10 Art Business Books to Ignite Your Art Career

There are over 73,000 results for “Business of Art” books on Amazon. That’s overwhelming! We’ve curated the list down to our 10 favorites.

These art business books will help grow your career whether you need advice on art marketing, legal issues, selling or grant writing.


The Artist’s Guide: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love

Author: Jackie Battenfield

Jackie Battenfield, a successful artist and professional development coach, wrote this comprehensive guide to teach emerging and mid-career artists how to build and maintain a professional art career. Battenfield provides strategies for all aspects of the job – marketing, online promotion, grant writing and portfolio development. It’s all easy to comprehend through her real-life examples, illustrations and step-by-step exercises. Keep this book by the nightstand!


I’d Rather Be in the Studio: The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion

Author: Alyson Stanfield

“Enjoy sharing your art as much as your enjoy making it.” – Alyson Stanfield

Self-promotion is a big part of succeeding in the art world  and unfortunately for most artists, it doesn’t come easy.  Luckily, Alyson Stanfield, an art marketing expert, consultant, and author of the popular The Art Biz Blog, helps artists market themselves authentically and genuinely. This book focuses on Internet marketing – building a social media presence, blogging and newsletter secrets, and getting your name into search engines.


Legal Guide for the Visual Artist

Author: Tad Crawford

Whether you like it or not, the legal system is a part of our professional lives. Art law expert, Tad Crawford, crafted an informative guide of the legal implications artists face. He walks through contracts, taxes, copyright, litigation, commissions, licensing, and artist-gallery relationships with practical examples. He also shares sample legal forms and contracts, and offers tips for connecting with affordable attorneys.


Arts & Numbers: A Financial Guide for Artists, Writers, Performers, and Other Members of the Creative Class

Author: Elaine Grogan Luttrull

Budgeting, taxes and cash flow, Oh My! Books about finances are usually dull and boring, but not this book by CPA and artist, Elaine Grogan Luttrull. It’s filled with engaging stories and examples to help you succeed in your business endeavors. Luttrell will boost your confidence and expertise in taxes, budgets, money management, business etiquette, and much more.


The Artist’s Guide to Grant Writing

Author: Gigi Rosenberg

Are grants your white whale? This guide gives you all the fishing supplies you need like writing tips and marketing strategies from grant officers, grant writers and fundraising specialists. Tap into the fundraising resources at your disposal and finance your artistic endeavors with this accessible read.


The Artist’s Guide to Selling Work

Author: Annabelle Ruston

How do you sell your work in today’s competitive market? This guide covers selecting the right gallery, approaching galleries, pricing, terms and conditions, artist agents, working with publishers, and public art commissions. Ruston also gives advice on social networking and e-marketing so that you can seize digital opportunities.


Show Your Work!: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Getting Discovered

Author: Austin Kleon

“[The] subtitle could just as easily be, ‘How to Self-promote Without Being a Jerkface.’ It’s an incredibly useful and compulsively readable short book.” — The Fast Company

Austin Kleon helped readers unlock their creativity in the New York Times bestseller, Steal Like an Artist. Now, he helps artists get known in his 10-step journey of self-promotion in which he encourages creatives to share their work and voice. The book is small and short, but it packs a punch.

Kleon emphasizes audience building as a process, not a product. Chapters like “You Don’t Have to Be a Genius;” “Share Something Small Every Day;” and “Stick Around,” contribute to the manifesto of being open, generous, brave and productive in our digital age.


Art Inc. – The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist

Author: Lisa Congdon

“Art, Inc. is a revelation. At long last, there is a resource to help creative people articulate their aesthetic values, successfully brand their business, and manage their artist’s income.” – Debbie Millman, president, Sterling Brands

Professional artist, Lisa Congdon, helps artists do what they love and make a career out of it. Learn how to set actionable goals, diversify your income, manage your bookkeeping, copyright your work, promote with social media, build a standout website, exhibit with galleries, sell and price your work, license your art, acquire an agent, and much more.


Sell With Confidence

Author: Barry Watson

Sales does not have to be sleazy. Barry Watson shares actionable techniques to improve your confidence and skills as a salesperson. Understand the true nature of selling, discover the “secret sauce,” be yourself, positively redefine rejection, turn setbacks into comebacks, and create a sales-confidence game plan. You’ll also get a downloadable 7-Step Sales Cheat Sheet!


