How to Start Your Art Business
How to start and grow your art business? In this episode of How to Loosen Up Your Painting Podcast my guest, Fiona Valentine, provides excellent tips for creative entrepreneurs. From planning to taking the first steps into your full time art business, Fiona's wealth of knowledge will help you. Jump in to this value packed episode.
[00:00:06.910] - Malcolm
Welcome to Loosen Up Your Painting Podcast. The podcast for creatives making their art and making a difference to their lives and the world. We discuss how to improve your art, your lifestyle, and grow your creative business. I'm your host, Malcolm Dewey from malcolmdewyfineartcom.
[00:00:26.530] - Malcolm
And let's begin.
[00:00:41.730] - Malcolm
It's great to be talking to you again. And today I've got a special guest. She's an artist, she's an entrepreneur, and she's helping artists become entrepreneurs. Yes, if you've ever thought of taking your creative activities, your art, your painting, whatever it may be, into a part time or fulltime business, today's guest is going to help you with that.
Her name is Fiona Valentine. She's an Australian artist and entrepreneur and she's had 30 years of teaching painting and business experience. She has developed a system called the Profitable Artist Method. And she leads a Facebook group called The Confident Artist. Fiona is going to give us her guidance and wisdom, and especially for you, if you've been thinking about launching your career or even if you have already started. How do you price your paintings or your crafts, and just how you navigate the complex world of being a creative entrepreneur. Okay, if that sounds good. This is the podcast for you. So let's sit back and let's get started.
[00:01:59.820] - Malcolm
Welcome to how to Loosen Up Your Painting podcast Fiona. I'm delighted to have you on the show and could we kick off with just a little glimpse into your journey so far and how you got into painting and teaching and teaching the business of art to so many students around the world as well. I see on your website, www.fionavalantine.com, that you've been teaching for many years and you've got quite a lot of experience behind you. So just fill in some of the blanks there for the listeners.
[00:02:38.820] - Fiona
Hi Malcolm, thanks for having me on your podcast. So a little bit about my background as an artist and teacher and a business coach for artists. I started in my 30s picking up painting as a hobby. Really. I'd done a bit of artwork in high school and I'd always meant to get back to it, but travel, marriage, babies, all of that took over.
So by the time I was in my thirties and ready to really prioritise painting, I had a few skills, but I didn't really know much. I went to my local library and borrowed everything I could find and started to teach myself watercolour. Then I experimented a bit with acrylic painting and eventually I went and did some workshops and I attended a weeklong master class at the Australian Guild of Realist Artists. And that really ignited my imagination for what was possible. I really saw that it's not so much about talent, but skill. And I saw how I could stand on the shoulders of other artists and learn from their experience to really accelerate my own painting. And that was a complete game changer for me. By this time.
[00:03:47.510] - Fiona
I had gone back to work after home schooling my kids for about ten years, and I was working an admin job. I learned a lot of business skills, people skills, management skills. I did all sorts of training during about seven years that I worked for that company. And I kept painting on the side, but more and more, the desire to be home painting was taking over.
So I started just thinking, well, how do I do this? How can I make money from my art? Is it true that artists starve? What should you do if you really do want to make a living from art? So I went to talk to a friend of mine with a lot of art experience and I asked her, what are you seeing other artists do? How do you make this work?
And she cautioned me that it was really challenging and that a lot of teachers sorry, a lot of artists that she knew were using teaching as their pathway. Well, that made perfect sense for me because I had a teaching background. So I began to pursue ways to teach art classes, which, as you know, if you teach anything, it's a great way to accelerate your own learning.
[00:04:55.100] - Fiona
So for about five years, I taught watercolour classes to adults, I taught drawing to children, and I learned a lot. I really came up with a lot of methodologies on how to design, how to draw well and realistically, how to mix colour, and I absolutely loved that side of it. And I decided that I wanted to take my students further.
So I had been working one on one with artists for quite a while already, and many of those, as soon as they started to paint, would find their paint is improving quickly. People were wanting to buy them and they were having to grapple with pricing questions, how to talk about their art questions. A lot of things were coming up very quickly. And so I started equipping my students with pricing skills, conversational, talk about your art skills, which, you know, really the sales and marketing skills. And I started retreats so that I could take students and spend three days with them in a beautiful setting where we could really dive deep into their art dreams and help them look at how to explore their own personal style, how to talk about their art, how to turn it into a business if they wanted to.
