ignite your creativity


The world of art can seem like a daunting place to navigate for even the most experienced of artists. To give you a jump start, the Sparks at Spark Box Studio have gathered and organized all kinds of valuable information that will help you organize and promote yourself as an artist, get your work out there, and understand the business basics of a career in the arts.

- Artist Statement
- Creating a Portfolio
- The Curriculum Vitae
- Documenting Your Work

- Blogs and Networking Sites
- Business Cards
- Marketing Your Work
- Press Releases
- Publicizing Your Work
- Selling Your Work Online
- Selling Your Work Online: Online Money Transfers

- Art Space Rentals
- Artist-Run Centre, Alternative Venues & Creative Spaces
- Commercial Galleries and Dealers
- International Exhibit
- Juried Exhibition
- Public Galleries
- Staging Your Own Exhibit

- Developing and Writing a Proposal
- Preparing a Budget
- Proper Follow-up

- Finding an Exhibition Location
- Finding Your Market
- Knowing the Key Players in the Art Business

- Bookkeeping
- Choosing a Business Structure
- Federal and Provincial Sales TaxFederal and Provincial Sales Tax
- Income Tax Return
- Insurance
- Registering Your BusinessRegistering Your Business

Return to index. ARTIST STATEMENT

Writing an artist statement can be one of the most challenging things an artist will have to prepare in their career, as it can be very hard to find the right words to describe your work. Your artist statement is meant to contextualize your art practice. This short paragraph (550-1000 words) should talk about your materials, methods, research and meaning of your work. You may think that your work says all it needs to say but you have to remember that potential galleries and clients may need more in order to understand your pieces.

Emily Carr Institute: Writing an Artist Statement
This site offers questions like who is your audience? What is your purpose or motive? What is the historical, theoretical or critical influence?

How to Write and Use an Artist Statement
This site has a interesting breakdown of what to ask yourself in order to form your artist statement.

Writing an Artist Statement
This site has a short summary of what an artist statement is meant to do and some questions to ask yourself when trying to write your artist statement.


A good portfolio is an essential career-development tool for any artist. Your portfolio is a document that creates a bridge between you and the art world. Different portfolios are needed for different types of submissions. Carefully read the guidelines for anything you apply for and follow them exactly. It is likely that anything you’re applying for is getting a number of applications from other people and if your portfolio doesn’t follow the outline it will easily fall into the garbage. When sending portfolios to galleries the best choice it to send packages that have been well edited and carefully prepared.

Step-by-Step Guide to Portfolio . pdf
Exactly what the title says, a guide to creating a portfolio. This article covers the basis of portfolio building and what to consider as you construct it. This article was written by our good friend, Becky Hubble.

Artist Portfolio Guidelines
This site has most of the information seen above. Explains how to create
your portfolio and how to present it to galleries.

Developing your Artist Portfolio
This site has detailed information about each element of your portfolio.
Does not give as much information as above but goes into more detail about
specific items.

Developing your Artist Portfolio
This site has detailed information about each element of your portfolio.
Does not give as much information as above but goes into more detail about
specific items.


A curriculum vita is your artist resume and will be a requirement when applying to galleries, grants, open calls and residencies. The most important thing to remember when writing your CV is to keep it clean, straight forward and up to date. This document is how you are going to show your artistic history to galleries and clients.

CV Outline . pdf
This is a basic outline for a simple easy to follow CV. Working at Oeno Gallery Chrissy deals with CV’s frequently and commonly they are presented in this format. This article is written by Chrissy Poitras.

An Introduction to Creating Your Artist Résumé
This has a nice long explanation of the importance of your artist CV. It also explains what CV’s should include for visual artists, performance artists, literary artists and media artists.

Career Planning: CVs and Covering Letters
This link explains the importance of creating a CV and has a breakdown of different types of CVs including artist CV, designer CV and multimedia CV. It also speaks about cover letters and proper follow-up.

How to Write an Artist’s CV
This link has a break down of a basic CV layout and includes details about adding a short biography to the end of you CV.