Art/Work- Everything You Need to Know (and Do) As you Pursue Your Art Career

Authors: Heather Darcy Bhandari and Jonathan Melber

No matter where you are in your professional career, you’ll get incredible value from this comprehensive guide. Heather Darcy Bhandari, a gallery director, and Jonathan Melber, an arts lawyer, give you the business and legal tools to stay in control of your career. The book covers business basics like inventory tracking and preparing invoices; legal precautions like registering a copyright and drafting consignment forms; promotional tools like websites and business cards; and how to approach career decisions like choosing the right venue for showing your work. Don’t learn these lessons the hard way!

 

 

How to Write an Artist Statement: Stop Stalling & Start Writing

Calvin & Hobbes. Cartoon by Bill Watterson, July 15, 1995

 

Do you consider artist statements a necessary evil? As artists we use visuals to convey our ideas, not words. But it is important for our viewers to understand the concepts behind our works.

Good news: you don’t have to be a writer to write an artist statement. After reading this post, you’ll write a clear and professional statement in no time!

First things first: why write an artist’s statement?

You will never be everywhere with your artwork. It’s important to craft a thoughtful narrative so that those accessing your work, whether that be a curator, gallery dealer, competition judge, or the general viewing public, can better understand it.

Once your artist statement is written, you’ll be able to repurpose it in multiple ways:

  • Applying for funding or to graduate schools
  • Writing a proposal for an exhibition
  • Competing in a competition
  • Getting your work in front of a buyer. Liz Iracki reminded us in Artist Resume that the buyer wants to know your story.
  • Putting yourself in the public eye, i.e. visiting lecture or press release.

And, what’s an artist’s statement again?

A general introduction to your work or body of work. Most are a full page, but some can be as short as a paragraph.

Where does your artist statement live?

Your artist’s statement should always accompany your work:

  • Online: on your website
  • In the gallery: displayed as wall text or in a binder at the front of the gallery
  • In submissions: including, but not limited to, art competitions, school applications, RFQs and grant proposals.

How do I write a statement?

Before you set pen to paper, answer these important questions:

  • Who is your audience? What knowledge do they have of your art, your medium, or even the art world?
  • How will your statement be used?
  • What do you want your statement to convey about you as an artist? What do you make? Why do you make it? How do you make it?

Then determine your tone. Do you want the statement to be emotional? Humorous? Professional? Keep your reader in mind but stay true to yourself: speak from your own experiences and perspective.

Sometimes it’s helpful to have a framework when brainstorming your statement. Feel free to use this general outline to get started:

  • First paragraph: Make a good first impression! Invite the reader in by providing a brief overview of your work and the concepts you explore (~3 sentences). What are you trying to say in your work, and why did you create it in the first place?
  • Second paragraph: Go into more detail about the issues presented in the work. What influences your work and motivates you to create? What tools, materials, and processes do you use? How does the current work relate to previous works?
  • Third paragraph: Summarize the statement briefly (aim for one sentence). Provide a takeaway you’d like your reader to have as a lasting impression.

Here’s some advice for what to avoid in your statement:

  • Repetition of phrases and words: be concise
  • Monotonous structure/tone: vary your sentence length and structure
  • Clichés and trite statements: be yourself
  • Long explanations: be clear
  • Too much technicality or jargon: speak to your reader
  • On the other hand, don’t use flowery, vague writing: be direct
  • Pomposity: stay humble.

Tip: Refer to yourself in the first person, “I”, and not as the artist so that your audience can relate to YOU.

How should you format the statement?

It should not be longer than a page. Make it single space and no smaller than 10-12 font.
And don’t forget to keep copies of all iterations. It makes it easier to write a new statement for a new body of work, and helps those that may curate a retrospective!

Ultimately, keep your statement clear, concise, direct, and HONEST. The reader should hear your voice coming through the prose.

And if we’re being honest, writing an artist statement is not an easy task, but you’ll discover more about yourself as an artist with this exercise.

Still stuck?

It’s OK; getting started is like pulling off a bandaid. Try these two helpful exercises to get the ideas and words flowing:

  • Mind map: Jot down a key idea that informs your work in the center of a page and write any words, phrases, feelings, etc. that come to mind when you think of this idea.
  • Free writing: Spend ~15 minutes writing. And don’t overthink it! Just write!

Once you’ve crafted your standout statement, save it and have it ready to include in your CaFÉ submissions!

10 Essentials to Keep in Your Camera Bag

Your camera bag needn’t be a 800-pound gorilla. It can be well-equipped, but still manageable to carry. Here are 10 lightweight camera bag essentials to ensure you’ll always be ready to snap the shot.


