How Education Begets Inspiration, Even in a Pandemic

CHF’s art business training is on-target professional development As the COVID-19 crisis has shoved huge parts of our lives online in one abrupt thrust, education has been no exception. Lifelong learning is an art in and of itself, as it has always been, and it’s as important for adult professionals as anyone else. That’s why CHF’s virtualized art-business training program for artists was already prepared for the “new normal.”

Our Digital Campus strives to equip artists with the entrepreneurial skills they need to develop and market their businesses successfully. This kind of education has always been relevant because visual artists function as small business owners. Now more than ever, business know-how is essential in order to stay upright on 2020’s unsteady feet.

The program stems from one of CHF’s core beliefs: that an artist’s success boils down to their combination of skills and confidence. Elizabeth Hulings, CHF’s Executive Director, advocates building artists’ knowledge and experience, arguing that then confidence will flourish. CHF’s business training program teaches artists the hard and soft skills needed to set oneself up for success in an ever-changing market.

A Practical Model That Puts Artists’ Needs First

Most readily-available advice about how to succeed in virtual education is vague at best, impossible to follow at worst. Internet articles abound with conflicting tips like “stick to a schedule” and “be flexible,” or idealistic suggestions like “designate a separate, quiet study space and work alone.” CHF’s Digital Campus provides the resources to learn on your own schedule, allowing artists the flexibility they need to uphold their other responsibilities. This model is especially functional for artists who are juggling one or multiple commitments, or who have to sort out childcare or elder care.

We understand that the fact of having other time-bound responsibilities doesn’t have to hold you back from developing your business, and we know that setting an unnecessarily strict schedule for your studies can cause burnout. As we provide a well-rounded training in business skills for artists, we respect the importance of rest in developing resilience.

Community Matters, Always

A 2011 study found that the most effective way to integrate technology into learning, such as providing lectures via video, is to combine it with face-to-face learning experiences. Under normal circumstances, CHF does exactly this by running a variety of in-person conferences that provide business training for artists. But in the era of COVID-19, online communication seems to be the closest we can get.

Fortunately, our Digital Campus welcomes artists into the CHF Thriving Art Exchange community, where they can pose questions, offer insight to each other, network, and more, in ways that maximize their education. As British researcher Megan Louise Wakefield writes, “Informal conversation is a vital site of learning and a catalyst for practice and peer critique.” Not only does the CHF digital community enable and encourage such conversation, but it also allows artists to surround themselves with other artists, a factor that Wakefield found to be particularly valuable: artists are more likely to grow when their peer community is composed of other artists.

Tailoring Learning to the Learner

In a world where opportunities exist on such unlevel playing fields, a low-cost online course widens access to the important knowledge that drives the next generation of leaders and creators. The ideal academic environment, one that is truly accessible, teaches to a variety of learning styles. At CHF, our programming works toward this end by featuring individual projects, peer reviews, videos, and other activities that frame the material in a variety of ways for a variety of kinds of learners.

While a learning community and a creatively-designed curriculum both help digital learners succeed, there is also extensive research that demonstrates the importance of strong leadership: self-directed learners perform better under the guiding influence of supportive advisors or tutors. To that end, our program offers the opportunity to participate in office hours and standalone sessions with instructors. Our Campus enables strategic learning by helping artists set goals and then reverse-engineer the steps needed to get there, making it easy to keep track of one’s growth.

Knowledge + Confidence = Success

CHF’s Digital Campus shines as a gold standard for digital training, and it is designed specifically with the thriving artist in mind. When artists feel comfortable navigating their market, their confidence grows, fostering the internal motivation that drives their creativity. Therefore, the responsibility falls to education to nurture artists’ confidence and inspiration, and provide a roadmap for a sustainable career.

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Eli Sobel
Eli is a senior at Tufts University studying Film and Media Studies and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Eli's main passion is in writing of all kinds.

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