Business for The Artist

Business for The Artist

Craft Inc.

Craft Inc.: The Ultimate Guide To Turning Your Creative Hobby into a Successful Business (revised edition) by Meg Mateo Ilasco; Chronicle Books, $17

Bookstore shelves groan under the weight of inspirational books for creative types. Thankfully, Craft Inc. isn’t one of them.

Instead, it offers a path to a craft-centric life based on that most prosaic of ambitions: making a living. Meg Mateo Ilasco, founder of several design-oriented businesses, shows the reader how to start and run a craft business. While oriented toward turning a creative hobby into a business, Ilasco’s advice applies equally to those with formal art skills who are turning those skills to making products. For artists looking to turn a craft into a livelihood, Craft Inc. is a valuable resource.

The book outlines the elements of a business plan with a minimum of jargon. It covers such essentials as business licenses, zoning, and fictitious business names. It includes checklists of essential steps in developing a business, along with a handy index. It doesn’t offer much in the way of tax advice, and the section on financing a business is limited.

Despite the technical nature of her subject, Ilasco keeps the reader engaged. Her book excels at tailoring business and marketing advice to craft enterprises, which beats scouring the Internet and business books for snippets of relevant information.

A notable feature of the original edition was the section on craft shows and the role they play in marketing a business, as well as guidance on selling to retailers. Added to this edition is a more comprehensive section on using the Internet, Etsy, and social media to promote a business. Throughout, Ilasco bears in mind the central role of both artistic and entrepreneurial energy and provides inspiration in the form of interviews with successful artists such as Jonathan Adler and Lotta Jansdotter on their business struggles and triumphs. Overall, she does a fine job of presenting the essentials of the craft business in a format that won’t cause eyes to glaze over.

Rachel Schalet Crabb is a writer and fiber artist in Minneapolis.