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Hannah Cole On Taxes for Artists and Creative Entrepreneurs

Hannah Cole On Taxes for Artists and Creative Entrepreneurs

If you’re a creative entrepreneur or an artist, chances are that you probably don’t enjoy doing your taxes. Well, today’s guest is here to help! Hannah Cole is an artist, speaker, and tax professional empowering thousands of fellow creatives with clear financial education and tax preparation. As the Founder of Sunlight Tax, she specializes in working with artists and their businesses and, although she has worked at a few ‘buttoned-up’ tax firms in New York City, she loves bringing her skills to the aid of the creative world.

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In this episode, Hannah debunks the myth that artists are no good with numbers and shares some practical advice to help us impart our own ‘freaky flavor’ into our businesses while also taking money-making seriously. You’ll also gain some insight into her journey from punk-rock-loving anticapitalist to creative tax specialist and what she learned about the art world and her own practice along the way, plus so much more! By delivering engaging tax education that is art-world savvy, Hannah empowers creatives to become self-reliant so that you don’t have to pay someone like her to do the work for you, so make sure to tune in today for an un-intimidating look at your finances with tax expert, Hannah Cole!

https://www.sunlighttax.com/
Artist and accountant Hannah Cole

“Primarily, I think of myself as an educator, speaker, writer, and teacher. In all of my talks, I always end with an appreciation for what artists do in the world, which is [that] we are the empathy builders. We are the people bridging divides and showing the less creative part of the population that a better world is possible. I think it can be really hard when you are an artist. I want all artists to take the making-money part more seriously, treat themselves like they deserve it, and not think of all money as evil and all people with money as evil, because those are attitudes that shoot you in the foot. They stop you from having any financial security.” — Hannah Cole [0:35:21]

Artist Hannah Cole

Key Points From This Hannah Cole Episode:

  • Gatekeeping in the art world and the tension between accessibility and enjoyment.
  • Find out how Hannah ended up in Asheville after living in New York for many years.
  • Hannah shares her journey from punk rock anticapitalist to art-savvy tax specialist.
  • Some background on Sunlight Tax and what informed her decision to start it.
  • The importance of clear financial education for professional artists.
  • How the distinctions between commercial art and fine art have blurred over the years.
  • What Hannah learned about business from working in a design agency.
  • Empowering artists and debunking the myth that they are no good with numbers.
  • The emotional labor inherent in Hannah’s work and how she helps artists take the ‘making money’ part of their business more seriously.
  • How school systems prioritize writing and math over visual thinking and communication.
  • Fostering democracy in the art world by seeing art as a fundamentally human pursuit.
  • Why seeing artists thriving in the entrepreneurial space brings Hannah such joy.
  • The inherent advantages that Hannah believes artists have as business owners, including their ability to see what others can’t.
  • Revelations Hannah had about being an artist while she was learning about accounting.
  • Sourdough challenges artists to view their output as intellectual property.
  • Hannah explains why most artists don’t make money through gallery representation.
  • Why she believes artists need thick skin to innovate on the business side of their art practice.
  • The power of community building and resource sharing in the art world.
  • Some of the free resources that Hannah offers for artists.
  • Hannah reflects on the importance of delegating rather than DIY-ing sometimes.

“Guess what? If you don’t know what your profit is, really bad things can happen. Plenty of artists have had experiences where they realize that money is, in fact, important and a thing they need to manage, but I have felt it in the most painful way.” — Hannah Cole [0:20:36]

“I want all artists to take the making-money part more seriously, treat themselves like they deserve it, and not think of all money as evil and all people with money as evil, because those are attitudes that shoot you in the foot. They stop you from having any financial security.” — Hannah Cole [0:35:48]

Hannah in front of her wall installation for Wrong Side of the Border at Slag Gallery, New York.
Hannah in front of her wall installation for Wrong Side of the Border at Slag Gallery, New York.

“There is so much room to be a terrible accountant in this world. You can get a job. You just can. And that’s not true as an artist. To me, the standards in the art world are so high because there isn’t room for terrible artists.” — Hannah Cole [0:52:49]

“What excites me the most is when people are really innovating on the business side of their art practice.” — Hannah Cole [1:01:13]

“I want you to have these skills so you [can] keep making art and you show up well-rested and full strength every time because you’re changing the world. Artists are changing the world with their work.” — Hannah Cole [1:09:44]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

“I used to think that business was for very square, very straight, very jock-ish dudes and it’s beautiful to me that it’s not that at all. I actually feel like there has been a total renaissance in small-scale entrepreneurship. You see all these beautiful companies getting started by people from all kinds of different experiences, highlighting their difference, accentuating and celebrating their difference, and showing, you know what? My experience in the world is as a person with mental health issues, so I’m going to build my whole business around the fact that I have mental health challenges and we’re going to attract customers [who relate]. That’s wild to me and it’s delightful! You can have your own freaky flavor of business.” — Hannah Cole [0:44:06]

Scott "Sourdough" Power

Scott “Sourdough” Power is the the creator and executive producer of NotRealArt.com. He is also the co-founder of Crewest Studio a digital media company in Los Angeles dedicated to creative culture and the $2T creative economy.

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