As a young boy, one of my first summer jobs was being a delivery boy for a small local meat market. The meat market was located in Bay Head, a summer resort on the New Jersey shore. My job was seasonal as it ran from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend and to me it was the most important job that there was, since it was my first real job!
What I learned about business from that small little job is important as it became the basis for how I conducted myself successfully in the art business for the rest of my life.
Whether you like it or not, being a successful artist is running a small business. In order to be successful, an artist needs to think, act and conduct their “art business” in a professional and business like manner. Here are some valuable lessons that any artist can benefit from my experience as a delivery boy:
1. Show Up – The meat market needed me there for morning deliveries and afternoon deliveries. There were to be no excuses, like it was a nice beach day or that I had something else to do. They needed me and expected me to be there and on time, to make my deliveries. Why is that? It is because their customers expected their meat and groceries to be delivered at certain times and with no excuses.
As an artist, when you are told that you are needed at a certain time, a piece of art needs to be delivered by a certain date or that an appointment will be at “such and such” time, you need to be there, with no excuses. Sometimes artists seem to be in their own world and some artists are inclined to be on their own time, as if nothing else exists. This is not a good trait to have. Return that telephone call when you promised that you would do. Show up at that appointment on time. Be available and on time when you said that you would. It is a common courtesy and the other person’s time is valuable to them. Respect the other person.
2. Shut Up – When you do show up or call, shut up. No one wants to hear of your problems, challenges and issues. They have a business or a job to perform and they do not want to get dragged into your drama and problems.
At the meat market the owners had about 3 months in which to make their money for the year. Because of this, they needed to be focused, as they had a business to run and were dealing with their own problems with suppliers, fulfilling orders and keeping customers happy. Anything or anyone that would take them away from their mission was just not valuable to them.
As an artist, the potential buyer, gallery owner or art rep really do not have the time or the wherewithal to be dealing with your issues too. Keep it professional and impersonal. Remember, you really are working for them, not the other way around!
3. Help Out – I learned quickly that it s not good to stand around and do nothing. While I was waiting for the deliveries to be fulfilled and boxed, I learned to do a “little more” than what the job called for. By helping out and doing this, I was much more valuable to the owners.
Sometimes as an artist we are asked to do more than what our pricing calls for or what our time may allow. That is just part of the business and we should always to try to give good value for our time and efforts. Why? Over time, it will breed loyalty with your customers and with your clients. As a delivery boy, by doing this, I was helping to insure that the owners would ask me to come back and work there again for the next summer.
We hope you enjoyed Part 1 of this insightful article by John Math. Part 2, the conclusion is now available to read. Comments are welcome at any time.
About the Guest Author
John R. Math is a successful art photographer based in Florida. Mr. Math began his professional art photography career in 2006 and since that time he has had more than 85 exhibitions, sold his art through art galleries and to private collectors and now markets most of his artworks to the corporate art & hospitality markets. You can learn more about John and his art marketing program at Art Marketing Strategies.
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