The Art of the Business

A blog dedicated to artists who are serious about their business.

Check Out My New Home! October 25, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:02 am

As of October 25, 2010, I have a new blog/website. It’s green and chocolate, and has been called “a petite-four with brains.”

All of the posts from this blog are there. Plus other stuff. Cool stuff. New stuff.

So check it out:

PS. I’m still sorting out how to transfer the RSS feed from the old blog to the new one, but if you want to just head over there and subscribe to my feed, that’s cool, too.


YouSendIt September 30, 2009

Filed under: Tools,Uncategorized — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:17 am
Tags: ,

Today, in my second of a week’s worth of technical tools and websites that make my life easier, I’m introducing you to YouSendIt.

In my line of work, I sometimes have to send or recieve really big files: photos for newspapers that are 300 dpi and videos are the two main main ones. These files are too big to send via email (which, for my email program, is pretty much anything over 10 MB). In the past, I would have had to have the person burn the file to a disc, and then meet up with them to do a physical exchange.

YouSendIt ( is the alternative. It is an FTP (file transfer protocol) program. Essentially, you upload your file to a secure server. YouSendIt then sends me an email with a link to download the file, which I do.

YouSendIt offers a free, “lite” version, where you are able to send/receive files up to 100 MB. If you are a videographer, photographer or graphic designer, you may want to upgrade to the paid versions, but for my needs, the free version works just fine.

YouSendIt also offers plugins for programs like Final Cut, Photoshop and Corel Draw, so you can directly upload your files from those programs.

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On Vacation July 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rebecca Coleman @ 2:55 am


E-book reviews July 20, 2009

Filed under: E-book,Uncategorized — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:55 am
Tags: ,

On June 21, I launched my first e-book: Guide to Getting Started with Social Media for Artists and Arts Organizations.Rebecca_ebook_12

I wanted to share with you some of the things that other people are saying about it.

From Simon Ogden, The Next Stage:

It’s a simple and well-organized handbook to help you cut through the noise and weirdness of the jungle that is the new way to market. This is a jungle that all businesses, from huge multi-level corporations on down to our little indie theatre troupes have to learn to navigate now. This book is a wonderful resource, and you’re in good hands with Bex as your tour guide.

From Maryann Devine, smArts and Culture:

Here’s what I really like about Rebecca’s book:

She doesn’t assume that you’re a marketing expert. Before she tells you how to create your social media plan, she clues you in on some marketing basics. Like lots of other nonprofit cultural staffers, you may not be the marketing director, but you may still be charged with promoting arts programming. Rebecca gets this, and gives you a bit of a primer.

She doesn’t assume you’re a social media expert. After an overview of social networking, Rebecca takes you step-by-step through the process of setting up a blog, Facebook page, twitter account, and more.

She doesn’t leave you hanging when the book is through. Instead of just handing out advice and saying “The End,” Rebecca includes detailed worksheets that walk you through the process of social media planning, and instruct you on setting up and maintaining specific social networking channels.

From Erin Raimondo, One Degree:

The originality here lies in the well thought out worksheet section. While most ebooks on the topic have suggestions, Getting Started literally gets you started, even for those no background whatsoever in marketing. A great little starter kit!

The book is available at two prices: $19.95 for just the book alone, and $29.95 for the book plus an individualized, half-hour consultation with me (which is a value of $25 on its own!). Both versions include an MP3 version and unlimited free updates. Oh–and a money-back guarantee.

There are two purchasing options:

  1. Book alone: $19.95
  2. Book plus an individual, 1/2 hr consultation via email, telephone, or Skype (a $25 value!): $29.95

Click here to buy.

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“But I don’t have time for social networking!” April 4, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:28 am

From an interview on Groundswell with Guy Kawasaki (by Josh Bernoff):

You blog, you twitter, you’re good at it. How do you answer people who say “I’m too busy to do all that stuff.” Should they learn to do it, or give up and watch from the sidelines?

Here an analogy: Would you go to Tiger Woods and say, “You sure practice and play a lot of golf. How do you find the time?” Tiger is in the business of playing golf. I am in the business of marketing, and marketing means getting out there by blogging and tweeting.

This isn’t about making friends, updating them on my feelings and life, and letting them know that my cat rolled over. If you wanted to play golf professionally, would you ask Tiger if you should learn the game or watch from the sidelines? What do you think he’d say? If you want to use social media for marketing, you need to approach it as a business skill like any other business skill.

