Dressing for the (Art) Job

There is some major tension between the idea of being an "artist" and being a "business professional". But why? I'm going to take a stab at it. 

For some reason a big part of the tension I feel when trying to establish whether I'm "artist" or "professional" is the look. For example, when I go to meet a new client, or attend a networking event I'm constantly torn between dressing "professional" (or business-y if you will) and looking like an artist. I want people to know I run my art business with professionalism and business savvy that can actually help their businesses, and I want to look like I have a personal aesthetic and can provide creative services. I assume others struggle with this as well, yes?

It might sound silly thinking how I accessorize makes a difference, but we know how we look to others effects their impression of us. And I think there is a deep rooted feeling that those in suits and shiny heels with briefcases and desk jobs are the real business professionals. In fact, artists almost always have to be business professionals as well when they're negotiating their services and products.

Hold up!  Did you say products?

Yes. Art is a product. Selling it counts as doing business. Fine art is included. No that doesn't mean you're any less passionate, creative or artsy because you call your creative work a product and you want to sell it. A lot of it. Okay? 

When you're studying art you aren't taught things like finance, communications, management, or whatever you actually learn in business school. (Note to self: ask friends what the heck is taught in business school!) We art students get out into the world and have to quickly learn a whole slew of new things so we can start getting down to business. Ah! Yes, we start learning about pricing, profit, cost of materials, charging for our time, expenses, taxes, legal structures, percentages of sales, marketing, contracts, and the list goes on and on. 

And all that business stuff is a lot more enjoyable to learn when it directly benefits your art and creative lifestyle. And when you can do it in jeans. No suit or business degree required to officially be a creative business professional. Don't shy away from learning what you need to know to make your art career successful even when it appears to be boring, tedious, and uncreative. If you're the best artist AND business person you can be, you're ready for some magic. 

So don't be intimidated by the "look" of business. Dress appropriately for your job, and know your shit. That's being a professional. 

Find tips and tools for art&business on our Pinterest boards.

And some books of course :)

 Business and Legal Forms for Fine Artists

Getting Your Shit Together- The Ultimate Business Manual for Every Practicing Artist

Peace, love & pixels,