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The Art of Entrepreneurship and Artistry with Emily McElwreath

Episode Summary –

Running your own business can be a challenging and rewarding experience that many dream of. Emily McElwreath, an entrepreneur in the fine art industry, shares her journey and offers advice to those looking to start their own businesses in this episode of the “Work From Your Happy Place” podcast.

“Every artist is a business owner, and should think like one.”

Emily stresses that every artist is a business owner and needs to think like one. According to her, three sides of excellence, including mastering your craft, having a good work ethic, and networking, are essential for success in the artist and entrepreneurial worlds. However, many neglect the networking aspect, which can be a critical mistake.

Networking is not a superpower but a skill that can be learned and honed, she explains. It takes effort, but it can also be fun. Emily recommends that entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals ask for help as much as possible. This piece of advice can be critical to success, especially in today's world, where entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals may feel isolated.

According to Emily, it's crucial for an artist's Instagram and website to look good and clean. While cold calls work once in a while, most opportunities come from networking connections and recommendations from other artists or people in the industry. Building a strong network is essential in growing a fan base and getting opportunities in the art industry.

Emily explains that working from her happy place gives her the freedom to dictate her schedule. She can take mental health days and work on her own schedule, which is invaluable to her. Becoming an entrepreneur was a challenging experience for Emily, but she believes it's worth it because she values her freedom above a paycheck.

She believes that to become a consultant, it's important to have expertise and experience in a particular field. It takes time to develop skills and experience to become a consultant. Starting with smaller companies and learning along the way can lead to opportunities with bigger clients.

Emily emphasizes the importance of asking for help and being vulnerable, noting that people generally want to help others as long as their time is not being taken advantage of. Dialogue around the importance of artists viewing themselves as entrepreneurs and business owners is crucial, especially as they work independently and globally.

Emily believes that artists should never give up power to others and must always remain educated and in charge of their work and contracts. Additionally, self-care is essential for artists to prevent burnout, stay focused on their work, and be successful in their careers.

Referrals and word of mouth are powerful in business and networking, and reaching out to someone unexpectedly could lead to new connections and opportunities. Emily recommends that people put themselves out there and interact with others, even if it may not seem immediately beneficial to their careers.

Finally, Emily notes that even with the pandemic making people more introverted, it's still important to connect with others, and seeing and connecting with people can be a tip for success.


About the Emily McElwreath –

Emily McElwreath is equipped with over seventeen years of experience as an adviser, independent art collector and art educator; she also boasts a background in sales. Thanks to her time as Director of Communications and Education at the Brant Foundation Art Study Center, Emily demonstrates the unique ability to understand the art world from both the point of view of the artist and the audience. This skill is continually perfected through extensive involvement in art education: throughout her career, Emily has organized multiple programs, lectures, and panels, featuring distinguished artists, on university campuses and leading NYC venues, in addition to lecturing herself at Sotheby’s Education. Emily has worked on blockbuster exhibitions including Andy Warhol, Julian Schnabel and Nate Lowman at The Brant Foundation, as well as lecturing at top NYC museums including The Whitney and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Most recently, Emily has curated multiple exhibitions with leading emerging artists and is now host and CEO of The Art Career Podcast. Building relationships with artists continues to be Emily’s main focus, frequenting studio visits, connecting artists with collectors, and building partnerships within the art community.