TAP Teaches Young Artists The World of BusinessBy Andrea Rosenfeld on June 4th, 2015 /
Artists are born creative. Sometimes it’s taught but the majority of artists find their affinity for creating when they’re young.
We focus on art classes, after school activities and summer arts camps that allow us to explore our gifts. We continue to develop and challenge ourselves, both alone and with mentors, as we progress from elementary school through college. For those of us who are lucky enough to get into a creative profession, we’re well versed in art techniques but don’t know what to do with our creative work: How do we sell it? How do we price it? Who’s our customer?
Through my Detroit Art & Business Institute, I offer private consulting and a first-of-its-kind, local business course for artists I coach adult artists, makers and designers who are committed to succeed, but I also feel it’s necessary to begin at the beginning, with young adults. I mean, why should they have to suffer for lack of business skills, like we do?
Fortunately, a brilliant, new resource called the Teen Artists Program run by Mark Loeb and Vickie Elmer of Integrity Shows emerged this summer and I was honored to be chosen as one of the program mentors. Vickie Elmer writes about careers and leadership for Fortune.com and other media, and Mark Loeb organizes and owns the Funky Ferndale Art Fair and consults with nonprofit and business organizations on the arts.
TAP is a great way for young artists to start their business education because they’re given bite-sized pieces of knowledge and a place to sell their work at the conclusion. A dozen artists from area high schools were accepted into the pilot program, established to build young artists’ careers and develop basic business abilities while showcasing emerging creative talent. Vickie set up a number of workshops and tours of local galleries so the youths could speak to and learn from experts in the art field. I had the pleasure of teaching them how to price their art which is one of the trickiest parts of creative entrepreneurship.
The TAP members used their new skills during the Palmer Park Art Fair weekend. I shared a table with Vickie in the TAP tent where I could be physically on hand to continue mentoring them. Some art fair guests said that they came out specifically to meet and purchase from the young creatives and many high school art student who visited the tent signed up to apply for 2016! Adults stayed to speak to each artist that interested them and most bought something from a TAP member.
It was an incredible experience all around and to be honest, I’m jealous that I didn’t have this uplifting and educational opportunity when I was a teen.
As far as the TAP artists themselves, I was impressed by their kindness, support of one another and appreciation of my guidance and the program itself. “I love the workshops!”, “A whole lot of useful ideas on how to market and sell my work.” and “I learned so much!!! Too much to list.” were some passionate exclamations the young artists offered us. They took their experience to heart. If we talked about modifying prices or displays, they moved quickly to make changes. I was happy with their pricing structure for the most part but worked with them to detail their work and/or technique benefits to give them talking points.
A few mistakes were made but MUCH about the weekend was impressive. I found the TAP artists;
- showed gratefulness for the project,
- appreciated the opportunity to be involved and actually SELL their work in a public event,
- understood the importance of proper display and pricing,
- put their displays together creatively, and
- supported each other by helping set up, break down, process credit card orders
- or offer suggestions, markers, scissors and more.
Being a part of this innovative program strengthened my commitment to teach young artists. TAP is looking for grant money and business support to expand the program for the fall and winter and they informed me that other, local cities have asked them to spearhead a TAP program in their areas. That tells me exactly what I already knew: Business education is NECESSARY and shouldn’t be saved for adults. We need to teach art students at from 16 yrs old, on up so they don’t spend years suffering before they begin to profit from and sell their art.
*to read another article on the Teen Artists Program, visit www.workingkind.com.