It seems like a lifetime has passed since we moved into our studio and set up Visualé, hosting our first exhibition with nothing but two tables and a single unit from Ikea. I spent hours upon end tweeting and tweaking the website, asking myself, would it work? Would anyone come? The answer was yes, it was mainly friends and family bringing with them people they knew who were interested in art. Crazily enough the people they had bought along ended up purchasing art, from that moment I knew I could make this work, you could see the buyer was generally captivated by the art, it wasn’t just a sympathy purchase. With the buzz of the great turn out and number of sales I was well aware of the challenges that lay ahead of me, with the biggest being how I was going to balance a 9 to 5 job and increase the momentum after this short success.
Well just over a year later and our studio is fully functional, being utilised as a workspace, gallery and now for art sessions. Having more than established ourselves not only within the arts scene within our home town of Birmingham, but in general, people know who and where we are. When speaking to artists or anyone else for that matter I am often asked how I’d got to this point.
The most common questions are regarding time and finances, how did you get the finances? Did you apply for funding? Funding? What is that? Visualé is a project I paid for entirely myself, taking it over from a blog and turning it into a fully functional business for artists. Initially I did apply for funding however was told my business model was not viable, I took this on the chin and continued with what I wanted to do. Being adamant I wasn't going to let anything hold me back I just pursued my vision independently. I was well aware being visible is important so I wrote articles on artists for free, reviewed peoples work and advertised businesses on the site just to get my name out there. Non of this got me an income but was invaluable with building an online presence and reputation for myself. After the initial decline of finance I didn't look elsewhere, I thought f*ck it, instead opting to put up my own money, yes it was a huge risk but I knew I’ll have more chance of succeeding for one specific reason. I'm betting on myself and I am not willing to loose this money I am not only gambling putting into this business but also worked my ass off for. Often I hear the ramblings of people stating they cannot raise the finances to start a business, or they cannot get funding or grants. What I always ask is why can’t you make adjustments to try and start up independently? Of course there are many variables such as monthly outgoings and other responsibilities people have, but putting aside small amounts of money every month while doing the background work can easily be done. I know people who have wasted both time and money clawing around for investments to start up, when in reality they could have actually set up eight months ago. Stop looking for the opportunity and create it yourself, there are many tools at our disposal to make things work than we actually realise. As time progresses and you have momentum behind you, it is always a good idea looking at investment for growth, as it can take you to the next level, but as an initial start up opt to do it yourself, it can be done trust me.
When the subject of time is raised the excuses quickly follow ‘oh I don't have enough time’ or ‘there aren't enough hours in the day’, in my case the latter phrase comes to mind. However this is not used as restriction for me, instead finding a solution to fit as many productive things in to the day as I can. Managing every hour has been the biggest hurdle I have had to overcome, juggling the nine to five, dealing with artists, finding content for the blog and putting it all together consumes literally every second of the day. As I type this article staring at the screen with burning eyes, I’m constantly peeking at the clock in the top right corner of the screen to see how I’m doing for time, to ensure I fit in enough hours sleep for work tomorrow. What I believe we sometimes forget is the time we are living in, Its 2017! The generation of technology, we live in a world with so many apps to help small to medium businesses, from time management apps to staying on top of finances that are absolutely free. So really there is no excuse, how did I find out about these apps? Research, read, find out as much information as you can from other business models and tweak them to suit you. After giving guidance to some startups within my city, I have decided to start short podcasts that can help not only aspiring artists enhance their profile, but other small startups. Here I will offer advice and my own experience on ways to approach new ventures and projects, I will give examples of the most cost effective ways to get your business off the ground and build a presence both online and within your industry.
Look out on the blog for more details on the podcasts…