We’ve been away for a while, but this week we return to our book series on creative business planning. We’ve chosen Lisa Congdon’s Art Inc. to start off the new year on a positive note! Congdon’s guide to building your career as an artist is an encouraging read with pragmatic tips for thriving in an intimidating field.
Art Inc. is broken down into chapters, each section tackling a component of an artist’s career. Congdon’s book reads fluidly as a whole, but can also be taken piecemeal for readers focusing on a specific area of their business. Sprucing up your curriculum vitae? Flip to chapter five. Concerned about how to promote your work? Skip right back to chapter three. Working two-fold as a reference manual and chronological narrative, Congdon’s guide offers an in-depth look at art as a business.
Using her illustration career and interviews, Congdon interweaves helpful tips into relatable narratives. She punctuates each chapter with an interview from an artist or expert in a related field. Each interview is presented in a simple question-and-answer format, and puts a personalized face on the brass-tacks facts of the art world. Congdon interviews a variety of professionals, including an Etsy team member, a gallery director, and a licensing consultant to give variety and heft to her advice and methods.
Although less financially detailed than some of our other features (i.e. June Walker’s Confident Indie), Art Inc. offers a wider range of information that covers the essentials of setting up a artistic business. The book is especially geared for illustrators, as it delves into detailed specifics of the fine art world. Congdon devotes a large chunk of the guide to illustration nuts and bolts, including print reproduction specifics and commissioned-based sales.
Maria Popova, founder and editor of BrainPickings.org writes about Congdon’s guide, “She equips emerging artists with the necessary tools–from the psychological to the practical–for defining success by their own standards, then attaining it on their own terms.” Congdon carefully poses questions for the reader to self-reflect about their own practice. Rather than functioning as a step-by-step guide, Congdon offers multiple methods, and then encourages the reader to choose a course based on their own artistic morals and habits. It is refreshing to read an author who understands that an art career can be an emotionally and mentally consuming journey. Congdon’s affirmations and business acumen are a unique pairing that make this book an inspiring and constructive read.