The Artist’s 6 Stages of Initiation

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    The 12th in our art business series with artist and art business expert, Crista Cloutier, who has been coaching other artists around the world on all aspects of their business via her program: The Working Artist.

    The Working Artist

    In business school, they talk about The 6 Stages of Entrepreneurship. But in art school, they don’t even use the word entrepreneur.
    They should.

    Artists are entrepreneurs. That’s the truth. And it’s the difference between the old economy and the new.

    But artists have always been entrepreneurs; they’ve had to be. Though instead of The 6 Stages of Entrepreneurship, I believe that working artists experience The 6 Stages of Initiation.

    Stage One is that moment the spark is lit. You just know you want to do this one thing, all the time and do it really well. You want to make stuff.

    The Second Stage is when you want to know everything, because you’re suddenly aware of how much you don’t know. Every time you look at your work it’s glaringly obvious to you. You’ve got nothing but questions.

    So at Stage Three, you learn. You learn everything you can about your craft, about your practice, about your ideas, about your voice, about yourself.

    And then that spark comes back again, and suddenly you can’t be stopped. You connect with your work and it’s a pleasure like no other. Ah! Stage Four.

    And then they come. Your people. You’ve been waiting impatiently since the start. But you forget; building an art career is a marathon, darling. It’s not a sprint. It takes time to get to Stage Five.

    And then you find yourself one day looking into the eyes of a young artist, all lit up from that heady initial spark. She’ll be asking you questions about everything, because she wants to know it all right now. You’ve arrived at Stage Six, sharing your knowledge.

    Now you understand that everything has its time. And that in the art business, sometimes lessons must be learned the old-fashioned way; you’ve got to work for them.

    These are the Artist’s Six Stages of Initiation.

    Enjoy your journey!


    Crista Cloutier

    Guest Author: Crista Cloutier

    Crista Cloutier has been actively involved in the contemporary art world throughout her career. Having worked as an international art dealer, curator, and gallerist, Crista is now the founder of The Working Artist, an online business school for visual artists. 

    Honored as an “Influencer in the Contemporary Art World” by LinkedIn, Crista’s work has helped artists in over 80 different countries to exhibit and sell more art.

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