Hello to The New! Out Soon in 2017!

This is to let everyone know the exciting news that the second edition of The Essential Guide to Business for Artists and Designers ISBN 978-1474250559 will be out soon and is available on pre-order. At over 95,000 words this is what the manuscript looked like a couple of months ago…

026This new publication, published by Bloomsbury Academic has been fully revsied, with three additional chapters on websites, blogs and social media, innovation and trends and ideas for growth. With new illustrated mindmaps, resources, exercises, photographs, diagrams, and profiles of artists and designers. As you can see from the beautiful renders by BVN Ceative the book has a new from cover by Tumanyan.



This publication has started to become core reading on many degree  and post graduatecourses, and this super fan movie was made by Rebecca Skeels who is subject leader for the Postgraduate and  Masters Programmes at UCA Farnham demonstrating how students have made good use of their inhouse copy.

This book is ideal for a wide range of artists, designers, makers, photographers and illustrators. The second edition embraces our new world of globalisation, digitalisation, and connectivity. It has been written to embrace readers from different starting points, whether you have studied at Art College or not, are just thinking about it, have got started or have been going for some time.

Stop Press: Artquest has just published my revised business start-up guide for artists, makers and photographers The 7 Steps to Business Start-up


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2066 and all that….

In about 50 years time I’ll be nearly 100, many readers of this blog may be nearing receiving their telegram from the queen by 2086. It’s going to be a long life for most of us and its time to imagine what sort of future you would like for yourself.

In this new post Brexit era…well after 2019 at the earliest, trading conditions for the visual arts and creative industries could be uncertain. Leading up the vote on the 23rd June 2016, many graphic designers and photographers were finding work was drying up. I’ve have news for everyone, the next 24 months may still be tough.

If you are in a down period, get on with that admin, filing, bookkeeping, Tax Return, infographic that CV, telephone that old client and revamp your website. Yes… even have a go with that free LinkedIn Premium trial, see what can come of expanding your professional networks.

Invest money in your business, but do so wisely, avoid unnecessary expense as the next year could be hard for some of us. If you are on a low income check to see if you are eligible for Tax Credits or other support.

Perhaps its time to try a different approach, such as a fresh marketing plan, a new business strategy, or give that thing… ago…(you know that ‘ big thing’ at the bottom of your to do list). Large projects often aren’t economical at the time, but they can raise your profile, attract media attention and more interesting opportunities in the long term.

If you need a bit of help, there are a couple of courses running at Central Saint Martins: Entrepreneurship for Creatives and Business Start-up for Creatives at Granary Square and two online courses Business Start-up for Creatives and Self-Promotion for Creatives

I’m also available for one-to-ones, please email me at alison@alisonbranagan.com

Thanks to Tim Bradford for his illustrations

Have a great rest of the summer and I hope exciting things happen soon…I’ve been working on a huge project for the last 18 months which could revolutionise business start-up education within the visual arts….all will be revealed shortly.

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Central Saint Martins: Routes to Succcess

If you are looking for a way to launch your art, craft practice, or design business than look no further. This summer there are a number of popular business, entrepreneurship and self-promotion Summer School courses which I run at the Central Saint Martins Kings Cross Campus in Granary Square, which are also available online.

Students who have attended these courses in the past have gone on to set up innovative, experimental and commercial companies. Each course has a number of guest speakers, including one of the team from Silverman Sherliker LLP a top London Intellectual Property firm.

To read more about the success of profiled students from all courses I run at Central Saint Martins please visit the blog.

entrepreneur class larger image

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The Art of Marketing on a Budget

This month I gave a workshop for Wandsworth Enterprise Week about marketing on a tight budget.

Wandsworth Enterprise Week Brochure 2016

Little cheeky tweet of #WEW16 brochure


Stand out in a crowd…Have Impact!

Hee hee! My observation is that the art of making the best use of limited resources is to concentrate on the impact of your marketing materials and strategy. Sending a 1000 eNewsletters to businesses you don’t know may work against you and is also illegal. Many start-ups expect instant results, you need to spend more time and effort developing relationships with potential clients and customers. Better to focus on 50 target businesses or individuals with a quality approach than a quick mass spam attack.

