Sian Lindemann has been very successful in this field for the past 30 years. For this reason, when she took the time to construct the response below to my blog post entitled “Why have a manager/agent”, I felt it important to make that response accessible to as many people as I could personally reach as she had some interesting and valid points to make which would be particularly useful for other artists.
Regarding Sians question on my definition of success, for me, success would mean not only achieving my personal financial goals (which are very ambitious by most standards), but also achieving the recognition within the art world that so many of us crave. Critical success is just as important to me as financial success, if I am being honest.
I do recognise the importance of having a team to deal with marketing strategy, branding, sales etc. Without all of that help, how would any artist have the time to produce the work? I do however appreciate the importance of understanding those processes and being able to undertake them yourself if necessary, because in the beginning stages, (that is where I am at), the finances necessary to pay an army of people are just not there. As a result, you have to get SOME of the way there alone.
I am lucky, I have a loyal and supportive manager who helps with the business side of the equation (please see his response by clicking here). The rest is up to me. Please see Sians response below.
Great question ! I have been involved in the arts both as gallery owner/agent and as artist for over 30 years.
Its a great question that you pose and I would ask of you to ponder an additional question…
What is your definition of success? In 30 years, I’ve yet to meet an artist who doesn’t wish to have their name and their work known nationally or internationally…unless of course one is simply a hobbiest in the industry.
Secondly, how does the artist view the comprehensive overview of his or her life’s work ? As a business and as a brand, it is essential to build “team” around what one is doing…and this of course requires finance, as it relates to “revenue” or income.
I agree with you, it is timely for artists to consider self – promotion, and to adopt the understanding of HOW business works…and I’ve been advocating this all of my professional career… And certainly there is more than enough education available to all of us to discover how better to operate in business…and it is extremely rare to meet an artist who understands the value of understanding the elementary nature of business… The Business of the arts is a unique proposition, however.
Management or Agency services is one thing…yet the requirement for “help,” in house, is essential for growth…and the people that one needs to manage and run the business are not all, necessarily versed in sales, which is, of course, key in the industry to perpetuate the revenue base of the artist’s company.
Having been a gallery owner and having been extremely successful in that industry, it is an illuminating factor about the Cost of doing business in retail. It is exhorbidant…very very expensive to operate retail locations where revenue is soley based on art sales… for art is one of those things that is not designated as something that is an essential acquisition. Thus “sales” training to our staffing was one of the biggest priorities in the acquisition of external services to our company ~ keeping the staff motivated and excited about the development of the artists we represented.
All of those artists have since become household names as a result of the efforts on their behalf for over 30 years.
So its a mixed can of worms regarding management and agent services.
Business Development and a willingness to consider planning around the development of an artists career is an essential component to success in the industry…as is key in any business.
Rarely do artists think beyond today and today’s sale…and the urgency of this style of business leaves little room for growth or development.
For “onesy” sales or onesy events doesn’t address a comprehensive overview to the growth and development of the artists’ career, as a whole…for like most, its rare to meet an artist who doesn’t exhibit talents in a variety of styles or capabilities..all of which can be monetized as a part of the business.
The person, generally who is the strategist in this manner is not necessarily a sales person….
So you have a Catch 22 situation in the business….regarding the need for strategy..and the ongoing need for sales, and revenue to the operation.
So I go back to the original question…How much is enough to consider one’s success…is it financial ~ per month, per annum or is it simply a matter of “fame”
Both require sound business practices surrounded by innovation, creativity and promotional considerations. And if the artist is to “handle” all of these things himself or herself, there is little time left for the creation of the product, ie the paintings, the dance, the form itself.
Just some thoughts…as having taken a company from 200k per year to 7 figures in annual sales, it required a massively talented team, that complemented the skill, talent and devotion of the artist…all of whom would not show up to continue to work if the Friday paycheck was not consistently there.
Just some thoughts for you regarding your blog post ~ and coming to the table as both agent and artist, I feel compelled to share that even as “artist” I required a massively talented team around me for me to accomplish my goals without feeling like there were no hours in the day to sleep….all of whom would not have stayed had there not been the Friday assurance of a paycheck.
Its a catch -22….but you are correct…..Self promotion and understanding clearly what it takes to run a business is a skill that all artists should devote themselves to…and if the conversation is ~ as is often the case ~ “I just want to create” ~ then the management team is forced to consider “control” of the product, ie the art ~ in order to best grow the company, the artist, the distribution of the art and products and manage the day to day operation.
With that thought rarely is the artist charging enough for their work to accomodate this, nor is there “other” products available to sell to accomplish the revenue base to perpetuate consistent income to the artist and company.
Planning, strategy and implementation are essential…which by the way is what I do for a living ~ Nice to meet you