STEPS TO CREATING A PROFITABLE CAREER IN THE ARTS
PART 1 - "The Mission & Vision Statement"
Photography can seem like an isolated, competitive industry. I want to empower other photographers and share what I have learned and share what other successful people around me have learned. Sometimes I will share a lighting tip, a photoshop trick, a behind the scenes educational video, or in this case, essential business skills. I aim to help you with the daily skill-sets needed to run a successful business in the arts.
Any artist pursuing a career, regardless of the discipline (photography, music, poetry, filmmaking, painting, writing, sculpting, illustration, etc.) needs entrepreneurial skills, a marketing plan and access to money. In this part 1 - Photography is a business - The Mission & Vision Statement, I will introduce to you the steps needed to begin to build a long-term profitable career as an artist. I am breaking them down in different parts (posts) to allow you to take action or seek further information on a topic before moving on, so that you can develop a solid understanding of what I feel are very important steps to take in starting your artistic career. Even if you have been surviving for many years at your craft, but only just getting by, this information can certainly help you too! We all need to get back on track sometimes and re-adjust our business plan in an ever changing marketplace.
Helping you get more knowledge about the business side of being an artist (copyright laws, pricing, marketing, contracts, networking, fundraising, sponsorships, co-ops) helps not only you, but also helps to educate the community at large. When I was an actor, professionals in my field had a union (SAG, AFTRA) that set the bar, the basic pricing for work and certain work conditions. This helped the film industry not to exploit the professional working actor's rate. As photographers (and many other art forms such as musicians) we simply do not work together to make sure that our day rates remain at a certain level. I see the rates of many of my talented associates go down year after year with trying to keep work in a market that has a constant influx of new talent, many of whom undercut the industry rate which ends up hurting us all.
Yes, even artists need to understand important business skills if they want to be able to support themselves doing their craft. I get a lot of photographers that come to me asking for guidance or requesting an internship. Most of them have already graduated from a 4 year fine-arts photography degree, and I find that a majority of them do not even know the basics of starting and running a successful photography BUSINESS. I do not blame the artist for not having this knowledge. They simply are not always taught these things. Many artists only want to focus on creating the art. But that is only the beginning. I admit, I didn't know much when I started, by I really wish I had. I would have saved many years spinning my wheels.
It is certainly not enough to take great photos, even outstanding photos now-a-days. An artist should understand that creating their art - taking the photo in the case of the photographer - is just the BEGINNING. Actually, once the artist has a basic understanding of their craft and decides to pursue it professionally and not just as a hobby, they should really seek out as much information as possible about running a business. I am going to share with you some very important business advice for artists. For many artists this might seem boring and not worth their time. I greatly advise the artist to change that way of thinking.
THE MISSION AND VISION STATEMENT You probably have heard these terms before. Maybe you associate them with what a fortune 500 company needs for their "about page". But what you may not have realized is that YOU, the ARTIST, need to have them too!
What are they?
Mission statements define what you do, what is the purpose or direction you want for your art/business.
My mission statement for Creative Space - Our mission is to empower, educate, and inspire artists by providing them with high quality information from experts in their field.
Here are a few examples of the mission statements of popular companies:
AMAZON - Our vision is to be earth's most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
FACEBOOK - Facebook's mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.
GOOGLE - Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Vision statements are your long term goals and core values.
My vision statement for Creative Space - Our aim is to be a powerful marketing force and resource hub for artists globally.
Why is this so important to know your mission and vision statements? And also to write them down? First of all, it keeps you and the people that work in and with your organization (assistants, studio managers, interns, agents, etc) all on the same page. It's good to display this somewhere that is visible to you on a regular basis. It also keeps you on track. You need to know where you aim to take your art business in order to maintain a pathway to your success. It's not to say you won't be flexible or even re-evaluate your mission statement every so often, but if you are not clear where you intend to go, then the people that follow you will not be clear either. Plus, if you ever decide to seek funding, grants, sponsorships, agent reps, etc. you will most likely be asked this. You might also consider this to be an "elevator pitch". So best to confidently have your answer ready so that you do not miss out on any opportunities!
Do YOU have mission statement? A vision statement? If so, great! You have already made the first step toward your success. If not, why not try and come up with one right now? Grab a cup of coffee or wine, find a nice quiet place, and reflect on these things that you envision for your art business. You will probably want to revise it over and over until it feels right. But don't put it off. Get started on it today!
Good luck! Please feel free to share with me your mission/vision statements here!
Be sure to check back soon where I will be posting PART 2 of "Photography is a BUSINESS".