Art Inc., Lisa Congdon and Meg Mateo Ilasco - Book Summary

The Art Inc. is the guidebook for artists looking to make a living from their passion. This book introduces the business side of art in an easy-to-understand way, sharing helpful tips and practical guidance.

This book is for:

  • The artist wants to get out of a struggling financial life and make money from his passion;
  • Artists want to learn the business side of art.

About the author:

Lisa Congdon is an illustrator who has worked for the Museum of Modern Art, the Obama Campaign, and Simon & Schuster . Her work has been exhibited at the Bedford Exhibition and the Contemporary Jewish Museum .

Meg Mateo Ilasco is a creative entrepreneur, author of seven books including Craft, Inc. She was invited as a guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio and her work was featured on Real Living and Real Simple .

What does this book have for me? Get the art to work for you.

You are good at making art but how do you make money from art? Sacrificing material things, living a struggling life until "successful" was the typical story of artists in the past, but today that story cannot be applied anymore.

As an artist who wants to be successful in this era, you need not only creativity but also business skills. You need to find your own voice and value, as well as know how to advertise, PR for yourself and sell your work. The following summary will help you do just that.

In this summary, you will learn:

  • How to find voice as an artist;
  • How to sell the work;
  • How to express yourself in exhibitions.

Being yourself: the best way to build as an artist

Many of us want to be great artists. But how to achieve that? Studying the path of past artists, following them and their way of life? It sounds tempting, but doing the opposite can help.

We all know the "starving artist legend", that is, to create worthwhile works, artists have to live hard and suffer like Vincent van Gogh. Although many people believe it, it is a complete lie.

Being a professional artist has nothing to do with living a miserable life and struggling to make a living. On the contrary, you can enjoy the care and support of those around you such as family, friends, teachers and other artists.

Creativity comes from passion, talent and hard work. Habitat or suffering has nothing to do with the creative process. So forget about the miserable artists and stop imitating them.

It is often said that artists need to learn from famous painters or experienced teachers, but the truth is that the truest art comes from the sincerity and working instinct of each artist. Art reflects your past as well as the events that make you who you are.

So if you're trying to follow someone, you won't make progress. Taking on challenges, trying different techniques for your work, and using different themes as inspiration is much more worthwhile and worthy of your potential.

The good news is that inspiration is all around you. To stay inspired, carry a notebook and jot down your observations and activities. Even an ordinary event can become an inspiration.

As an artist, you need to turn value into profitable business.

You want to be an artist? Great! But first ask yourself: “Do I want to make a living from art?”. If so, you'll need to be a businessman, not just an artist.

To start becoming a trader, the first thing you should do is decide on an image for yourself. What kind of artist do you want to be? What kind of art do you want to do and what are your most important values?

If your dream is to become an illustrator, consider what you need. In terms of value, maybe environmental friendliness is important to you, there may be some companies you don't want to work with based on your own rules.

No matter what kind of artist you want to be, it takes a long time to get there. However, knowing the steps to achieving your goal and following those steps will make you better.

For example in case you want to be an illustrator. If your goal is to freelance for large companies, you'll need to come up with a name for your work, photograph the work for promotion, and use a high-quality printing lab and come up with a line. attractive description for your website.

As an artist, it can be frustrating to be exposed to the outside world. However, this is a necessary skill that must not be overlooked.

You will need to process some documents such as filling out tax slips or business registration forms. For example, if you are dealing with physical works such as paintings or sculptures, you will need an application to sell these works. You need to pay attention to the organization if you don't want to get into a lot of legal trouble.

Think of the above as a necessary part of your journey as an artist, thinking that way will help keep you motivated.

The key to success is advertising, advertising and advertising.

What is most important in the process of making art? It's art itself, right? In fact, it is equally important to advertise your art. So how can you improve your advertising skills?

Start with the Internet, where you are most comfortable advertising your products. Make sure you have a nice website and people can see your work and learn about you. Make it clear and convenient for your audience. Have a domain name that is easy to remember.

The website of Canadian artist Claire Desjardins, is an example of a website that is clearly presented and attractive. You can try blogging, sharing your thoughts, inspirations, and achievements. Always keep in mind that blogging should be sincere and write about things that interest you.  

You should also use social media as an advertising tool, but don't get lost in this social network abyss. Many artists get caught up in writing articles on social media and forget about their own work.

Besides, you can attract the attention of the press. To do that, create a list of blogs and journals you want to contact and get the name and email of the editor. But before you can reach the press, you need a media kit. This includes background information, press release, bio and CV. Please make sure you have this kit on hand before submitting your request for cooperation.

If you can master the technique of advertising, then nothing can stop you.

Create, create, and sell work like a pro

Being an artist in the modern world offers more benefits than before.

The biggest benefit is information technology. Whether you are a photographer or an artist, modern technology is a great treasure. By promoting products in this way, you will reach more people.