Documenting your work is THE most important part of promoting yourself as an artist. Images of your work are what get people interested in what you are doing. Because of this, documenting your work properly is one of the most important investments you can make as an artist and entrepreneur. If you don’t invest in your career by taking quality images than why would galleries or clients want to invest in your work. Have a professional take pictures of your work. Although this is expensive you can learn from the experience–understand how to take your own images properly—and it will aid in getting gallery representation. Commercial galleries work with many clients, many never enter the gallery, work is shown to them via email and art is selected based on the images sent. If your images aren’t quality the gallery may not select your work to show to the client. Invest in yourself, it shows that you take your work seriously, that you are professional and that you understand the art market. If you feel up to the challenge of documenting your work yourself, here are a few pointers and links to other online resources that will help.

Documenting Your Work . pdf
Knowing how hard it can be to find a professional photographer and the cash to pay them we asked our good friend and photographer Paul Hubble to write detailed information about taking great pictures of your work.

How to Photograph your Artwork for a Portfolio or the Internet
Good information about everything. This also has good images of how to set-up your camera, etc. Gives steps from beginning to end (how to set-up, take the image and put the work online or in your portfolio). Is also trying to sell you an online folio. Talks about taking pics of paintings only.

How to Take Your Own Pictures of Your Artwork
This site overviews the importance of documenting your work. In addition it talks about using a digital camera to document your artwork. Written in a very basic way, easy to read. Some information isn’t great but does give a decent general overview.

Images for the Internet
This article speaks about putting images online. Also explains the difference between DPI and pixels, how to resize images, cropping, etc. Very basic photoshop information.


One of the most fundamental parts of being an artist, or being an entrepreneur is making connections, and building relationships. You need more than just great art. Remember that most times you are not just selling a product you are selling the idea of yourself, and your story. Blog sites can be effective tools to get people consistently returning to your site to see what is new and what you’re working on. They are easy to use, generally free, and require no programing, but can be customizable and personal. We used wordpress blogs for our sites with great success and are quite happy with being able to do all the work ourselves. Networking sites are amazing for staying in touch with people you have met, and for meeting new people. Ever hear that expression ‘its not what you know, its who you know’? Well in a way there is a truth behind it. So get out there and start making contacts and building relationships.

Free to sign up with using a google account. Create a blog site.

Facebook is a free-access social networking website. Almost a staple in networking with your peers.

LinkedIn is an interconnected network of experienced professionals from around the world. This is primarily a networking service.

Live Journal
A blogging website, free to join up.

MySpace is a free social networking website.

Twitter is a real-time short messaging service that works over multiple networks and devices. Lets you ‘twitter’.

Another blogging site.

Lets you get started with a new and free WordPress-based blog in minutes. Create a blog site.

7 Popular Art Blogging Styles
So now you have a blog and perhaps you find it difficult to write because you don’t know how to write a blog or what you write just doesn’t sound good, or maybe questioning what is blog worthy. This article examines several different blog styles artists tend to use.

Return to index. BUSINESS CARDS

A business card is key in representing your self to the public. When meeting some one new they should have your card within the first minutes of the conversation. This card contains some extremely important information, who you are, what you do, your contacts, and perhaps your website. When you walk away from that initial conversation the only thing that person will have to remember you is your business card and a conversation. You want to make sure your card is aesthetically awesome and rememberable. Make it count.

Amazing Business Card Examples on Flickr
When trying to think of cool ideas for business cards it can be hard to come up with something that catches the public eye. This Flickr site link has nearly 1000 business cards. Great place to find inspiration for creating a unique business card that will catch a client’s eye.

Wikipedia Information on Business Cards
Surprisingly wikipedia does give good information on business cards. Supplying useful information on typical paper quality, weight, shape and in addition some terminology in regards to color printing which might be helpful with talking with graphic designers, or the printing companies.

11 Parts of a Business Card
This link provides a good breakdown of the various information to be considered when designing the layout of your business card. Name, Address, Phone, Web Page, Title, Taglines and etc.

Return to index. MARKETING YOUR WORK

In this section we thought it would be nice to post articles about marketing ideas, strategies, distribution plans, and making marketing material. There are so many ideas and strategies in the world of marketing it can make you dizzy. Some may work well for you, other may not, perhaps you can draw inspiration from these for making strategies of your very own.

