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How to Maximize Your Return on Art Workshop Investments

by JT Harding on 10/23/2009 9:25:41 AM

This post is by guest author, JT Harding.  This article has been edited and published with the author's permission. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

Strategies and Tactics on Making Art Workshops Work for You

Art workshops are a great way to sharpen your skills by learning new techniques - from both the workshop teacher and from the other students taking the class with you.  Workshops can also help you get reinvigorated and rededicated to your craft.  For instance, last year I took a portrait workshop that I credit for getting me back into painting and giving me the onfidence to become a full-time working artist.  Since then, I havenít let a quarter go by that I wasnít involved in a new workshop.

Whether you are an emerging, mid-career, or accomplished professional artist, workshops can fulfill your artistic development goals.  However, they do represent a significant investment of your time and money.  If you think of workshops as an investment in your abilities, the investment should provide a solid return.  That is why I want to give you some tips on how to leverage your workshop dollars to maximize this return.

First, letís look at the total cost of workshops (TCW), which is more than just the workshop fee.  Here is an example of the investment in a local 12-week workshop:
Workshop fee                  $499
Materials                        $250
Travel/Prep        1 hour round trip x 12 weeks = 12 hrs x $20/hr = $240 
Gas            $5 x 12 weeks = $60
Workshop time    3 hours x 12 weeks = 36 hrs x $20/hr = $720
Total costs                      $1,769

As you can see, the TCW of a $499 workshop is actually about $1,800.  And, if the workshop was out of state or in another country, your travel, meals, and lodging could easily double this figure.  Here are a few tactics to help you recoup your out-of-pocket expenses and leverage your time costs.

1. Ask for reference quotes from your teacher.

Every artist needs quality testimonials from collectors, galleries, commission clients, and peers.  They are priceless for building credibility.  And, since most teachers have achieved a ertain level of success, they make for great peer references.  I used the reference quote I just received from my latest workshop teacher in my promotional material including my website. 

2. Sell your workshop pieces.

After each workshop, I signed and photographed the piece, then uploaded it to both my personal and fan Facebook pages.  I also utilized my monthly eNewsletter to announce a sale of the still life studies done in my most recent workshop.  My sales from these methods paid for my workshop fee and I can reinvest this into my next workshop.

3. Use the Internet to leverage your experience.

Collectors like to see that your work is progressing, adding to the value of their investment.  That is why it makes sense to write about your experience.  I wrote one blog post about my color study workshop and I update it weekly to get people coming back again and again.  I also have written a press release for my website and I update my Facebook and Twitter accounts each week with links to the work at my website.  The cumulative result is more credibility, awareness, and website visits.

4. Network with workshop participants.

The other students in your workshop represent valuable networking opportunities. Get to know each one personally and learn how you can gain mutual benefit from each other.  For instance, one participant might be a stable artist in a reputable gallery and can get you an introduction to the owner.  In addition to the new skills youíll gain at your next workshop, using these strategies will help you leverage the workshop investment and take your career to that next level.  Happy learning!

Best Regards,

JT Harding | b. 1963
Sensual Realism


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Topics: Art Business | Painting Lessons | Productivity | Workshops 

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Sharon Weaver
Yikes! When you break it down that way, I am not sure I can ever afford another workshop. Just kidding. Every workshop I have done has sparked a real growth in my work but I can now see that I should take them much more seriously.
Point 1 References from the teacher- What a great idea. I wonder if I can go back to a few that I have done in the past and ask them now?
Point 2 Sell your workshop pieces.- Do I need to disclose that they were painted at a workshop to a buyer?
Thanks for writing about this subject.

Kathleen McDonnell
I have found that attending workshops on a regular basis has definitely improved my art work, allowed me to network with other artists and allowed me to appreciate other areas of the country. I am now focusing on one or two particular pastel masters who are similar in style. This seems to work the best for me.
I have not only been able to sell my pastels that I created at the workshops, but the pastels that I have completed in the following months have won National Awards.

JT Harding
I'm sure that you could go back and get a testimonial from previous instructors although it's best to get them while the instructor is involved with you and sees your improvement.

I haven't won any awards yet, but I continue to enter and my best works are usually after I assimilate and apply the knowledge from my latest workshop.

Clint Watson
Sharon - I don't think it would be necessary to disclose that a piece was painted at a workshop, after all, you still painted it.


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