I recently attended an art business workshop hosted by the podcasters of One Fantastic Week (1FW). This was the third year I attended this workshop. I never shared my experiences from past workshops but I wanted to take the time to share that now. This is totally my own personal opinion and there is no sponsorship for this blog post.
The first year that I attended I was still working a full time job and the idea of being an independent artist was just a thought in my head. By this time I had only gotten back into art for a couple of years. I knew absolutely nothing about owning your own business let alone an art business. I went to 1FW’s very first workshop hoping I would find out more about being an independent artist and make up my mind if I could do this or not. I walked away from the workshop with an overload of information but ultimately with the decision that I think I can do this.
I spent the next year wrapping up my old career and resigning from my 20 year civil servant job. Within 2 weeks of that, I started up my LLC. I took everything that I learned from the workshop and implemented them one by one. I learned all about bookkeeping, taxes and licensing. I researched and found companies to scan and print my artwork in my area. I looked for and entered local shows, events, galleries and conventions, although there were not too many galleries in my area.
I skipped the second year of the 1FW workshop to focus my time on just getting my business together. I returned a second time for their third year and by this time I had my business running and was selling originals and prints at conventions and exhibiting my art in my local community. I returned with more questions about how to run a better business. By my third year, the workshop’s 4th year, I was comfortable in my business. I wasn’t raking in the dough as some other artists but I was able to funnel my sales income back into my LLC to pay for materials and convention costs. I was looking to the workshop more to up my game rather than just basic business 101. My third year at the workshop is when I finally became comfortable enough to just connect with people and talk about personal and artistic goals.
I believe there are two reasons why I finally reached that comfort level. First, I did not have to dedicate my full attention to the art business fundamentals, rather, I could just revisit some of the topics. That allowed me to use the majority of my time to just reconnect with other artists. Secondly, I think I started to overcome some of my own social fears about being inferior to other artists that I respect. I started to feel more a part of the 1 FW family and that I had something to offer that would be accepted. Maybe those things were always there, but I couldn’t grasp them during the first couple of years while trying to absorb all the information, trying to get the business started, and overcoming all the fear that comes with putting yourself out there artistically, and as a business.
Hopefully I just conveyed how I felt about my 3 years attending the workshop. I felt like it was “college”, in the sense that I started out needing the “foundations”. Then I needed more specific pointers. Then I solidify those foundations through connections with other artists, and reemphasis of past workshop knowledge through a more mature business mindset. I felt like I “graduated”. I don’t think it has to end in the same way college ends. For me, I see myself continuing to attend the workshop, each year or even every other year, to continue solidifying my foundations and make connections. I also see it as a place for me to continually make my business better by having more focus and candid conversations with the creators and guests of the workshops.
In summary I think 1FW is a place for both for new and veteran artists. In my opinion, I don’t foresee a diminishing return for veteran artists who plan to attend in the future because there is always something new to learn and people to connect with that can benefit both new and veteran artists. Ultimately, if 1FW continues to foster a community that encourages people like me to make the leap into doing what they love, and connects other people passionate about our profession, then that’s a community I want to be a part of.