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How To Avoid Being A Starving Artist In San Diego

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Artists and accounting experts in San Diego are helping creative minds survive as artists.

The first step to making a living while following their passion for creating art is to have a business plan just like any other business, said San Diego State University accounting lecturer Jon Baumunk.

"Artists are entrepreneurs but sometimes they don't know that,” Baumunk said. “They think of themselves as the creative type. But in order to make a living they need to get others to pay them for their art.”

He says an artist’s business plan needs to include marketing as part of the strategy to generate sales.

"A business plan should have sound financials, ways to protect yourself legally and it must have a product that people will pay you money for," Baumunk said.

San Diego artist Patric Stillman says it is difficult for an artist to get up and running.

"They have the creativity but they find themselves lacking on the essentials skills needed to get their message out to the world,” Stillman said.

He runs what he calls an "arts incubator" in North Park called The Studio Door. It's an art gallery and visual arts center with an Art-to-Market program that helps promote local artists. Artists collaborate, network and learn basics needed for running a business: everything from what type of lighting to use on their art to how to market and use social media.

Since many artists work alone, in solitude, the incubator is a place where they can collaborate, share ideas and discuss successes.

To find out if you can make a living through your art, Baumunk says look at the economics.

"Figure out what you need to live on and then how to get there," he said.

Stillman is also a painter. He says it’s difficult for some artists because for them, it’s about creating.

"I tell artists if you're creating art in your own studio or bedroom and not sharing it with the world - then you're not completing your mission as an artist," Stillman said. "You have a voice, people need to hear it."

Baumunk and Stillman explain how meshing the creative world with a business model can result in profits for an artist Wednesday on Midday Edition.

The Studio Door

Patric Stillman has been incubating the idea for The Studio Door for years. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando visits the new gallery and studio space that finally opened last month in North Park.


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