There has been a growing discussion among academics and the art community about the failure of many college arts programs to encourage budding young artists to take business classes such as basic accounting or marketing. And yet the expectation of these college programs is that the students will go out on their own and create a successful career as an independent artist. What ends up happening is that many an artist is never able to make a career as an artist, not because they don’t have the talent, but they do not have the knowledge of how to run a business.
Part of this is the belief among artists that their art should not be monetized–that somehow speaking of monetary value cheapens what the artist is trying to achieve. Their art is their passion and an expression of themselves, and talk of money tarnishes their souls. Yet the two do not have to be so diametrically opposed. In this essay in the Art Law Journal, the author explains how the artist and the entrepreneur actually have a great deal in common and that artists should embrace their entrepreneurial spirit instead of shunning it. (It is worth reading through, despite the many grammatical errors.)
The author makes some very compelling arguments concerning the entrepreneurial spirit of artists. But spirit is not quite enough. Budding young artists need to have an education in business basics and not just art history and art techniques. They need to have the classes that will help them to be a business. Change in academic thinking and theory can be slow. But hopefully colleges and universities will re-think their approach to how they train young artists and instead provide them the tools that will help them to be successful.