Some of my key tips are, develop relationships with other businesses or people in your industry and build your networks. Consider your own sense of presence, stand out and be remembered, be creative in the way you promote yourself. Get the design of your branding and design format right, hire professional photographers, look for discount offers from printers, most have discount offers every month.

The Art of Marketing on a Budget

Understanding how to draft a timeline for a media/marketing campaign is crucial, when to do what. We cover this in my self-promotion courses at Central Saint Martins. Photograph by Toni Marshall

Spend time really developing relationships with businesses or people in your industry. Word-of-mouth recommendation either face-to-face or a friendly shout out on social media is the best type of promotion money can’t buy.









Also timing, many self-employed artists, designers, photographers or creative businesses often fail to realise how much time you have to allow to implement a media campaign, often even weekly publications need to you approach them 10 weeks in advance. Online portals and bloggers can move and react quickly to approaches, but often publishers with a large numbers of subscribers will time the posting of online content with the in print editions of newspapers, magazines or periodicals.

If you would like to learn more about business start-up, self-promotion and entrepreneurship I run a number of online and college based courses for Central Saint Martins. If you would like to have a one-to-one Skype session please contact me

Summer Schools at Central Saint Martins, Granary Square, London

Business Start-up for Creatives, Self- Promotion for Creatives and Entrepreneurship for Creatives

Live and Online

Business Start-up for Creatives, Self-Promotion for Creatives and Entrepreneurship for Creatives

Thank you to Toni and the Wandsworth Enterprise Team. Photography by Toni Marshall © 2016 Illustrations by Tim Bradford © 2016

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Hey! Don’t Be Grey, Have…Impact!

Hello everyone…I just thought I would tell you what I’ve learned from teaching my Business, Entrepreneurship and Self-Promotion Courses over this summer at Central Saint Martins in London. The theme of presentation, packaging and impact reoccurred in several ways, as mentioned in talks by speakers such as Alex Brownless from Arts Thread‘don’t be grey’ he said, in the creative industries you have to stand out and have impact. Alana Pryce Tojcic, arts marketing specialist from The October Gallery, Matt Dowling founder of The Freelancer Club and Kathleen Hills, a leading ceramic and lighting designer, talked about the importance of stunning photographs, and the different types of images you need to commission to gain paid work or attract attention in the media. Interior designer Audrey Whelan showed how to communicate design ideas to clients remotely. Billy Jenks, a talented IP solicitor from Silverman Sherliker, who also sponsor the course, showed screen shots of trademarked colours and most of the students instantly knew which brands they represented.

My well thumbed copy of Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell

During the summer I was also coincidently reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink where he discusses several related stories about packaging and impact, he discusses for instance the Christian Brothers and E & J bandy story. Christian Brothers found they were losing sales to E & J and couldn’t work out why, as all their research demonstrated in taste tests that brandy drinkers prefered their beverage over E & J, yet Christian Brothers were losing market share fast. It transpired that, even when the Christian Brothers put their own brandy into E & J bottles, people still said they preferred E & J. It turned out that customers actually just liked the look of the E & J bottle more than the Christian Brothers one. Solution, new bottle design, C B regain their market share.

He also outlined the fascinating research by the highly respected psychologist Sheena Iynger, Google her ‘Jam Study’ to find out more. But in short, in a jam selling experiment, when she displayed 24 different jams, of which 3% of passersby purchased jam,  but when she displayed a selection of only six jams 30% of passersby bought jam.

This year I also had a rebrand by my designer Alana Biviano of BVN Creative, cards printed my Meltoma Designs on 600 gsm card. Some snaps below shows a comparison between the old and new cards. The new design has a more limited, though richly coloured palette, with integrated contact and social media icon design. I believe this new design with a slightly revised logo has a more memorable contemporary look and feel.

business card photo 600 gsm    business card photo

If you are looking for a live and online Business Start-up Course, (starts this month at Central Saint Martins) then please enrol on Business Start-up for Creatives. If you think you need to learn more about self-promotion or wish to revamp your current marketing strategy then there is another specialist online course running this term, Self-Promotion for Creatives (also starts this month). Equally I am available for one-to-one advice sessions in person or via Skype. You are most welcome to email me at alison@alisonbranagan.com if you wish to book a session.

