Bussiness of Art conference 2012

My conference notes:

Students in free enterprise (S.I.F.E.)

at York University presents:

– The Business of Art Conference –

Saturday 28th of January 2012

~ Speakers:

10:00 am Opening : “The Art of Networking” (building relationships) by Teri Block (Master key communications, Actor)

–  Art is your passion, business thrives if it’s based on something you feel passionate about, and so in the end it will grow and bring you income will come from something you actually like doing.

– Building relationships and connections (networking), even thought it has the stigma of being superficial and only interest based, should be seen as a chance to give and receive help through others.

– It’s important to brand your work, to know what message you are sending, to be able to articulate what your work talks about, and most importantly to know how to present your work. All these elements can bring a major sale, draw more exposure or bring opportunities.

– Who do I sell this too? Create the opportunity ! If you know that, for example, you are a designer and have ideas about chair design, then go to a conference where all the chair makers are and talk to them, connect with the source of your goal.

– Steps: Set goals, Research, go to Specific conference, networking, e-mails ( meeting invitation , compliment, references to work, and to your prior conversation)

Social tools are even more important to your artistic practice than your artwork !!



11:00 am Workshop Session #1 : “Marketing Yourself and Your Artwork” by Suzie Bouldreault (Painter)

– Targeting your objective. I know this sounds easy and eye rolling obvious but making the plan of “attack” is not easy.

– Marketing channels: Bio, Resume, C.V. , Business Card, Website, social media, bookmarks, brochures, photos…

– Pricing: Consider your status (e.g. emerging artist), economic status of the city, survey your audience(how much would they pay – surveymonkey.com), see market value, check distributor’s prices. Do everything you can to have a clear perspective and to be sure you know what to do, so that you don’t go too high or too low. Something that you think you should sell for $250, will probably sell for $800-1000 in Toronto, and $1500 in New York – same piece, same size, price changes due to gallery requirements, local economic factors. Be mindful !!

– Advertising : First thing everybody I know did, was to make a list of all the people they have ever met, did research, found their e-mail and started to invite them to shows. The first people who will buy your work, are family, friends and colleagues, once that’s done you have to expand.

Create brochures !

 – Showing your work : Start checking all the possibilities – Online Galleries (like art chain), Commercial Galleries, Contests, Restaurants, Coffee house…

– Social media: Reaching people, getting that name exposed and linking your work.

– Strategy : It changes, it adapts as the times change. Every year, every month you revise your approach, depending what new technology there is what science came up with.

 Gallery representation : Path – two shows per year, one piece of work per week, brand development, Sending the BOX to selected galleries (surprise, C.V., brochures, personal seal, photos, business cards…)

– Search engines (crucial ! ) : Majority of people think that when they type “popular contemporary artist” they actually get the result. So think about that when you start your new approach. Get in the first 5 !

Powerpoint presentation


12:00 pm Workshop Session #2 : “The Business of Art” (becoming a succesful full-time artist) by Andrew Benyei (engineer, painter, sculptor)

You have to take the same path as any company !

 – Business issues: research (new materials, discoveries), production (how much you produce? is it enough?), Procurement (art supply research, improvising, tool access), inventory (keeping track of everything you make and do), subcontractors (people you need in order to get the job done), Packing/shipping (Canada post insures art, but there are limitations, research requirements), Accounting finance (KEEP receipts), Sales and Marketing (magazines, tv > exposure)


“People see your work => it’s art, No? then it’s therapy”

“If a deal sounds too good to be true, then it is !!”

“They teach you technique but NOT creativity” (See, now that’s exactly what I was talking about before !!)

“Do what you love and money will follow” (I would love if that would be true… but it’s unlikely)

 – Exposure: Studio shows, Website, social media (beware of scams), outdoor exhibitions (difficult to set up and take down every day), Art fairs (kind of expensive, but good sales), Juried exhibitions(rare sales), Charity auctions (isn’t it interesting that the poorest of occupations: the artist is asked to donate to charity, but it’s good exposure ), Public Gallery, Commercial Gallery (big difference), Agents (they charge 40% but they do their job well).

 – Money issues: You might think it’s all about the size of the work, but there are other elements at play.


01:00 pm Lunch Networking Session:

 Vegetarian lasagna was served, along with desert and coffee(live performers in the background). I formed a few friendships and exchanged contact information. Networking session was pleasant, useful and delicious.


02:00 pm Art Exhibition information and Session by Asif Raza (CEO ArtMole.com) – Opportunity to exhibit

Art Mole : Based on reproduction of your art – No fees, no % – just you and what you want to produce.

“We create platform !” ( Thank you for existing !)


 03:00 pm Panel Discussion with all the speakers:

Commercial art vs. conceptual art – Do whatever you need to do there’s no shame, just keep doing your own work on the side.

The art world is a filter that lets everybody in, but very few remain. Two hundred students may apply, one hundred get in, 20 graduate and only 2 actually practice at a professional level.

Ben Bennedict quotes:

“It’s all about how you define you.. to other people !” (And yes we create our own reality, we know, we know )

“Come on, be an artist, ARTIST !” (OK, Challenge accepted !)

“It’s ok to feed your artistic addiction by having income from a stupid job” ( right…)


  04:00 pm One-on-One Personal Consulting Session:

            Ben Bennedict and myself :  We talked about public art and my site specific sculpture proposal. How to approach, how to do research, do my “homework” before I go in there and start rambling. To examine the public policy regarding art. If accepted how I can go about funding, given that I’m a student (and thus can’t apply for a grant yet). And later on to look for an internship position (have a mentor – Sculptor that needs help). How to turn that project into an “independent study” (so that I can get grades) how to make it a graduate donation… And many other useful things.

It was perfect, it was exactly what I needed. His advice will help me reach that goal.

All in good time.


Hope this information helped you as much as it has helped me. Join us next year for a wonderful, engaging experience that will change the way you see your passion.

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