Rebecca Mason's Tips For Surviving Covid19 For Artists and Small Creative Businesses
Rebecca Mason is a UK based neon artist, a successful artist and entrepreneur, she runs her own gallery based in Folkestone as well as showing her own work internationally.
She's set up the Help Hub which is a portal for small businesses and artists,offering practical advice, from website building to government loans. The Help Hub was set up in reaction to the potential economic pressures of Covid19 but also serves as a useful reference for any small business or budding artist.
She's shared with us some of her advice on how how to cope during this crisis.
1. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be creative. It might look like some people are coming out with loads of new projects etc but everyone’s situation is different. Some may have different home, financial, etc situations to others. Don’t judge yourself by the output of others. Do what you can but don’t push too hard - now is a time to be kind to yourself if you can be.
2. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be managing, feeling positive, feeling in control. It’s ok for it to all feel unmanageable, to have a cry and get it out. These are unprecedented and uncertain times. It’s ok to feel that.
3. From the financial side, ensure you have checked which grants and support you may be able to apply for.
If you do not appear to qualify for government grants etc it is worth checking to see if there are other groups in the same situation and keeping up with them and their lobbying.
4. Don’t dwell too much on the things that are not unfair (e.g. grants you can’t receive) and which you can’t control. This is far easier said than done and feeling like I was being left behind on government financial support was eating me up, but I wasn’t doing myself any favours.
5. Use this time to improve your website and e-commerce platforms. For example, improving the display on your site, i.e making sure your cart is visible. Check your website speed, if you have a lot of images this may slow down the speed, simply reducing the size of the images should resolve this. Adding SEO is crucial, maximise the functionality of your e-commerce platforms.
6. Look at work you already have around you and see whether you can utilise it, or offer it for sale. Collectors love unusual, imperfect (one off) and process related pieces. You might not see the value in them but they can be works that can bring in some income that you just forgot about before.
7. Nurture your relationships with your galleries, clients and suppliers. This is really a time when you can strengthen these relationships via mutual support, cooperation and compromise. Be careful of damaging these relationships during this time via quick-money schemes which freeze out those who have supported you in the past (e.g. avoid undercutting galleries etc). Those who support you well now are keepers. It might be worth offering particularly helpful galleries etc exclusives on future work etc by way of thanks.
8. Art often chronicles the times - there are so many things happening right now in society and the world. Maybe you can find inspiration, Maybe you can’t think straight right now - that is ok too.
9. To try to keep yourself afloat financially, look at whether you can scale down your work into affordable offerings that don’t also impact sales of your larger pieces. e.g. I do framed limited edition card mini prints. They are much larger editions, much smaller, not fine art archival papers etc. A very different offering to my other work. But they are priced far lower. They sell very well. The margin on them is very small, they are the kinds of things I stopped doing because they used up time I needed to save up for bigger pieces that paid the bills better. But we don’t have the luxury of those times.
10. try to keep a routine. I schedule one day in the workshop, one day doing admin/online orders etc etc, then next day back in workshop etc etc. I have lists of what I plan to do each day. These lists contain a small fraction of what I would usually do per day but I recognise that a lot of my energy is going on existing, some anxiety etc at the moment, so I set myself realistic targets. these lists can be flexible - I tend to find I have planned out the next few days but things do go wrong, or I am just not feeling it. It’s good to give yourself a break too and not push too hard, otherwise you just feel like failing each day and we are all having to use up a lot of energy at the moment trying to navigate this situation and our personal challenges associated with it. So lists and plans are great, but also be kind to yourself and allow some flexibility. It’s really about trying to find some balance in a very unbalanced situation but recognising your own limits and what is working for you and what is not. If I have a day where I didn’t do 90% of what was on my list (because I spent that 90% doing other things that came up/went wrong etc) I am trying not to beat myself up. It is easy to underestimate how much the current situation really impacts mental wellbeing and health (we all know it is obvious but I think the true extent is only now becoming really apparent). I think particularly now we are all getting very fatigued with what is going on. It’s becoming harder to just keep carrying on sometimes as many people have been trying to carry on for 5-6 weeks now and I think a lot of us are hitting the wall.
11. Try to get as much time as you can to relax, unwind or distract yourself. Personally I find these are the times I am most creative. Easier said than done, especially if you have sick friends and family members or a young family to care for.
See More Of Rebecca'a prints and neons here