Becoming an Entreprenuer in the Art & Design Industry

Artists are natural entrepreneurs. Just ask artist-turned-million-dollar-entrepreneur Gabriella Redding.

Several years ago, Redding was a fire performer—an artist who manipulates items of fire while dancing—at the Redmond Theater in Chicago. A few years after that, she took a fire hula hooping class and that’s when the entrepreneurial lightbulb went off, and she created Hoopnotica, a company that sells weighted hula hoops and offers classes and tips on hooping.

“I very clearly saw that this would be my contribution to the fitness world. (Hula hooping) makes you look really sexy and cool.”
Redding says artists are especially well-suited to become entrepreneurs.
“Any business is just a big art project. When artists have a project, we’ll do whatever we need to do to create it.”

So, if you’re an artist with a big idea, how do you go about turning it into a viable business? Redding offers these tips:

1. Decide what type of business you want

A content business or a product business. In a content business you provide information or teach people how to do something; in a product business you create a physical item to sell.

2. Map out what you will need to create your content or product

Redding advises artists to stop thinking about business plans and spread sheets and just use the creativity that comes naturally to artists. Break your business down into an art project: get a clear vision of your production, gather the tools you will need, get to work, and improvise when you hit a roadblock.

3. Think small

Redding says too many artists get overwhelmed when thinking about all that they need to do—especially in a product-based business. She says don’t think about all the resources you’ll need to mass produce thousands of products. Just produce five per day and sell those. Then produce five more. When those sell, produce maybe ten more, and continue the cycle.

4. Start poor.

Not having money is usually seen as a detriment to launching a business. But Redding sees things differently: “When you don’t have tons of money, you use your creativity and passion,” she says. “You are forced to be creative, and that creativity will drive your business to long-term sustainability.” Research supports Redding’s theory; a 2000 study found that bootstrapped businesses had a higher success rate and outperformed Venture Capital-backed businesses.

5. Create a web presence.

This is important for marketing and getting your name out to the public.

6. Develop your brand.

“Branding is what artists do,” says Redding. “Big companies hire artists to do what they intuitively do—see something that doesn’t exist yet and create a vision around that.”

So the best way to be a successful artist is to be what you are naturally: a rebel. When everyone is telling you you’ll never make money as an artist, prove them wrong. Do it. And do it bigger and better than you thought possible.

Learn about other careers for performing artists by clicking on the link!

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