Should Art Schools Teach Business?

Many artists come to Arts Business Institute workshops when they realize they don’t have the necessary skills to run a small business. That’s one reason we exist. We teach what Art Schools don’t.


brushes and pencils


Should art schools offer business classes as part of their curriculum? We say Yes. Art students quite often dream of doing what they love in a creative business that sustains them. Organizing, planning, marketing, selling – these are skills totally separate from working in the studio. They aren’t intuitive. They are learned.

Students who understand their options are empowered. Students who learn about “the big picture” and get a glimpse of the real world before they enter it, have been given a gift of knowledge. We feel that gift is something art students deserve, and art schools should not only be obligated, but happy to give.

A young printmaker we know said, “I attended one of the top 10 art schools, and never learned anything about the business of art. It wasn’t until I took a community college course on ‘Artists in Business’ that I knew anything about what was ahead of me. It turns out that was the most informative course I took during my whole college experience.”

Basic business courses during undergraduate years can help students choose wisely when selecting the studio courses they will take. Traditionally, the graphic art students are more prepared for a job when they leave school, but what about artists in other disciplines? They deserve to be prepared also.

An art professor who recently attended one of our two-day workshops was elated after learning how the business works – licensing, wholesaling, gallery relationships, the world of corporate art sales. It opened up possibilities for the sale of her paintings that she didn’t know existed.

“My students need this!” she said.

We think she was right.

What do you think?


workshop 2014 collageDon’t miss these exciting ABI business workshops for artists – coming up in Fall, 2014! Each workshop is perfect for artists and craftspeople who want to launch or grow small businesses. Learn How to Make Work That Sells, Start Wholesaling, Develop Gallery Relationships, Market and Sell Your Work Effectively, and much more Individual business consultations available at each event.


ART+BUSINESS NYC, New York, New York, September 27-28, 2014

No More Starving Artists, Edinboro, PA, October 10-11, 2014

Art Business Bootcamp, Naples, FL, October 17-18, 2014

Marketing Magic, Montclair, NJ, November 8, 2014

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  1. A Resounding YES!!!!!! They need to teach business and marketing. They need to teach techniques and history. They need to teach safety.
    We need tools! We need each other!

    • Thanks for your comment, Michelle. With your enthusiasm (and others who have commented on social media, maybe we’ll make a difference!)

  2. Yes, I think it is very important, I see so many great artists that can not understand why they can not make money or a living with their art. If they could incorporate just a few business practices, this would help them to try to make a business form their art. The world with ecommerce is a game changer and it should be taught as part of the curriculum.

    • Yes, E-commerce is a huge gamechanger. It also enables artists to get into business very quickly, which is where they often find out they don’t know how to run it.

  3. These sounds great! Any chance you’ll hold them in the southwest or on the west coast any time soon?

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