Kim Bernard leads ‘Artist as Small Business’ workshop Nov 16 & 17

Think being an artist is enough to make a living in Maine? Here’s what you need to know

Mon, 11/11/2019 - 11:45am

ROCKLAND—At some point, every emerging artist has the thought, “How do I make this into a full-time living?”

Kim Bernard has some answers to this question. A full-time professional artist, organizer of Rockland’s annual Sculpture Races and a professional development workshop teacher for the last 30 years, she is about to lead a weekend workshop “Artist As Small Business” at Rockland’s Steel House November 16 and 17.

“In the last three years, I’ve been focusing my teaching on creative and professional development and small business training for artists,” she said. “I think there is a huge need for that. Artists aren’t necessarily trained in marketing, or business. There are so many aspects to it: how to promote their work, how to write an artist’s statement, or how to build a website. These are the kinds of skills artists needs to have beyond a mastery of their medium.”

Bernard, who regularly mentors artists, has sifted through every business aspect she’d absorbed and learned in her own journey as an artist to distill what others need to know to be successful.

“The bottom line before you quit your day job to go full-time an an artist is first, that your work has to be good; it has to come from a dedicated studio practice. And once you have a strong body of work, then there is a whole other skill set needed to promote and exhibit it. ”

Bernard’s upcoming workshop focuses on the essential skills of creating a real business from budgeting and business plans to state tax IDs and insurance. Bernard promises to “tackle these dry-but- necessary topics with interactive exercises, humor and dark chocolate.”

“You’d be surprised; when these dry topics apply to artists, to their own work, then it suddenly becomes really interesting,” she said. “I have done all of these things in my own work that I now teach; I have gone to the Small Business Administration for advice and direction. I have researched small business books and resources. I have practiced these skills for 30 years. I just distilled it down to only what artists need to know and got rid of the rest. I keep it very interactive; very applicable to each artist with exercises. There’s a lot of get up-move-around; let’s do brainstorming sessions to keep it interesting. Everyone walks away with an action plan to develop their business over time.”

Workshop participants may include painters photographers, sculptors, potters, makers, people who craft and more. “It really applies to any creative endeavor,” she said.

Bernard has been teaching these type of workshops all over the country and even does one-on-one consultations with individual artists to work on action plans.

There are many great, free resources artists who are interested in becoming a business can access. The Small Business Administration, the Maine Revenue Service, the Maine Arts Commission, and  NOLO Small Business and books from the public library are places to start. 

“The problem is that this can all be overwhelming and artists don’t necessarily know what’s applicable and what’s not,” said Bernard.

Bernard is offering one scholarship to attend “Artist as Small Business” at the Steel House Nov. 16-17.  To apply, email her paragraph of why you should receive it to  by Nov. 12 midnight.

For more information, visit: Rockland Steel House

Kay stephens can be reached at