Risky business Elizabeth Hulings on artists and entrepreneurship
Let’s dispel some of the myths about artists and creatives. For example, if you’re an artist, then you can’t balance your checkbook, or you can’t match your socks. (Never mind the possibility that maybe you just don’t want to.) Or that artists have to struggle. Or that artists can’t build a viable career with a fine arts degree.
Elizabeth Hulings, the director and co-founder of the Clark Hulings Fund for Visual Artists, has another message.
Hulings believes that artists’ innate creativity is entrepreneurial, if not visionary. They can make art, she says, and make money, too.
The third annual Santa Fe Art Business Conference, which is sponsored by the Clark Hulings Fund, aims to offer some strategies for doing just that. The event runs Monday, Sept. 16, to Wednesday, Sept. 18, and includes presentations and interactive sessions on topics like developing a brand, pricing your work, and building a network of peers. The goal isn’t just
I to help you, but to help the larger community, by getting more creative individuals to engage with society as leaders.
The Clark Hulings Fund, based in Albuquerque, was founded in 2013. The organization offers career planning programs for artists, such as nationwide live training events and a 12-month Art-Business Fellowship that’s led by industry professionals, as well as a virtual platform for members of The Artist Federation, a network of working artists seeking to organize and collaborate. Last year, 46 artists and a collection of local business leaders attended the conference in Santa Fe.
spoke with Hulings about the need for artists to embrace their left-brain thinking and the challenges facing them in the Information Age.
Pasatiempo: Do you think that artists, in general, undermine themselves when it comes to pricing their work too low or accepting too high a commission from a gallery or dealer? Elizabeth Hulings: Artists who don’t allow themselves to focus on the business side of the practice, as well as the artistic side, definitely will undercut themselves, just as a chiropractor would, or anybody else who’s in business. If you’re not allowing yourself to say, “This is my business. This is my career, and I will engage in it and focus my attention on that side of it, as well,” then definitely. Pasa: Before the internet age, if you didn’t have a stellar résumé, a fully developed body of work, and a reputation, just getting face-time with a gallery was a challenge. How has technology changed things? Hulings: You’re seeing auction houses online. Your website is your new business card. Whether you’re a dealer or an artist — whoever you are — that’s just a fact of life. There are skill sets around that are brand new . ... The technology is moving so fast. That’s an advantage that artists have never had before, because nobody knows how to do it and it’s all about expressing yourself, being creative, and being resourceful. I actually see that younger artists