ABI recently spoke to Jeannine Stein, the editor of F&W’s new “Artists & Makers” magazine, who shares her thoughts on what artists need to know today to build their businesses.
ABI: What inspired F&W to create Artists & Makers magazine?
JS: The idea was conceived by Jenn Mason, who was the editorial director who preceded me. It seems like a great time for it because there is so much going on in the art community, including online sales, social media, maker spaces and more, so we ran with it.
ABI: The title of your publication refers to “makers” rather than the older term which would have been “craftspeople”. Explain how use of the term has changed.
JS: I think the word “maker” is so much more in the vernacular now. It applies to so many things, from robotics to crafting and many other things. It is the “now” word and encompasses a lot. People are doing so many interesting things. But I don’t think that “crafter” is a word that people don’t want to use. Many artists go back and forth between art and craft. I’ve interviewed a lot of people who say that what they create is what they create, and whether it is accepted into the crafts community or fine art community doesn’t really matter. They just love creating.
ABI: Would you say that your core audience is made up of entrepreneurs rather than hobbyists?
JS: I think there is a bit of both, but if they are hobbyists, they are looking for ways to take their work to the next level. That may be opening an Etsy shop while they have a full-time job or are a full-time parent. Or, they may be starting a blog and they want to share more on social media. There are so many ways that you can derive some revenue or build an audience, whether you are creating full-time or part time, are a hobbyist or a professional. So many artists are entrepreneurs in some form, and they’re facing the same issues whether they’re professionals or not.
ABI: What is your goal in reaching out to the reader, and what do they have to gain?
JS: I call the magazine a mix of information and inspiration. I want the business columns and the social media column to really hit home with readers and give great information. And I also want the magazine to inspire them. The artists we profile are very candid about what they have gone through, their struggles and successes. The reader can really be inspired and motivated by their stories, and learn from them as well.
It is really important for the magazine to have a “peer-to-peer” feeling. The artist community is different from any other community and the needs that artists have are different, so I really wanted it to be written by people who were living it as well as writing about it. They are really in the trenches doing it every day.
ABI: How do you identify those artists that you want to profile?
JS: Some of it is through networking. Some artists I knew of, such as letterpress artist Kevin Bradley of Church of Type (on this issue’s cover). I was living in LA when I met him. I was at a flea market and walked by his booth. I recognized his work, and he introduced himself. He had just moved to California and opened his new business. I was thrilled because I had followed him and loved his work. When I moved to Boston and we started the magazine, I knew he had to be in it. He’s very well known in the letterpress community.
ABI: What is the best part of those profiles?
JS: Finding these artists and talking with them is the best part of my job. In finding artists to profile it’s very important that we feature men and women who are not only talented, but have really interesting stories to tell. They have built their business and had some success, and also some challenges. It’s important to let the readers know that that is OK – everybody goes through that, and you can still come through and be successful.
Kevin was very honest about the fact that when he broke with his business partners, he lost $5 million, which is quite a chunk of change. Not everybody would be so honest about that. But I really appreciated it, because he let people know that he is still standing, he’s working constantly, and is doing very well. It lets the reader know that you can get through things like that.
I think in the arts community there is a lot of sharing about business that goes on through social media, but sometimes it’s not enough information, or not the right kind. One thing that really bugs me is when you read somebody’s blog and their entire life seems like perfection. Their kids are perfect, their house is perfect, and everything they create is beautiful. Nobody has a life like that. So many of us probably read that and think we could never measure up. So I wanted a level of honesty from people in talking about their lives.
This lets other people know you can go through hard times, and still have an amazing experience and become a successful artist. It’s very real.
ABI: What mistakes and problems did you perceive that your readers wanted you to address?
JS: I think there are a lot of questions about navigating social media. We think everyone is a pro at this point. Maybe you are in your personal life, but it’s a little bit different when you have a Facebook page or Twitter account for your business. How do you craft your persona and profile for your business, in a way that is authentic and still gets the job done? That’s part of it.
Another issue people want to know about is how to teach. Then there’s licensing—perhaps you are a professional artist, but you want to start to license your work. Or start selling in a different market. There are many things that artists have in common, and they have questions.
Things are also changing so rapidly. Just keeping up to date on it all seems like a full-time job! Unless you have a personal assistant, you have to do it on your own. Where do you go for that information? That is where the magazine really comes in handy. Everything is up-to-date, by people in the trenches who share their shortcuts, advice and encourage you to go do it.
ABI: Is it your intention to cover artists in many mediums?
JS: Absolutely, the artists and maker demographic is so wide. It’s young, it’s old, it’s every aspect of art and making. We worked very hard to get a cross-section of different types of artists and artists that you may have heard about or know a little bit about. Artists are interested in all different types of creativity.
Find out more and order “Artists & Makers” right here.