As part of my business mentoring I have been tracking the time it takes me to do various tasks, and setting up workflows like this. It’s been illuminating.
One thing I’ve found is that some of my estimations have been far off. Gilding, for example, takes me literally 4 times longer per artwork than I’d estimated.
Another thing it’s brought to my attention is the stark difference between making art for the love or need of it, and making art as a business. See how many of those steps are not about making the art? Most of them. They are about inventory and stock management, sales and marketing, following up email enquiries and event planning.
These are not awful things, but they are not, as one might imagine an art business to be, mostly days spent in the studio with a paint brush. And they do make me question if this is a business model I want. I do get a great deal of pleasure from selling my prints and hearing where they’ve gone and why and what needs they have met. I like meeting people at openings and exhibitions and using my art to build communities and share messages. But a lot of this workflow is frankly, tedious and uncreative and time consuming. All of which takes me out of my studio, away from the creativity and connection I love most.
I haven’t stopped making prints. But it’s good to be aware of the model I’m using. I might be able to tinker and tweak it so it suits me a little better. Continuous improvement is something I am good at. Trying to build the business while also making the work continues to feel rather like sewing my own leg on while skateboarding, but stopping work isn’t a great option and many of the business skills are best learnt on the job anyway, and decisions best tested before committed to. It’s frustratingly messy and slow but things are emerging.
On the good news front I am working on a commission at the moment that I am very excited to share once I’m further into it. Having an artistic project again is delightful. There’s good news waiting in the wings so watch this space. 🙂