Follow @guykawasaki on Twitter

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World Theatre Day: the afterglow… April 2, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized,World Theatre Day — Rebecca Coleman @ 12:42 pm

Wow. What a ride it’s been.

It all started a few weeks back, as I was starting prep work for doing publicity for our local Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Associations’ World Theatre Day celebrations. I thought–Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to make this year’s March 27 WTD celebration truly international? So, I put some stuff out there, and with encouragement, started the World Theatre Day blog as a place where theatre artists from all over the world could connect with each other wtd-avatar2_glowover World Theatre Day.

Then I started Twittering it, and, in a word, it snowballed. Many theatre artists who had never even heard of WTD started getting on board, and before I knew it, we were an international team of facilitators having virtual planning meetings on a semi-regular basis. My more technically-literate compatriots helped to move the blog to its own domain to make it easier to find, rejigged the design, and added the Tumblr feed to make it really easy for peeps to send us their photos and videos.

People started planning their celebrations. The Mayor of Chicago officially proclaimed March 27 World Theatre Day. We got the blessing of the ITI. Australia planned a flash mob. Brazil planned a political demonstration. The NY Neofuturists put out the call for Twitter plays.

Not everything worked out just right. Our local Vancouver celebrations were not well attended, due in part to the Junos being held that same weekend. The Guardian in London wrote about WTD disparagingly. Oh–and I was violently ill on March 27, due to a bug my son brought home from school.

Here’s a rundown of my fave WTD things:

As I write this, my heart feels very full. I love the theatre. It has been my passion for the past twenty years. And being able to share that passion, the joy, the transformative power of theatre with the world has been a huge gift to me.

A very special shout-out to the amazing team of international superheros that made it all happen: Jessica Hutchinson and Nick Keenan in Chicago, Travis Bedard in Austin, Kate Foy in Brisbane, Andrew Eglinton in London, and Simon Ogden, Lois Dawson and Trilby Jeeves here in Vancouver.

I will leave you with this thought: at our last virtual planning meeting, someone used the term “cracking the egg” to describe what we were doing this year. And it’s true–this year we cracked it, next year, we will break that puppy wide open, and make some really tasty omelets!

Here’s to World Theatre Day, March 27, 2010. It’s going to rock!

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Future Finances, Part 3: Insurance November 17, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rebecca Coleman @ 9:29 pm

In this, the third and final installment of Future Finances, I continue my conversation with Shelley, who is a financial planner with Investor’s Group. This post deals with personal insurance.

TAoTB: I’m self-employed.  What kind of personal insurance should I consider having?

S: There are four: Disability Coverage, which covers your income in case you get sick, Critical Illness, which covers you in case you get a debilitating illness, Long Term Care Insurance, and Life Insurance.

TAoTB: But I work from home. Why do I need disability coverage?

S: Because more than 65% of people will become disabled for up to 3 years in their working lives.There are many types of disability – from a slip and fall that breaks a bone to the diagnosis of a critical illness.  There are just as many types of insurance to cover these instances.

Disability insurance can cover your expenses for a period of time depending on what kind of insurance coverage you have.  If you don’t pay into EI or WCB, you can’t collect those.  Let me share my story with you:

A number of years ago I was working as the Business Manager for Theatre M.O.M.  A few months after starting with MOM, I noticed my hands/wrists would feel quite sore and fatigued at the end of the day.  One day, I was emptying my dishwasher and dropped a mug.  I didn’t have enough tensile strength to hold onto a mug.  This was a problem.  I went to my doctor that afternoon and she told me I needed to stop working immediately and begin intensive physiotherapy for both Tendinitis and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  EEK!  I hadn’t planned for this!  I didn’t have much backup!

I called WCB and began the claims process – and it was a long one – ultimately ending in the denial of my claim nearly 1 ½ years later.

So what happened? After 6 months of painful therapy, completely depleting my emergency fund and borrowing money from family for food, rent and utilities, I had to go back to work prematurely and against my Physiotherapist’s recommendations because we had to eat!

So… do I have disability insurance now?  Yes.  My point is that this can happen to anyone, and the safeties that we think we have may not necessarily be there for us.

TAoTB: What about Critical Illness? I’m young, and I don’t like to think about the possibility of getting a serious or life-threatening disease.

S: Yeah, I totally get that. But it’s not unknown, and what happens if it does? Your family could be devastated if you were diagnosed with Cancer, or had a heart attack.  What Critical Illness Insurance does, in essence, is create an immediate cushion for you and your family, should you be diagnosed with one of these terrifying illnesses.  The fact is that your chances of surviving are very good.  What CI insurance does is offer you options – options for treatment, options for staying home during your recovery, options for care.

