The Business of the Artist
Written by
Tanya Wright
July 2011
Written by
Tanya Wright
July 2011
This past Saturday, I had the great good pleasure of sweating it out (ah! the HEAT!) with book-loving folks at the yearly Harlem Book Fair on 135th Street in Harlem, NY. I had a booth set up for my debut novel, BUTTERFLY RISING. Thanks to all the folks who stopped by, said hi and bought a book. I LOVE to hear back from people after they've had a read, so make sure to drop me a line at [email protected]!
I also taught a free class for folks who were interested in starting a business using their art and wanted a little bit of direction and advise. My Business of the Art class is a combination of short writing, physical exercises-- and LOTS of questions!--designed to help you unlock what's holding you back from achieving your creative goals.
I left the class feeling exhilarated! We were filled to capacity--standing room only-- and I could see countless folks having these mini-break throughs! I felt like I was really helping them achieve their dreams, which seems to be a recurring theme in my life...
For those of you who weren't there this weekend, here's a quick re-cap. Think of how these might be useful to your own creative business and apply them!
1. Think about how you can create VALUE for your creative idea. Why does the the world NEED what you have?
2. Complete this sentence:
Success is _____________________.
The answers here will vary for a great many people. In American culture, success is largely defined by cold, hard cash. Be honest with yourself and what you really want. And about who it might help.
3.  Brainstorm educational institutions, cultural organizations, corporations--are you in a fraternity? sorority?-- who will help you get the word out and ultimately BUY what YOU have to SELL?
The truth is, small business is the ONLY way this country's gonna get out of its economic jam. Help the country by HELPING YOURSELF! Unemployed? This may be a perfect opportunity for you to do the thing you always wanted to to do. Invest in YOU. Now, starting a business is not without endless hours of hard work, dedication and commitment. The word SACRIFICE will become your friend,LOL! Keep your eyes glued to what motivates you, the thing that's gonna keep you going when you're tired, broke, or hell, you just don't feel like it! That's what's gonna get you through the rough spots.
Lastly, many creative folks divorce "business" from "art"; all artists MUST be in control of their business in order to succeed. Use the same creativity you use in your art to create your art and apply it to the business side of things! After a while, business--and all things money-- won't be so intimidating.
XO Tanya XO
TANYA WRIGHT plays the role of DEPUTY KENYA JONES on HBO'S TRUE BLOOD. She is the writer/director of the upcoming indie feature BUTTERFLY RISING and author of the book of the same name.

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  • Bridget Straub

    Thanks for the advice. I'm not sure how I'd really define success for myself. Obviously money plays into it, but I think respect for what I do is even more important. It's certainly something to think about further.