by Johannes Madsen
In my journey to 'start my own thing', I discovered entrepreneurship as the method to make a product, find the customer, set up a company, distribute the product and get a return on the investment you put in. I found out that having a good product isn't all it takes to have a successful product. In the same sense, being a great artist is more than being good at making artwork.
The greatest artists are the ones who have found a unique and innovative way to:
- Promote and present their artwork
- Offer new value to the audience
- Distribute and monetize their artwork
In the previous article in this series, I wrote about how an entrepreneurial mindset might apply to being an artist. We introduced the term 'Artrepreneurship' to describe the practice of realising your artwork in innovative new ways amplifying the value of your existing artwork by working around it.
In this article we will look more closely at specific types of innovation and how they apply to real life artrepreneurship.
10 Types of Innovation
The term 'innovation' simply means to do something in a new way that unlocks new value in some form.
Entrepreneurship is very much focused on having a structured approach to come up with new ideas that create value or innovations. One powerful tool used to get an overview over the different areas of innovation is 'Doblin's Ten Types Of Innovation'. We are going to look at how this can be applied to being an artist.
1. Finance - Businessmodel
How does your product make money or what is the value exchange with your audience?
2. Network and Affiliation
Are you partnering or collaborating with someone in order to make your artwork faster, better or cheaper?
How is your studio set up? Does your workspace enable you to make your artwork efficiently?
4. Core process
How do you create your artwork? Are you using the best methods and techniques to achieve what you want and make the process fun?
5. Product performance
What is your artwork able to do? What are the remarkable features of your artwork?
6. Product system
What context does your artwork fit into? Is your work part of a series?
How do you offer your audience or customers value beyond the artwork itself?
How are you delivering your artwork to your audience?
How do you communicate your identity and what is remarkable about your work?
10. Customer experience
How does your audience feel about the experience you are providing them?
When this tool was created, they looked at what type of innovation companies used the most and what types of innovation typically generated most value.
Most companies focus on making their products better, but it turns out that that isn't where the most value is generated.
When a company finds innovative ways of branding and delivering an existing product it might amplify the value of that product and ultimately make more money for the company.
The lesson smart companies learned from this is to think beyond the product.
I believe the same is true for artists.
We tend to put so much time and effort into making a better, more technically advanced piece of artwork, but that doesn't always lead to a larger audience, more income or a better experience of your art.
As artists we need to think beyond the artwork and having the 10 types of innovation in mind is a great way to make sure that you get more out of the art you have already made.
In the next few articles in this series we will explore each type of innovation in-depth and how it relates to specific types of artists. For now, let's look at a case of a true artrepreneur who has incorporated many types of innovation in their artistic vision.
Case study: Shepard Fairey the Artrepreneur
Love him or hate him, almost everyone has heard about Shepard Fairey or seen his iconic pieces of artwork. His style is simple and easy to copy, but that has only helped his artwork reach a global audience.
As an inside joke he made a stencil of André the giant and painted it around his town. He invited others to do the same and inspired a global cultural movement of sorts that has now grown in to successful clothing line.
Shepard Faiery didn't just get technically better at making his artwork - he put it in interesting ways, made a simple process people could copy, created an experience and story around the artwork.
He puts his artwork next to advertising to put it into question. This tells a story and contributes to the 'customer' experience. The placement of the artwork makes the art more than had it been seen by itself. This is an innovative way of delivering the artwork that amplifies the effectiveness of it.
Consider the 10 types of innovation and how Shepard Faiery is using each area to make more out of his artwork
Shepard Fairey interview part 1
It seems that Shepard considers the reactions to his artwork and the cultural impact of it as much as making a beautiful piece of artwork. The placement and message of his work makes it into something much more than if it had stood on it's own.
The artwork itself is just one piece in a bigger whole.
"A Lot of artists want to be the mysterious person behind the curtain I actoually want to demystify and say here are these simple tools go out and rock it!" - Shepard Fairey
Shepard Faiery's open attitude empowered a movement. Many artists fear that sharing their techniques will mean giving away their trade secrets yet it has seemed to work very well for Shepard Faiery.
He blends the two opposing worlds of rebelling against 'big brother' and making money.
He discusses the challenges of working commercially as and still having integrety as an artist saying that a lot of artists have this fear that if they do commercial work will make them sell out in the eyes of their peers. An attitude that doesn't support a sustainable life as an artist.
Shepard Fairey interview part 2
Shepard Fairey talks about how he is evolving his style but still uses certain repeated icons through his work to create a continual experience. One of his pieces of work will fit with a series of other works he has made.There will be a thread going through his street art, paintings and clothing products that he sells.His way of making a business is challanging the convensional way of doing artwork and of doing business.Had he kept his method and techniques to himself, his artwork would never have grown the way it did.[hr]
It is safe to say that Shepard Fairey's work has had a long reach. He has figured out how to make a living from what he does and he has done it by thinking creatively about how he uses his artwork.
I hope this inspires you to take your art farther. Hiding your artwork in the closet isn't honoring your work.
Striving to make money as an artist isn't something bad but essential to free you up to do what you love.
For more on artepreneurship check out our article Being an Artepreneur