This was originally published by Spotlight Network.
Artists and art enthusiasts gathered to network and openly discuss the business side of art as sweet melodies of Lauryn Hill echoed through the faux grass and art covered walls.
The event entitled “Art of Business – Business of Art” was the last installment in a series focused on expanding exposure for female artists. The series, SUPERFIERCE, complimented a month long gallery exhibit, displaying art created by female artists at The Blind Whino, a local art gallery in Southwest DC.
The event included a panel of people in the art world, artists, gallery directors, consultants and lawyers who know the importance of business and art coexisting.
(Above: Guests mingle during the event at The Blind Whino in Southwest Washington, DC.)
Director of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and panelist, Arthur Espinoza, Jr., said the reason that events like these are so important to the DC art community is because of, “the value of coming together and gaining more knowledge about what you’re passionate about.”
Panelists also told artists about other resources available to them in the District, including Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts, or WALA, a non-profit organization, comprised of more than 350 top lawyers and firms in DC who have volunteered to provide artists with legal advice and services. Artists on the panel shared how WALA helped them navigate contracts with galleries when they were starting out, while many members of the audience chimed in in agreement.
Local artist, Richshaad Ryan, said that he was drawn to this event because of “the information, the networking, it’s also a good motivation to help you create new ideas.”
Espinoza said he wants DC residents to leave events similar to this with “an understanding that the DC Commission is an available resource that people can reach out to” when it comes to their business and passion.
Ryan, gives this advice to young artists starting out, “Don’t take everything personal.” Ryan and members of the panel echoed how sometimes removing yourself from your art is key to business.
Ian Callendar, the co-founder of the Blind Whino, shared with young artists who are struggling with establishing their business and brand, “Networking is everything.” He also encourages artists to, “Be more vocal, be more ambitious, don’t be afraid to communicate and engaged.” Callendar stressed learning the importance of interaction and how necessary it is to brand building.
Along with sharing some of the nuances of their personal experiences, panelists stressed the importance of networking and mentorship to establishing your art as a business. Other artists and attendees spoke to using social media to create a following for their business.
“First impressions are everything,” says Callendar, encouraging young artists to use social media to expand their brands. “Having a digital footprint is key, having people access your work is rule #1.”