Balancing Art and Business
Technically, every artist is in the business of working and selling themselves. However, Lauren Amalia Redding, silverpoint artist based in Naples, Florida, also has a brick and mortar storefront. Along with her husband, sculptor Brett Harvey, Lauren opened H&R Studios in 2018, providing them with separate private studios as well as teaching and gallery space.
Detail from De donde crece la palma, 2015, Silverpoint on hand-gessoed panel, 18 x 24"
Prior to opening the studio, Lauren began her training at Northwestern University. Although she was always “that kid” who could be seen drawing, she didn’t plan on being an art major. She quickly decided that art was her path, and after graduation she received her Masters from the New York Academy. Lauren spent over 7 years in NYC before deciding to move to Naples and open a studio.
Lauren knew that she and Brett had to establish a presence in the local cultural community. They were aware that there were ateliers in Sarasota and Miami but nothing in between for people looking for classical training.
Using apps like MeetUp, Facebook, and Eventful as well as local newspapers helped them to get to know the area and make connections. As artists, we push ourselves to be proactive and get out of the studio. Networking and social media is part of the job.
Once the studio was opened, Lauren realized that using a rare medium like silverpoint could be both a benefit and a hindrance. It’s rewarding in that people who buy it are serious. However, general buyers needed to be educated about its process. She soon learned the Naples art climate was moving away from people who merely wanted resort-themed work and toward something more.
H&R Studio in Naples, Florida, owned by Lauren Amalia Redding and Brett Harvey
H & R Studios has a less structured educational curriculum. With a laugh, she described herself as being “bureaucracy averse.” They have made the decision to keep their schedule flexible. They diversified their skill set by freelance writing (Lauren) and doing private installations (Brett), so keeping schedules flexible was a priority. Of course, any revenue stream is huge, and finding an audience is tricky.
As a small business in a litigious society, they have become aware of the need for liability and property insurance. Lauren has learned that a good accountant is crucial, not just for expertise about tax codes, but for peace of mind.
The eternal artist struggle is time management. Successfully balancing the time required to handle the business along with being an artist can be a tightrope walk, and I wondered her strategy. Lauren admits that they are still trying to figure that out.
The population of Naples shifts by season. Winter/Spring are busy while Summer/Fall are calm. Some artists have a set schedule and only do administrative work certain days of the week; Lauren cannot do that yet. If someone asks about classes, she will get back to them in a timely manner. This can be distracting when working on commissions, as an artist’s biggest commodity is time, but a prompt reply is professional.
I posed the question, “Does being a business owner give you a new perspective marketing as an artist?” While Lauren admitted it can be difficult or uncomfortable talking about your own artwork, under the umbrella of a studio it has become much easier. Through networking with people from other fields, she observed that they aren’t shy talking about their business. Artists need to do the same.
Lastly, in honor of the Cecelia Beaux Forum, I requested some tips for women artists in particular. Lauren feels that a community of like-minded women is empowering and supportive, so don’t waste time and energy working with those who’s minds you won’t change. I couldn’t agree more!
Lauren Amalia Redding