July 14, 2010

Learn to sell your art, so you don’t have to sell your soul

And I use “art” very loosely here when I mean the creative products of your head and your hands and the tools you use to extend the reach of both. Whether writers, filmmakers, musicians, webdesigners, potters, poets, dancers, landscapers, crafters, carpenters, architects, hatters; whatever the avenue for the creative imperative to realise itself, these endeavours are most often shunted aside to our secret life, our hobby. Because creatives don’t make money. Or not enough to make a steady living. They do it for the love. Or until they get a real job.Business Acumen for Artists at UCT Graduate School of Business

Or maybe that’s just a convenient hangover myth from the Industrial Age that we’ve continued to believe even as the world changes around us?

What if doing good business, a roaring trade no less, isn’t about aptitude or “something you’re just born with” but something learnable. A language. A game with a particular set of rules that we just need to be shown so we can get in and play along, rather than feeling unfairly relegated to sideline spectator?

This is the ongoing premise of a 4 year long wager that UCT’s Graduate School of Business Exec.Ed unit director Elaine Rumboll chose to bet on. She believed that artists with the right tools in their hands COULD excel in business. Business Acumen for Artists is about to launch into its 4th year because of that belief.

Learning the rules of the game

The first business school programme of its kind for artists, it’s always oversubscribed because it answers a very pressing need. More of us want to escape the confines of corporate soulsuck, but watched friends step out into the freedom of freelancing or creative entrepreneurship and fall down a chasm, eventually claw their way back to the numbing safety of a grey job, worse off than when they left. The unexpected truth of their fall, is that despite having worked for a big business, they may know nothing about running their own.

For artists ..and recently-escaped company execs too

This holds true not just for creatives. Many are they who come swaggering into a startup with their big swinging CVs and crashland their jetsized egos on the undulating ground of entrepreurship. Business in the buffered realms of a big company and running your own, share enough genetic markers on paper to be alike; but in the realworld, it’s like you and a sightless sea-urchin.

To my utter despair I’ve also watched as people of genius hand the business-end over to experts (read: recently escaped swaggering execs) so that they don’t have to be muddied by marketing, sales, admin and money. Which seems perfectly logical, but almost always ends in tears. We need to be involved in our enterprise on all levels (or at least understand how to check the reports) if it’s to be a success. It’s essential to bring in specialists to do things like our taxes, but to hand over the engine to someone else to remote control isn’t amongst the finest strategic move ascribed in biographies of the greats. But despite eons of creative geniuses handing down their stories, we still fall into the same sticky tarpit generation after generation.

Business can be terrifying, disheartening, overwhelming as a solo venture. But to do it with the fundamentals in place when it all starts shaking, the right people on speed-dial and having built-in back-up plans are all best practises that winning creative entrepreneurs have learned.

Who’s this program a best-fit for?

Business Acumen for Artists goes a long way to getting those elementals in place for:

  • those planning an escape
  • those bravely out there plying their creative trade but frustrated that they’re not doing as well as they should.
  • ..and also as a refresher masterclass for those already successful artists wanting to get a better idea of what opportunities they could be grabbing to strengthen their marketing [Dave Duarte will be leading 2 sessions on marketing with todays new tools! if nothing else, this is makes it worth it] or stretch into a global market [should you go PayPal? use an agent?].

The Essential Details:

  • It’s R 4995 for the 13 week programme, including personal mentorship (priceless)
  • You also need to be geographically right for this one: you need to be in Cape Town from the 30th Aug – 29th Nov 2010 (Monday eves from 6pm til 9pm – built in for those still with dayjob).
  • It’s held at UCT Graduate School of Business (right by the V&A Waterfront) with plenty of safe parking
  • The group can only work if the numbers are kept tight [which means that you will be held accountable for your development and working through your OWN business outcome to share at the final wrap celebration]. It’s for the quick and decisive. If you KNOW you need it, grab the opportunity.

If this sounds just right for you, or someone you know who’s a perfect match (and you’re in South Africa) text ART & your email address to 31497 or book online: If you prefer human contact give Mario a buzz on 021 406.1268 or mail him: to find out more or grab your place on the journey.


July 14, 2010