Marketing Your Art . pdf
An article focusing on creating marketing and distribution plans. A good article to read to get you started in the right direction. Written by Becky Hubble.

11 Effective Ways to Market an Art Business
Suggests eleven cost effectives strategies for marketing your art. A good read that can be encouraging for the pocket book.

Return to index. PRESS RELEASES

Write a Press Release
Outlines basic steps to writing a press release for the newspaper. From writing the headline and body to including important information that should not be missed.

Write Proper Press Releases
Gives notes about how to write a proper press release. This link provides useful information for proper formatting techniques when writing press releases.

Examples of Art Based Press Releases
Three examples of press releases. Observe these examples and use their formatting to your benefit.


Publicizing your work is a key component in an artist’s entrepreneurial arsenal. Effective publicity should form a networking base that enables you to seek out career opportunities, while also creating its own momentum so that opportunities can find you. Whether you’re an old hat or new to the game, one thing is the same, you don’t need to have a marketing degree to form a plan and develop marketing materials that can be invaluable to your career.


As an artist you should be aware that the internet can be a very profitable avenue. When you’re independently representing yourself it can be your best friend. There are many online market place sites to use as a venue to host and sell your work, here is a few that we have come across. These types of sites have a tendency to be craft based rather than fine art based.

Online Art and Craft Store: Etsy is an online marketplace where you can register to buy and sell handmade items. This website is craft oriented but is also applicable to fine art products. Sales on this site are simple. To list 1 item it costs 20 cents US. This means if you have 4 of the same item, say 4 prints, it’ll cost $0.80 cents to post them. This fee lists the item on the site for 4 months. Upon the sale of an item Etsy takes a cut of 3.5% of the total sale price, this does not include the shipping price.

Fire Art America
Online Art and Craft Store: This site is another site of the same genre, create a profile and upload images which then can be sold. Fine Art America is a social network and e-commerce marketplace for photographers, visual artists, art galleries, and fine art collectors.

Shop Hand Made
Online Craft Store: Shop Hand Made is an online marketplace where you can register to buy and sell handmade items. This website is mainly craft oriented. To list 1 item it costs 25 cents US. This means if you have 4 of the same item, say 4 drawings, it’ll cost $1.00 cents to post them. Upon the sale of an item Shop Hand Made asks for you to choose a percentage to give back to the site, you can even choose 0%. An interesting feature of this site is upon the sale of item you can choose to sponsor 100 or 250 square feet of an endangered rainforest.

Art Fire
Online Craft Store: ArtFire is an online marketplace for buying and selling handmade, art, vintage, media and craft supplies. This site offers two types of accounts, a basic a and a verified account. The basic account is free to use and has a few limitations. The verified account has upgraded features and cost $12.00 a month, US. The verified account has many customization options for your account page.


Selling your artwork online, receiving payments, online transactions and associated applicable fees. When you’re shipping work around the world to people who you have only met via the internet why not collect payment from them via the internet as well. Here is where online banking and online money transfers come in. Online transfers are safe, reliable, faster than mail, and most automatically convert currency. Yet you should learn which system is best suited for you. As a general rule all money transfer services do change a flat fee or take a percentage of the total value.

Interac Email Money Transfer
Interac Email Money Transfers are a simple, convenient, and secure way to send and receive money directly from one bank account to another. There are generally no fees to using this service, only in some circumstances will there be a fee.

PayPal is only a Payment Service Provider. PayPal helps you make payments to and accept payments from third parties. The fee PayPal uses for transaction of goods is 2.9% of the price +$0.30

Western Union
Three ways to transfer money, from a store’s location, online or by phone. With Western Union there are service charges that vary depending on the location sending and receiving locations.