TAoTB: Okay, what’s Long Term Care Insurance?

S: It’s actually a bit of a misnomer.  It is an essential extension for your disability Insurance.  Should you become disabled for a period of time and you are unable to do 2 of the 6 essential daily activities (bathing, dressing, feeding, transferring (for example, getting out of bed), toileting, cognitive function) without aid, who’s going to look after you?  Probably a friend or family member, yes?  How will they earn money while helping you?  LTC is designed to pay you a pre-determined amount to help with your care – whether it’s $250/wk or $2,000/wk, you can plan for your own care without relying on friends and family.

TAoTB: I should probably have life insurance, huh?

S: Not everyone may need it. Read the questions below:

1.    Do you have children/family?
2.    Do you have assets that will have value when you die?
3.    Do you care about whether or not your beneficiary/next of kin will be responsible to pay your estate taxes on death?
4.    Do you want to leave a bequest for a charitable foundation or other cause?
5.    Do you want to leave an estate for your friends/family/loved ones?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then the answer to Life Insurance is also “Yes”.  There are a variety of coverages that are available, but it is impossible to give you an adequate quotation unless I know your precise situation and requirements. But remember – the younger you are, the less you will pay for ALL types of insurance.

TAoTB: But isn’t insurance super expensive?

S: There is no precise answer to that, without example.  I’m going to counter with this:  How much do you pay to insure your car?  …your house?  …your possessions?  Well, the fact of the matter is that you will pay less to insure yourself.  Are you worth more than your car?  …your house?  …your “stuff”?  At the end of the day, what will matter more?

TAoTB: Okay. But it still makes me a bit crazy that I will spend money on something I may never use.

S: Cost/benefit analysis shows definitively that insurances are worth it.  Also, there are products that are available for purchase with CI and LTC that give you a premium-refund option, should you not utilize these services.

In short…?  Insure yourself.

TAoTB: Thanks, Shelley!

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Survival Skills for Artists: Chris Tyrell Interview October 23, 2008

Okay, visual artists, this one’s for you…. (but those of you who aren’t painters, sculptors or photographers, you can benefit from this one, too)

This month I interview Chris Tyrell, author of Artist’s Survival Skills, subtitled How to Make a Living as a Canadian Visual Artist.

No stranger to the Vancouver arts scene, Chris began as a drama teacher at West Vancouver Secondary and Capilano College. He designed, built and managed Presentation House Theatre and established the Presentation House Gallery of photography. As well, he co-founded the BC Touring Council and the Alliance for Arts and Culture. He’s probably best known, however, for being the editor of The Opus Visual Arts Newsletter for, oh, like, forever.
I asked him some questions about how to survive and thrive as a visual artist.

AotB: If I’m a visual artist who is interested in selling more of my work, and possibly even making a living from my artistic practice, how can your book help me?

CT: I have never heard an artist say, “I wish I earned less money from my art.” However, after every one of my workshops for artists on ways to increase income, I see expressions of despair on some faces. “I don’t like thinking about my art like a business,” says one. “Oh my god, I couldn’t possibly take all that on,” says another, “I’m going to get a gallery to do all that for me.”

“Then make art for enjoyment, keep your job, and stop thinking about making more money from your art,” I say. My book is for artists who want to make a career of their creative skills. It addresses art-making in the context of self-employment; it uses business language and subscribes to principles of small business development applicable to any small manufacturing business.

My book reveals how much work it takes to develop an artistic career. Starting a small business (and this is what we do when we set out to be self-employed artists who sell our work) is a serious challenge regardless of the nature of the business. And while there are many worthwhile books for Canadian entrepreneurs on starting and growing a small business, my book looks at key components of small business theory and discusses them in the context of a creative, skills-based small business—the self-employed Canadian visual artist.

There are many associations that support professional artists in Canada. The writers have the Writers Union of Canada, actors, stage managers, and dancers have the Canadian Actors Equity Association and ACRTA; musicians have the Musicians Union. Directors, choreographers, and composers—all artistic professions in Canada have a trade association or union to which they belong. These professional organizations provide support to their members in areas such as health, taxation, and copyrights, and they negotiate collective agreements with employer associations that cover salaries and benefits. Visual artists, however, do not have sufficient professional guidance and support. My book seeks to provide a comprehensive overview of professional development issues for the committed Canadian visual artist.

