Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Balance Between Business and Art

Monkey reads a lot of marketing and business blogs, courses, and books.  He makes sure he has a strong grasp on the business side of Monkey + Seal, as he handles a majority of those aspects.  However, while educating yourself about the business side of art is helpful and necessary for most, many artists have trouble managing the balance between the business development side of art, and the actual creating.

When Seal is working on a freelance project, she usually hits a 70% creating - 30% business, which is super awesome.  Monkey, on the other hand, is lucky to hit 50-50.  So how do you manage your own creation-business balance and what is the ideal?

While if you're already familiar with the business side: marketing, budgeting, pricing, distribution, accounting, and maybe stuff like web designing or printing, you may struggle to find more time to devote to your creating.  However, if you're already making art like a fiend but have no idea how to do any of that business stuff, perhaps you need to spend more time developing your business skills.

So what's the ideal ratio?  Well, it all depends on you.  Personally, a good balance with a stronger emphasis on the creating is what we recommend.  For us, we'd rather be at 90-100% creating, and doing very little business stuff (maybe we should hire an agent or assistant), but there are definitely people out there who really enjoy some of the business part, so you should lean more towards the business side.

The reality of it is that an ideal is probably about 70-30 creating-business.  Seal has found that works well for her, and Monkey agrees.  Monkey has been struggling with this personally for some time, usually spending closer to 80% of his time on business, sadly skimping on the creating.

If you make this same mistake, what happens is that while you may be great at drawing an audience and making sales, what you soon find out is that you run out of stuff to promote or develop.  Monkey lost focus on what was really important (making art), and focused too much on the "gotta make money" side of things.  He recently shifted more towards 50% creating (a big swing for him), and he found that by doing more of what he loves (creating), the money (the business) is following.

So we encourage you to spend more time doing what you love and less time doing what you don't like to do.  While learning the basics of marketing and selling art is important if you want to make a living off of it, make sure that you don't forget what your main purpose is: creation.  Do more of what you love, and the money will follow.  

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