Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


Tuesday’s Business: Define Your Art

Last week we discussed writing goals as part of your business or dream into action plan. This week the focus is on defining your art.

As artists we often find ourselves working in many mediums; we like a little collage, we like wire, we like fabric and fiber, beads, paints, etc, etc. Bruce Baker has a great term for this: “Multiple Artist Disease” (MAD). However, when it comes to defining yourself and your art for the purposes of a business plan, all these multiple interests can make it confusing…for you and your customers. Defining your art requires focus.

Two things prompted me to start writing my business plan. The realization that I had to distinguish between my two lines of art and conversations with a friend who is also trying to find the next direction to take in her business. I had a few “a-ha” moments for myself during that conversation.

What does it mean to define your art? It means you are using words to stand in for your art when a visual isn’t readily available. Words help reach people (your potential customers and collectors). Words also help you to define yourself before someone else does.

When you define your art, you (hopefully) convey a clear, consistent message that makes marketing much easier. It can also help you focus on your target market. And if you haven’t determined who your target market is, defining your art may help you to realize who you need to target.

We’ve all been in situations where someone asks “What do you do?” Sometimes you can get away with saying “I make art.” Sometimes the listener will ask additional questions; sometimes they don’t. Perhaps you say “I throw pots” which may result in allegedly funny retorts. Then you find you have to explain and clarify what you meant.

So you can see why you need to be clear in your message.

The easiest way to begin to define your art is to take out a piece of paper or open a blank Word document and start writing all the words, phrases, and terms that come to mind when you think about your art. Here are some additional prompts:

Describe the size, subject matter, color, materials or medium, and inspiration used to create your art.

Think about the price range for your art.

What new bodies of work have you created? How about new products or services?

Do you know what sells best and why?

Now look at all the words and phrases and begin to craft a definition of your art.

Here is my first attempt from two years ago at defining my art:

I create small to medium scale mixed media home decor items with Asian and Celtic elements that sell for $20.00 to $150.00.

I guess that wasn’t a bad attempt. However, I was not very descriptive about the exact “home decor” items. And therein lies a bit of a catch. Do you leave your description a little vague so as to prompt (possibly) additional questions by the listener? This may not be a negative if you are speaking to someone; yet if it is going into a business plan, you may want to be more specific to give yourself a solid foundation from which to work.

Here is my current definition of my art:

Moonroom Crafts creates functional and fine mixed media art inspired by the world, ranging in size from 2″ to 2 feet that sells for $20.00 to $600.00.

It is still a little vague and I’m still working on separating Moonroom Crafts (functional art) from Amy A. Crawley (fine art). How does this sound:

Moonroom Crafts creates wine bottle stoppers, business card cases and perfume pens that sell for $20.00 to $35.00.

Inspired by world cultures, Amy A. Crawley creates spirit messengers and icons, in sizes from 2″ to 2 feet, that sell for $20.00 to $600.00.

Okay, I’m starting to like that. These definitions may change, expand, or contract over time but I’m pretty comfortable with these two statements.

Now you give it a try. How do you define your art?

Next Week: Know thy competition.