Culture Manager: City of Surrey
WORK of ART 2019 Openning Keynote Address
Thank you for inviting me here this morning,
to share some thoughts on the work you’ll undertake today, and
to encourage you on your learning journey.
If someone were to write a job description of a successful artist
– provided one of the criteria of their success is they make money from their art – the list of that artist’s skills and abilities would be very long indeed.
While essential, it seems an artist’s skill in making art isn’t what actually makes them successful.
The skills more critical to their success are:
– Communication and Presentation Skills
– Marketing and Business Skills, and
– Administration and Technology Skills.
You’ve probably noticed there are lots of myths about being an artist.
Its certainly a myth that if an artist only works hard and alone in their attic studio suddenly there will be a knock on their door, and they will be discovered and offered a major solo exhibition.
It just doesn’t happen
Maybe the reason why Vincent Van Gogh died alone and broke wasn’t because his art wasn’t good. Maybe it was because he didn’t have any other skills he needed to be successful during his lifetime.
It is a myth that artists have to starve to be successful.
Did you know that the artist Michelangelo was actually very rich? (Records show he had the equivalent of $50M in his bank accounts) He had many more skills than painting and carving.
Successful artists are entrepreneurs.
They practice many skills other than making art.
Entrepreneurs are people who don’t give up. And they have a network that supports them – everyone here is part of your network.
Entrepreneurs are always hungry for information and are keen to discover new ideas and acquire new skills.
I see you all as entrepreneurs – because you’re here today – eager to learn and not naive about the work involved in being artists.
Many of you may know that the author of Eat Love Pray, Elizabeth Gilbert, has written a book about creativity called “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.”
As part of her research, she talked to many creative people and was surprised to discover that they weren’t burning with passion and inspiration.
Instead, she found they were filled with a quieter urge: curiosity.
She told New York Magazine “Passion burns hot and fast, which means it can come and go, but Curiosity is so accessible and available, every single day.”
An art entrepreneur can be a single artist – a writer, a poet, a potter – or it can be a group like a band or an orchestra.
SFU offers a course in cultural entrepreneurship. I was interested to read that their definition of Arts Entrepreneurship is:
“the creation of opportunity and value with intent to profit financially, socially or otherwise through the assumption of risk and effort.”
In the context of arts entrepreneurship, the value created is art.
I know there are many artists who are uncomfortable about the connection between art and money. And feel that art is somehow sacred.
Art is sacred.
We need art in our lives.
We need poetry, and music, and pictures.
And we need the imagination of artists and writers and musicians to create works that give us hope.
The art you make is important to our City.
Art, and art organizations play an important role in the creation of a healthy, tolerant, sustainable and resilient community for everyone.
You’re not here to learn how to make art to make money.
You’re here for a much more important reason:
You’re here to learn how to make money to make more art.
If you are going to thrive as artists, you cannot merely survive, you need to thrive.
And a thriving artist knows they shouldn’t work for free.
There’s a quote by Andy Warhol
Making money is art.
And working is art.
And good business is the best art
To help inspire you on your journey, I have brought two books to be given away as door prizes today.
– “Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age”
– “How to Sell Your Art Online: Live a successful creative life on your own terms.”