1. Plastic bags: garbage and zipper

 

Head to the grocery store and pick up garbage and zipper bags to protect your gear. If it pours, you can toss all of your gear inside a garbage bag and tie it up for extra waterproofing. You can also make a poncho to keep yourself dry. Zipper bags can serve as a lens waterproof cover; poke a lens-sized hole in the bag, place it over the lens, and secure it with an elastic band. Store your extra lenses and camera body in gallon bags to avoid dust settling on your gear.

 

 


 2. Microfiber cloth

 

It’s not the most alluring item, but it’s possibly the most useful accessory to have in your camera bag. It cleans dust and dirt off your equipment. It also serves as a protector of all things expensive – wrap it around your lenses and other accessories to avoid scratching.

 

 


 3. Mini tripod

 

If you don’t want to carry a tripod around everywhere you go, but don’t want to sacrifice the quality of your photos – purchase a small tripod like this Manfrotto mini tripod. Prop it on a surface to avoid camera shake and avoid blurry photos in low-light situations. Flexible tripods are great for mirrorless, point & shoot and/or smartphones; wrap them around a pole, tree branch, etc.

 

 


 4. Tape: Gaffer or Electrical

Gaffer tape is as versatile as it comes. It holds things together with a strong grip, but doesn’t leave residue when it peels off. You can MacGyver anything with this tape –  secure your tripod to a surface or fix a broken camera strap – problems be gone!

Want to save even more space in your bag? Get yourself some electrical tape – Gaffer’s smaller sibling of a lifesaver. You can find it for less than $2…and probably already have some in a drawer. You just have to be OK with the residue it will leave behind.

 



5. Circular Polarizer Filter

Polarizers are great if you’re photographing landscapes. They help eliminate reflections and glare, especially over water. They reduce haze in landscapes and provide greater color and tonal saturation. They aren’t cheap (~$60) but the price of rich blue skies, vibrant foliage, contrasty clouds and reflection-free water and glass are worth it!

 

 



 6. Mirror

 

Small, acrylic mirrors are lightweight, cheap and easy to find. They serve as handy reflectors and give you directional light for dramatic shadows or luminous fill.

 

 

 

 

 


7. Micro screwdriver set

 

Hopefully you won’t have need of a screwdriver set. But, if you need it, you NEED it –  loose tripod heads, broken sunglasses, or dare I say, broken camera. These sets are cheap and can be found on Amazon or at a dollar store.

 

 

 



8. Flashlight

 

If you’re venturing out for a night photography adventure, an inexpensive flashlight will keep you from fumbling with your camera controls and digging through your bag in the dark. Consider a LED headlamp if you don’t want to store your flashlight in your mouth. A pocket LED light is great for playing with light painting. Your smartphone’s flashlight app also works, consider the cost of a dropped flashlight vs. dropped smartphone…

 

 

 9. Paper serving ware – plates & cups

 

You can get a lot done with a paper cup and plate. Next time you’re at a picnic, grab a few extras. Cut the bottom off of a paper cup and ta-dah, you have a cheap snoot. Line the cup with electrical tape and you have a lens shade. A paper plate can be used as a ring light and a reflector. Cut a slit down the plate to create a funnel and direct the light more precisely.

 

 



10. Spare battery & memory cards

 

Nothing is more depressing than running out of space on your memory card or your camera battery dying. Don’t have that moment of disappointment and regret! Pack an extra memory card and battery in your bag so you can keep shooting!

 

 

 

 


With a well-equipped camera bag, you’ll set yourself for shooting success…without back pain.

Check out photography open calls on CaFE and submit those masterful shots today!

 

 

 

Estate Planning for Artists: A Glossary of Need-to-Know Terms

Dead artists leave two bodies, their own, and a body of work.” —Harriet Shorr, Artist

There’s no sugarcoating estate planning; it’s not easy to talk about and it’s no small feat, especially when you’re an artist. Makers leave behind a large, valuable, physical body of work that must be dealt with at their death.

As an artist, it’s imperative that you have a plan for your artworks so that you can control what happens to your assets and make sure you’re not leaving behind a big, convoluted mess for your loved ones to clean up, like properly sorting, storing, insuring and/or selling your works.

This post provides a list of key terms to help you navigate the ins-and-outs of estate planning.


Art Inventory

This should be a familiar term. An art inventory lists all of your works of art, their locations (studio, on loan, etc.), and descriptive information like dimensions, date, title, and medium. The inventory should also include installation and maintenance information, contracts, exhibition records, and intangible assets such as copyrights, trademarks, and other intellectual property.

Even if you don’t sell your artwork, a complete inventory of your work will help determine the monetary value of your artistic estate.


