2012: the Year of the Artist-Entrepreneur

Artist Studio: Ruza Bagaric / Dumbo Arts Center: Art Under the Bridge Festival 2009 / 20090926.10D.54595.P1.L1 / SML
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?

9 responses to “2012: the Year of the Artist-Entrepreneur”

  1. Russell Evans Avatar

    Good inspiring article, hopefully this will be “The year”. Im looking forward to it being great. I have had great success with my website, and the great retouch pro theme. Thank you for your work that enables me to show mine beautifully.

  2. Mikey Leung Avatar

    I love what artists tell us about our world — the fact that their message makes us ask questions is very important, in my mind. So, I’d love to see those same people enabled to ask those questions of a much much larger audience. 

  3. Michael Davies Avatar

    Thank you for the new theme. I have been toying with the idea of cancelling my subscription with Foliolink because they don’t offer a blog option together with their main theme. I have retained them for the reason they do offer e-commerce options. Now I can incorporate my blog http://www.myfineartportfolio.com (which uses your fantastic Modularity theme) and my main website http://www.michaeldaviesfineart.com into one site using your Seneca theme. Well done GPP! This should be able to kill all three birds with one stone!

  4. Matt Avatar

    This is a fact. I’ve enjoyed a couple years of business growth after breaking out on my own. There is a huge market for artistic people right now, especially in the Internet/New Media fields.

  5. Danie Nel Avatar

    At last there seems to hope! Well for me at least – as an [aspiring] artist trapped in the 9-to-5… Great article, thanks (with a nice photo). I hope this is my year, too!

  6. Andrew Jernigan Avatar

    So, music came first, the artists… I think we’re going to see similar trends happen in a lot of fields — I make and act in films, and we’re already seeing this starting to happen.

  7. Sehkairing Avatar

    Look forward to the latest announcement!

  8. Ralph Massetti Avatar

    I like your article.Put simply, that making money in franchising is just about selling franchises. When consulting my company’s prospects, I am quick to point out that selling franchises and the revenue received from the initial franchise fees is a zero-sum game.In the end, the costs and responsibilities put on a Franchisor are extensive, and the franchise fees, although significant, generally only provide marginal profit to the Franchisor executing the start- up tasks and other requirements necessary to assist a new owner in the establishment of a franchise location.

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