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#Negotiation Once Learned is A Skill That Will Last Forever

Ever thought about learning about how to negotiate? If you are a self-employed creative you may be getting a bit hacked off with feeling you are not getting paid enough or lack resources.  If you have time, the art of negotiation is explored during the next Entrepreneurship for Creatives  course which runs as a Summer School at the Central Saint Martins Granary Square Campus or available as a live online course starting this month.

Negotiation is an intellectual skill which combines understanding a number of different subjects such as copyright, contract law, and licensing combined with creative thinking and presentation skills. Unless these subjects are understood its not possible to gain a fair rate or make more from an opportunity than is on offer.

Many people make the mistake of purely concentrating on the fee rather than thinking of a number of other longer term benefits or making money in other ways from the commissioning  or sales process.

Negotiation is most effective in real time conversations, face to face if possible, avoid negotiating by email. There are several reasons why, one being  interaction being impersonal and out of sync, loss of other crucial elements such as atmosphere, facial expressions and tone of voice. Email also is such a cold form of communication, whereas in business you need to build a lively warm rapport with clients  and exude confidence if you wish to gain a good deal.

The Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis is currently travelling the world meeting with people of influence face-to-face. Yanis is an expert in game theory, he has a plan combining ‘logic and ideology’. Experts in negotiation like him know you have to physically meet people to achieve your objectives even if it is way, way, way…out of your comfort zone.

In these difficult times we need to think creatively about how to make something worth our while, sometimes valuable resources or a really good client endorsement can be worth more in real terms then the original fee or price charged.

If you can’t afford a course take a look at one or two of my books which cover these subjects, The Essential Guide to Business for Artists & Designers, Revised and Updated and Making Sense of Business.

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A Snapshot of 1988…

This is a picture of me many moons a go with some of my fine art student friends, out and about (a.k.a. on the loose) near Skipton in North Yorkshire. An extremely long time ago, in the midst of time,  before the digital age was even imagined. At that time photography was a tricky, extremely slow and expensive business. Also getting about in Nick’s ancient car was another adventure, which we all took rather too lightly, …’er Alison, ah, oh don’t move the foot mats…yes, that is moving road you see underneath there…don’t panic, just keep still and under no circumstances put your feet down.’

You might recall I’ve written a couple of books the main one being ‘The Essential Guide to Business for Artists & Designers’ now revised and updated for 2014.

1I often wonder what my dizzy latter teenage self would have made of this book if it was thrust upon me on Christmas Day, I think I would have been curious…but I can’t be sure. After chatting to art students this week there is still a great deal of fuzziness about their futures. Despite this new super informed age we all live in, artists and designers are still learning by their mistakes, which they don’t need to do any more. If you are a recent graduate, are still studying or have a creative friend who has recently graduated, this book, (though they may not view it as an #idealgift) will help them avoid the master-by-error route and be able to make more informed judgements about their next steps.

Don’t spent your 20s in the wilderness…open up page one…keep reading and de-fuzz the future.

Happy Christmas Everyone!

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Changes to UK Design Right & Copyright

Hello Everyone!

I would like to alert artists, designers, photographers & bloggers to a small number of, but significant changes in UK Design Right & Copyright this month. There are a large number of changes outlined in the useful guides embedded above, however here is a brief summary for the bewildered.

You might be shocked to know if you are a blogger and be consumed by utter glee if a photographer that the law on ‘Quotation’ under ‘news’ & ‘fair dealing’ has changed’. So bloggers beware, the taking of photographs e.g. from Vogue for instance to use on your blog to illustrate news of a recent fashion show for example is no longer regarded as fair dealing. The change is if using a photograph without the consent of the copyright holder could be regarded as conflicting with the copyright owner’s e.g. the original photographer or magazine’s right to exploit that work, e.g. make some more money from selling or licensing that image. If your use of that image, (especially reproducing whole images, or numbers of images from another businesses website) should cause the owner to lose potential income then its now likely to be viewed not as ‘fair use’.