Attorney (aka Lawyer)

Estate planning for artists involves much more than just drafting a will. Ideally your attorney is someone you trust, is familiar with your work, and is knowledgeable about the art world along with the laws of trusts and estates.

Make your lawyer aware of your concerns whether they are avoiding estate taxes, providing income for your family, ensuring your work remains publicly accessible, etc.

Many states have a Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts division, which provides legal assistance and education for artists. Here’s an example of New York’s VLA.


Attorney(s)-In-Fact

A privately appointed fiduciary who handles your legal and financial matters in the event you become incapacitated or disabled, either temporarily or permanently. It can be a family member, friend, or professional fiduciary. It does not have to be an attorney.

What’s a fiduciary? Read below for the definition.


Beneficiary

The person(s) receiving the benefits of the deceased’s property, aka the trust.


Codicil

Document that amends a will.


Cultural Executor

Aka Art Advisor. This person is a legally-appointed representative responsible for representing and carrying out the wishes of the deceased with regards to their cultural property (e.g. artwork). It is a more specific type of executor (definition below). The cultural executor is ideally someone familiar with both the testator’s body of work and the art market for the work. Who is the testator? You! The artist.


Estate Tax

Federal tax on property (cash, real estate, stock, or other assets) transferred from deceased persons to their heirs.


Executor

The fundamental duty of the executor is executing the estate. If there are assets to be sold, the executor has to sell them. If your estate is owed money by galleries and such, the executor must collect it. The executor also pays bills like funeral expenses and income or estate taxes, and files insurance claims. The executor follows the instructions in your will and distributes the property in accordance with your wishes. The executor also chooses an appraiser to appraise your art work.

When choosing your executor, choose someone who is knowledgeable about the art world and sympathetic to your work. Make this person aware of your priorities. And, don’t be afraid to have multiple executors; it alleviates a lot of pressure.

An executor’s job usually lasts 3 to 4 years, but may last considerably longer if there are assets to dispose of or manage, such as copyright interests.  

Your executor bears the burden of sorting, cataloging, caring for, and disposing of your work and other assets if you don’t organize it beforehand. Find an online artwork management system and start organizing your artwork!


Fiduciary

Somebody who is charged with legal duty to act on behalf of somebody else, like trustees and executors.


Roadmap

Craft a roadmap for your executors to follow. This is like a “how-to” for your will.


Testator

The person making the will (aka, you).


Trust

It’s not just for the 1%. A trust is a legal entity created for the benefit of the testator’s designated beneficiaries. It is a living and breathing document that can stay private.

Revocable vs. Irrevocable Trust: You can change a revocable trust. You cannot amend an irrevocable trust once you set it up. So irrevocable trusts are rarely set up,  unless, you’re planning for Medicaid or life insurance.


Trustee

Privately appointed fiduciary who manages the assets in a trust. You can liken the Trustee to a CEO – (s)he runs the business, but does not own it.


Will

The document that states how you want your property to be disposed of at your death.

60% of people die without a will. If you pass away without a will, the State will govern how your property will be distributed. Generally, property goes to your family in this order: spouse & children > parents and sibling(s) > other relatives).


Stay tuned for more posts about estate planning!

8 Photo Editing Tips for Artists

Thanks to our recent post on photographing your artwork, you should have true-to-life depictions of your artwork. To make them polished and professional-looking, all you have to do is make a few easy adjustments in the “digital darkroom.” Here are 8 simple but effective photo editing tips to set you up for success!


Crop Your Image

Crop down your image so you see only the work, nothing more.

Remove the background and make sure you don’t crop into the edge of your works!

TIP: If your artwork was positioned slightly at an angle, a rectangular crop will not give you an even cut. Rotate the canvas of your photo editor to get the work on the proper axis to crop evenly.

In Preview: Drag your cursor over the work to outline your desired shape. Select “Crop” under Tools to crop image.


Correct Colors

Do your images’ whites look a bit yellowish or blueish? Despite your best efforts to adjust your white balance and avoid mixed light sources, the colors in your photo may still be a bit off when you view them on your computer. You can adjust color with the white balance, hue and saturation tools in your photo editor to accurately reflect the real-life colors of the work.


Adjust Brightness and Contrast

If you didn’t get your exposure right in-camera, fear not! You can easily adjust in your photo editor. If there was not enough light at the time you took the photo and your image is too dark, boost brightness.

Adjust the contrast filter if you have a detail shot or a 3D work that needs to showcase form.

In Lightroom: Exposure and Contrast are two sliding adjustments on the right tool bar.


Sharpen to Reduce Blur and Grain

Photo editing softwares like Lightroom and Photoshop will have a sharpening feature to reduce any blur or camera shake that may have occurred while taking the photo.

