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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 haven't let a quarter go by that I wasn't 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, let's 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
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 you'll 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!
JT Harding | b. 1963