The Arts in the New Age of Entrepreneurship
Ultimately the quality of any work is reflected in the size of obstacles encountered.”
When re-evaluating oneself as an artist-entrepreneur, examining one’s resistances can provide a valuable aid to the work. It is a question of problem solving, in which an artist must meet and overcome each resistance to further enhance the final piece of work. When this comes to the hunt, an artist-entrepreneur can rise above their resistances and impress their audience with their strength and confidence. A post by Jeffrey P. Fisher on the website Self Employment in the Arts also comments on the usefulness of a strong image in his first point on getting a positive reputation and attracting support. And speaking of reputation, let us move in to discussing your next step which follows tandem with the hunt: networking.
Networking is a funny little modern word that originally just meant connecting computers through a network, but now also refers to people being connected through a network. This is a word that has grown clichéd the number of times it is mentioned, but somehow it still bears repeating.
An entrepreneur is doomed without a network. In a business, the network is created for you: you have coworkers, bosses and colleagues. The only thing you need to do is get familiar with everyone. It is the reverse for an entrepreneur. You have some friends from throughout your experiences – old buddies from arts school, a friend who messed around in Garageband with you in high school, your neighbour’s dad who rents out his warehouse, the cousin you have been spoon-feeding compliments ever since she became a computer whiz, if only so you would not have to pay for Geek Squad – but you lack a “business.” All of these people, odd that it may seem, form part of your network.
On a non-professional level, it is very important you keep in touch with people who support your work or are willing to help you with it. All of the people just mentioned fall in that category: they have some skills or aids or networks of their own. Once you hunt, you can find people willing to support you knowing you strictly through your professional work. They also provide skills, aids and networks. What is important about having these things is that they help you surmount resistances.
No gallery or performance space? Ask about that warehouse. Need lights and music? Learn yourself, ask your smart cousin – or best of all, invite other artists to play at the event. Networking also involves a fair amount of “polite bartering” in a sense: artist-entrepreneurs swap favours and help one another through it. Be careful, however, that you are not just giving and getting nothing – not even notice – in return. An artist needs to continue to progress and grow for their work to stay powerful and relevant. If your network is not supporting you enough, then it needs to be expanded.
Expanding a network is one of the fun parts of being an artist – all it involves is meeting people with the same loves as you! Visit every artist hangout; an ideal place to go is classes and workshops. While they can seem financially counterintuitive at times, all it can take is a few sessions to form a strong and powerful new network of friends and potential colleagues. Speaking from personal experience, I have long attended improvisation classes at the Second City. After my first instructor, Kate, left Second City to pursue her own artist-entrepreneur career, I continued to take classes when I could with a group of people made up of friends she had made throughout her years as an improv teacher.