I was pondering the investment required for my one-on-one artist consulting and coaching services. Recently it has been suggested to me that the cost of these services are too low for the value that’s provided. Although every one of my artist clients is different, and so are their results, most artists increase their sales to cover the fee during the time we’re working together. If they don’t, artists can see clearly how they will increase their sales the near future.
This got me thinking and I decided to examine the current annual cost of the fine art education that I received. I attended the Cleveland Institute of Art, established in 1882, a prestigious member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design. This year the annual tuition is $47,780! The investment for my services? They’re a small fraction of the current annual tuition.
In 1987, the bachelors program I attended required five years. I can’t imagine taking on that investment of money and time at this point in my life without a clear path to success in mind. But for those students who have, I wish them the very best. Because the odds are not good, even with the finest education from a prestigious art school.
Part of the artist dropout is simply unavoidable but tragically much of this is avoidable. Even the very best art schools do not adequately prepare their graduates for the realities of the art market. If a student wants to become, and remain, a professional artist they’re going to have to make an additional investment. That is an investment of time, money, and effort in learning and applying business and marketing principles to their art career, or rather, their art “business.” If there’s no employer involved, we’re talking about a business, not a career.
I’ve said before that I believe that becoming a top artistic talent is much more of a challenge than learning about marketing and the business of art. Evidence of this abounds. We see mediocre talent in the art and music industries everyday. What’s happening? A lot of mediocre does well when it is effectively targeted to a well-defined market.
Besides instruction, just think of what we must invest in art supplies, photography, framing, or show fees, etc. Now why is it that are we not investing more in our businesses?