Are You an Artrepreneur?

workshop series aimed at teaching business skills to artists

photos by Tom Giffey

IT’S A BIRD! “Lumiere Claire,” A 16-by-18-foot lantern created by Pam Rindo, was part of last year’s New Year’s Eve parade in downtown Eau Claire.
IT’S A BIRD! “Lumiere Claire,” A 16-by-18-foot lantern created by Pam Rindo, was part of last year’s New Year’s Eve parade in downtown Eau Claire.

Art and business may seem like very different realms, but finding success in either of them requires hard work, creativity, and the ability to market oneself successfully. This goes double when artists are businesspeople trying to support themselves with their creative endeavors.

UW-Eau Claire Continuing Education’s Artrepreneur program was conceived as a way to teach members of the Chippewa Valley’s burgeoning artistic community strategies to build their businesses, find funding, and connect with each other.

“It was really an evolution of an idea that sparked from having conversations with folks in the community,” said Hollie Moe, a program manager with UWEC Continuing Education. “Personally, my husband is an artist, so I certainly see the need for professional development support and business planning.”

Artists and creatives have what most brands crave – unlimited, interesting content. The time invested in marketing and social media will amplify the time spent creating the art. – Isaac Risseeuw, marketing consultant

Over the past year, the Artrepreneur program has offered three workshops and two “community conversations” addressing art and business topics. The next workshop on Thursday, Dec. 6, is titled “Marketing and Social Media for Artists.”

“It’s really a Marketing 101 crash course with the main objective to find the most efficient, cost-effective ways for artists to reach their goals,” explained Isaac Risseeuw, a marketing consultant who will teach the social media portion of the Dec. 6 workshop. “For social media, we’ll look at the different platforms and help the artists decide which they should utilize and what content they should be posting. We’ll also share the basics of how to use each site to make sure the artists’ social media presence is as professional as their art.”

Risseeuw, who previous managed social media at UW-Eau Claire and now has a similar job for the Minnesota Orchestra in Minneapolis, acknowledges that it can be a struggle for artists to balance time spent on social media with time spent making art. However, he said, with the right strategies a few hours a week can help grow an artist’s business.

“The goal is to maximize the return on their investment and put that back into their art,” he said. “Artists and creatives have what most brands crave – unlimited, interesting content. The time invested in marketing and social media will amplify the time spent creating the art.”

So which social media platforms should artists be using? Unsurprising, considering its ubiquity, Risseeuw recommends Facebook: People of every demographic are there, and artists usually already have personal experience there. Other platforms may vary based upon the kind of art an artist creates: For example, he said, visual artists may be best served using visually oriented services such as Pinterest and Instagram.

Another local marketing professional, Erin Trowbridge, will also serve as an instructor at the Dec. 6 workshop.

Eau Claire artist Pam Rindo – you may have seen her enormous, lighted Phoenix during last year’s New Year’s Eve parade in downtown Eau Claire – has attended several of the prior workshops. “The Artrepreneur program offerings seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to pursue some new goals,” she said. For example, previous sessions have taught her about what art galleries and businesses are looking for as well as the ins and outs of artist-in-residency programs. “Bringing people together of varying backgrounds and experience levels has also been a bonus,” Rindo added.

This kind of networking is an important goal of the program, Moe explained. It’s been particularly helpful for her husband, Andrew Johnson, who now gets together weekly with artists he met through the Artrepreneur program.

In the spring, four more Artrepreneur workshops are planned, all of them facilitated by artist CV Peterson: “Career Planning and Time Management for Creatives” on March 19, “Business Basics and Recordkeeping for Artists” on April 16, “Pricing Your Work” on May 21, and “The Artist Portfolio and Statement” on June 18.

“Marketing and Social Media for Artists,” the latest workshop in UW-Eau Claire Continuing Education’s Artrepreneur program, will be 10am-4pm Thursday, Dec. 6. The fee is $39. To learn more, call 715-836-3636 or visit ce.uwec.edu/programs/artrepreneur-marketing-and-social-media.

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