I started following Chris Guillebeau’s blog a couple of years ago and became a fan of his Unconventional Guides and his mission to travel every country in the world. When he wrote The Unconventional Guide to Art + Money, I was excited to read his perspective. He is a full-time freelance writer and traveler, so I believe he knows all about being self-employed and working in an independent, alternative way, but what about as a visual artist? I had to find out.
I came into his ebook already having an art and marketing background and had helped other artists create portfolios, build their careers and publish books and lots more, so I wasn’t sure how much new information I would learn, but liking his work, I thought it was worth a shot. I’m glad I did. I will tell you upfront that I get to go pick up a new paint brush if you decide to invest in his guide, so thank you in advance. I only link up with work I have read, bought and would give to my friends. Chris’s work is one of them.
How is This Guide Different?
I’ve gone through stacks of books, lists, guides, how-to’s on art business and I find most are full of very general, common sense ideas that – if you are looking for real tools, usually get you no further than where you started.
This guide, from the first section, jumps into well researched information that you can use: Background statistics of how many students are graduating with art-related degrees and ready to enter the market (30,000 each year (’09) in the US alone), dispels myths, gives real world examples, tips on selling, pricing, SEO, social media, link for web designer and includes offline examples as well. He’s done a lot of the hard research, that if you spent lots of hours online – away from creating – you could probably pull together and even print my action plan article, but in this guide, it’s done. What I really like are the comparisons and pros and cons of each tool – not just from his perspective, but from working artists that he includes in the guide.
The list of artist he interviewed are impressive and are all hard working, out of the box creatives. The extra MP3’s and transcripts of interviews with theses successful, professional artists are a huge bonus. Hearing what is really working for an artist, direct from them, is always so helpful and learning another way of approaching the business side of art is invaluable these days when you constantly have to either reinvent yourself or find the tool you just learned yesterday is already obsolete today!
The offline areas of information include newsletters and payment processing – so much, that this guide could probably double in size (it’s stuffed at 50 full pages after the intro). You won’t see any details on specific media or how to get into a gallery. It’s a guide to be a renegade artist and take your career into your own hands.
What I Liked Best
What I liked best about this guide was the steps to figure out your priorities, then an action plan and map that walks you through personalizing all of the tools for your own type of visual arts career and making a long term plan that works. There is no magic formula, it takes work to make a living, but if a visual arts or creative career is your passion, this is a guide you will refer to over and over again.
What Would I Do Differently?
I’d create a check list to go through all the information that you digest from the outline and map. Then, make it into a full length book – there is so much information in there, that each could be expanded. Use it as a the tool it is to get pointed in the right direction, stop wasting time on things that don’t work and put action steps into place right now so you begin to see your career change for the better.
Get the guide. After you read the guide, please jump back here and comment on what you liked about it, how it helped you and what you would change in it to help other artists.
If you want to email me and go through any steps or get my feedback in more depth, I’m happy to hear from you. (Send me a message at creative tempo blog at gmail dot com)
P.S. If you’re interested in a freelance writing career, Chris has lots of great tips and free guides on his site to check out, so give him a visit!
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