Return to index. ART SPACE RENTALS

An art rental program is, for some artists, a means of potentially making an income and gaining publicity from work that may have otherwise been sitting in storage. A professional art rental program will sign on a certain number of works from an artist for a set period of time and make them available to their clients for a set fee and time-period. If the renter wishes to buy the piece, the rental organization will take a commission. It should be the rental program’s responsibility to insure the work for damage and theft, but you the artist will be required to pay for framing as well as shipping and handling. Many artists have gotten involved in art-rental programs, to greater and lesser degrees of success. Success in the rental world is dependant on whether or not your work is renting, which can be dependent on any number of factors currently unknown to you. If you are thinking about getting involved in a rental program, have done your research, and believe you have found a reputable company, you may still wish to begin slowly and build up this aspect of your career based the practical knowledge you gain from renting over time, i.e. how frequently your work rents, the type of work that is renting, how much you typically spend in shipping and handling, how many sales or contacts have been made because of the program, etc.


Artist-Run Centres (ARCs) can be as diverse as the artists who run them. Developed in response to the limitations of museum, public gallery, and commercial gallery venues, ARCs are non-profit organizations run by artists who provide other artists with a space to display (and sometimes) produce their art. ARCs quite often aim to appeal to a particular aspect of the arts community by having a focused mandate, i.e. showcase for new-media, space for political critique through art, etc. This makes it relatively easy to determine if the centre would be a good fit for your work. ARCs are often sponsored from a mixed bag of sources and will frequently require membership fees, and will expect some volunteer administrative work to help keep the cost of running the centre covered. As with any organization you choose to become involved with, it is up to you the artist to make sure you are being treated fairly. Take note of any Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council funding, which require a payout of artist fees to you, and make sure that you have weighed the benefits of centre against the costs of participating to the best of your knowledge.


The decision to show your work in a commercial gallery setting can be a smart career move that has the potential to bring your work to a large audience, to bolster your own name through association with the gallery’s name, as well as to open up previously unavailable opportunities for collaboration with other organizations, galleries, and artists. For an emerging artist, ongoing involvement in the arts community, as well as a credible history of exhibitions (though not necessarily a long history) is an important step toward lending you the kind of credibility a commercial gallery would seek before investing in you and your work. Dealers will often approach those artists they are interested in working with, which, for you, means keeping your work visible through your involvement in the arts community. Failing this, it is also acceptable practise to contact the gallery itself. If you choose to go this route, you should visit the gallery and attempt to meet the dealer informally. This will give you a sense of what the space and the deal are like. If you are happy with what you saw, give a follow-up call indicating that you would like to send in a package of your work for review. Include some high-quality images of your work, a CV, an artist’s statement, and a self-addressed stamped envelope and follow-up shortly with a call to the gallery asking if you could arrange an appointment to meet with the dealer. If exhibiting in a commercial gallery is the right step for you, it is important to remember that involvement with a commercial gallery is first and foremost the beginning of an artist/dealer business relationship, one that should not be entered into carelessly. If you feel prepared to embark on such a relationship in terms of your work and level of professionalism the next step is research. This means first understanding who you are dealing with (the dealer themselves as well as the organization they represent), and then laying out, in a contract, the details and expectations of both parties in the relationship you are about to enter. Some of the areas it will be important for you to give proper attention to are listed below:

Will the dealer have exclusive rights over your any or all of your work?

How often will you be given solo exhibitions?
How will shipping costs, framing costs, insurance costs, documentation costs, and invitation and other publicity costs be handled?

Who will choose the work for your exhibitions and who will be responsible for its display?

What is the commission rate, how are prices determined, will discounts be allowed and to what extent? How soon after a purchase will you be paid? What kind of reproduction rights will you allow?


Exhibiting your work internationally can be a rewarding, if logistically complicated, experience. International exhibition opportunities are typically the result of a networking connection. If you have found an international exhibition opportunity that interests you be absolutely certain you will be sending materials (and potentially an entrance fee) to a real event and not a scam. When you are confident about the credentials of the show, doing a bit of research on the copyright laws and economic situation of the country you wish to exhibit in can save you tears later. One last step before you send in your application is to set out a budget that considers all the costs of the show including traveling expenses for you and your work to and fro, packaging costs, commission, taxation, rate of exchange, and accommodations. Any international exhibit has the potential to become extremely costly if you haven’t done your research. If you have done your research and everything seems satisfactory, pursue the opportunity! A number of arts travel grants can be applied for through Canada Council and Canadian Foreign Affairs Cultural and Trade Programs.

