Professionalize Your Studio Practice with Business Training – Cristina DiChiera

RISCA, Mass Moca, Brown University

Increasingly, artists are being asked to professionalize their art business, but as Cristina DiChiera so aptly recognizes, “In some instances, combining arts and business can be putting a square peg in a round hole,” but it doesn’t have to be with the right resources and training.

In this hour-long interview, Cristina talks about her career creating and implementing business workshops for artists with the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and Mass MOCA, and her recent shift to Visual Arts Development Manager at Brown University. She underscores the importance of tapping resources at the local level through arts councils, professionalizing business practices, and incorporating them into studio time. With the advent of technology and the internet, it has never been easier or more imperative that artists take full advantage of the resources available to them and craft an art business that is sustainable through their artworks sold. She also gave us insights into using crowdfunding as a marketing and fundraising tool and how to choose between grants, competitions, and residencies.

Advice for our Business Accelerator Program on how to run a good business workshop for artists:

  • Glean topics from artists themselves
  • Understand the artist’s’ goals
  • Give good overview of the topic/overwhelming overview (make it brief)
  • Tease out each person strength – suggest areas where they can start to run their own affairs
  • Respect the time of participants – want to see artists succeed
  • Service providers are responsible to provide value in our workshops
  • Arts organizations as a tool for artists to up their business game
  • Learn more about CHF’s Business Accelerator Program and how you can participate.

Artists and organizations are increasing their awareness for business training:

  • Increased ease of usability for social platforms
  • Artists have an increased capability to be their own marketing engine
  • Evolution in business to incorporate a more creative approach
  • Arts have started to change the way we perceive and understand business
  • Artist’s approach problems in a different way that others might not consider – this is a benefit
  • Museums vs. Arts Councils

Technology as a catalyst in this shift toward business:

  • More flexibility to manage their own affairs
  • Artist as marketer and business person
  • Relationships shift between artist and collector
  • Relationships shift between artist and gallery

Uniqueness of the art professional:

  • Their business and products are a deep reflection of themselves
  • Customers are intrigued by the artist, their background, and the details of their process
  • The actual work is about connection with an audience and building their market

Making crowdfunding productive:

  • Set attainable financial goals
  • To succeed, the artist must dedicate a specific period of time to promote the project
  • An artist should think of it as a challenge to connect with people, tell their story, and get an audience excited about the project.
  • Crowdfunding as a step toward becoming marketing savvy

Grants, competitions, and residencies – how to choose?

  • Applying for competitions, grants, and fellowships should be a part of an artist’s professional practice.
  • Residencies are about “getting out of your current environment to dedicate your time to your artwork”
  • Buyer beware: “Some online entries could ask you for proprietary, they might ask you for ownership, that when you win their little award, they have full access and rights to your images…”

How to Sell More Art

Sell More Art

Sign up (free) for an introductory course for professional artists: Sales Strategies for Growth.

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Daniel DiGriz
Daniel DiGriz is Director of Audience Development & Educational Programming. He's co-founder of enterprise consulting firm Free Agent Source Inc.. He is Corporate Storyteller and Digital Ecologist® at MadPipe which provides sales enablement and campaign direction to various firms. His background in Fortune 500 life is in sales, education, and technology. Daniel is a musician, storyteller, and karateka. His personal website is

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