2013 might not usher in the sci-fi future of jet packs and personal space travel, but it can be the year when you make solid progress toward turning your artistic hobby or part-time passion into a sustainable career.

Infographic courtesy Fractured Atlas

Infographic courtesy Fractured Atlas

The staff at Fractured Atlas has compiled a list of practical tips to help you take meaningful immediate steps toward a better future — one where you spend less time worrying about the hurdles that stand in your way and have more time to create your art.

At Fractured Atlas, we get artists and their needs because we are artists. Your concerns are truly our concerns. We spend every day helping our network of 250,000 artists from around the country make their artistic dreams a reality by using tools like the ones described below..

(1) Practice your networking.

Find opportunities to meet new people, expand your professional network, and get recognized by influential players. This includes supporting other people’s art, joining professional associations, organizing a panel discussion, or volunteering at a local arts organization or project. If an Emerging Leader or arts-related Meetup group doesn’t exist in your town around a particular interest, start one. Find a theme and own it. Love bourbon and arts technology projects? Schedule informal gatherings at your favorite bourbon haunt and call the evenings Bourbon for Arts Infrastructure Geeks. Try hard to include people who primarily work outside of the cultural sector. The variety of viewpoints and opinions will make it a more dynamic and interesting group.

(2) Be a well-informed arts professional. 

Expand your knowledge of what’s happening in your desired field by signing up for newsletters, reading industry trades, and searching for applicable studies. Today’s online marketplace of ideas offers a rich selection of food for thought to keep artists intellectually sated. Keep up with the daily industry news at ArtsJournal or other blogs, like Hyperallergic, find out what arts funders are thinking via Grantmakers in the Arts, curl up (virtually, of course) with some cozy arts research studies in the Createquity Arts Policy Library, or expand your horizons and follow a non-arts resource such as Stanford Social Innovation Review. And if all that’s too much, Fractured Atlas’s Culture Flash newsletter offers monthly Geek Alerts for the busy artist.

(3) Be easy to find. Don’t be shy!

When someone likes your work, make it easy for them to see more of it. There’s no excuse not to have your own artist website — tools like WordPress and Tumblr make it easy. Include a mailing list sign-up field and a donate button prominently on your site. Tell your fans about upcoming shows and projects with efficient e-newsletters from MailChimp. If you’re a performer, put your Twitter handle in all program bios.

(4) Track YOUR fans.

You can’t build a fan base or cultivate supporters if you don’t know who’s seeing your work. Selling tickets with a tool like Artful.ly is valuable because it allows you to collect every ticket buyer’s name — whether they purchase online or at the door. Even if you don’t charge for your shows, selling free tickets or taking RSVPs can help you get to know your fans. If you’re not self-presenting, ask the venue for a copy of the ticket buyers’ names. Aggregate your sales lists and you may discover repeat fans who could be potential donors during your next appeal.

(5) Account for your art-related expenses. 

How much is your art costing you? There are many hidden expenses built into creating and presenting your work. Accounting for all of them — from supplies to marketing to rehearsal, studio, or exhibition space — helps you get a handle on the true cost of creating your work, which cannot only in form your pricing decisions ,but also makes it easier to create more accurate budgets and financial projections in the future. A spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel offers an easy starting point for tracking expenses.  If you’re looking for something more robust, you might try Quickbooks Online or Freshbooks.

(6) Broaden your fundraising horizons.

A plethora of options have cropped up to help artists raise money for their projects, including IndieGoGo, Kickstarter, and Rockethub. But you might want to consider fiscal sponsorship instead. Fiscal sponsorship allows artists to receive grants and tax-deductible contributions in ways that are normally available only to 501(c)(3) organizations. It has become an increasingly popular funding alternative for more and more artists — and fiscal sponsors like Fractured Atlas can even partner with popular crowd funding websites to expand your reach while still harnessing the benefits of nonprofit status.

(7) Catalogue and document your work.

Cataloging your work provides you with ready-to-go visuals for grant and residency applications, competitions, and crowd funding campaigns, as well as creating a record of your work in the event that you have to file an insurance claim. Start now by photographing everything you can and uploading it (with helpful tags and descriptions) to an online photo sharing site like Picasa and Flickr.

For the 21st-century artist, it’s simply not possible to just be someone who makes art (if that ever even was the case). Now more than ever before, success requires that we be entrepreneurs and small business owners who are skilled at keeping ourselves informed networking, fundraising, and marketing our work effectively. We hope that these tips will help you make that big career leap in 2013, even if you have to do it without a jet pack.

Editor’s note: This op-ed comes courtesy of Tim Cynova, the deputy director of Fractured Atlas, the United States’s largest arts service organization.

Tim Cynova is the deputy director of Fractured Atlas, the United States's largest arts service organization.