Return to index. JURIED EXHIBITION

A juried exhibition is comprised of works selected by a jury of people, often art-critics, art experts, curators, and artists, or some combination thereof, from the works received in response to the show’s call for submission. Juried exhibitions were once the life-blood of an emerging artist’s career. However, the importance of a juried exhibition is now often more the determinant of a particular artist’s career and aspirations than of the greater arts community’s high regard. Nevertheless, a juried exhibition can be a valuable experience as well as a noteworthy contribution to your artist’s resume. Proper research, as always, is crucial in making the effort of applying to a juried show worth your while. The call for submission to the show will be accompanied by a prospectus outlining the submission requirements, the jurors, fees, and prizes (if applicable), etc. Taking a close look at the information provided in the prospectus, and perhaps on the show’s website as well, will help you to know whether your work will be appropriate for the show. If your research leads you to conclude that your work is indeed appropriate, and has a chance at being accepted by the jurors, be sure you can also answer the following questions satisfactorily before sending off your application:

Does the show’s application material and website give the impression that the group hosting the show is professional and organized?

If the show has been funded by the Canada Council or the Ontario Arts Council are the appropriate artist fees being paid out?

What are all the costs associated with your application and entry to the show: entry fees, slide development, printing, shipping and handling, insurance, and commission?

Do you believe the publicity from the show will be of greater value than the cost to enter it?

If there are entry fees associated with the show, do you know (and are comfortable with) what they support?

Who is held liable if your work is damaged or stolen during the show, in shipping?

Do you know anyone who has entered the show previously from whom you can inquire about their experience?

Return to index. PUBLIC GALLERIES

Public galleries are typically government funded spaces that exist for the purpose of art preservation and public art education. Exhibitions in a public gallery are curated affairs that often planned years in advance. For most emerging artists, an invitation to show your work in a public gallery exhibition will be the exception, not the rule. In general, focussing on gaining career experience by exhibiting your work in venues other than the public gallery is probably the wisest course of action. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to ignore the public gallery! One of the best ways to get your foot in the door is simply by being an active part of the art world. Public gallery curators and directors often sit on jury panels, they will visit art shows, they read art reviews, and will be connected to some of the people you will meet simply by networking at art events. Being given an opportunity is not only the result of looking for one though, being prepared if one should arise is just as important. Having a body of work from which to draw from, a strong artist’s resume, as well as an organized and professional presentation package will go a long way to being taken seriously as an artist by the institutions that seriously support art. If you have reached a point where you feel comfortable approaching a public institution with your work, you may want to start by sending a presentation package to the gallery that consists of a number of properly documented images of your work, a short CV, a well-written artists statement mentioning your artistic themes and concepts as well as historic influences on your work, and a self-addressed stamped envelope to return the package in if you would like it back. If you would like to show your work to the gallery curator, or invite them to your studio, it is best to phone ahead and set up an appointment rather than to assume you will be entertained if your show up unannounced. For most artists, it takes many years before their work will ever be considered for a public gallery setting. Don’t be discouraged if exhibiting at a public gallery doesn’t seem to be in the cards for you at the moment, use the time to build up your connections in the art world and get your work seen in other contexts.


Staging a solo or group exhibit can be an exciting alternative for anyone who has wished for more creative control over their exhibitions. Staging your own exhibit also means that you, the proprietor of the exhibit, must assume full responsibility for every detail—an aspect some artists enjoy, others see as an acceptable trade-off, while others find exhausting and overwhelming. If you are in the former two camps consider some of the following suggestions when organizing your show:

Understanding your work’s target audience will help you narrow down the venues and venue locations you may wish to approach with your pitch, giving you a better chance of a successful turn-out.

Develop your promotion strategy and material concepts early and include them in your pitch. If you are not a confident writer, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to work through a number of drafts of your written materials, or hire a writer to do it for you.

Develop a work-flow calendar (that includes publicity distribution dead-lines and permit dead-lines) for yourself, as well as for the people who will be helping you. Leave more time for each task than you initially think necessary.

