How to Run a Successful Art Business

Mar 23, 2022


If you thought art and business were kind of like fire and ice, you’ll love this episode. Jenie Gao, artist and muralist is here to decimate the “starving artist” myth and show how she quit her full-time corporate job and made the leap into the art world. She is now a successful full-time artist, creative director, and entrepreneur and is ready to drop some art biz knowledge bombs on the creative entrepreneurs, artists, illustrators, muralists, and other creatives out there who are working on pursuing their own creative businesses. 


Jenie pulled from her experience working in the arts, public education, and lean manufacturing to build a business that allowed her to continue developing her passion while making a positive impact on the world around her. She now specializes in printmaking, murals, public installations, and arts project management and has built a business that allows her to bring budding artists along in their journey as well. 


Running a Successful Art Business

Creative Counsel Episode 55


In this episode, you will learn

  • The impact the “creativity gap” is having in schools and on society
  • What Jenie did to prepare for setting out as an entrepreneur
  • The obstacles she faced in her entrepreneurial journey as a first-generation American
  • Why artists need to be expanding their network outside of other artists and creatives
  • What legal considerations artists need to make when running an art business
  • How creativity is a survival tool
  • How you can become more involved in public art

Episode LINKS

National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) is full of helpful information on art funding and more.

Episode 42: Everything is a Remix and That’s OK

Episode 6: Do You Need an LLC?

You can learn more about Jenie Gao on her website and social media:

Website: jenie.org


Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jeniegao/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jeniegao


Tips for striving artists and creatives

    1. Look up the organizations in your area. Most cities, in urban and rural areas, have in arts board. Jenie Gao recommends that every artist should serve on one of these boards or commissions. It allows you to see the backend of how decisions are made within the city or nonprofit. It’s also a great way to get plugged in and start building a more diverse network.  
    2. File your business as an LLC. The process varies based on where you live, but generally, it’s relatively easy and inexpensive. It’s one of the things that Jenie stresses for all artists to do. 
    3. Learn to negotiate a contract. Understanding how to lead and negotiate a contract is critical for artists. You need to know how to keep negotiations going and when it’s time to walk away. 
    4. Get business insurance. You might have clients that think they can save money on the contract by obtaining the scaffolding that you need to paint your mural for you, but as soon as you remind them of the liability that comes with it, they’ll be singing a different tune. Make sure that you have the proper insurance to cover yourself and anyone that you have working with you.
    5. Learn about the laws and infrastructures that exist. The more you know the better art advocate you’ll be in this space. Learn about what exists and what doesn’t exists. The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies is a great resource for data on art funding. Jenie also recommends that you educate yourself on where the US ranks compared to other countries in this area. It’s important to know and understand the environment that you’re working in when there are stakeholders that you need to convince as to the importance of your work. Do your homework and be prepared.


Make sure you’re legally legit with my free legal checklist!


Do you have the contracts you need in place? Take a free quiz and find out exactly what you need for your business at creativecontracts.co.


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*This blog post is not intended as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship. For informational purposes only.

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