Art Entrepreneur
Art Business

Art Business Conferences for the Art Entrepreneur

Whether you’re just getting your start as an artist or preparing to launch your own art business and finally becoming an art entrepreneur, you might be in need of some extra advice. Conferences are a great way to network with fellow artists, hear from leaders in your field, and come away with a range of new ideas to generate more business and grow your career.

Of course, not all conferences are created equal: some are more focused for art gallery owners, while others are designed exclusively to help artists learn to manage an art business.

Art Business Conference

The seminal conference hosted by Art Market Minds will make its debut in New York this year, after several successful runs in London. This one-day conference for senior art market professionals is often heavily attended by industry heavy-hitters like Christie’s, Sotheby’s and more.

If you’re a buyer or seller of fine art or antiques, you’ll want to attend this conference that’s filled with presentations, Q&A’s, panel discussions, and workshops run by industry experts exploring issues affecting the art market today. For example, “250 Years of Selling Art – What Would James Christie Make of Our Digital World?” will be moderated by Christie’s executive Marc Sands, who will discuss the impact the internet has had on the way art sales are made. In another panel, experts from Deloitte will comment on art market ‘freeports,’ or storage spaces created specifically to shield artworks from tax and legal obligations. Panels will also offer tips for growing your gallery’s digital presence and learning how to digitize collections for e-commerce purposes.

While this event is heavily geared towards gallery owners and collectors, it’s also an interesting opportunity for artists to learn about some of the more complex issues surrounding the art market, which may eventually become relevant if you’re an art entrepreneur that’s entering into contracts with art galleries. If you feel like you don’t necessarily have a handle on some of the more technical aspects of the art world – think authenticity, tax implications, digital marketing and contract negotiations – then this might be a great opportunity to get your feet wet. Plus, the event is sure to be loaded with art world movers, making it an excellent time to network.

This year’s New York event will be held on Tuesday, April 4 at 10am on the Park. To register, visit

Art Business Conference

Self-Employment in the Arts Conference

Geared towards helping emerging visual and performance artists make the connections they need to develop a thriving venture, Self Employment in the Arts is a group that produces year-round content to help artists succeed. Its 17th annual SEA conference, which will be held on February 24-25 in Naperville, Illinois, will bring together over 40 arts professionals to counsel current and future art entrepreneurs through some panels and workshops.

Open to both art students and alumni, this conference is an excellent reminder that you don’t need to be famous to thrive as a creative artist. Conference presenters, rather than being Instagram celebrities or hyper-successful visual artists, are instead everyday artists who have managed to make a living off their art. You’ll hear from portrait photographers who manage their own studios, artists who double as professors and in-demand ad agency freelancers and artist agents offering tips ranging from how to network to how to get your creative business off the ground.

The Chicago Artists Coalition will also offer portfolio critiques to participants, which is an excellent opportunity to gain some real-world insight into your most important marketing piece. Another interesting panel, “The Diversified Life” will discuss all the different ways artists can leverage their creative expertise in both traditional and non-traditional means to generate more income streams.

College Art Association Conference

The College Art Association’s annual conference isn’t just for students. In fact, it’s the largest international gathering of visual arts professionals on the globe, with more than 250 sessions and meetings on topics ranging from entrepreneurship in the arts to theoretical discussions on emerging movements and disciplines. While you may have missed the opportunity to attend this year’s event (it was held in New York just last week) vice president of marketing at Orangenius, Kate Flanagan, who attended the conference last week, says the conference is an excellent opportunity to gain both real-world insight and an academic refresher on established and emerging art movements and commentary. “I was amazed to see how many people attended the conference, and the exhibition hall included the presence of scores of art publishers and university presses,” says Flanagan. “There were also opportunities for artists to have their portfolios reviewed, and an entire section was dedicated to mock interviews for artists who wish to brush up on those skills.”

In addition to a day-long Entrepreneurship series, which is geared towards counseling art entrepreneurs, the CAA conference explores critical questions central to art history and theory. For example, “Alternative Art Histories of the World” will explore Chinese art history and the integration of Latin American art into the Western vernacular as led by a panel of art history experts.

Another great feature of the CAA conference is its pay-as-you-wish pricing system, which allows users to purchases day passes so they can attend specific sessions. Rather than doling out the heftier conference ticket prices, the pay-as-you-wish passes provide an affordable option for those wishing to attend certain events without breaking the bank. Since the conference is so far ranging, we highly recommend attending next year as it’s an excellent opportunity to both enhance your understanding of art history while refreshing concepts related to practical applications in business.

RISD Art of Business Bootcamp

Art EntrepreneurThe Rhode Island School of Design is one of the most recognized institutions for an arts education, and their annual Art of Business Bootcamp helps students and non-students alike. Designed to help artists who either want to start an arts business or already run their own, this annual Bootcamp offers workshops that help you develop a business plan and integrate strategies that help you promote your work, with an eye towards copyright considerations and what you need to do to protect your work. Some of the key topics you can expect to hear about at RISD’s Art of Business Bootcamp include how to sell your artwork online, how to price your work, how to navigate legal issues that frequently arise for creatives, branding and marketing your work, and business planning.

While dates for this year’s Bootcamp have yet to be announced, you can find more information by visiting the RISD website.

Alliance of Artist Communities Conference

Arts leaders, funders, policymakers, and educators attend the Alliance of Artist Communities conference, which is designed to foster both engagements among artists and explore cultural trends. The AAC conference, held from October 2-5 in Denver, will offer sessions covering organizational development and art entrepreneurship.

Currently, the AAC conference is also accepting ideas for content, and if you’re a thriving artist or art entrepreneur, you may want to consider proposing a workshop for the event. It’s an excellent opportunity to position yourself as a thought leader among your peers, which can be a valuable tool for marketing and promote your work.

Arts Midwest Conference

Some conferences are designed to foster the notion that art and culture often happen outside the country’s cultural nerve centers, and the Arts Midwest Conference was designed to do exactly that. Held in Columbus, Ohio, the four-day conference will feature open information sessions led by various art organizations that will cover everything from obtaining funding for new projects and bolstering inclusiveness among the community. Participants will hear from representatives from the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, the Bolz Center for Arts Administration, and more, offering in-depth feedback on professional development and success within the industry.

Also, artists will have an opportunity to present their work to a diverse audience of artists by applying for the Spotlight Showcase, which provides artists with a 15-minute platform on the main stage. Held from August 28-31, registration for the conference begins in April, but artists interested in applying for the Spotlight Showcase should apply by February 22.

Have you attended an Art Business Conference?  Let us know what you thought in the comments section below.


About the author

Nicole Martinez

Nicole is a veteran arts and culture journalist. Her work has appeared in Reuters, VICE, Hyperallergic, Univision, and more.

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