7 replies on “7 Ways to Build A Sustainable Art Career This Year”

  1. #3 especially. I have so many artist friends who are internet-averse to the extent that there is literally nothing about them anywhere online. Google yourself people! Because gallery directors and curators sure do.

  2. sound advice here! I would just add a couple of things from experience:

    For documenting your work get the best camera you can afford (actually maybe one you can’t), Dont settle for some 100 buck point and shoot especially if you are an installation artist. Keep in mind when you are starting out you are usually showing in spaces lacking the best lighting situations, so a really good camera (at least a digital SLR plus great photoshop skills) can help work around that.

    Certainly have website and a general web presence but don’t assume that is all you need, you also have to live in the right cities. A few years ago I was sure that just having a website, a blog, a FB page, commenting on blogs,etc. would allow me enough exposure to have a fairly robust exhibition schedule, perhaps even jet-set style, even though I lived in Florida (and not Miami!). How wrong I was! Get thee a website AND get thee to NYC, LA, Chicago, or Berlin, pronto!

  3. Ben – A good question!
    Here is your answer:


    The “Theory of Iceality” is the Aesthetics of the relationship between Humans and their Environment through the Arts, ultimately promoting an effective sustainable global Culture of Peace for all Living things.

    At the ARK in Berea, David Jakupca, states that, “The special ‘Theory of Iceality’ belongs to a class of “principle-theories”. As such it employs an analytic method. This means that the three elements which comprise this theory, Humanitarian, Environmental, Arts and Culture, are not based on hypothesis but on empirical discovery. The empirical discovery leads to understanding the general characteristics of natural processes”.

    Practical models can then be developed which separate the natural processes into theoretical-mathematical descriptions. Therefore, by analytical means the necessary conditions that have to be satisfied are deduced. Separate events must satisfy these conditions. Experience should then match the conclusions.

    The special ‘Theory of Iceality’ and the general natural processes are connected. As stated above, the special ‘Theory of Iceality’ applies to all inertial physical phenomena and its relation to all other forces of nature.

    Although it is widely acknowledged that American Cultural Ambassadors David and Renate Jakupca are the creators of the Theory of Iceality in its modern understanding, They are also responsible for enlightening the art community to the new genre of Art when they founded the International Center for Environmental Arts (ICEA) in 1987 at the historic ARK in Berea , Ohio. ICEA was organized into three divisions: Environmental, Humanities, Arts and Culture, and as the first professional art organization to be solely dedicated to this endeavor, this has made ICEA to be the leading force in the Environmental arts and a force for socially responsible activity.

    According to Jakupca, beginning with ICEA, the Environmental Arts Genre has grown professionally exponentially and has over the past decades spawned a wide variety of
    very similar phrases and art terms such as; eco art, land art, ecoventions, natural art, green art, outdoor art, earth art, recycled art, sustainable art, ecodedsign, etc. These can be all be considered sub-categories under the umbrella of the main Environmental Art Genre.

    Jakupca asserts that, “Respect for human and environmental rights and greater understanding between people from different racial and religious backgrounds must be the first step of society in today’s fast-changing, globalized world.” The goal is accomplished according to Jakupca, “Is by focusing on the creative process and affirming that Environmental Art is a catalyst for social change by empowering participants, transforming
    environments and contributing to collective healing and economic development.”

    Jakupca’s Theory on Iceality on Environmental Arts (ICEALITY) was enthusiastically
    embraced by the United Nations by 1990 and was featured in many of their World

    1- 1992 Earth Summit on the Environment, Rio de Janeiro,
    2- 1993 World Conference on Human Rights, Vienna, Austria
    3- 1994 World Conference on Population and Development,
    Cairo, Egypt
    4- 1995 World Conference on Women, Beijing, China
    5- 1996 Habitat II- UN Conference on Human Settlements,
    Istanbul, Turkey
    6- 2000 World’s Fair, Expo2000, Hannover, Germany
    7- 2001 World Conference on Racism, Durban, South Africa
    8- 2002 World Summit on Sustainability, Johannesburg, South
    9- 2003 World Conference on Peace, Verbania, Italy
    10- 2005 World Conference on Peace, Verbania, Italy
    11- 2007 World Peace Conference, Santa Fe, New Mexico

    The result of this major global public promotion at the United Nations level, is that the Theory of Iceality on Environmental Arts is now considered as the cornerstone of the modern sustainable global Environmental Art Movement and this concept is now replicated by artists, architects, urban planners and sustainable organizations throughout the World. However, it must be noted that not all of Jakupca’s contemporaries did accepted the new theory at once.

    For More information Google search:
    Author, Dracha Arendee

  4. Thank you for such an informative and inspiring article. I’ll be following you throughout the year thanks again!

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