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Why Being an Artist is Harder than Being in Other Industries

What makes the art industry distinct from other industries? How does this create distortion in our industry? How does Netvvrk, the membership program I run, offer a correction to this problem?

Every other industry works like this: You create a product that responds to a customers needs or desires, and you sell that product at a price that pays for your labor and reflects what the market will bear. The fine art industry works like this: You create a completely individualized and idiosyncratic work of art, with exorbitant labor costs and little relationship to what a customer wants. Then you give it a price point that exceeds what most people in your income bracket can afford. You already know this. You also know that you can't succeed if you treat the industry as completely different than others. It's unique, yes. But if you decide you don't need to set goals, identify ideal viewers, and communicate clearly about your art, you'll never gain enough visibility to secure the commissions, grants, and shows of your dreams. You also can't succeed if you treat the industry the same as any other. If you treat your business the same as selling shoes, you're not going to be talking to your ideal viewers, and no one will take you seriously and you won't be able to secure the commissions, grants, and shows of your dreams. (A good example of this is artists who sign up for services that offer templated social media advice based on what works for other industries, and claim this will ensure you'll sell stuff.) So, how do you get what you want? In the art world, it's all about relationships. Relationships bring us opportunities and connect us to the people we need to meet to advance our careers.

That's why I started netvvrk, which is a business networking site for mid-career artists that offers professional development services so you can leverage the network you're a part of. Our members have shaped netvvrk. It's built on generosity and kindness, and propelled by the seriousness of our members.

Head over to and use the code ILYW20 to get $20 off your first month of your membership of Netvvrk, a business networking and professional development training designed to support artists who want to get more shows, residencies, and grants.

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