Book Review: Art, Inc.: The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist

I’ve been looking forward to reading Lisa Congdon’s book, Art, Inc.: The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist for a while now. I finally got it out of my “To Read” queue and read it cover to cover this past week.

It all starts with the “Thriving Artist” mindset

Lisa Congdon brings her experience as a working artist to bear in her book, Art Inc. The book begins with the very important step of getting into to the right mindset to be an artist in business. A lot of artists unnecessarily adopt beliefs and worldviews that hinders their chance at business success before they even begin (Good art markets itself. Having no money and suffering for my art makes me a better artist). Lisa wisely begins her book by addressing these beliefs and discusses how you shift from the “starving artist” mindset into a “thriving artist” mindset. She also outlines strategies to help the working artist stay in this new mindset, how to nurture their creative voice, and how to carve out time for their art each day.

Only after building this mental foundation does Lisa go into the mechanics of building a career as a working artist. Art Inc gives a general overview of how to address the legal tasks of beginning a new business, the importance of branding, marketing, and promotion. She also touches on the nitty gritty of necessary business tasks such as keeping up with financials and documenting and organizing your artwork. In the marketing and promotion section she gives a quick rundown into writing an artist’s bio, social media, some tips on developing a website and blog, and how to build a marketing plan.

From marketing Lisa goes on to the task of selling where she devotes entire chapters on creating and selling reproductions of your artwork. If you’ve been curious about the process, Lisa outlines both the do-it-yourself and the professional process in Chapter 4. In Chapter 5, she focuses on building relationships and working with galleries and the process of exhibiting your work. In Chapter 6, she dives into the world of illustration and licensing and explores the various ways an artist can make their living through illustration projects and licensing their work. In the final chapter, she gives advice on handling downtime, avoiding burnout, and achieving a balance between your work and personal life.

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Artist interviews gives more valuable insight

One of the things I found most valuable in Art Inc were the artist interviews interspersed throughout the book. Each chapter featured an interview from a working artist such as Nikki McClure, Mark Hearld, Julie Schneider, and Esther Pearl Watson. Each interview began with a brief story of how each artist started their businesses and they all provided some valuable tidbit that you can use in developing your own art career. I especially enjoyed the advice from artist Dolan Geiman on the importance of people connecting with your story as an artist and how to develop a story even if you think you don’t have one.

Bottom line…

Art Inc gives you an overview of what you need to do and consider when building a career as an artist. While much of the information can be used by any artist, the main focus of the book is for 2D artists, especially in the areas of drawing, painting, and illustration.

Also, if you’re past the beginning stages of your business, you may find some of the starting up information a bit basic. However, you may find some great bits in the book on how to organize your art and ideas on marketing. You will also find some inspiration from the various artist interviews throughout the book. If you’ve been thinking about going into illustration and licensing, the chapter addressing those two issues will be highly useful. There’s also a handy list of resources in the back of the book where you’ll find links to conferences, professional organizations, website building services, printers, trade shows, and the links to the websites of the artists featured in the book.

Where to find it

You can find Art Inc on Amazonor at Barnes & Noble. You can find out more about Lisa Congdon on her website and blog. In addition to her book she also offering a new e-course called “I Am An Artist: Taking Charge of Your Path to a Thriving Career” from January 8th through the 10th.

If you’ve signed up for 12 Days of Goodies, you’ll have a chance to win this book as this week’s drawing will be for Art Inc. If you haven’t signed up you can sign up or learn more about the giveaway here.

Art Inc gives you an overview of what you need to do and consider when building a career as an artist. If you’re just starting your art career or business or you want to learn more about becoming an illustrator or licensing your work, give this book a try.

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