[00:06:07.540] - Fiona
And that coaching has just become more and more of what I do. So now I teach a 90 day Profitable artist method, which is a programme for setting up a simple business and marketing system for your art. So it wasn't my intention in the beginning. It's been a long journey, about 15 years on the art making side of things, and it's brought in my business background, my teaching background, and now those interests have all found a way together to help equip artists because I no longer believe that teaching is the way to make an income. As an artist, it can be a great way. But the internet has opened up so many opportunities that now I help artists to sell their art and make a living doing it. So that's kind of my answer to the question of how did I get started?
[00:06:52.770] - Malcolm
Could you tell us a little bit about your creative philosophy and why you think creativity is so important for everyone? I've often taken the view that each person has a creative need and even those that believe creativity is not really for them, they will find something eventually that they need to get out of their system. And creativity usually is the right way to do that. So there are many artists who are struggling to find creative inspiration, or they're not sure if they're wasting their time, or perhaps that their art or creativity doesn't really have any meaning. What would you say to artists like that who are having doubts about whether they should even bother about being creative at all?
[00:07:44.110] - Fiona
I really love this question. For me, the importance of creativity became very personal when I was in my twenty s. I raised my first baby in a mud village in Africa. Being up close and personal with poverty and suffering, I really felt like my creativity was frivolous. I knew that I like to draw and to sew and to do creative things, but in that context it just felt really self indulgent.
And I didn't understand the place that creativity had in this world where so many people's day was just taken up with survival, basic things water, food, safety, health. So I made a decision to sort of set aside my creativity and I had no idea what an impact that would have on my mental health. It wasn't until we were back in Australia and I had sort of recovered from those years in Africa that I started to tap back into that creative side of myself and I realised how deeply important it is to being human. 50% of people don't actually even think they're creative, whereas in reality 100% of people are creative. And we need that creativity for our parenting, for our living, for our working.
[00:08:54.490] - Fiona
It doesn't matter what career you have, what industry you're in, your creativity is essential. I like to sort of define creativity as that process of going from idea to a finished project and all of the stages along the way, inspiration perspiration. So whether that finished project is an artwork, whether that's dance or poetry or a book, or whether that's a spreadsheet, whether that's a management team solution, change management for an organisation, all of these things may be our creative project.
If you don't believe you're creative, it's going to be really hard to be committed to continuous improvement, to solve problems, to come up with solutions in any area of your life. So I think that creativity is absolutely essential. And I think that it's not only essential for our joy, it's essential for us to fulfil our purpose, whatever that is.
And the more that we play with our creativity, the more that we develop the neural pathways in our brain that support bringing ideas to life. I like to say if you can bring a drawing to life, you can bring ideas to life. And I often work with businesses teaching them how to unlock the creativity of their teams by learning drawing.
[00:10:12.780] - Fiona
Not because I think that drawing is the only way to express creativity, it's just a great tool to help people recognise they are creative, they can learn drawing skills, they can learn all sorts of skills, they're capable of developing their creativity. The problem is most people don't even recognise that they have it. If they don't naturally feel a pull towards drawing or painting, they might not recognise their creativity in business, in industry, in building, in medicine.
But creativity is essential for all of those. So as an artist you already know that you're creative, but for us it's more how do we keep that fresh, how do we tap into our inspiration? And I like to think of that as a process when you realise you're going to face resistance probably every time you turn up to the canvas. And that's normal, it's outside of yourself, it's a dynamic people have written books about and you can push through that resistance. But inspiration isn't necessarily going to show up as you're standing there staring at the canvas. So the trick with inspiration is to catch it when it shows up and it shows up at funny times.
[00:11:22.630] - Fiona
You might be falling asleep at night and inspiration shows up. You might be driving the car, taking a shower, chopping vegetables. They are often tricky times to have a notebook handy. But if you can catch that idea, that little flash of I could do this, capture it, record it and then when it's time to work you've got ideas to go back to and then you can move into the perspiration part of the process where you bring those ideas to life and you've got to make rough versions before you can make great versions.
