Creating a Mobile Independent Artist Business - Part 1: Introduction and Equipment

The Mobile, Independent Artist
Business Toolkit.

Introduction


Welcome to a new series of blog posts I'm embarking on that gets back to the roots of what this blog was first created for, discussing my own arts practice. A kind of behind the scenes look at what goes into creating my art.

More than that, I'm planning to write a new book based on this series of posts, which are about how to set yourself up as an Independent Artist, able to work from anywhere with an internet connection. This series will look at what you need, how to set your business up, what opportunities there are to earn money, and how to keep it all going.


I will admit that this system is not fully tested as being a viable path to a full time independent artist career so I will be practicing what I preach. These posts are recording my results as a kind of diary of progress. A proof of concept if you will. That said, I currently run an animation business that I can work from anywhere with a laptop and an internet connection so, it's not all new territory.

As my art focus is on drawing, painting and animation, my business model will revolve around that. However, much of this could easily be ported over to other art forms and practices.

Follow along and get all the information for free. Should I progress to writing the book I'll let you know, as it may be handy to buy as a convenient reference once these posts start to get lost in my blog archive.

Equipment


To begin, let's look at what equipment you'll need i.e. the actual hardware. My aim is to create a completely mobile business that you could set up anywhere you have internet access. Why? Because it's easier to enjoy the fruits of your labor if you can choose your own hours and work from anywhere.

If you're a 100% digital artist you could literally carry all your equipment in a small backpack, carry bag or briefcase. If you want to keep a hand in traditional, hand created art you may need a bigger bag but nothing larger than a typical size suit case (unless you like working at particularly large scale).

So here's what I think you'll need:

Digital Artist


  • Tablet computer or laptop.
  • Mobile phone with camera and internet access.
  • Graphics Tablet and/or digital stylus.

Traditional Artist (Drawing and Acrylics Painter)


  • Tablet computer or laptop.
  • Mobile phone with camera and internet access.
  • Sketch book.
  • Portable easel.
  • Lead pencils and eraser
  • Five colors of acrylic paint (Red, Yellow, Blue, Black White).
  • Pre-primed and framed Canvas.
  • Paint brushes and palette.

Let's assume  that some of the equipment used by a traditional artist could be rounded up locally from wherever they are e.g. water, towels, new canvases etc. My list above is the essentials. If you have them, you're pretty much set to create an artwork.

Some of the equipment is fairly self explanatory so below is my thinking on those items I feel require further explanation.

Tablet Computer or Laptop


You can do so much from modern tablet computers like iPads these days. I personally own a Teclast X98 Air III Tablet PC with both Android and Windows 10 operating systems. It's the tablet I'll be using throughout this series. However you could do just as well with a laptop.

The main thing is to have something a bit more powerful than a phone, with a bit bigger screen to run the business through (even the bigger phone screens are too small to stare at for long periods). You also need something that can handle the graphics software you intend to use to either create your art or at least enhance the photos you take of your traditional art.

Mobile Phone with Camera and Internet Access


Without Internet access you don't have a business - or at least you're going to find it very hard to find opportunities to earn money. Whilst tablets and laptops are more than capable of being connected directly to the internet you're still going to need a phone so why not use that and connect your tablet or laptop to its Internet through wi-fi.

Phone camera's are much easier to take photos or video of your art with and are usually of higher quality than those built into tablets and laptops. As well there are a lot more accessories like tripods, lenses and more if you want to get creative. Some phone cameras are so good you could earn a living as a photographer using them.

Graphics Tablet or Digital Stylus


If you intend to create art directly into your tablet or laptop then one or both of these is going to make that process much easier (assuming you usually begin creating art by sketching ideas on paper). Both have a learning curve. You may not like either initially but stick with it and soon you'll be drawing as good as you do on paper with a pencil.

I have a WACOM Intuous 4 graphics tablet as well as a cheaper UGEE M1000L tablet (you can pick this tablet up for around AU$50.00). The WACOM is definitely nicer to draw on but the UGEE is perfectly fine too.

Graphics Tablet Glove.
I'm also experimenting with drawing directly on my Teclast Tablet screen using a stylus. I've tried many different styli and settled on the Adonit Jot Dash. This stylus doesn't have palm rejection but I that can be solved simply by wearing a special two fingered glove available specifically for artists who draw directly onto tablet screen monitors (not especially to solve palm rejection problems but more as a way to stop your hand from greasing up the surface). I specifically wanted a stylus that wasn't linked to any particular software like those that are bluetooth enabled.

Five Color Acrylic Paints


The equipment list for a traditional art path is fairly self explanatory except you may be wondering about why I've specified only five paint colors (the primary colors plus white and black)?

My reasoning here is that you want to be portable as possible. With this set of colors you can mix almost every other color you'll need, never get stuck with a color you barely use, and you only ever have to worry about replenishing the same five colors.

You may think that sounds crazy but I've been an acrylic artist for years and the only other color I've personally bought outside of the five is green - and that's because it came in a pack of six that had my other five colors.

Learning to mix colors will keep your costs right down and you will never have to store colors you bought once for a specific artwork and never used again.

---o ---oo--- o---

So there you have it. I'm sure there may be a few pieces of equipment I've missed but that's the point of this series. To really hash out the essentials of what's needed to start and run an independent artist business. Feel free to suggest anything I may have missed in the comments below.

Next week we'll look at the Business software you'll need to manage all the financial aspects of running your business.

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