10 keys to success


When it comes to the connection between art and cash, there are two very different opinions. On one hand there is the believe that as an artist, you just have to get to the top and then you will become rich, filthy rich, just like all the famous musicians and athletes.

On the other hand though, when it comes to career planning, most people will tell you to get a ‘decent’ job, because with art you can’t make a living, they will tell you.

Maaike van Steenis is convinced that it is possible to earn a decent living with art, even if you are not one of the lucky few that gains world fame. As coach and trainer she supports artists in their entrepreneurship. In her Dutch book “Tussen kunst en cash” (between art and cash) she interviews 11 successful Dutch artists from very different branches, from painter to designer, from violist to photographer. After each interview, van Steenis gives us a list of what we can learn from the artists and describes the marketing model used by them, often unknowingly.

Most interesting for me was the chapter about the trumpet player Saskia Laroo (see picture). She performs all over the world and has worked with many famous musicians like Candy Dulfer, Wynton Marsalis and Teddy Edwards. She is very informed in her approach of music, she wants to know what’s going on in the business. Everyone she works with is becoming her ambassador.

The book finishes with 10 keys to success:
1. make sure your work is good
2. take initiative in contacting people and make yourself visible
3. don’t be afraid to make mistakes
4. look at changes as a challenge instead of a threat
5. invest in long-lasting relationships
6. take the perspective of your client to make him an appropriate offer
7. know where you want to go and set goals
8. look at marketing and entrepreneurship as fixed part of your work
9. realize that part of being an artist is being business
10. think about multiple ways to show your concepts

I loved to read the book. All the artists make a decent living with their art by their unique approach, like the violist who owns her own music center, or the designer who owns part of his success to his networking skills.  I like the many different ways to make a living with your art, depending on the marketing strategy you use. The book doesn’t answer the question how to find out what marketing strategy fits best with you. Often it’s pure coincidence how it all worked out. The importance of luck underexposed, as I also pointed out in an earlier post about what you can lean from keynote speeches.

Van Steenis doesn’t tell you how a marketing strategy can give you the right mind set to approach your art as entrepreneur, or how you can find your strong points, like networking for the designer, to combine it with your art, so you can become successful. This is where my coaching complements the approach of van Steenis.

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