The following blog is the third in a series of articles from our guest, Ruth Payne
. For many of
you in the Vancouver area, Ruth Payne will need no introduction. Ruth is the curator at the Ferry
Building Gallery and the Visual Arts Coordinator of West Vancouver Cultural Services.
The Four Basics for building your art business are People, Space, Time and Money
- People to advise, encourage and help you
- Space to do your art and business
- Time to do your art and business
- Money to keep the wolf away from the door
“Until you value yourself, you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do
anything with it.”
Knowing how to set healthy boundaries with others is to know how to really say YES and NO and this in
turn saying YES TO YOURSELF. Give yourself what you need in time, for both creating your art and for the
marketing of your art. By the way, plan on spending 50% of your time on marketing. (unless you have a
gallery to represent you full-time and exclusively)
Do you trade your time for easy cash? Don’t undersell yourself. Your time is meant for art-making and
marketing your work. If you volunteer your time, do it because you want to, consider this tithing your
time to help others, mentor students, or talk to a networking group of artists. This time is freely
given, even though you may receive a small honorarium as a thank you. I believe that what you give freely
and from your authentic self comes back to you at least 10 times.
Work from the 80/20 rule that made Walmart so successful.
“Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all your energies on a limited set of
- Nido Qubein
The 80/20 rule says that on a list of 10 tasks, only 2 of those tasks will return 80% of the value of the
entire list. Look at your art marketing ‘to do’ list. Which tasks are directly related to what you want
to happen. Find the 2 high- value items on your list and tackle them first. These tasks, contacts,
exhibitions, potential buyers are the ones that will really move your career forward.
Many of us actively avoid the top 2 priorities because they are more challenging than the rest. If they
are to lead us to worthy goals, they are undoubtedly asking us to move into new territory in thinking and
acting, and this can be scary. But this is also REWARDING.
Focussing on your Centre of Influence, as Stephen R. Covey speaks of, in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective
People, with First Things First, is another way to do this. It takes you out of your Circle of Concern,
where you tend to water down your time without concentration on your own needs. This is only a conscious
“Don’t kid yourself: it’s because you’re doing all those C’s (low priorities) and NOT because you haven’t
any time, that you don’t get to do you’re A’s.”
- Alan Lakein
Make yourself a sign: ARTIST AT WORK: Please do not disturb.
The flip side will say: ARTIST in STUDIO 2- 5pm: Please come in.
One side is for your sacred art-making time and the other side is for open studio time for visitors and
Don’t quit your day job! This may sound trite, but there is nothing attractive about the artist who is
really struggling to pay the rent and keep the chicken on the table. This angst comes across in the art
you want to sell and it actually pushes the buyer away. It speaks of neediness and lack of security and
it is not attractive.
Balance in all aspects of your life will allow you to pursue your art business with ease and confidence.
If your partner is willing to support you, you have an inheritance, or you are retiring, then great. Just
make sure you have enough money for your basic living expenses, and to be able to invest in your art
business. You will need to spend money on a website, invitations, business cards, as well as art-making
supplies and framing. Extra cash is a necessity for this.
I encourage you to add to this list, then post it in your studio as a reminder of what you will give to
Ruth Payne, Visual Arts Coordinator,
West Vancouver Cultural Services, Ferry Building Gallery
About Ruth Payne
Ruth brings 25 years of experience as a gallery curator, visual artist, stress management consultant and
teacher and runs the popular Arts Connection Networking Salon for visual artists.
This article first appeared in the My Art News Letter #23