It's going to be the mistakes, the iterations, the things that you try again and again that help you find a great outcome. We don't expect every single painting to be a masterpiece. So when we can kind of come to terms with resistance, how inspiration works, the fact that our creativity doesn't like to be on twenty four seven and that some of the work we make will be really ordinary and some of it will be fabulous, then that helps us to keep the importance of our creativity, keep moving through it. And also I think, just recognising that it is not frivolous in terms of suffering, war, illness, just extreme tragedy or grief even.
[00:12:37.730] - Fiona
Creativity is very sustaining and if only I'd had eyes to see all those years ago in Africa, I would have realised the women around me were enjoying their creativity in the midst of their poverty, in the midst of the tough life that they were living. They were embroidering their clothes, they were decorating their household objects, they were enjoying their creativity in simple ways and I think there's a powerful lesson in that.
[00:13:01.900] - Malcolm
Now, what would you say to artists that have been painting for some time and want to explore the world of commerce, maybe start a part time business, something on the side for a bit of extra income and perhaps take that further into something more serious? But the artists have a lot of self doubt and I'm not sure whether they are ready. Are they half baked and should they spend more time studying and trying to improve their art, or should they just take a leap of faith and jump in the deep end? What would you say to these artists who are exploring the idea but having doubts about whether they are ready to start at all?
[00:13:50.100] - Fiona
First of all, I'd say that having doubts, wondering if you're ready, is completely normal. You're not alone. It's very natural to feel that way. If you've taken some time to learn your craft, you're probably ready. And the fact is, you will never feel ready. The trick is to get ready.
So one of the ways that I like to encourage my clients to get ready is to ask themselves three questions:
And if you can get really specific on that, one medium, one subject, three sizes, a particular style, certain colours that really appeal to you and really look at what you like, don't worry too much about what everybody else likes, and painting for the market and all that sort of thing. Look at what you really like to do and look at the highest value offer you can create that's going to bring you a lot of clarity.
[00:14:55.770] - Fiona
The second step that I take people through is looking at their creative process. Then, based on the highest value offer, they identified and streamlining their process. So they're not creating all sorts of things and they're not creating thousands of little $25 products.
They're not following up every idea that a thoughtful friend said, hey, why don't you do this? They're really sticking to the plan that they made, the clarity that they found with those questions, and streamlining their process to focus on that. The third step that I take them through is connection. And this is where I teach clients to build a simple business and marketing system so that you can identify your ideal customers, your ideal collectors.
And there are people who love what you do, so they're probably like you. The place you live, the interests you have, the culture you live in, your story, your taste, the colours that you like, the textures you like, and the style of painting. If you like it, there are going to be people out there who like it too. And your job is to find them, identify where are they? Where are they hanging out on the Internet?
[00:16:03.530] - Fiona
Where do they go? Where do they live? How do they talk? And those people are your audience. They're who you are talking to, they're who you're making your art for. And of course, those people need to be able to afford the art that you're making.
It's a very important criteria in who your ideal customers are and learning how to connect with them via social media and email listing website builds an ecosystem that helps you to connect your work with your customers. And really, to be ready, that's all you need art, people who want to buy that art and a way to connect the two. So whether you're ready or not has a lot to do with your mindset. And it's really about a choice to get ready.
[00:16:47.890] - Malcolm
Starting a side hustle or fulltime art business may be fine for somebody who is unemployed, but what would you suggest for those that do hold a day job? And maybe they have some commitments already, but believe that going into an art business will take them further and they'll get more out of it. But there's so much fear about taking that last step. Should they go all in, quit their day job and start their business, or a transition into it slowly over a period of time? And if so, what would you suggest is a reasonable period of time? Or perhaps you've seen other artists go through this phase. How do you take that transition without simply holding out forever and then finally just giving up on your dream?
[00:17:45.170] - Fiona
This is a really important question, Malcolm. I think it depends a lot on the financial situation. If you can't afford to go full time, great. But for most of us, there's a commitment to bills, to the family, to a lifestyle. That means that we're not free to just have no income for a period of time. And setting up your own business, selling your artwork, it does take time to build that body of collectors who love what you do, who become raving fans, repeat buyers recommend you to their friends.
