Transforming Artists to Become Entrepreneurs

Adib Noh
3 min readFeb 8, 2022

Monday 15.03.2021-Turn Your Passion in Art into Business

Last weekend, I did the review of the reports by young artists who took part in the three months program to become artist-entrepreneur. As one of the appointed coaches, by the Malaysia National Art Gallery, I did ten sessions, each taking three hours. As we were about to start the program in October 2020, the government imposed a Movement Control Order and I had to do all the sessions online using Zoom. What can an old engineer like me teach young artists? And how am I going to do it online?

As an engineer, I had to have a sound knowledge of mathematics to teach Maths to Form V students(O Level). My task was more complex. It is coaching artists to become entrepreneurs. I was selected because I have personal experience as managing director of a listed company and twenty years of running my own business. At the same time, I have been trained and certified by the National Institute of Entrepreneurship as a business counsellor and I was among the top five business specialists at CEDAR-Centre of Entrepreneur Development and Research of SME Bank. I did some research on this subject matter and dug out from my memory what I want to impart my knowledge and experience to young artists so that they become successful art entrepreneurs.

In coaching, I use explicit and tacit knowledge that I had acquired during my own transformation from a government engineer to corporate executive to an entrepreneur in the last thirty years. Here is the list of topics I talked about and discussed during my coaching sessions:

  1. Getting to know the artist-It is about getting to know oneself, passions and fears and ambitions, and goals in life by writing a personal journal every day.

2. Factors of Transformations from Artists to Entrepreneurs- Personalities, mindsets, thinking, attitudes, behaviours etc.

3. Making decisions and taking actions- Nothing gets done without action. How to make decisions and take actions in personal and business life. Choosing to do the right thing in the right way at the right time.

4. Market Focus- Coaching artists to choose and focus on the target audience.

5. Story-telling — It is about the artists learning how to tell their stories about who they are, what they do and how they do their artwork. And also telling stories of the finished artworks to potential customers.

6. Art Business and Social Media — Getting to know the world of the art business and using social media for branding, marketing and sales.

7. Life Long Learning- It is a way of life for artists to practise continuous learning on the jobs. Discussion on what to learn and how to learn.

8. Managing Art Project- To see assignments as projects and produce products using systematic product development processes to ensure high quality.

9. Products Development- The Product Development Cycle and Processes

10. Growing Creative Business- Understanding creative industry and business growth wheels.

From the feedback I got, the artists had gained additional knowledge in doing art business but they wanted more personal interaction between the artists and the coaches. I think they also need to interact with their fellow artists sharing their experience and networking. A few had called me that they still have the feeling of lacking the confidence to be entrepreneurs. Soft skills should be added to the course.

As a business coach, I recommend the National Art Gallery to continue with follow-up sessions of personal and mentoring for the next two years so that these young artists can develop and grow their art business with proper guidance and reduce the failure rate.

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Adib Noh

Project & Business Consultant/Coach with more than 30 years of experience. I am an engineer,entrepreneur,writer and enjoy cycling and photography.