Photo Credit: See-ming Lee.
Turns out, you can make a living as an artist. And there’s no better time to do so.
Numbering almost two million, artists – those in photography, architecture, music, production, art, dance, design and writing – are one of the largest classes of workers in the nation, only slightly smaller than the U.S. military’s active-duty and reserve personnel (2.2 million).
“American artists tend to be better educated and more entrepreneurial,” Dana Gioia, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, says in the report, Artists in the Workforce. Indeed, artists are 3.5 times more likely to be self-employed.
Artistic creativity and entrepreneurship are no longer mutually exclusive. What was once a vehicle for personal expression has increasingly become an avenue to impact society, and artists are now change agents for communities.
“Rather than seeing art as something to pursue in the hours when they are not earning a living,” argues New York Times columnist Marci Alboher, “these artists are developing businesses around their talents. These artists are part of a growing movement that has caught the attention of business experts and is being nudged along by both art and business schools. Living in the Internet era has certainly helped.”
Making your passion your profession – and ensuring the resulting income has long-term viability- is no easy task. Just because you have the ability to create, doesn’t always mean you have the skills to own your art and profit from it. But yes, of course, the Internet has helped. It has sparked consumer interest in unique, one-of-a-kind or handcrafted products, and has created new and effective methods for tech-savvy artists to find an audience.
Not to mention, technology reduces the cost of producing many types of art, and gives artist-entrepreneurs “the ability to create and manage small businesses with multiple revenue streams. This greatly increases the likelihood they will generate enough revenue to succeed,” argues small business researcher Steve King.
Giga Om reporter Michael Wolf agrees, declaring 2012 as the year for the artist-entrepreneur. Wolf points to examples in digital publishing where former mid-list writers like Barry Eisler to superstars like JK Rowling, are increasingly making waves. Or how everyone’s favorite comedian Louis CK said no thank you to corporate middlemen and put his concert video online for $5 a pop.
“No doubt, the vast majority of economic wealth is still distributed through large corporate media,” Wolf argues, “but as new technologies enable artists to reach consumers directly through push-button creation and distribution, there is a movement afoot. Expect this movement to expand in 2012 as more artists take control of their own economic destinies and become part of the artist-entrepreneur generation.”
Here at Graph Paper Press, we have had the great pleasure to watch these trends explode from a front-row seat. Next week, we will have an exciting announcement related to the artist-entrepreneur. Stay tuned…
(Don’t you just love a good cliff-hanger?)
What do you think? Have you found you’re becoming an artist-entrepreneur? What challenges or successes can you share?