The Business of Art

Article Published: May. 8 | Modified: May. 8
The Business of Art

When an aspiring artist is training in their craft, just about the last thing on their mind is business matters.

“Artists are trained in all kinds of wonderful skills in a variety of mediums, but very rarely are they also trained in things like financial management, marketing, legal matters related to the business of being an artist and the like,” Watauga County Arts Council executive director Cherry Johnson said.

Knowing that financially self-sustaining artists are also entrepreneurs who must manage the business side of their art, as well, the Watauga County Arts Council, in partnership with the Watauga County Economic Development Commission and Handmade in America, is presenting a series of workshops designed to help artists better manage the business of being an artist.

This series of workshops include the following:

Identifying and Creating Opportunities with Wendy Outland
May 15, 6 to 8 p.m., $40

Topics include alternative exhibit venues, getting one’s work published, local, state and regional organizations, maintaining colleague contacts, how to increase visibility, stepping outside the arts and collaboration possibilities.

Pricing Your Work with Tara Swiger
May 22, 6 to 8 p.m., $40

Pricing your artwork is not a formula, even though many people want one. It can be a complicated set of calculations, but anyone can easily learn the various aspects that need to be taken into account when pricing your work.

Grant Applications — Crafting a Solid Proposal with Helene Herbert
June 5, 6 to 8 p.m., $40

Grant opportunities exist for individual artists, not just for organizations, but often the entire process seems intimidating, overwhelming or time-consuming. This craft lab will help de-mystify the process of grant applications, as well as provide a greater understanding of how to craft the most compelling proposal.

Pay Yourself: A Craft Artist’s Guide to Profitability with Tara Swiger
June 26, 6 to 8 p.m., $40

A profitable business is the dream of every artist, but in the swirl of creating what you love and sharing it with the world, the dreams (and numbers) can get buried under a pile of to-dos. This workshop aims to define what you need in order to be profitable in your specific business and in a specific product. Parameters will be set to guide you when considering future opportunities and identify your specific goals in order to create a plan that you’re enthusiastic about.

Making Digital Images from Paintings
June 28, 1 to 4 p.m., $40

We all know how difficult it can be to get a good quality digital image of your work and how important it can be for record-keeping, exhibition entries, notecards, websites, brochures and more. JoAnn Pippin will make the process so much simpler, offering tricks, tips and basic information in this three-hour workshop.

Record Keeping for Artists
July 8, 2 to 4 p.m., $40

Are you one of those artists who has placed your artwork at varied locations, but you’re not sure exactly where it all is at this moment? This three-hour workshop will cover why you need to keep records of your works, what information you need to have for your records and how to use that information for various purposes, such as creating exhibit and delivery lists, invoices, etc. JoAnn Pippin uses Microsoft Word and Excel to demonstrate record keeping strategies and tips to help you keep up with your artwork.

To help artists afford the workshops, the Watauga County Arts Council is offering a discount for artists who sign up for all six workshops. With the discounted price of $200, artists are essentially getting one workshop free. In addition, the arts council has a scholarship fund and can accept an application for a scholarship, as well.

HandMade in America’s mission is to grow economies through craft and creative place-making. On the last Thursday of each month, Handmade sponsors a meeting of the Appalachian Women Entrepreneurs at the Blue Ridge ArtSpace, where mini-workshops on these same kinds of topics are offered along with the fellowship and networking opportunities with other craftswomen. Interested women can attend one of these meetings for free to decide whether becoming an AWE member works for them.

The Watauga County Economic Development Commission was established in 1984, and its mission is to promote the development of business that is compatible with the existing resources and assets of Watauga County and to encourage the creation of wealth and jobs providing wages, benefits and working conditions that will contribute to a higher standard of living.

The Watauga County Arts Council’s mission is to sponsor and encourage the cultural arts in Watauga County, with the intention of “making the arts a presence in our community,” Johnson said, adding that one of the organization’s many emphases is to encourage and assist local artists.

The council defines local artists as those artists living in Watauga or and adjoining county for some portion of the year. Through the Business of Art program, the WCAC seeks to provide training in the many entrepreneurial skills artists need in order to be able to make creating their art financially viable, she said. Besides offering workshops, the WCAC also offers a variety of opportunities to exhibit and sell their work. The organization also annually offer grants to artists through the Regional Artist Project Grant program.

All the workshops take place at the Blue Ridge ArtSpace, which is located at 377 Shadowline Drive in Boone. Space in these workshops is limited, so artists are encouraged to sign up as soon as possible. There are four ways to register: Visit to sign up online and pay via PayPal; download the registration form and mail it in with a check; call the WCAC at (828) 264-1789; come by the Blue Ridge ArtSpace to register in person.

For more information, contact the Watauga County Arts Council at (828) 264-1789, or email

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