And that takes time. Depending on whether you've done any of the pre work, you can build your portfolio and your business at the same time. And I do recommend getting help to do that because the road will be a lot faster. But be cautious about jumping the whole leap and the net will appear idea you can put a lot of pressure on yourself by jumping too early. In my own case, my husband and I had an agreement that I could start this art side hustle and when I had replaced my salary, I was working part time at this time. Then I would be able to go full time in my business.
[00:18:54.380] - Fiona
So that's what I did. I had a very clear goal. I knew exactly what my salary was, the salary I was seeking to replace, and I worked at building my business until I hit that mark. And then we checked and made sure that I could maintain that for a few months. And only then did I hand in my resignation. And that meant we were absolutely on the same page and that there was some stability there. And then that income was able to stay stable for the next years and I was then able to build my business and grow in different directions.
So, depending on your financial situation, it may be very challenging to work and build an art business alongside. You're going to need to spend about 50% of the time you have available for art on making art and the other 50% of the art time on building your business and maintaining your business. That's just how it will be. That's pretty normal for most professional artists. So if you're needing to maintain that job, perhaps you can go to a nine day fortnight, perhaps you can go part time, perhaps you can think about casual work that pays a higher rate, whatever you need to do to make that transition safely.
[00:20:04.870] - Fiona
I think that's really a wise way to do it and keep the pressure off yourself and off your creativity. And if you can, then just phase that as your business grows, cut down your hours or hand in your resignation. But decide ahead of time what your commitments are, what your responsibilities are, what you're comfortable with, and understand that it's going to take some time.
As well as building your portfolio, building the business, if you don't have those website, email, social media skills, it's going to take some time to learn those. In my profitable Artist method, 90 day coaching, I teach a very sustainable way of doing that, setting up a very simple business and marketing system that you can then maintain alongside of building collections of work. But it could take a year or 18 months to build up that body of collectors until you're actually known well enough to be making enough sales to start hitting your goals. So I think patience is a really helpful thing.
[00:21:04.640] - Malcolm
And how the big stumbling block for many artists starting out with business is how do they price their artwork. I've seen some artists trying to work on a time basis, others working on the size of the artwork, others trying to gauge their experience in relation to the art market, and so many other ways of trying to figure out pricing. Do you undercut to try and get a foot in the door or do you go in with a large price and try to create that market perception that your art is of a higher standard? Already all of these problems crop up and then once you've chosen on a method, how do you increase your prices? So it's not to price yourself out the market, but also to try and keep up with making a good standard of living and keeping up with your expenses.
[00:22:06.640] - Fiona
Pricing becomes a lot more simple when it's part of a whole business plan. Pricing is a difficult question in the sense that how long is a piece of string. It's very subjective and as soon as you do a bit of research, you see that things are all over the place. It is helpful to do some research in your local area, but the fact that we have access to the internet really means that our customers could be anywhere in the world.
So going back to those original questions, I talked about the clarity on the time, the money, what you love to create and crafting your highest value offer. If you can simplify what you offer to three sizes and have a small, medium and large size and price, that will help a lot. It's a lot easier to sell 25 $3,000 items than $3,025 items. One of the biggest challenges in pricing is a mindset perception that it's going to be easier to sell cheaper art. But if you're having to sell a lot more art, that's actually much harder. Also, there's a perception thing. If your art is very cheaply priced, there's a perception that it's worth less.
[00:23:18.720] - Fiona
There are many people selling rubbish on the internet in the name of art for very high prices, but they're doing an excellent job at marketing. So it is a very subjective thing. But in building a simple business and marketing model where you can make art in a sustainable way and you really figure out what is the highest value offer I can create that will really help to simplify this, I have a preference for a linear model in pricing, so length plus width times a rate.
So I go into this and I have a free guide on my website called how to Start Selling Your Art and I talk about pricing in there and help show that if you use this linear model and experiment with different rates, you can see at different sizes and at different rates what your pricing would look like. And you can start to sort of crunch some numbers on costs, framing costs, materials. And I talk in there about if you're going to work with a gallery recognising that you may be paying 50% commission on any sales that you make, what's that going to do to your pricing? If you can do the math on the front end and really crunch the numbers before getting into real life, situations that's going to help you.
