If you follow us on Twitter you know the Mumora team and I have recently been scouting out the art scene in Ubud, Bali. With hundreds if not thousands of art galleries, spaces, and workshops in the area, it’s heaven for artists, aspiring artists, and anyone who just loves art.
While poking in our heads into different galleries in Ubud, we had some pretty interesting conversations with local artists. This article is inspired by one of the artists we spoke to at the Hanoman Art Space in Ubud. Although I forgot to take down his name (I do this all the time, silly me), this artist had been at it for decades in Ubud and was full of stories about his life as a Balinese artist.
Here are the two most important lessons I gathered from talking with him:
1. When starting out you have to see yourself as both an artist and the CEO of your own art business
The first step to understanding your role as an artist is embracing the fact that a big part of being a successful artist is building a business around your art. That is, stepping out of your studio and going out there to publicize your art, connect with people, and show your artwork as much as possible.
For certain artists, they prefer to be in the studio and leave the rest up to someone else. That’s fine – but I can assure you that the more you think like an entrepreneur and start building a business of your artwork, the more successful you will be.
The main reason this is so important is that once you start thinking like an entrepreneur you don’t have to rely on anyone else. All you need is you.
The artist we met was an entrepreneur and is already establishing a business around his art.
When I asked him if he shows his artwork anywhere but his own grungy art space, he said no.
And listed for me the reasons why not…
1. He wanted to be in charge of the price of his artwork
2. He didn’t want to share a commission with anyone
3. He knew his artwork would sell better from a funky open art studio space
And last but not least, he knew he would be the best person to sell his artwork.
All these reasons are valid. But they also say something about the artist. They show that this particular artist is thinking and acting like an entrepreneur. He has a business mindset. He knows what works and what doesn’t work by trial and error.
Most of all, he knows what distribution channel would work best for his style of art. Since his artwork would not do as well hanging on the walls of a gallery, he decided to open his art studio to the public and when not painting, draw people into his art space and teach them about his art.
He wears two hats – artist and entrepreneur – and he wouldn’t have a successful art space in a prime location today if he didn’t.
So take the time and think about whether you’re thinking like an entrepreneur. You can start by thinking about these questions:
1. Do I promote my own artwork to others?
2. Have I tested different ways to distribute my artwork (i.e. gallery, online, etc.)?
3. How comfortable do I feel comfortable selling my own artwork?
4. What price points work best?
2. Create an art collective around you
Now this is the cool part about this artist. Not only did he take his own road for distributing and selling is artwork, but he also created a strong community of artists and mentors around him.
I love this. And I’ll tell you why.
I love that he decided to share his knowledge and experience with other young aspiring artists and in doing so, turned his studio into a bustling community of artists.
He opened up his studio as a space where other young Balinese – people who don’t have their own studio or materials, can paint and experiment with art. He also mentors these young artists and teaches them what he knows about painting and how to become successful as an artist.
In my 30 minutes talking with him, I also noticed another young painter who at times would put down his paintbrush to listen to our conversation about art galleries, what it’s like to be an artist in Ubud, and how to get your work out there. It was very cool.
By creating his studio space as a place for other artists to be he also was able to establish himself more in the area. Unlike many other artists around, he was no longer a lone artist, but had a network to help him get his work out there even further.
So share your space and creativity and see just how fast your network and art will grow.