In Lightroom, the sharpening feature is on right side toolbar, under the Detail section.

If your ISO was set too high and your image is grainy, you can reduce the noise. The tool is also found under Detail.


Resize the Image

You’ll want to resize your photo to a smaller size and resolution so that you can quickly send your photos to potential buys and submit to juried shows and competitions.

Your photos come off your digital camera in large dimensions measured in pixels (px). Resize your image so that the longest side is at least 1920 pixels – that is the minimum size for online juried shows and a CaFÉ requirement.

Don’t forget to change the resolution! If your photo is only being used for the web, change the resolution to 72dpi. If it’s going to be printed, adjust the resolution to 300dpi.

DPI stands for dots per inch, and the higher the dpi, the better the photos will look when printed. But, if the dpi is too high and used on the web, your images will load much slower and slow down your website speed.

In Preview: Select “Adjust Size” under Tools. Make sure Scale proportionally and Resample image are both checked.


Save for Quality

Save your finished digital image as a TIFF or PSD so that you don’t lose any file quality. Save it again as a JPG if you will upload it to the internet.


Stay Organized

Make things easy for yourself and label each image consistently with detail. We suggest including title, medium, dimensions and year for the piece. Save yourself time later; no one wants to hunt through hundreds of images.


Backup Your Images

Go one step further and export your images to folders on your desktop, on a hard drive, and on the Cloud. Save batches in folders by year, medium, or theme. Don’t make me tell you the sad tale of a MacBook that died during grad school and the hundreds of lost photos.

Upload your photos to CaFÉ’s Portfolio so you have them ready for your submissions!

TIP: Artwork Archive is a powerful, easy-to-use cloud-based inventory system available for artists. Sign up for a 30-day free trial and start organizing and managing all of those great artworks in your collection!


A note on editing software: Most of the edits mentioned in this post can be made in free software like GIMP. Find more free editing tools in CaFÉ’s blog post. If you want more tools and features at your ready, invest in Adobe’s Lightroom and/or Photoshop. If you don’t want to drop that much cash, take a look at Photoshop Elements, a cheaper and lightweight version of its older siblings – Lightroom and Photoshop. Try them all with Adobe’s 7-day free trial.

Artpreneur Provides Business Skills for Artists

Feeling lost around the business of art?

Artpreneur gives you the tools to succeed. Its resources range from budget management to insurance coverage to estate planning. It also covers topics that will give artists a leg-up like uncovering the RFQ/RFP process and tips for writing an effective artist statement.

Artpreneur is an online library of art business articles, webinars and videos for artists (including musicians and public artists) and art organizations. It was created by the Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston, a chapter of Americans for the Arts, to support artists and creative entrepreneurs in creating sustainable business practices.

Here’s a highlight of some of the resources available to you, for FREE, from Artpreneur.

 

Arts & Numbers: Budgeting for the Creative Class

Budgeting: Where do you start start? What decision-making tools are available? How do you manage cash?

This webinar covers strategies for combatting the four major financial challenges artists face every day: managing the “professional treadmill”; budgeting; combatting cash shortages; and finding creative fulfillment through professional goals. Elaine Grogan Luttrull, CPA and founder of Minerva Financial Arts, and author of Arts & Numbers: A Financial Guide for Artists, Writers, Performers, and Other Members of the Creative Class leads the 25-minute webinar.

 

Understanding Entities for Artists

This webinar walks through the different kinds of business entities and structuring options. Learn how to get started and maintain the entity. Hear the pros and cons of sole-proprietorship and discover the differences between an S-Corporation and C-Corporation. Understand basic tax consequences and make the best decision for your career.

 

Insurance for Public Artists

Insurance is a standard element of public art projects. Chris Hawthorne from TGA Cross Insurance speaks to the different types of liability issues that arise during public art projects and the kinds of coverage available. Work with subcontractors? Learn about risk transfer agreements. Discover how you can insure your studio and your works whether they are being installed, hanging in a studio, or placed in storage.

 

What You Need to Know About Estate Planning

Protect your legacy and develop an estate plan with the help of the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA).

In this webinar you’ll learn key estate planning basics and vocabulary. Understand why artists need to take extra care when planning their estates. Webinar hosts,  Jim Grace, Executive Director of the Volunteer Lawyer of the Arts and the Arts & Business Council, and Peter Caruso of Prince Lobel Tye LLP, walk through the estate planning process. You’ll get the low-down on inventory, storage, funding plans, valuation, distribution of work, and copyright planning.