[00:24:38.030] - Fiona
Let's say that you had three sizes and you chose perhaps 700, 1503 thousand for your prices. Or maybe you want to be more conservative on that, maybe you start a little bit lower. When you've decided on those three prices, write them on a sticky note and stick them on that sized artwork and keep it around in your studio. Tell your phone, as if your phone was a customer, what your prices are or practise sort of role play with a friend.
Get comfortable, because often what happens is somebody who's making art will be asked by a friend or somebody who stumbles across their work, oh, that's lovely, I'd love to buy it. Do you sell your work? And if we haven't practised, we can end up shooting ourselves in the foot and saying disparaging things like, oh, I just dabble.
And really, that might not be true at all, but perhaps we just haven't developed the language and the comfort and the confidence in talking about our prices. So set your prices. Set them simply. Use a linear model, the length plus the width times the rate. Start with $25. See what that does for you at the three different sizes you've chosen to work in.
[00:25:49.630] - Fiona
Aim for a small, a medium and a large price and stick to that. Be very clear when you've got those, then practise them. And that confidence, that simplicity. Thinking through things like shipping, thinking through things like commissions, do you want to do those or not? Making those decisions and then writing down what you've decided is going to help you enormously. And as I mentioned, how to start selling your art, the free PDF guide, you'll find that's helpful. And that goes into just writing down the things that I've mentioned in this conversation. So if you're having trouble tracking with it so quickly, go grab the guide. You can get it at fiona Valentine.com.
[00:26:27.530] - Malcolm
If the artist has figured out their pricing and has worked hard on improving their art until they're ready to jump in, do they first seek gallery representation? Is that still relevant today because of the size of the market there's so many artists, etc for? Or should the artist market themselves and try to sell, produce and sell their work themselves? What are the pitfalls of working through a gallery? Alternatively, the pitfalls of working solely for yourself and doing your own marketing? And what are the relative advantages of either approach? I guess finally the question is, can you have your cake and eat it too? Can you have a gallery and sell your own artwork and try and balance the two?
[00:27:24.750] - Fiona
Such good questions. Yes, I absolutely believe you can balance the two, but where to start? I don't recommend starting by looking for gallery representation. If you start by taking responsibility for yourself as an artist, entrepreneur and make sure that you've done your homework to be well set up independently, that's going to make you look a lot better to galleries.
And you may find, having done your math, having set up your business correctly, establishing your own marketing and sales, that you're making all that you need and your time is full and you are completely independent. Your email list and the email addresses of your collectors, that's your number one asset and you own that. If you're selling with a gallery, they're the ones that own those contacts. And if they close, you've just lost all connection with your collectors.
When you build independently, you maintain that connection. You're the one that's responsible. And you're not closing down yourself by having your own website and email list. You own those things. You own that space. You're not dependent on social media accounts that can be shut down. So we can use social media, we may even get gallery representation.
[00:28:38.570] - Fiona
And those can be wonderful things, but I don't believe they're the place to start. Of course, if you already have gallery representation, great. I just worked with a client who has seven galleries and he's realising he needs to be more independent and is just been exploring the online space. So we worked through how to create a win win with his existing galleries and explain to them what he was going to do in selling independently online, and how that was a benefit for them as well as for him.
So they walked away with a great agreement, complete understanding, mutual respect, some ground rules, and now he's stepping into doing some independent work, having different collections, but managing that himself. And he realises that that's possible now and that that is a much safer place in a fragile world where galleries can close, even if they don't choose to. That may happen.
So taking responsibility for yourself as an artist, entrepreneur, it's entirely possible to sell online, to sell independently, you really do need this marketing ecosystem of an ecommerce website, a professional social media presence, an email list, so that you can maintain contact with your ideal collectors, and you need a good understanding of your identity as an artist.
[00:30:00.050] - Fiona
And all of that is a process. You don't have to do it alone, but it works best together as a holistic ecosystem. So I hope that helps in just thinking through some of those questions. One of my clients, she came to me originally through a professional development workshop, then attended my night classes. Then she came to my retreat and started hearing about the business side of things. Long story short, she ended up leaving her teaching career to step into being a fulltime artist.