When you have secured a venue, get a floor plan with accurate measurement of the space, and design your show beforehand to avoid any unfortunate surprises come set-up day.
Have your work ready for sale (if applicable) by documenting it ahead of time, labelling it correctly, and framing it (or getting it display ready) professionally.

Arrange for transportation of the work to and from the exhibit.

Make sure you have set aside a space declaring the title of the show and your name as the artist

Have brochures of your work available at the show, perhaps a catalogue, and a guest-book.


If you are responding to a call for submission a set of submission requirements should already be available to you. These requirements will provide the framework of your submission proposal and it is up to you to make the most of them. As a general guideline, everything you submit to a professional organization should look as though it came from someone who is professional themselves. This means that all written content is free of spelling and grammatical errors, images of your work are impeccable, the package is neat and organized, and most importantly, the submission has fulfilled all the requirements of entry in an appropriate and thoughtful way. Another aspect to the development of your submission proposal concerns its “fit” with the organization, event, or institution to which you are submitting your work. Conveying your understanding of the themes and goals of the organization you wish to do business with and articulating a relationship to your work is essential. If you are submitting your work to an organization outside the context of a call for submission, the above rules still apply; only you will be responsible for developing the submission guidelines. If possible, speak to other artists and knowledgeable persons to get a sense of what your submission should include, and look broadly at submission guidelines that have been published by similar institutions. Finally, put yourself in the shoes of the (probably busy) person receiving your submission. Can the information in your proposal be absorbed relatively quickly? Is your contact information easy to find? Do your sentences convey your thoughts clearly and succinctly? You may find it helpful to have someone unfamiliar with your work review your submission before you send it off.

Return to index. PREPARING A BUDGET

Occasionally, an organization may require you to create a budget as part of your proposal. If you have never prepared a budget before you may want to begin by talking to another artist who could help guide you through the process. If you require clarification on any of the budget requirements, try to contact the organization itself with a list of specific questions. Two simple budgeting tools are to keep a notebook with you and write down expenses you think of throughout the day, and sit down to map out in detail the activities you will undertake to make the event you are proposing happen, and then write down the costs associated with those activities. Attempt to be as realistic as possible with your numbers by preparing your budget early and marking any numbers you have made assumption about. If your experience tempers your assumptions, you will still have time to revise them.

Return to index. PROPER FOLLOW-UP

Do not badger the organization you have submitted a proposal to with regular phone calls and/or e-mail inquiries, but, unless otherwise noted, calling the organization to whom you have submitted a proposal is an acceptable practise. Be polite, make sure they have received your submission, and ask (depending on which is appropriate for the situation) if they would either be open to meeting with you to discuss your proposal, or when you could reasonably expect to hear back from them. The purpose of a follow up call is not necessarily to found out specific information, but to help the organization associate your name with someone who is not only talented, but responsible, organized and interested in their facility. If you have received a rejection from an organization, it is courteous to thank them for their consideration either through a written letter or e-mail. If you feel the situation might warrant the request, ask for feedback to that you can improve your proposals in the future.


Exhibition possibilities can be found anywhere there is a concentration of artists. Listserves, such as Instant Coffee, Art Engine, and Akimbo, art centres, such as 401Richmond in Toronto, and even your local arts council are good places to begin looking. Although exhibition possibilities are easy to come by, and many are easy to participate in, taking the time to analyse and articulate your work as it relates to the event you’re applying for will ensure that the exhibitions you participate in are rewarding and educational experiences that will benefit your career.

Return to index. FINDING YOUR MARKET

“Finding your market” could almost be another way of saying “understanding your art”. The ability to clearly articulate the processes and concepts at work in your art and to situate them within the broader narratives of art history and contemporary art contexts, is an invaluable tool. With this knowledge you will be able to begin mapping the ways in which your art relates to the work of others, and the functions it serves in the social contexts for which it is intended. This understanding will not only give you the confidence to speak about your work to curators and potential clients, but will help you know who of these people will most likely be receptive of your work. Understanding your work in this way may sound intimidating, but take heart, it is an ongoing process only mastered over time. Listed below are a number of helpful ways for you to begin “understanding” your art within a market context:
Seek out opportunities to talk with other artists about their art, your art, and the work of others (contemporary and historical). Make a note of frequently used terms and ways of articulating concepts that seem particularly relevant or enlightening to you.

