SJ: I’ve always been a very quiet and shy sort of person, more apprehensive. I was very obedient as a kid, never wanted to disappoint anyone or cause someone distress. I was also very absorbed in my own world, spent a lot of time drawing alone in my room rather than going out with friends. Kind of similar to who I am still, to be honest.
EG: How did you go about becoming a successful artist? What were the steps you took?
SJ: I put a lot of work into my painting and skills. Outside of school, I probably still put in 4 hours every day working at it, and I never treated it as just a hobby either. I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life. Aside from that passion to create, I think I stumbled upon some good luck in meeting the right people at the right times, too. Mind you, I took up opportunities as they arose which only led to meeting more of the right people. I started selling in some local community type shows, which led to doing newspaper and TV interviews, which led to more shows... Eventually I got a website running and was able to expand my endeavors on an international scale.
EG: What gave you the strength and ambition to make you think that you could succeed with all of the many competitors?
SJ: I didn’t think I could succeed, in all honesty. I’ve always been very unconfident about myself, but the key is to not let those things stop you from trying anyway. I went to art school thinking I’d end up working as a waitress the rest of my life, but things don’t always work out how you predict them. I still wanted to paint as a career, more than anything, and I’d never forgive myself for not giving it my best shot. Despite the insecurities though, I had a family who was supportive and it’s always a positive help to have people who believe in you when you don’t necessarily believe in yourself.
EG: Can you describe the business side of art?
SJ: It’s been a learning experience and still is day by day. I’m not a business minded person, as most creatives aren’t, and have felt quite nervous about my dealings that way. However, the part of the art world I’m connected to has been very kind to me. I’ve managed to find a good home in the industry and met a lot of good people who’ve been helpful to me. However, it’s important to develop your time management skills well and your self-discipline in order to keep up with the kind of work schedule you need to sustain as an artist. It’s also good to have lawyers look over any contracts you might sign in regards to doing business with galleries or other prospective organizations. It’s also helpful to talk to other people in your field about problems you encounter or problems that they have experienced along the way. As a community, there’s a lot to learn from others who have either already gone through what you’re going through, or that are in the same boat as you currently.
EG: What is the best business advice you have ever received?
SJ: I haven’t had a lot of key business advice so far, most has been advice for specific situations, but I’d say it’s a good idea to keep business and friendship separate. You tend to have a hard time being totally frank in those scenarios and if anything goes wrong with the business it can affect your friendship.
EG: Describe a typical day in your life.
SJ: I sleep in till about 10am, feed the cat, get myself cleaned up, answer emails and take care of computer related business, then start painting at around noon. I’ll be painting for about 6hrs till my boyfriend gets home from work. After that, it’s all relaxing, going out or getting other chores done. It’s pretty awesome! No other jobs needed right now.
EG: What was the hardest obstacle that you had to overcome on your journey to success? How did you overcome that obstacle?
SJ: Probably my shyness, though I wouldn’t say I’ve fully overcome that, I’ve just learned to put my nerves on the back burned in order to accomplish my goals. I think my art career has been a big part of my success in that though, having to meet people at shows on a regular basis and do business with people I’ve only come to know over the internet. I still feel I’m not as socially adapted as I should be to reach my full potential in this field, but little by little I work at my confidence. Soon you start to realize that most people aren’t really out to get you, or that you shouldn’t put so much time into worrying about things as you could into doing them. You end up feeling much happier and prouder of yourself for going after things.
EG: Do you have any tips for building a successful relationship with your clients?
SJ: Be kind, polite and understanding – in whatever circumstance, good or bad. You should also be careful on your own end though and despite the saying ‘the customer is always right’ don’t let someone push you around. For the most part, through galleries you won’t be working with the clients anyway, but when it comes to commission work it’s important to be fair and honest – set rules for your business arrangements and make sure the client is aware of them before getting into work.
EG: Are there any words of wisdom that you can give to girls who would like to eventually go into art as a career?
SJ: Work hard, practice often and get involved. Read up on other artists you like or art magazines you enjoy, go out to art galleries and keep inspired. Also, be true to yourself – it’s good and helpful to take advice and criticism from teachers/other artists/etc, but don’t let them tell you shouldn’t paint/sculpt what you want. Keep to what you’re passionate about as that’s where you’ll find happiness… It’s not easy getting by as an artist, but there’s a lot of positive reward in it.
xoxo Entrepreneur Girl