As I’ve been fine-tuning the new business of ArtOrder, I’ve been having tons of conversations with artists about what it means to be a creative entrepreneur. By definition, a creative entrepreneur is someone that sets up a business, or is self employed, in one of the creative industries. The focus of a creative entrepreneur differs from that of the typical entrepreneur in that they are first and foremost concerned with the creation and exploration of creative or intellectual capital. If that definition baffles you, then just consider it in it’s simplest terms - you use talent to create and sell a product.
But what about that phrase “exploit”. Often the term leaves a nasty taste in most of our mouths, but that shouldn’t be the case. “Exploit” really just means to make full use of, or derive the most benefit from a resource. The majority of the artist I have been working with tend to think of what they do in a one-to-one transaction model. I create a piece of art work, and I sell the rights for that art work to a client. While this is a fine business model, if we look at the concept of “exploiting” our creativity, we can start having conversations about maximizing our income from a given creative “asset”.
Let’s talk about six ways to exploit your creativity…
Use “personal work” to inspire IP creations that you can own.
Personal work, much like the idea of exploitation, is often a concept that is not well understood as a vehicle for amazing growth - both creativity and financially. Personal work is where we get to take chance, where we aren’t shackled by deadlines and art descriptions, where we can afford to make mistakes without the fear of losing clients. In short, personal work is where we have the greatest opportunity to create something new, innovative and something we can own. Personal work and be the starting place for a new creative empire!
Don’t sell something once, sell it as often as possible
Too often we get caught up in the supply and demand idea of creativity. You want a piece of art, I make you a piece of art, I sell you the rights for the piece of art…. While that is great for bringing money into the old bank account, it means that you have to keep producing in order to create more income. If you want to really exploit your creativity, then you want to explore the concept of creating a single creative asset and using it to generate multiple streams of income. This can be as simple as creating a work of art and selling it through licensing deals, prints, art books, puzzles, plush toys, apparel, etc..
One idea shouldn’t = one product. Take a concept across as many products as possible
In case you missed it in the previous section, let me repeat this again - you can take a single creative idea and spread it across multiple products. Did you design a awesome little dragon character? Are your fans loving it? Give it to them in as many was as you can.
Know your demographic and create a collection or products that allow them to express their love of you or your IP through out there life - don’t constrain their enthusiasm to a single product category like a tee or print.
When I’m consulting a creative on ways to exploit their idea, one of the first places we start to look is their core fan base, and all the ways the express their fandom - apparel, accessories, books, collectables, household goods, toys, etc.. Then we start looking at how we can create goods that allow their fans to express their fandom in all the ways they would like.
Collaborate with other creatives that bring new skills, new audiences, and new markets to the mix
One of the most fruitful collaborations I have seen is when to creatives, from different industries, get together and create something bigger than the individuals. Whether that is a writer and illustrator teaming up to self-publish a picture book, launch a line of associated plush toys, and introduce their fans to a line of kids clothing that reflects the IP; or a game designer, writer, illustrator and designer teaming up to create an amazing new table top game, with a spin-off graphic novel, a line of casual wear tees and hoodies for their fans and even pulling together a pitch document for a indie film studio. it doesn’t really matter what you are creating, it is the idea that you get a group of folks together that have unique skills to bring to bear on the project. They also have the ability to bring together a larger fan base by drawing upon all of their collective fan bases, and thus dramatically increasing their initial audience for their products.
Find experts that can help you create anything you can dream up.
Does all of this feel a little overwhelming? Sure, it’s exciting, but how do you start? How do you get the product created? How do you know you are getting a good deal or the best quality for your money? How can you pay for your development or get it distributed into various sales channels? Find yourself an expert! And in a glorified plug, I want to ask you to consider us.
ArtOrder works hard to fulfill the role of expert for creatives looking to take an idea from the back of a napkin to the hands of a consumer. We are a full service career and IP development company - where we can help you walk through the process of bringing your dreams to life. Wanna know more? Sign up for a FREE initial consultation to talk about your ideas or project.
Bringing over 30 years of creative industry experience to bear on issues that matter to creatives.