Step back from your work and look for similarities with other artist’s work. What have these artists said about their inspiration, process, or motivations?

What inspires you? Can you detect any previously unnoticed themes in your older work now that you’ve had some time away from it?

When you feel as though you have a sense of the philosophical and aesthetic themes that inspire your work, imagine yourself in a variety of contexts. Does the work of those around you compliment or clash with your art? Are the values and goals of the exhibition venue in concert with those of your art? Who do you believe would be most interested in the themes you explore in your art? Does the exhibition possibility cater to those people?

When you have found “your market” make sure that you become involved in it! Collaborate with other artists, attend art openings, keep up-to-date business cards on hand, and have a promotion package ready that can, with a few tweaks, be swiftly addressed to interested parties.


The art business “key players” are those people whose good opinion and advice will help you establish and advance your career as an artist. Knowing the role these various people play in the world of art, as well as their spheres of influence, can save you time when trying to determine who you should approach (and whose advice you should take to heart) about various exhibition, publicity, and general career advancement opportunities.

Professional Artists are the backbone of the art world! Collaborating with, and gathering advice from, other artists can be some of the most important career moves you can make as an emerging artist.

Curators are people often educated in art history and philosophy who are given creative control over the conceptual development and execution of exhibition.

An Exhibition Co-ordinator will carry out the details of an exhibition as directed by the curator.

An Art Dealer is someone who has agreed to take on an artists work in their commercial gallery in exchange for a commission (usually 40-60%) at the sale of the work. The artists/dealer relationship is typically an ongoing one.

Gallery Representatives are people to whom an artist gives exclusivity over the sale of their work in exchange for publicity and solo exhibitions.

Gallery Assistants are frequently the first people a potential buyer will meet, and can inform a person’s first impressions f your work.

An Agent is similar to a dealer, but has no gallery. The agent will take on an artist’s work and seek out sales opportunities for a commission.

An Art Consultant is someone educated in art history, and understands the business and marketing aspects of a career in the arts. This person is typically paid to help artists and/or galleries better position themselves in the art world, either in their art itself, or through things such as their publicity materials, CV, and artists statements.

A Business Manager will take care of the logistics and administrative details of an artist’s career, such as documenting work, shipping, filling out and submitting forms, contacting galleries, etc. Most artists assume the role of business manager themselves.

A Publicist is paid to generate exposure for an artists work. These people will create publicity packages, write press releases, and generally provide a valuable connection to the media world.

Critics are people often trained in art history and philosophy who write about art. Their writings may range from observations on or inquiry into the broader social implications of art, to reviews on a particular show or artist.

Return to index. BOOKKEEPING

Keeping financial records can be an overwhelming process, especially if you do not have accounting experience or formal training. However, a good set of records is vital to the success of any business because they: Provide information you need to make sound decisions (e.g. should you carry more or less inventory?). Help with budgeting (i.e. how much can you afford to spend given the amount that you are taking in?). Help obtain financing (banks will want to see your financial statements if you apply for financing). Help in preparing your tax return (financial records hold much of the information that must be submitted to the Canada Revenue Agency). You may wish to hire an accountant depending on the complexity and size of your venture, and your desire/ability to perform the bookkeeping function. Accounting software is available such as Simply Accounting or QuickBooks.

This site provides basic information about bookkeeping.

EASTERN ONTARIO KNOWLEDGE – Accounting and Finance
This is an excellent collection of information about finance and accounting put together by Queen’s School of Business.


When you start a business, it is important to choose the right legal structure because it will affect how much tax you pay, the amount of paperwork required, the personal liability you will face, and your ability to raise money. There are three basic structures that you can choose from, each offering advantages and disadvantages: sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation.

INVEST IN CANADA – Selecting a Business Structure
This site provides information on the types of business structures.

INDUSTRY CANADA – Why Should I Incorporate?
This site will help you assess if you should incorporate your business.


