The myth of the starving artist is beginning to dissolve. Artists are often stereotyped as bad with numbers, fickle, full of lofty ideas, and even depressed outliers in their community. In fact, some artists intentionally embody these characteristics for fear of being stereotyped as a sellout. Honestly, it’s a catch 22 that dampens many creative ventures that have potential to be profitable. However, it wasn’t so very long ago that artists and creative entrepreneurs were funded in their endeavors by patrons and sponsors who believed in their work. Without patrons we would not have the Sistine Chapel, or the robust history of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, which was owned by actors who were shareholders in The Lord Chamberlain’s Men.
The idea of a patron brings up pious images of Renaissance artists, but today, there is a new kind of patron that often targets ventures in the creative industries: Angel Investors. Before Michelangelo pops back in to mind, think of an angel investor as a secular, business-minded person with a keen interest in the value of creativity in the economy. The creative economy encompasses a broad range of activities and businesses, from theater and film to architecture and museums, but one thing that helps define this term is the how this economic sector relies on human creativity to generate wealth.
If you are a lonely artist, struggling with numbers, and feeling depressed that your art has yet to fully support your lifestyle, do not dismay. First, that would further progress the artist’s stereotype. Second, you might be surprised by the financial support of an angel investor if you are willing to step outside your comfort zone and push your work into the “sellout” zone…as in selling all your artwork! Thomas Kinkade was often considered a sellout for monetizing his artwork and galleries. We need not discuss the artist’s contribution to the timeline of art history, but he treated his art as a business endeavor to great financial success.
“There’s been million-seller books and million-seller CDs,” Kinkade explained. “But there hasn’t been, until now, million-seller art. We have found a way to bring to millions of people, an art that they can understand.”
The question I have in mind while reading Winning Angels: The 7 Fundamentals of Early Stage Investing, is how can creative entrepreneurs attract angel investors? With the dynamic growth of crafters, artisans, and independent artists, it is important to think big when envisioning the future of our creative work, not only to increase profit for Me, Inc., but in hopes of attracting investors who will see the potential economic impact of the work. Attracting these kinds of investors requires the creative entrepreneur to step outside the artist stereotype, and shed the so-called sell-out stigma of making profitable work.A measure of due diligence is expected from both parties. The investor is looking for a solid business plan, a strong entrepreneur, and the potential of the endeavor to create profit. Therefore, it is imperative that creative entrepreneurs present their idea strongly from various angles. Crunch your numbers. Practice your pitch. Define your vision. Show the investor that you mean business!
Given the various ways angel investors approach sourcing their investment options, it is in the creative entrepreneur’s best interest to build networks with influential people. Angel investors often prefer word of mouth referrals. They play the game of who knows who, so make an effort to meet your area’s who’s who and make friends. There are, in fact, angel investors who specialize in certain kinds of investments; one specialty is the creative industries, which encompass all manner of arts-lead endeavors, including non-profit. A quick internet search can reveal matchmakers for entrepreneurs and investors in your area.
And finally, don’t be shy about spreading your gospel! Ask for interviews and introductions. Speak with a lawyer, banker, or copywriter who can review your presentation materials. E-mail the guest speaker, the book author, or the blogger that speaks your language. Don’t be afraid to tell them where you want to go with your work. If you are a good fit for their skills and interests, angel investors are ready and willing to offer their financial support, but they cannot do so if they have never heard of you! Being authentic in your networking endeavors will ensure what they hear is all positive!