The Arts Business Institute presents a two-day workshop “Connect to Your Customer” on March 1-2 in Nashville Tennessee, in partnership with Tennessee Craft. Find out more and register here.
In advance of this event, we talked with the staff at Tennessee Craft about their organization and what they offer their members.
ABI: What do you believe are the biggest challenges craftspeople are facing in their businesses today?
TC: We have the good fortune to shine a spotlight on Tennessee’s most talented artists through Craft Fairs, exhibition opportunities for our members, The Best of Tennessee Craft Biennial Exhibition and more.
As we connect and converse with emerging and experienced makers, we’ve realized they are motivated to grow their craft skills through extraordinary schools, classes, workshops and mentorships within our organization.
However, they need to be encouraged and led to offerings focused on developing the business side of their craft – from general accounting help to selling strategies. While we offer events allowing artists to show and sell their work, adding sales and marketing guidance helps them leverage these opportunities to exhibit, so sales and future business occur.
We look to the Arts Business Institute and other nationally recognized presenters to help our artists understand the building blocks of business, ensuring their craft finds its way out of the studios and into a buyer’s home.
ABI: What’s your best advice for new craftspeople just starting out?
TC: Create, connect and critique!
Make work, make more and keep making! You’ll find and refine your craft and voice with each completed work.
Connect with other artists to learn and grow from their experiences. We encourage our members to attend Chapter Meetings and find a mentor to advise their craft journey. Through these relationships we know our artists will grow and craft will continue to have a great impact in Tennessee for generations to come!
Be open to critiques from others. You don’t have to react to every comment, but as you start your craft career, it is important to listen to feedback.
ABI: Artists often feel isolated in their studios, making community incredibly important. What are the most important ways that you serve your membership?
TC: We strive to build a great community of makers. Each of our six Chapters across the state host at least four meetings and events each year. Through Chapter activities, the events listed above, our Master Artist/Apprentice Program and public demonstrations, we intentionally work to connect artists with one another and the community.
A fun note to incentivize makers: Our Chapter leaders always tell us that free food is a great enticement to pry artists from their work for a few hours!
More information about this organization:
We are Tennessee Craft. Since 1965 we have preserved and advanced the rich history and tradition of Tennessee craft. Grounded in our state’s handmade heritage, we offer multiple stages for today’s makers to showcase their work to those engaged in the fine art community. Tennessee Craft (previously known as the Tennessee Association of Craft Artists or TACA) works year-round to continue and create Tennessee’s fine craft tradition.