You can take advantage of this tactic, however, you have to be deliberate.

First, decide which products will attract the most customers and where are the major markets. If you want to sell products to reputable exhibitions, use high-quality paper and ink and limit the number of prints to create value for the product. You'll want your work to last the longest, and use acid-free archival paper and archival ink. This will make your work more durable.

If you want your work to reach as many people as possible, you'll have to use a cheaper printing method and print more copies. However, when selling or publishing work, be sure to use the highest quality photos to promote the product.

Now, let's study how to sell products. How do I know how much to sell for?

The way you compose will help you value and market it. The price should include printing, materials and labor costs.

If you want to sell to the public, you can use retailers like Etsy , Big Cartel and Shopify , or even use your own website.

If you're looking to sell to high-profile clients, sell directly or work for them.

Either way you choose, respect your art and it will pay off.

Exhibitions are the place to bring your work to the world.

Artists have different requirements regarding the display of their work.

For many people, their goal is to become an exhibitor who always displays work at exhibitions. Let's study this angle.

One important thing if you want to be an artist of this type is finding the right exhibition location, because the work has to be appropriate for the exhibition.

Each exhibition has its own requirements and orientation. For example, San Francisco gallery owner Jessica Silverman wanted to explore “artists and their relationship to the outrageous image,” so she expected artists to be different.

If you have an exhibition request, you should contact potential exhibitions, ask in your local artist community or ask an art professional.

Once you've found a number of exhibitions that match your work, contact them, but don't be surprised if they don't get back to you in a few months.

If you are invited to an exhibition and need to bring your resume, think about what to bring. You should have at least two works and bring a copy of your resume, which includes an artistic statement along with an introduction to the work and why it was created.

If you can't find any exhibits, don't worry. You can organize a solo or group exhibition in a cafe, shop or restaurant or even in your own office.

Remember, if you're holding an exhibition, you'll need a venue and make sure the artists you invite have room to display their work. You should also advertise with invitations, press releases or online ads.

One way to make money for artists is to enter the illustration industry.

We've learned how to get started as an exhibit artist. This is just one of many ways. The next way is by illustration industry.

The illustration industry is mostly commercialized and you need to understand how to sell your work here. To do that, decide on the area you want to focus on.

There are many choices: wedding card illustrations, birth announcements, logos, advertisements and books etc..etc.

Once you've identified the field, research the jobs and start applying. You may want to advertise through your website or social media. You can contact art directors you like and participate in commercial design programs like Printsource or Surtex .  

Once you have a job, you will receive a summary of the work, subject matter, number and size of illustrations, and submission deadlines. Read carefully about what you need to do and who will get ownership of your work.

Betsy Cordes, consultant and creative director advises illustrators to review the contract, and that it is the artist who has the right to own the work. Remember that you work for a purpose and for a fixed time.

If you want to connect with larger companies, hire an agent. Their job is to use relationships to promote you and your work through social media, media, and trade shows. An agent can help you, but it costs extra money, and no matter how good they are, they can't turn a bad artist into a great artist!

Finally, when making decisions and handling business, keep in mind that you should be yourself. That way, you won't be able to go the wrong way.

Enjoy productive and unproductive times.

Activities that keep the artist constantly working. But taking a break and enjoying the moments of success and failure is equally important.

Just because you're going through a bad time in your career doesn't mean you should stop working. You can use that time to refresh your resume, work on a personal project, build new relationships with people around, or work for a short time for an organization. These things will help you to grow up.  

You can also participate in teaching because it helps to increase creativity and refresh long unused knowledge. Plus, sharing knowledge and experiences with others can be very stimulating and worthwhile. You can refer to some exhibitions, businesses or you can teach online.

In the ups and downs of an artist's career, there are times when work can pile up. When this happens and you have to work on multiple projects at once, it's a good idea to spend some time getting organized.

Make a to-do list or a calendar or try Google Tasks or Todoist . There are many options for taking control of your own work. And remember, you can always hire an assistant, if finances allow. No matter what help you use, forcefully saying no to tasks can be the most effective way. You will learn that turning down an opportunity brings an even better one.

Always keep the balance factor in mind. You will find balance in your life by resting with family and friends, meditating, exercising or eating healthy. These things will help you relax to deal with stress.

Remember, success means work-life balance.

Final Summary

The main message in the book:

Forget the misconception that artists have to live in misery. With an entrepreneurial mindset and some advertising knowledge, there's nothing to stop you from turning your art into a livelihood.

Give advice:

Packaging is more important than you think!

Pack your artwork carefully. Why did you spend so much time making it with such bad packaging. Present your work in the best possible way and don't forget to prevent theft or damage if necessary.

Don't wait for others.

You should not wait for an answer from an exhibitor inviting you to exhibit. Instead, ask small cafes or shops if they can display your work; or gather other artists to exhibit in one place. It just takes determination and initiative to get your work in front of people.