This is a most welcome change in the law as photographers are having their ability to make money from official licensing squashed by copycat style bloggers who just think they can re-publish other photographer’s images carte blanche. This frankly has quite incensed me for years. Yes that’s right, if you can’t be bothered to try to take or commission your own photographs then original photography costs. However it also depends on the original copyright owner’s ability to spot this and take action against infringers, so its likely we might have to wait for a test case, to see how this new law will fully benefit photographers in the future.

Regarding Design Right, there have been a number of important new rights in this revision of Intellectual Property Law, I really advise you to read the full guide in the link above. But in short, some key changes are, when a designer is now commissioned to create a design it is the designer who will now holds the rights, and not the client, unless the contract agreed should state otherwise. It is now also illegal to intentionally copy and reproduce a registered design commercially.

If you are new to the subject of Intellectual Property then I suggest (shamelessly recommending my own book) The Essential Guide to Business for Artists & Designers – Revised and Updated. I also offer one to one business advice an guidance on copyright, design right, protecting your IP, and trademark, feel free to contact me on alison@alisonbranagan.com though it is quite possible if your situation is quite serious I will point you in the right direction to a friendly IP solicitor. By the way this is me at the lovely New Ashgate Gallery in Farnham talking on this very subject!

Please feel free to quote from this blog, but please remember to credit me as the author and link back.

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Entrepreneurship for Creatives

Hello and welcome to my new shiny website which has been designed by one of my fantastic entrepreneurship students Alana Biviano of BVN Creative who I met last year. Over the last couple of days I’ve been beavering away on my own, polishing and tweaking links. The image above is of the fine set of individuals who came together from all over the world on the Entrepreneurship Summer School, at Central Saint Martins in July.

I have always had total faith in any of my courses whether at Granary Square or online that a group can form a community. Which is a resource, that can, even if for a short time contribute to launching or moving your arts practice or design business on to the next level. When aspiring creatives form a group, for a couple of hours or weeks, e.g. a workshop, exhibition or conference much is learned which can be intelligently applied to their next project. With the advent of social media, free real time global communication and payment systems it is possible for the first time in history to network and trade on an international footing from the first few minutes of setting up in business.

If you wish to strike out on your own or with others, as the old African proverb goes…

 ‘If you want to move quickly, go alone…If you wish to go far go together’

Avoid the old trap that you can do it all on your own…you can’t. Its only possible with the support and involvement of others*. This new website won’t exist I think if I had not met Alana for instance.

*Scottish Referendum, voted no and the Scots have decided to maintain the union by staying together.

Copyright 2014 Alison Branagan (Please feel free to quote, put remember to credit & link back)

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Business Start-up for Creatives Online

Ahoy there shipmates! This is my second post, please excuse the formatting, its early days in these uncharted virtual seas of the blogosphere!

So why not launch yourself and set sail with the winds of good fortune in blowing in your sails this month?

If you’ve recently graduated from a visual or applied arts degree, or perhaps you have just started your business as a freelancer, design business or arts practice and feel very confused about what is going on, then this online course will help you formulate a plan, understanding some marketing basics,  networks, business planning, money management, costing and pricing, fund raising, legal matters and tax. A very useful course for anyone based in the UK, EU or elsewhere in the world who seek to trade with or in Europe.

Its very easy to make mistakes in business, and making too many can drain you of time, funds and resources. Often its about spotting problems and putting them right that will aid  your route to success, leading to financial stability or a profitable enterprise.

This course is broadcast live, but its recorded so if you miss a class you can catch up during the week, there will also be time to discuss your plans and extensive handouts are also provided along with these exclusive course extras:

As part of the course students have a free one hour consultation with specialist design accountant Dean Shepherd of Tax By Design and a Business name and  a free UK/EU trade mark search undertaken by city the law firm Silverman Sherliker LLP.

For more information and to enrol please view the new Central Saint Martins website.

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