Seminar series teaches artists how to better do business, PLUS tips for artists in the COVID-19 era

Andrea Bogart started Embrace Creatives with the intent of empowering artists in the marketplace. A sort of LinkedIn for artists, the Embrace Creatives platform was designed to bridge the gaps between makers and buyers.

Now Bogart is seeking to empower artists through the Creative FUEL: Growth Series, a year-long seminar series that aims to teach artists and creative business owners how to better do business and make a living off of their crafts.

Though the current state of affairs has forced this Thursday’s seminar to be an online-only session, the show must go on. Protecting Your Creative Business is scheduled for Thursday, March 19, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Other events will take place at the Detroit Center for Design + Technology, coronavirus-willing.

Registration and additional information are available online.

Metromode: Introduce us to the Creative FUEL: Growth Series. What is it and why is it important?

Andrea Bogart: Our Creative FUEL: Growth Series is a fun way for us to continue our global, empowerment mission by uniting artists and art enterprises with education, connections, and opportunities. Embrace Creatives is a creative business ecosystem that exists online and off. Our headquarters is based in metro Detroit and we set up a variety of events, bringing our local networks together to showcase their work, find business clarity and meet collaborators. Our free-for-all, Growth Series is important because as much as it’s a way for Creatives to alleviate their business frustrations and expose them to expert insights, participating in an Embrace Creatives' event opens our guests up to our vast network of their peers and industry professionals. When someone comes to an Embrace Creatives event they are welcomed into our caring business network as well.

Q: Do you have any advice for area artists as we deal with the effects of social distancing and the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: Talking to artists over the past week, most of us agree that having to self-quarantine isn’t something that bothers us because we’re introverts anyway but the difference is the "freedom" we normally have to make our own decisions of when to stay in and when to mingle in a group. Now, we don’t have that freedom and that can be emotionally devastating to some. Artists are also more emotionally sensitive so self-isolation may bring up other past issues that can cause anxiety. Pair that with loss of income, canceled/postponed residencies or loss of retail or exhibition opportunities and anxieties are compounded. But artists are creative thinkers and resilient! We thrive on doing things differently and coming up with down-and-dirty solutions that can be abandoned quickly if they don’t work.

Here’s a few tips I’ve been batting around with other artists and experts.

In the short term, focus on online sales but don’t give up on scouting future commercial relationships, too. Realize that almost everyone is in survival mode so real communication may not happen for a few months. If you're going to up your social media ante, remember that conversations are the best way to make sales--don’t sell, sell, sell in every post… you’ll turn people off. Here’s an article on effective social media marketing strategies. If you are just jumping into social, here’s how to easily set up a few accounts.

Make sure you stay connected. Obviously social media is helpful but more than that, have a small support group that you can turn to and remember to give first, then get. I’m working with an EC Champion who also happens to be mental healthcare professional to offer private, online group chats with artists who need emotional support. If you’re interested in partaking, please join our newsletter for details.

Find your purpose. If you can’t focus in your studio, figure out a way to help others. Those who feel "trapped" suffer from a challenge more than those who have purposeful tasks. Do your best to control your life rather than let life control you.

Use resources. On my Embrace Creatives blog, I shared how we’re supporting our creative community and have a running list of links for artists and small business owners.

This opportunity can be used as a way to break through to a different way of thinking of your art. For example, a Croatian fashion designer turned her attention to face masks and launched a new collection that is selling. Some artists are channeling their inner activist and pushing the boundaries of their practice. There’s an article with examples in my blog list above.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.