after money,” says Rafael Cruz, regional director of the Florida Small Business Development Center in Broward and a lecturer at AEI, who led a workshop on business planning. “Your success is more about how you deal with patrons than about your art.”
In response to the need for continued in-depth coaching for the creative economy entrepreneur, the Small Business Development Center, in partnership with the Broward County Cultural Division and ArtServe, an artist incubator, launched the Creative Entrepreneur Development Program, allowing artists to meet one-on-one with a business coach that understands the creative economy and can help them further develop their business. “Most artists create individually but to be a business success you need a team around you,” says Cruz. Gadson leads the program at the Small Business Development Center.
Photographer David I. Muir discovered during the AEI course that developing his brand is job one. Even though he was busy promoting his new photography book called Pieces of Jamaica, a passion for the native-born Jamaican that is years in the making, Muir says going through the program was time well-spent. He learned about putting together a business plan, received tips on nontraditional funding sources and plans to apply for some grants. But mostly he learned to think of his art as a business.
Besides promoting the book, for sale on PiecesofJamaica.net, and running DAVIDiPhoto.com, Muir has been busy helping to plan South Florida’s first Caribe Arts Fest for Sept. 28-30 at the Las Olas Riverfront in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
“I’m much more sales oriented than I was six weeks ago,” Muir says after completing AEI. “I want to be successful. It gives me tons of motivation for pushing.”
He also cites the benefit of sharing with successful business people and artists who were brought in as speakers, such as Cruz and Gadson, as well as Michael Joseph, a photographer well-known for his black-and-whites of architecture. He now owns Artists Haven Gallery with his wife.
As an artist, Joseph says he has become a success because he shifted with the market. When the market wanted lower priced offerings for instance, he found a way to provide them. “One thing I’ve learned, it is more important to click with people than click the shutter.”
And as a gallery owner Joseph gives artists a wakeup call: “We meet a lot of artists who don’t seem to be about business. It is a business... You’re the one percent — there are thousands who aren’t you. But when you meet my wife and you don’t talk business, you’re done.”
Kathleen O’Leary, a marketing professor at Nova Southeastern University’s Huizenga School of Business, helped Carol-Anne McFarlane ( www.cmcfarlaneart.com) understand her target customer. McFarlane’s paintings are created to make you think.
“My work is really direct. It can turn you off or on, depending on how open the viewers’ mind happens to be,” she says. “The marketing expert answered the questions that I have been struggling with. I felt really encouraged. I began brainstorming new ideas and strategies for discovering my target audience.”