Australian Fine Artist

Presentation of Artist’s Statements

We were to have some of the last of the artist’s statements form students today, but they have not arrived in class again. I will not speculate on why and it is not my place to guess, but when grades are involved it is a shame to see this happen. However, I have done my work and that is all I really am concerned about for the moment unless someone asks me for some help, which I am always happy to give.

We quickly moved on to the other topics for the day.

Assessment Tasks

Concentrating more on the business side of our future or emerging arts practices, we will be tackling two assessment tasks for this semester. As we have until the end of the year to get these done, I don’t see a problem in achieving these.

  1. Prepare for sustainable professional practice
    Prepare a SWOT (Strengths, weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis for yourself in context of our perceived place int he arts industry
    Create an action plan outlining our progress towards realising an opportunity in the arts industry. This can be in a chart format. Due Date October 16.
  2. Present a body of own creative work
    Identify 2 niche markets for your practical work. This will be in the form of a presentation to the class (for each one) outlining the characteristics of the niche market and presenting your work in relation to that market. Notations to go to David via email. Due dates October 9, 16, 23.

Now that I know what is expected for the semester I was actually more relaxed as we got into the discussion for the class.

85% of art graduates do not end up in arts business according to some statistics, with many artists failing to earn enough to call a livable wage. As the government in a lot of cases is funding our education and helping us with financial support, they want to see more students working and earning a living that pays their way in their chosen field. it makes sense to me that if you are studying art you want either a job in the arts or to start your own business of some sort in the arts field. I am already working on my business plans and hopefully laying the ground work for a reputable business and professional name as a practising artist.

Studying more about how this can be achieved can only be beneficial. We were asked the following: where do you think are the areas of sustainable business practice in general? And what are products that have stood the test of time?

  • Teaching
  • Law
  • Medicine (doctors)
  • Trades (plumbers, electricians)
  • Farming
  • Dentistry
  • Coca Cola
  • Cadbury
  • Peters
  • Holden/Ford (although we recognised that this part of the market is sliding in Australia)

How are some brands long-lasting? Clever marketing based on people’s need for familiarity and nostalgia (what they grew up on) and consistent and repeated advertising which is targeted.

We then discussed Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, starting with the base needs for life (shelter, food, water) to the top of the pyramid (self actualisation – exploration of the self, the mind and artistic expression). In general during a recession or social upheaval the needs go back down the pyramid and during affluent times tit goes back up to the top.

When selling, who are you aiming at?

  • Those who identify with your work and owning it (see their own story in it for example)
  • Those that love your art work for its content or style
  • Those that see owning your artwork as some sort of status symbol

Using the SWOT analysis system we see the following:

Strengths and Weaknesses = Internal Influences (designing art to suit the market – smaller and cheaper or wider range of pricing models)
Opportunities and Threats = External Influences (recessions, niche markets)

This is a good time to start noticing what lasts in business and which businesses tend to spring up quickly and then fail just as fast.

Start looking at marketing which means research. What is working, what is selling, where is it happening and with whom? what are you creating and what part of the market are you aiming at selling to? Are you suitable for that market? Can you produce a product at a price that fits the market I am aiming at? This can be an existing market or one that we create.

Then you need to decide what the measure of your success will be. Not everyone has the same ambitions and not everyone wants the same results from their ambitions. for example is it financial security or possibly improving society, or a combination of the two?


  • Look at the size of the market.
  • Look at market trends.
  • Look at diversity of your products (prints, cards, giftware, books, smaller works along with larger more expensive ones)
  • How are you going to market yourself? IE:
    Craft Markets (already researched these and not enough return for effort or profit margin)
    Mid range galleries (approached a few locally but they are swamped with artists from closed galleries at present)
    High end galleries (will do more work on these next year after more training and my first solo)
    Your own gallery or outlet (I have discussed this with my business partner and we are looking into this as a business option in our premises)
    Exhibitions (I have a list which I go over and revised yearly for entering)

What else can you do to support your arts practise? (IE earn whilst you continue to paint etc)

  • Arts Facilitating (teaching)
  • Behind the scenes work in galleries/museums
  • Alternative entertainment, theatre works etc
  • Council/shire/state/federal government arts officers
  • Grants (by applying for them)

Market Segmentation

As you decide on what you want to do, this also needs to be researched. It is basically broken down into four parts.

  1. Geographic: where you sell
  2. Demographic: Age, gender, financial standing, education, religion, income
  3. Psychological: trends and fashions at the time
  4. Usage Rate: turnover, how often you get repeat sales

This is a fair bit to think about, but it can become a natural part of your business. If you already go to art shows etc, all you need to do is expand the rings to take more note of what is going on around you, or ask some questions. Take the time to try out some new options and do some analysis afterwards to see if they are worth pursuing. Sometimes this is by doing, or trying it out, sometimes by asking established artists how things work, or a combination of these. It can be an evolutionary thing as the practise gets going, as mine has been over the past few years. I am only just getting it clear what two pronged avenue I will be following for the near future with my practice, and it may yet change as circumstances in the market place do.

We went on to go over what will be expected for our assessment tasks after this talk.

  1. What are my strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
    For Selling art
    For Teaching art
    What is my Action plan? (what is it, how am I going to do it, who is responsible for it?)
  2. Identify a niche market for your product. This has to be in two parts. Two streams of the business.
    Sales (regional and City)
    Education (Teaching from Studio, Demonstrations, Workshops, Lessons, Sessional Teacher, Teaching from Societies)
    We will be giving a presentation to the class who will fulfil the role of our target market of our business plans.

This was a very “full” session and loads of discussion and interaction went on. I felt it was also an important session as it is necessary to understand these issues for a successful business. Fail to plan and you plan to fail as they say. The key to winning (or success) is prior knowledge. Big businesses hire people as marketing managers to make sure that they understand their niche in the marketplace and can stay ahead of if not up to date with market trends. Coke remakes itself on a regular basis, as do many successful brands (look at Madonna for example, who has had a very successful career and there are many others)

Art in most cases relies on people wanting to spend “disposable income”, it is something you want not something you need. It is the identifying of the part of that income stream to enter into considering the artwork you produce and the professional and personal life you wish to have that takes planning and monitoring.

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