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Launcher Stories

Carol Ward

By March 1, 2021May 12th, 2021No Comments

My dream has always been to make art consulting my full-time job. But there aren’t a lot of resources for figuring out how to start something like that by myself. When I saw Westchester was offering Launch1000 to county residents, I thought “Ok, this is my chance to figure out how to really do this.”

When I started Phase 1, I expected I’d launch right into talking about my business. But it was really helpful drilling down and verbalizing what my goals were for myself and why I’m doing this. Here’s my background, here’s where I come from, here’s what I’m passionate about, why do I enjoy being around artists, and celebrating art. All of these questions really helped ground me as I got started in the program.

Another thing I noticed in Phase 1 was that there was a big opportunity for networking. I made connections with people who might use my services in the future or who might help me find collectors. Another launcher is a photographer who is working on getting her photographs in healthcare spaces and it’s helped me refine my process of working with clients to answer her questions. Another gentleman I spoke with is a framer and he’s interested in partnering to share a workspace or gallery space.

As I moved into Phase 2, I had to think about who my target market was and what they needed from me in order to give me money. Like, “Who are these artists and what do they need from me in order to give me money.”

What I really discovered in Phase 2, and the biggest pivot for me, was realizing that an artist would rather pay me to represent them and do the business management work rather than educate them on how to do it. It changed how I branded myself and I became more of a business manager vs a teacher. This was my big ‘Aha’ moment. I probably wouldn’t have realized this, at least right away, if it wasn’t for my curiosity conversations in Phase 2.

I also realized there are like two buckets of artists. On one side, they would say, “I want someone to help me with the business side of things. I don’t know the business things. I was never taught the business things. I don’t want to learn it – here you go”.

Then there are these other people who moved away from their art because they had a family and bills and they felt like a failure with their art.

Also, on the museum/gallery side of things, they realized that the artists didn’t understand the business side of it and it made the museum/gallery not want to work with them. So they were able to trust me to work with them and I could help get the artist in where they might have otherwise failed to start that relationship.

The other ‘Aha’ moment I had was that while I originally thought about doing my consulting for non-profits and museums, the market is very saturated with consultants for that. Through these conversations, I realized I’m much more interested in consulting/managing emmerging artists instead of working in the institutional space. I think this realization really energized me and felt more in my sweet spot. As much as I care about institutional changes, I think I can make more of a difference with these individuals – artist to artist.

The next step in my journey was Phase 3 which really helped me a lot. As an artist, I find myself constantly trying to find simple ways to express more complex ideas and Phase 3 really challenged me to get clear and concise with describing my business. Using the Start Something Canvas was really helpful for this.

Since starting Launch1000, I’ve noticed my interest in this venture growing more and more as I realize that it’s viable. Like I mentioned, originally this was just a hobby. Then through Launch1000 I realized this is something that I really want to do and that it can help me achieve financial independence. I’ve really grown to have this fire that I need to invest in myself and really do this.

Without Launch, I would probably still be doing some of the partnerships and exhibitions where I would just put it out and if it sells, great. But now with Launch, I am able to reach out to people who I think would be interested in the artwork and take the reins more. As I’m working with collectors and emailing back and forth, I love all that still but now I’m taking the business side more seriously. Now, I’m really looking at how it can sustain me and hopefully in the long-term, how I can transition into doing it full-time.

I want to share a huge thanks to Westchester County for providing the program. It’s amazing that they’re providing this service to us residents for free and I’m amazed at what it continues to do for my life and my venture.


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