This post is by guest author Keith Bond. This article has been edited and published with the author's permission. We've promoted this post to feature status because it provides great value to the FineArtViews community. If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 60,500+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites. This author's views are entirely his own and may not always reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.
Last week I wrote about teaching. My list of reasons not to teach was somewhat negative. It was mainly to point out that there are some artists who teach for the wrong reasons.
But what I failed to mention (and it was brought to my attention by a few readers) is that there are many valid and honorable reasons not to teach as well. I should have made that distinction in the article last week. Teaching is not for everyone and you should not feel badly if you choose not to teach. My apologies for the omission.
For those of you who do choose to teach (or are considering it), today’s topic is workshops.
Most of you are probably familiar with the popular and common workshop format. Typically a workshop is between 3 to 5 days and lasts all day during those days. These intensive workshops often include a combination of lectures, demonstrations, hands on learning/practice by the students, individualized attention, group critiques, etc. They can be very rewarding for both student and teacher.
2 Ways to Put On / Organize a Workshop
As I see it, there are really only 2 ways to organize a workshop: 1) have a school/academy organize the workshop or 2) organize it yourself. There are pros and cons to each. You could argue that a 3rd approach would be to have a combination of the 2 listed here. I would argue that all workshops are collaborations. The tasks could be divided up as agreed upon by the 2, but someone must take the lead and it will usually be the one handling the registration.
Responsibility of the Organizer
Whoever organizes the workshop needs to do the following things (some tasks can be divided up, but the organizer ensures that they are done). The organizer’s role is funding and management.
- Handle all the logistics of putting the workshop on
- Find suitable location(s) for the workshop. Will it be indoors, outdoors or both? Do you have your own indoor facilities or will you need to rent a space?
- Handle registration of students
- Have a cancellation policy
- Communicate with student as the date of the workshop approaches
- Handle any issues that arise during the workshop
- Provide plenty of water
- Decide what extras you will offer, if any (evening socials, lunches, etc.)
Pros and Cons of Working through a School or Academy
This also includes any local art group or gallery that might host the workshop.
Pros (for the artist-teacher)
- You don’t have to worry about the logistics
- You don’t have the burden of risk
- Less time consuming for you
- You will enlarge your fan base - the school or academy will introduce new students to you who hadn’t heard of you before
- Establish working relationship
- If travel is involved, you get to go somewhere that you otherwise might not
- You have less control over what happens
- You limit your profit (more about profits below)
- Must be invited or accepted as an instructor - this can sometimes be difficult if you’ve never taught before
Pros and Cons of Organizing Your Own Workshop
- You have complete control
- You earn 100% of the profits (more about profits below)
- Establish yourself as authority
- Build your own business
- Burden of risk
- Responsibility to handle the logistics
- Limited to your own fan base and those you gain through advertising
- Costs (advertising, rental of facilities if needed, etc.)
Thoughts on Profits
Most academies or schools pay the artist a set amount for the workshop regardless of how many students register. This can be a pro or a con – if few students register, you still earn the full amount. But if the workshop is full, then the academy is earning much more than you are. They are, however, incurring expenses that you don’t have to worry about. If they work hard for you and earn their share, then this is completely fair.
Some organizations will work on a percentage basis. The more who sign up, the more you both earn. But your share will be more than in the first scenario. Negotiate for this if possible. And if travel is required for you, negotiate that your travel expenses are covered by the organizer.
On the other hand, if you have the skills to handle the logistics and are willing to do the work, you could earn all the profits - 100%. Yes, you will incur expenses you otherwise wouldn’t. If you begin local - preferably in your own studio - you can minimize many of those expenses. If you have a decent mailing list already, then advertising can be minimal as well.
Play with the math and see what the projected expenses and profits are. Look at best and worst case scenarios. Then decide for yourself which route you want to go.
As I said, there are pros and cons of each. Find what works best for you. I find that a balanced approach – organizing some of my own and doing some through other organizations works for me. My balance fluctuates between 1/2 to 2/3 self organized. The remaining are through other organizations and schools. This way, with each workshop I am reaping different benefits. Also, most of my self-organized workshops are held at my own studio – thus reducing costs.
Oh, one last final thought. Even if a school is organizing it for you, you have a responsibility to advertise it to your fans. Blog about it. Announce it on your website. Include it in email blasts and in newsletters. And the organizer should be doing the same with their mailing list.
I hope you find this helpful. What did I miss?
Today's post is an updated version from a few years ago, but we're republishing it again today because it's still a timely and a very relevant message. Enjoy!
For many professional artists teaching workshops is a great way to earn income while connecting with fellow artists in meaningful ways. FASO makes it really easy to promote your workshop to over 55,000 artists through our Fine Art Views Workshops Special Editions. Let us help you drive qualified students to your workshops today, click here to learn more!
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