Why shouldn’t I just hire an agent/accountant/publicist? Won’t that leave me more time for my artistic practice?

CT: You can do all that if you can afford it. Often, artists who get represented by a gallery get a lot of management services, but unless the artists takes responsibility for his or herself and his or her career, it will never be as successful as it might be. An artist may well take advantage of the professional services of others, but still, the drive and direction of one’s career is best self-managed. It all depends on what the artist wants, and that is why my book begins with a chapter on planning.

A lot of artists want success but are not prepared to work hard for it. Those who have genuine genius need not worry, their career will unfold for them (Brian Jungen, for example), but those with admirable, even great talent, require HARD WORK to establish an enduring successful career, and no one works better for an artist than the artist his- or her self. Gallery owners have many artists to represent and cannot do for an artist what the artist can do for themselves.

AotB: What are some of the most important things I can do to help my artistic business along in the areas of marketing and finances?

CT:Read my book.
Set realistic, achievable, measurable and incremental annual sales goals.
Study small business management, take marketing courses.
Have a fabulous, selected and diverse product line visible in your portfolio.
Study the best practices of other visual artists.
Provide interesting insight into your work—people do not buy what they do not understand.
Join a co-op, work with other artists to achieve goals.

AotB: Thanks, Chris. Really great stuff.

Artist’s Survival Skills is available for purchase at Opus Visual Art Supplies.

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Facebook is your friend September 28, 2008

Originally published on April 30, 2008 on The Next Stage)

You could not possibly be a bigger holdout than I was with Facebook. I resisted joining for a really long time. I thought “why do I need yet another time-waster when I’m online? I already check my email obsessively, do I need to have the temptation to be checking Facebook all the time now?” But, like most other people, finally I gave in. And yes, spent way too much time at the beginning updating my profile and searching for friends. But then I started to realize what a powerful marketing tool Facebook was, and now I use it at least half the time for that purpose.

In case you’ve been in a cave this past year without television, radio, internet or newspapers, Facebook is an online social networking tool. It’s free—basically what you do is sign up and get yourself and account. Then you get your own page, or profile, where you can put information about yourself, what colour socks you like, what you had for breakfast, what your dog had for breakfast. Then, you create a network by asking people to be your friend. Once someone is your friend, you can message them, send them virtual gifts, URLs, that kind of thing. Facebook also has groups and events that you can create or join. If you create an event or a group, you are its administrator, and that gives you the ability to message all the members of the group. It’s fantastic stuff.

A few words of practical advice about Facebook. First off, I wouldn’t encourage you to create a group unless you are pretty famous, or you have something quirky going on (I belong to “If Alan Doyle from Great Big Sea kissed me, I’d be a happy woman”, for example). You can also create fan pages, but again, I’d steer away from that unless you are Great Big Sea, or a decent-sized corporation.

What I do is create an event for all of my clients. Because my work tends to be rooted in dates (show runs, etc), creating events is perfect for me. It allows me to upload all the event information, pictures, and videos, URLs for media stories when they come out, and I am able to message anyone who said they are or might be coming.

If it’s your first time creating an event, here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Be really, really careful about your dates. While you can go back and edit a lot of things on your event page, the dates you cannot.
2. Make your event accessible to the “global” Facebook community. I once made it available just to the Vancouver network, thinking that anyone from out of town wasn’t going to come to see the show anyway. But not everyone (even people who live in Vancouver) belong to the Vancouver network. Tricky…
3. When you invite people to your event, encourage them to invite their friends.
4. Know that only your opening night (or the first date you have on your event) will show up in the updated information on your Facebook account. After that, if someone wants to find your event, they will have to search for it. However, you can still message people during the run of the show to let them know it is half over, closing Saturday, etc.

Facebook is good for other kinds of artists, too. Musicians and filmmakers can upload videos, photographers and visual artists can make photo albums of their work. Dancers and actors can upload demos and trailers.

A word of caution: as with everything on the internet, be careful about how much personal information you include. Don’t have your home address up there. A lot of people I know don’t even have their email address. Make your privacy settings high, so that people have to be your friend (ie: authorized by you) to see anything on your profile.

Facebook is a lot of fun. But it can also be a great way of getting the word out, and building a buzz… And yes, I will be your friend, but only if you mention The Art of the Business.

So, until next time, here’s to more bums in seats everywhere…

For a downloadable or streaming audio podcast of this article, click here.