10 Subjects All Art School Students Should Learn

library style index card filing cabinet

The following subjects will be of value to any artist, and can be incorporated into any self-directed program.

1. Business

Artists need to understand business fundamentals. If you’re not going to create a money making model of your own, you should at least know about existing and replicable models. Artists in modern times are relying less on galleries and brokers, and more on technology. Maybe you don’t need to form a LLC, but you should at least understand contracts.

2. Grant Writing

There’s money for artists out there. Where does it come from? Who gets it? How do you get it? How do you tell your story so you get funding?

3. A Second Language

Being able to communicate with other cultures opens up doors, breaks down barriers, and literally helps you cross borders. Experiencing different cultures is inspiring, and art can help people from all walks of life connect on the commonalities that make us all human together.

4. Creative Marketing

How do you use the internet to market your work? What are the pitfalls of being on social media? How do you make something go viral? Do you want your work to go viral? You need to know how to market your work.

5. Cold Calling / Sales

Some artists don’t think that sales applies to them. Then they knock on gallery doors with their portfolio in their hands, and get nowhere. You need to know when and how to reach out to people and businesses.

6. Networking

There are people who naturally connect via networks, and there are people who become artists because they can’t connect with anyone. Knowing why, how, where, and when to network will open opportunities for you no matter what kind of work, at whatever level your career is at.

7. Storytelling / Public Speaking

It’s common that artists get asked to speak about their work in front of an audience. Doing so in a cohesive and captivating manor leads to greater personal connections, and more opportunities.

8. Accounting / Taxes

Unless you have a job with a steady paycheck from a company that deducts taxes for you, you have to deal with Uncle Sam. Having at least a rudimentary understanding of small business tax law helps artists immensely. So does having a good accountant who is familiar with art.

9. Systems / Collaboration

The art world, like all forms of business, is a collaborative system. You need to navigate that system to figure out how and where you can fit in and contribute, beyond placing your work in a historical context.

10. Technology / Documentation

Documenting your work means it lives on, long after the work is done.

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