Should an Individual Artist Get a Business License?

I posed this question to OVAC recently, and they were kind enough to pass it along to Susan Urbach of the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center. Here is her response. Snip:

For most artists, it's going to be just you in terms of ownership and no employees. Life is complicated enough, so just keep it simple. Many artists will find that the sole proprietorship, the simplest form of business, is going to work just fine. There are no official papers to file to form a sole proprietorship.

The OSBDC offers many free workshops for people looking to start or grow their small business in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition is another organization dedicated to fostering talent and creative entrepreneurship in our state. Check out their Business of Art workshops here.

Artists as Entrepreneurs

Suit (9 to 5), by Flickr user Ben Murphy. Click image to visit.Suit (9 to 5), by Flickr user Ben Murphy. Click image to visit the artist's Flickr page.

Via Cory Miller, a fellow Oklahoman who designs premium Wordpress themes for people like you and me.

Small Business Trends on Entrepreneurial Artists

Steve King, a member of our Small Business Trends Expert network, has been profiling the trend toward artists combining entrepreneurship with art. He points out how people are choosing art as their life’s passion and learning how to make a business of it, too, to support themselves and their families.

Click to read the whole article.

New York Times on Making Artistic Careers Lucrative

Rather than seeing art as something to pursue in the hours when they are not earning a living, these artists are developing businesses around their talents. These artists are part of a growing movement that has caught the attention of business experts and is being nudged along by both art and business schools.

Click to read the whole article.

Cory Miller also mentions the rise of sites like Etsy, a boon to artists and shoppers alike. Sparrowtracks and Red Plum Pottery are two of my favorite Etsy sellers.

The Artist Survivial Kit workshops from the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (OVAC) are a tremendous way for Oklahoma artists to learn more about the business of making and distributing art. Related: Sarah's items tagged "art" and "business"

Legion Arts of Cedar Rapids, IA Needs You

Click here to support the Iowa Artists' Relief Fund. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is currently underwater. One of the institutions affected by this tragedy is Legion Arts, who was kind enough to agree to host the Art 365 show this coming Fall. Right now nobody knows exactly if or how that will happen, but that's not our most pressing concern.
June 12, 2008 (2), by CRArtist
Legion Arts has set up an emergency fund to help Iowa artists whose lives and work have been affected by the flooding. Please give if you can, especially you Oklahoma artists: Legion Arts is like our OVAC. We need the help of support systems like these to make our unique, talented, relevant voices heard.

The above photo, taken by CRArtist, is titled June 12, 2008 (2). It is part of this Flickr set titled Flood of 2008.
Related: The Simple Dollar lists seven things you can do right now to help flood victims.

Zemanta Pixie

Hey, Charities: Direct Mail Stinks

Listen up, non-profit organizations, I'll lay it out for you. Sending me address labels in the mail is a one-way ticket off my Christmas card list. They're not recyclable and I don't like putting them in the trash.* Your direct mail is a direct cause of my decision not to give you any more money. I've already written to the Direct Marketing Association and told them to opt me out of mailings from non- and for-profit companies alike. (And, hey, charities, thanks for renting my address and many others to the DMA when I specifically asked you not to. Did they send you thirty pieces of silver?)

A 2004 article in the New York Times notes the declining response charities are getting from direct mail, especially mail containing address labels:

Five to seven years ago, the [Paralyzed Veterans of America] group received donations from 15 to 20 percent of people who got its mailings for the first time. "Those numbers are now probably 50 percent of that," Mr. Dowis said. Older donors respond strongly to label mailings, he said, while younger people — whom charities want for future growth — "tend to be very cynical, and we tend to be much more discerning."

Check the date again: this quote is three and a half years old. So address labels in direct mail are probably even less effective in soliciting donations now, yet they keep on a-comin'. Every week. I'll say it again: the more mail I get, the less likely I am to give back. And I'm not alone:

"We're hearing that more and more," said Sandra Miniutti, a spokeswoman for Charity Navigator, an organization that monitors nonprofit groups. "It's a commonly held belief that the more times you ask, the more times you'll get, but people are withdrawing their support."

It's safe to say that I'm a member of that more-cynical younger demographic with whom charities hope to foster long-term giving. Here's a tip for the orgs: People my age also tend to pay bills online. We have even less need for envelopes, stamps, and, you guessed it -- return address labels.

Here are some things you can do to cut down on the amount of material that arrives in your mailbox:

1. Write to the Direct Marketing Association to opt-out of all unsolicited offers.

2. If you like a charity but don't need all that mail, contact the organization and tell them that. Many charities offer you the option of receiving information just a few times a year, or by email only.

3. Charities target first-time givers, because those are the people most likely to give again. If you are considering donating for the first time, try doing it over the phone with a credit card. That way you can connect with a human on the other end and make sure they know you want to opt out of mailings.

4. Focus your giving on organizations that are visible in your community: local food banks, animal shelters, your church, Boys and Girls clubs, the YMCA, Habitat for Humanity, and so on.

5. Check up on your chosen charitable recipients at Charity Navigator. They have nifty stats like how much money an organization raises versus what they spend, how they spend it, and how much their CEO makes. Cool.

6. Speak up. I've contacted the charities I gave to last year, and told them that the mailings affected my decision not to give to them again. I may be just one of many, but I have a voice, and if I don't use it, I guarantee they won't hear me.

Speaking of money, I've really been enjoying Trent Hamm's blog The Simple Dollar. (He updates every day! Wow!) The Starving Artist cliche may be a myth, but that doesn't mean I can't learn to be smart with my money.

*Nature Conservancy, I'm looking at you.