She set up her website, hired a studio, created her first collections, listened to my advice on setting up an email list and maintaining contact with her collectors. And now that she's got this collection, this body of work, this professional website, this presence, she did apply to a gallery and was accepted. And she'll be having her first solo. Show. So there's a lot to be said for just taking responsibility for you, not waiting for anyone else's permission, not waiting for them to open all the doors for you. Galleries, museums, organisations, they don't hold all the keys anymore. You can be independent and successful and I think that's a safe way to do things and you can definitely have both.
[00:31:16.800] - Fiona
You can have your cake and eat it too. As long as there's mutual respect and good planning and you take yourself seriously, then the world's your oyster.
[00:31:25.910] - Malcolm
I think many artists get involved with social media and it becomes an all consuming thing. I think of avenues like Instagram or Facebook, for instance, that seemed to consume a lot of time and effort. But I also see artists struggling and are questioning whether the algorithms are set up in such a way that the artist is kept on a treadmill and is not getting the engagement they need. What is a reasonable expectation with social media? And then the question is, should artists even worry about spending a lot of time with social media? Should they rather focus on a website or maybe a blog and email? What is the best return on your time and energy when it comes to these digital forms of marketing? And how much time should you be spending on either of these avenues?
[00:32:30.330] - Fiona
Social media is definitely a huge challenge for artists, but it's also a huge opportunity. And you're right, it can be an enormous time trap. When it's done strategically in conjunction with an ecommerce website and an email list, it takes on a different role. Your social media can be a great way to share the story of creating your body of work. If you make a body of work, or even an individual painting, and you just go to share it on social media, expecting that people will just buy it, or you create a website and put art on there and expect that because you built it, they will come, you're going to be disappointed.
You're really going to need some sales and marketing knowledge and there are, thankfully, some very simple things that you can do. The idea of a funnel is that you build something so that people can discover you and they can move through a process and eventually become familiar enough with, you know, like trust, try and then buy something from you. And social media and your website working together with your email are a really good way to do that. So if in your social media you're telling the story of creating your art and you're talking about the fact that you are building a collection and that it will be released at such and such a time, then you encourage people to get on your email list.
[00:33:54.710] - Fiona
These are all steps that I teach as part of the profitable artist method programme, because it takes some time to get these pieces in place. But what happens then is that your social media and your email list and your website are working. Like having assistants who work in your studio with you. It's not just technology, but you're recording yourself in ways that can reach other people while you're working in the studio.
These tools can be telling the story of your art making for you, pointing people towards your website, towards your email list and collecting those addresses for you so that then they found you on social media, they're clicking on that link in your Instagram bio or on Facebook and finding their way onto your email list. And then you're able to talk to them about this collection that's coming up and give them exclusive access to your ecommerce website and sell out your collection.
Now, that takes some time to build up that audience, but there is absolutely a way that you can tell a story of creating your art, drawing collectors through social media, without spending your whole life on social media. One of the most simple ways you can start if you're already posting pictures of your work, then when somebody follows you on social media, don't ignore them.
[00:35:17.930] - Fiona
Just go into the messages and say, hey, thanks for the follow. Start asking them the questions. You might end up with a conversation happening. Start to treat followers as people that you're relating to. Don't just let the virtual world depersonalise what's happening. So that's kind of a long answer to a complicated question. But there is a way to use those things effectively. And I give my clients prompts for three months worth of social media posting, so that as they're building their portfolio, as they're building their business, they're telling the story on social media so that when the paintings are ready, their buyers are ready. And that's the goal definitely takes time, but there's a way to do it that's strategic.
[00:35:59.810] - Malcolm
I think the world is going through quite a tough economic time and we see a lot of news about a recession is now hitting the world economies. So we have many artists who now have perhaps a lot of fear and may wonder whether it's even worth bothering with marketing the art business. How can you sell luxury items like paintings, for instance? How would you navigate this period that we're in and appears to be going on for at least a couple more years? And how should our artists change their perspective? Or should they market less? Do you market more in terms of recession? And how can they emerge from this or even thrive in their art business during these uncertain times?
