Jessan Dunn Otis – All Artists Are Entrepreneurs

About the Session

As a girl, I was a Brownie, then, a Girl Scout. The Girl Scout’s biggest, annual fundraiser was selling Girl Scout cookies. I loved the Thin Mints the most. Even with that, I did not like selling the cookies.

Fast forward, my former spouse was a visual artist ( fine arts painter). Many of our friends were, also, in the arts – dancers, sculptors, glass artists, musicians, writers, etc. I witnessed the difficulties of all these artists coming into their own as creators; and, then, selling their art – to galleries, collectors, museums, and the like. Building up their resumes with exhibitions, articles, collections. Negotiating prices for a piece of work or a gig.. Asking too much. Asking too little. The same, within context, was the same for every other art form.

Fast forward, again. Instead of going into international law, after I was a returned undergraduate, I earned my Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in…poetry! My work began to be published in various literary journals soon after graduation. Subsequently, I taught at the college level for eight (8) years as an Adjunct Professor/Lecturer. When that gig ended, I founded my own company as an independent, freelance writer, all the while continuing to write poetry.

All the above is, simply, to give background to my history and focus for this presentation: ALL ARTISTS ARE ENTREPRENEURS. All artists (and/or independents) must learn to sell: not only what they create: but, also, who they are. I witnessed too many potential sales go down the shute because the collector (potential buyer) thought they knew more than the artist who made the artwork. Or, the dancer was offered such a pittance for a potential dance gig that it was demeaning; but, they needed to make rent. Or, “Oh, you’re an artist! I have an idea…but, I don’t have any money, can I get to do this project for free?” You get my drift – yes?

Potential solutions:

  • Academic courses for artists in selling, marketing, social media, etc.
  • Mentoring programs for artists from artists
    Collaborations with artists and others, in and/or outside of the arts
  • Educate the public – artists and what they create are not free

Open to discussion…

About Jessan

Since May, 1996, Jessan has been the Founder|Owner of Jessan Dunn Otis, Writer, collaborating with well-funded clients to create custom content for a variety of readables and collaterals, including proofreading, editing, product descriptions, email blasts, news releases, website content; and, much more.

Prior to founding her own company as an independent, freelance strategic writer, Jessan was an Adjunct Professor at Bryant University (Smithfield, Rhode Island) and the Community College of Rhode Island (Providence and Lincoln, Rhode Island campuses), primarily teaching undergraduate writing and literature courses.

With a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in English from the University of Rhode Island (Kingston, Rhode Island) and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Poetry from the Graduate Programs in Literary Arts, Brown University (Providence, Rhode Island), Jessan’s poetry has been published in various literary journals since Spring, 1988. In addition, Jessan has given readings of her work in Rhode Island, Boston, MA; and Bellagio, Italy.

Jessan lives and works in Rhode Island with her husband, Al.

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