ABC asked Van Tucker, business leader and artist consultant, to share advice for artists who seek to advance their careers.

Art and commerce have always been strange bedfellows. I recently met with a very busy photographer who expressed frustration that, while he felt his work was inspired, his business was not growing. During our conversation, it became clear that his work was exceptional, in part because that is where he had focused all of his energy. He believed that if he produced compelling work, the money would follow.

The reality is this: You must balance your creativity with business principles if you want a successful business . . . of any kind. Artists cultivate business skills in many ways, but I’ve found three strategies that resonate most clearly: Understand and balance your internal and external motivations.

What do I mean by internal and external motivations? Internal motivators are the powerful drivers behind creativity—inspiration, challenge, purpose, or creative flow. They spark our imagination and artistic skill. Income, reputation, recognition, and opportunities are external motivators and fundamental drivers for any business. Balancing the two is key to building powerful creative businesses.

Learn as much about your business as you do your art.

Goal setting and balance can start you on your journey, but, for many artists, business training, mentor relationships, and peer accountability make all the difference. That’s where Periscope comes into play. The Arts & Business Council’s new Periscope: Artist Entrepreneur Training Program provides the tools to organize, plan, and sustain a creative business through instruction, mentoring, and idea exchange at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center.
Put in the work.

As an artist, it is easy to spend hours developing your craft and shortchange other types of organizational work. If you want to earn a living as an artist, it is equally important to prioritize business development.
Art and commerce are not such strange bedfellows when you find the right balance.

Van Tucker has over thirty years of professional experience in the financial services industries and has a rich history of civic and community involvement. Email Tucker at



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