How I Started my Art Business
Well hello again! I’m so glad you’re here.
If you read my very first blog post you’ll realize that it never once occurred to me that I’d one day have an art business. My mind had been set on teaching since a very young age. Then along came art! I had never even considered actually studying and majoring in art until my senior year of high school. Oh, and for the record, my Bachelor's Degree is in Art (with a concentration in painting) and a K-12 Art Teacher Licensure as well.
Having an art business? Not me! I took one business course in college (only because I needed the credit) and never actually imagined that I could build a business around my art. Especially not while teaching. Looking back, however, I realize that something magical happened my senior year of college.
Yes, I loved painting and enjoyed all of my painting courses. But those courses were all meant to help me grow and push which meant I couldn’t always just paint what I wanted to paint. All of our painting assignments had themes and objectives that were often very challenging for me. I’m sure thankful for those challenges though, because I think they made me love painting even more, especially once I had the freedom to paint what I wanted!
Our senior year of college included having our own gallery show. The entire year revolved around this big senior show. The magical part? I finally got to focus on painting flowers. Not just any flowers either...giant flowers on hand built, hand stretched canvases. Yes, it was required to learn to build/stretch/prep canvases all throughout my classes as well.
Creating my own whimsical gardens on each canvas...what a dream! Each one started in acrylic paint and was finished with layers of oil paint. I’m almost positive that at least half of my paintings were still wet during the show because oil paints take forever to dry and I worked on those pieces up until the last minute possible!
The show was amazing...especially since my family and friends were there to support me and I got to support my fellow senior artists who were a part of the same gallery show, too. The whole event...well, the whole year...was truly an incredible experience. And I wasn’t ready to stop. (Pictured below is an image of one of my giant flower paintings from this gallery show...and Kiwi, too).
After graduation, I completed my student teaching, moved back home, fell in love, and continued working with the Migrant Education program that I was my summer job all throughout college at our local Boys and Girls Club. (You see, that’s how I got my start to what/where I’m teaching now.) But something was missing.
Yep, you guessed it! I needed to paint...it was more than just a want at that point, it’s hard to explain the feeling. Oh, and I needed to make extra money. Several working artists had been guest speakers for us throughout college, however, I honestly didn’t pay too much attention at the time because I was going to teach...not sell art.
One day I remember taking some time to create a small, inspirational type painting one day after work...very different from what I was painting in college. My space was smaller and I had less time devoted to painting, therefore my style evolved at that time to fit my needs. Anyways, as soon as I created it, I wondered if I could make it into an art print. Long story short...I researched local print shops, painted a couple more pieces and went from there. Pictured below is what the first few prints of mine looked like...different from my style in college and my style today but these are what started my business (and still offered in my shop today)!
I should tell you all that at this point I reopened my etsy shop. Remember that before painting, I was determined to be a photographer? During my freshman/sophomore years of college I had an etsy shop for a very short period of time and offered my photography prints...actually selling a total of zero.
After I had maybe six prints listed in my etsy shop, I signed up for Instagram (knowing NOTHING about it). Have you ever scrolled that far back on my Instagram feed? It’s embarrassing to say the least. But guess what? It worked! Posting about my art on Instagram and Facebook helped me make my first sales within the first two days of opening shop. I couldn’t believe it! And I had so much to figure out from that point, too. But boy are those first sales oh so exciting!
I bet you can probably guess that this whole business thing has been a lot of tough lessons learned, trial and error, and teaching myself new things. I couldn’t do it without the help of my family, friends, professors, teachers, and many of you too!
I won’t pretend it’s easy running an art business and teaching art (I forgot to mention here that I eventually became the Art Director at our local Boys and Girls Club). Social media often makes things look perfect but trust me, they’re not. There’s so much to learn and do and share when it comes to art, business, and teaching so let me know your questions in the comments (or email me!) and I’ll do my best to offer some fun new blog posts based off of your suggestions.