Art as a Career–Lessons from the Internet

Art and economic/business success CAN go hand in hand.   That career idea is being proven thanks to a new generation of internet and business savvy artists.  A NY Times article,Transforming Art Into a More Lucrative Career Choice, presents a number of entrepreneur artists using the internet to extend the reach of their art or artistic business, choosing a career in art without the usual financial struggle.

One way is through multiple income streams–the same idea promoted some might say ad nauseum by informercials and every internet marketing guru I’ve ever read (confession–I’ve read quite a few).   The article cites the case of Claudine Helmuth.  “She has an online store…  does custom illustrations for customers using photographs they provide. She licenses her artwork for greeting cards, calendars and other products. She has written two books about her techniques and has a third one coming out. She tours the country teaching both business and art workshops.” She also manufactures her own line of art products. 

I don’t know about you, but Claudine makes me tired just hearing everything she’s doing, but it certainly shows all the directions you can go into if you don’t limit  yourself to a simple model of what a career is.  

Often, I have career coaching clients who say they want to be a landscape architect or a sculptor or  further afield from art–a travel agent creating educational trips to little known areas or a caterer for world foods–and they think it’s just not financially feasible. They may be right–if they limit themselves to doing their work in the way they’ve imagined it or always seen it done.  But they may be wrong if they can harness the powers of the internet.  As with Claudine, that can mean, selling to a wider market or just getting know to a larger group that might publicize whatever you are doing thorough social networking, or having your art up and available instantly 24/7 in a virtual gallery publicized by all your friends and colleagues. 

It’s not just about the internet as invaluable as that can be.  It’s about looking at new ways to combine passions into activities you love that someone else will be interested in or need enough to pay you for your services and products. Whatever you want to do, don’t get stopped just because the conventional way of doing it doesn’t seem financially viable.  You may need “multiple streams,” and you may need partners, but you can often find a path to your career vision.


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