[00:37:00.880] - Fiona
It's a really important question. Recession is different than, say, covet during COVID work from home life, art sales did really, really well, realising that during a recession it does make a difference to art sales. You may have to work harder at your sales and marketing to maintain your income, knowing too that targeting the top end of the market, the higher price bracket, that's going to be very helpful to you because that tier of the market is more stable during a recession.
So there is definitely still the possibility of making art sales during a recession. Making sure that you have great sales and marketing skills and that you're doing that strategically is really important. Also in the ebbs and flows of being an artist, of being an entrepreneur, if there comes a time where you do need to do a different kind of work alongside of your art making to make ends meet, that's not the end of the world. That doesn't mean that you have failed. Ideally, your art business is going to get to a stage where you don't need to do that. But if that happens at times and you are supporting your creativity by using a different skill set that you have, that's absolutely fine.
[00:38:15.710] - Fiona
That's not to say you'll have to, but if you need to for a while, it's not the end of the world and there is no reason to stop selling your art, stop working at improving your sales and marketing. It's an ongoing process, there will be changes. A recession is something to consider, but it definitely doesn't mean shut up shop, go home, give up, there's no hope. It's just not like that. That's not what happens. So aim high, work hard, build your skills and be strategic.
[00:38:45.280] - Malcolm
Now, it's a tough one for a lot of parents when their child says they want to become a full time artist, when they leave school or study art, perhaps at a tertiary level and then go into professional art, what do you suggest parents say to their children who have talent and express a desire to get into art for a business? Should they study it first of all at a tertiary level? Is that really necessary? Or can they study it part time and work on their art during the day? And finally, should students get a regular day job and practise their art after hours? Or would you say it's better for them to simply work on it full time and really get their hands dirty right from the start, so they learn all the hard knocks first?
[00:39:44.050] - Fiona
These are big questions and I think it's so important as parents that we are setting up the next generation of artists to think well about their creativity, understanding that many universities these days are not necessarily equipping people with money making skills.
Many people are coming out with a qualification and they are being employed as an artist. You are really going to be in business, you're going to be an artist, entrepreneur if you want to make an income from your art. And once you understand that, then you can look at that trajectory a little bit differently. And there are so many options.
Now, if you were going to go down the university pathway, be very sure that the programme you're going to enter into is going to teach you the kinds of skills to make the kind of art you would like to make, it may not. And looking for approval or permission or training by investing in a university degree may not be the smartest pathway these days. There are so many absolutely excellent online ateliers to online schools of all sorts to learn all sorts of different art skills and they are very affordable and the training is amazing.
[00:40:58.860] - Fiona
So decide what kind of art you want to make. Find somebody who is excellent at making that kind of art and also an excellent teacher and money skills, working a job while you build up the business and sales and marketing skills that you have so that you're making money from your art, that can be a really wonderful thing because in every job that we're in, we learn skills.
So I would say if you're very young, get some retail experience and make out on the side, work for somebody else to learn social media and marketing skills. That way you'll be getting some income, you'll be learning the skills that you need. The other option that you have is to be independent, to find an online format for training and developing your art skills and to invest in coaching like the Profitable Artist Method and learn how to simply set up your business and marketing and social media and work hard at it. You can even do that while having a part time job to support yourself. So it depends on your financial situation. But I would definitely encourage parents to say yes to their child because you can absolutely make a lot of money as an artist.
[00:42:10.000] - Fiona
But be very clear that what you're talking about is becoming an artist entrepreneur. You're not waiting for someone else to give you a grant, for someone else to accept you into a gallery. You're taking responsibility for your own business and that's going to mean learning sales and marketing skills that are unique to artists. But it can be done. I think it's a wonderful career choice and gives you so much freedom.
But make sure that you put in the work and you think through what's right for you in terms of experience, because many artists are introverts and really getting some experience in talking to people in sales and making conversation. That's as important as the skills of actually making your art, learning how to connect it with your collectors. So it's a multifaceted thing, but I think there's very exciting potential these days, mostly because of the internet, both for your art training, for your business training and for building that business so that you can be a profitable artist.
