Making a living from art is viewed by many as something of a lottery.
With a view to changing this, Gavriella Abekassis founded Out of the Cube, an initiative intended to help artists manage their careers.
Hi Gavriella. Could you tell us about Out of the Cube?
Out of the Cube is an enterprise that focuses on providing artists with the business smarts that they need to succeed. I started Out of the Cube at the very end of December 2019, when I sent the first article about what I thought of the art world.
Out of the Cube has evolved since then. The Artist Entrepreneur Club is one part of Out of the Cube, and the one I’m focusing on at the moment.
The Artist Entrepreneur Club is a membership for visual artists to learn about promoting and selling their art online, within a community of artists. They receive training from business specialists and from the Artist Entrepreneur Club.
How did the idea for your company come about?
I worked in art galleries for several years. While working in art galleries, I was intensely looking for the thing I could bring to the visual art industry. I quickly noticed that artists were not at all included in the business aspect of the gallery.
They were quite considered as unable to understand business. The same goes for artists represented by galleries.
The artists who were not represented by the galleries were in an even worse position. They were seen as running after galleries, and if they can’t find a gallery, it was a synonym of failure and lack of quality.
I, therefore, decided to help independent artists promote their art to make a living, without the need to collaborate with art galleries.
Love that. How would you best describe your business philosophy?
It’s about not wasting people’s time, and therefore, it’s about honesty. It’s a work in progress and I don’t think we can ever be perfectly honest when building a business, since we’re selling.
But we can aim to be as honest as possible. I learned that being transparent with your clients is actually helpful for our own business because the expectations from the clients are more easily met.
The other business philosophy goes along with transparency: I keep things simple both for my clients and me. It’s easy to convince ourselves that the more there is, the more our clients will be happy, but it’s the opposite.
Keep it simple. Our clients have a life of their own, and can only deal with my services with the time available, which is little!
That's a good philosophy. Can you share any practical tips or processes to help people work remotely?
My biggest challenge has and still is on focusing while working remotely. If you’re working alone and struggling with focus/procrastination, you should try out and decide on a routine in the morning, so you are in the right mind to work efficiently.
I find that including meditation in my routine has been really helpful.
You should also question the type of to-do list you have, and make it work for your own mind. For example, a to-do list where there are blocks per hour doesn’t work for me, because I’m quite slow and dislike rules.
Therefore, I much prefer to look at the urgency of my tasks. From time to time, I also reverse my to-do list, so I start by the projects I tell myself that I never have the time to work on, and actually get them done.
A novel idea! How do you keep your team aligned?
Trello has been very useful at a time where I was working with several freelancers at the same time. I love working with freelancers but I’ve also decided to have a more focused approach, which is why at the moment I’m working with only one freelancer.
I’m delegating the tasks which need to be done daily, and which otherwise would take me a lot of time every day, like introducing myself to new contacts on LinkedIn or posting on social media.
Social media is more time consuming than some might think. Do you have a share or option scheme in place for your team?
No, I don’t have a share or option scheme in place for my team. I’m not at this stage yet, but when it will be time, I do like the profit share option.
What is the biggest mistake you've made as an entrepreneur?
The biggest mistake was not focusing on the tasks which actually get money in the bank account.
If you have a business plan, then you need to keep up with the tasks which will help you build a big audience so you’re sure to attract new leads for your next offer.
But it can lead you to sometimes forget that there are as important things that also require attention from you and are actually major decisions as a business owner.
What motivates you?
Always relationships. Even when it’s about money, the motivation for the money is my relationships. The reason I have my own company is to be in charge of how much I can earn so I can support my family.
By being a business owner, I’m the only one to decide if my salary is raised or not. The other kind of relationships which motivates me are of course the ones with my clients.
Helping people and seeing that I have been helpful makes my heart sing. I’m sure I’m not the only one in this case!
How lovely! Finally Gavriella, what does a Friday night look like to you?
Pre-COVID, it would be going out to a gallery opening or to the movies, and then to a restaurant! I also usually don’t eat in the evening but on Friday and Saturday evenings I do.
Since March 2020, I've been working at night and reading or watching a movie at home. It’s been a year of focus.
Thanks, Gavriella! We wish you and your venture the very best of luck.