The Goods and Services Tax (GST) applies to most goods and services in Canada. Businesses are generally responsible for collecting the tax and remitting it to the government. GST is currently 5%. Provincial Sales Tax (PST) is a consumption tax. Like GST, it is paid by the consumer to the business. The business is then responsible for remitting it to the Government of Ontario. PST is currently 8%. Note that there are plans to switch to a Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) – one tax that will replace GST and PST – in June of 2010.

CANADA BUSINESS Services for Entrepreneurs – Taxes and GST
This site provides a number of useful links regarding Taxes and GST.

CANADA REVENUE AGENCY – Goods and Services Tax
This site contains a wealth of information about GST, including how to register a GST account.

This site contains a wealth of information about PST, including how to register for a Retail Tax Vendor Permit.

Return to index. INCOME TAX RETURN

Preparing your income tax return involves a number of considerations, including: Does your business qualify as a business under CRA’s definition (i.e. does a reasonable expectation of profit exist)? If you work from home, are you eligible for the “work-space-in-the-home” tax deduction? If you have donated art, will you have to pay tax on a capital gain? Are you an employee or self-employed? What are the tax implications if you have received a grant? The income tax forms you need to report your business income depend on the form of your business.
If your business is a sole proprietorship or partnership, you report your business income on your T1 income tax form (the same one as your personal income). If you are operating a sole proprietorship, you will report your business income by completing Form T2124 (Statement of Business Activities) or Form T2032 (Statement of Professional Activities). These forms are included in the T1 income tax form package. If your business is incorporated, you will report your business income on a T2 income tax return. Depending on the complexity and size of your business, as well as your desire/ability to complete a tax return, you may wish to hire an account to both prepare your return and advise you on tax-related issues.

ONTARIO ARTIST – Tax and Business Information
This site provides information on the tax implications of receiving grants, motor vehicle expenses, and work space in home expenses. It also contains additional information for artists that you may find useful.

CANADA REVENUE AGENCY – Guide for Canadian Small Business
This is a comprehensive guide that addresses a number of tax-related issues for small business.

CANADA REVENUE AGENCY – Employee or Self Employed? (link .url)
This link will help you make the distinction between being employed and self-employed (sometimes, the distinction is not as obvious as one may think).

This document addresses the tax implications of donating art.

INFORMATIVE TAX INC. – Reasonable Expectations of Profit
This site provides information on how CRA assesses whether or not your business is actually a business. This is important because if CRA disagrees that you are running a business (i.e. they qualify your work as a hobby), they may disallow any business-related deductions that you have submitted and present you with a large tax bill.

Return to index. INSURANCE

Insurance provides protection from financial loss in the case of an adverse event, such as death, damage, or theft. Insurance companies collect premiums in exchange for assuming risk for an individual or a business. Buying insurance should be near the top of your priority list when you start a business. You should investigate studio insurance, artwork insurance, life insurance, and general liability insurance. It is best to consult an insurance broker to determine what types of insurance you need and how much coverage you should buy. Be sure to contact at least two insurers to ensure that you are getting the best coverage (price and quality) and the coverage that is right for you. You can find local brokers in the Yellow Pages and others online.

HUB PAGES – Artists Need Commercial Insurance
This is a short article that speaks to the importance of insurance for artists.


After you have decided on a business structure, the next step is to register your business. You can register a business number (which you will need for things like collecting GST, payroll deductions and paying any corporate income tax) through the Canada Revenue Agency’s Business Registration Online service. You can register your business name and perform a business name search through the Service Ontario Services for Businesses website listed below. When you register your business name, you receive what is called a Master Business License. It can be used as official proof of your business name registration at financial institutions.

Business Registration Online is a one stop, online, self serve application that allows you to register for a Business Number, as well as for four major CRA programs (Corporation Income Tax, Goods and Services/Harmonized Sales Tax, Payroll Deductions, and Import-Export accounts).

SEARCH A BUSINESS NAME – Service Ontario, Services for Businesses
This site allows you to perform a search of existing business names so that you can see if yours is unique.

BUSINESS REGISTRATION AND RENEWAL – Service Ontario, Services for Businesses
This site allows you to register for a Master Business License.

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