Artist-Entrepreneurs Are Multiplying in North Carolina

Artist-Entrepreneurs Are Multiplying in North Carolina

During COVID-19, many people are short on cash and long on time. Many are also reevaluating how to live a meaningful life. For some, this combination had led to a creative solution — becoming artist-entrepreneurs.

Number of Artist-Entrepreneurs Using Online Platforms Grows During COVID-19

At the time of this writing, 831 different “Made in NC” products are available on Etsy, an online marketplace for independent creators. Many North Carolina artists use the platform to sell handmade jewelry, clothing, artwork and gifts.

Image courtesy of Anthony Shkraba from Pexels.

In the second quarter of 2020, Etsy had over 3 million active sellers on their platform, a 34.6% increase from last year. The pandemic may have spurred a lot of that growth. In that quarter alone, 326,000 new sellers joined Etsy, an 11.6% increase from the first quarter.

Emily Orr, the Triangle-based entrepreneur behind digital-art business Blue Strawberry Studio, used Etsy to expand her company’s profile and connect with other artists. Now that the pandemic has changed the physical marketplace for artwork, she’s also using Redbubble (a platform where people can buy art and have it printed onto different items) to reach a larger consumer base. Redbubble’s stock price has been steadily increasing since April 2020.

Freelancing Can Create a Path to Full-Time Entrepreneurship

Another way new artist-entrepreneurs are breaking into their new careers is through freelance work. Durham photographer Cornell Watson started a freelance photography business this year after being laid off during the pandemic. Since then, his work has achieved commercial success (including a contract with the Washington Post). All the while, Watson came closer to personal artistic fulfilment.

Performance Artists May Have a Harder Time Pursuing Their Passions

While COVID-19 might’ve given visual artists an unexpected boost, performance artists like actors and musicians have fewer opportunities to work. In fact, some performance venues in North Carolina are in danger of closing permanently. The Charlotte Observer reports that local music venues would need millions of dollars in financial aid to stay afloat. This is bad news for both local businesses and aspiring North Carolina performers.

ARTS North Carolina, an arts advocacy organization, maintains a list of grants for artists and organizations needing relief. If you need the help, or if you know a performer who might, check the list for eligibility.

For more news about startups and the art scene in North Carolina, check out our Arts and Business sections.

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