[00:43:09.530] - Malcolm
Fiona, could you tell us more about your services and how you work with artists to improve their businesses and creativity? And I see you've got some interesting looking products on your website as well. For instance, the Profitable Artist Method, you've got a business school and you also do team work with groups. So if you could tell us more about that and how people can get hold of you and what they can expect and perhaps we can also offer your free PDF download as well together with this podcast to my listeners that would be great as well. So we'd like to hear as much as we can about what you are doing and how you can help artists who want to get more assistance from you.
[00:44:07.810] - Fiona
Thanks for asking Malcolm. I'm really passionate as a business coach for artists. I have some free resources and some paid resources as you mentioned on my website. Fiona Valentine.com. You'll find access to my free guide how to start Selling your art and we mentioned that a little bit earlier in the show that just talks very simply about how to ask yourself those simple clarity questions.
How to think about pricing and how to help yourself to get ready. Not wait till you are ready. I like to sort of package my services as a business school for artists. I think that's a great way to think about it. And where can you go to business school in twelve weeks and learn how to set up your business, how to find your customers and organise your sales and marketing.
But that's really what I offer and my business school is all about the profitable artist method and I do that through a 90 day coaching programme over Zoom so you can do it from anywhere in the world. And I will teach you how to set up your business, how to set up your website, email, your social media and how to do that in conjunction with creating your portfolio of work.
[00:45:19.040] - Fiona
There's so much mindset and practical how to knowledge built into this programme. It's just really exciting because it's very flexible to you and where you're starting from. Because I've got a background in teaching art, we can talk about style, we can talk about building your art skills as well as setting up your sales and marketing and your business skills.
One of the other things that I do is work with businesses in my Art of Innovation programme. That's a two hour workshop for corporations who are wanting to unlock the creativity of their teams and it really helps people who don't perhaps view themselves as creative to see that we're all creative. And when you build creative skills that creativity transfers to your work and to your relationships. And through developing a drawing practise you can learn the skills to train your brain for more creativity and innovation.
By practising drawing you're actually learning to bring a drawing to life and that's the same skill set that you need to bring an idea to life. So if you head to my website looking for information on how to start selling your art, grab the free guide and you'll see as soon as you sign up for the free PDF you'll also be offered a special price on my 1 hour workshop, The Art of Selling Art, and that'll talk to you more about my methods.
[00:46:42.450] - Fiona
And it will also promote the Profitable Artist Method, my business school for artists. So if you have any questions about any of that, have a look on the website. You can reach out to me personally. You can find me on Instagram at Fiona Valentine Artist. And there's a link in my bio on Instagram too, to that PDF. So all the information is there. And if you have any questions about the business school teaching the Profitable Artist method, I'd love to hear from you. Shoot me an email or connect with me via Instagram. I also have a Facebook group called The Confident Artist, and you'll find that on my website. And it's a group for those who are wanting to build a creative habit, make beautiful art, and learn the art of selling art. So come and join me there. The Confident Artist Facebook group. I hope this has been helpful. I'd love to work with you to build your own profitable art business. If you've got any questions, reach out. You'll find a button on my website to book a free 15 minutes complimentary call or I'm happy to talk with you about the potential for your art business.
[00:47:42.180] - Fiona
Thanks so much, Malcolm, for the chance to talk with your audience of artists.
[00:47:46.290] - Malcolm
Fiona I'd like to thank you very much for being a guest and taking the time out to give us such valuable information and all the experience that you have been able to draw upon to answer some really pressing questions that have been worrying a lot of artists out there. And I do encourage artists to visit your website at Fiona Valentine.com and find out more about your work, the great artwork you are creating, and what you're doing to help artists struggling to get into their creativity and art businesses.
[00:48:29.040] - Malcolm
I want to thank Fiona Valentine for joining me on how to Loosen up Your painting podcast. I hope you've enjoyed that. And if you want to learn more from Fiona, please cheque out her website, Fiona Valentine.com. Okay, there's plenty more coming, so make sure you've subscribed to this podcast and also find out more about my painting firstname.lastname@example.org. There's plenty there to keep you busy, and I hope to meet you there soon. All right, that's it for today. Until we meet again. Happy painting. Enjoy developing your new art business.
And cheers for now.
How to Loosen Up Your Painting Course
Malcolm Dewey: Artist. Country: South Africa