The Art Biz ep. 164: Maintaining Your Studio Practice with a Busy Teaching Schedule with Sally Hirst

Years ago I was teaching in a small mountain town and popping into cute shops, art galleries, and boutiques during my free time.

In one of these spots, an experienced shopkeeper, obviously used to tourists, asked about my purpose for being in town.

Sally Hirst mixed media on canvas
©Sally Hirst, Shadows of Perception. Mixed media on canvas, 80 x 80 cm.

“I’m at a conference,” I said.

She responded that she hoped I learned a lot there. Arrogantly presuming that her comment needed correcting, I replied that I was the one teaching.

“Well,” she said, “you probably learn a lot from your students.”

Mic drop. Truer words have never been spoken and I have never forgotten that conversation. I needed to be reminded of why I enjoy teaching live and interacting with students, like in the current Create Opportunities Challenge. A good teacher learns from their students. 

In this episode of The Art Biz, I talk with Sally Hirst.

Sally was born to teach, and she was also born an artist. Like most of us, she adapted to the new reality that she was faced with at the beginning of the pandemic. Well, actually, she did more than adapt. She took the challenge head on and has been thriving ever since.

Sally and discuss:

  • Why it’s no longer feasible for an artist in the UK to sell in the EU market.
  • How she selected her teaching platform and the skills she has had to acquire to teach online.
  • Her video setup.
  • The breakdown of live versus on-demand classes that Sally teaches.
  • How she attracts new students.
  • How she uses an assistant.
  • How she manages to maintain her studio practice with such a busy teaching schedule.



Sally's studio
Sally's studio

Sally's Advice for Would-Be Teachers

  • You have to want to do it. You have to know that you are good enough at something to be able to break it down into bite-sized chunks.
  • Ask yourself what kind of a teacher you want to be and how you want to engage with people.
  • Once you have some people who are interested, run it with a pilot with them.
  • Just go for it, but start small.
Video setup in Sally Hirst's studio
Sally Hirst's video setup.

Sally Hirst Quotes

“I don't walk away from anything. I'm gonna have to do this now.”

“I just jumped in the water and thought, what's the worst that can happen? The worst that can happen is no one likes it, and I'm talking to myself on video. But at least it's keeping me amused.”

“You gotta have a passion to impart and to engage with people.”

“They're paying for the content. They're not paying for the quality of your video.”

“I think about going back to the reasons why people liked it. I think there's an authenticity. I am who I am.”

“I learned very quickly that key to a good course is you don't get the questions. It's all in the course. They don't need to ask me questions.”

“My mantra through all my teaching career has been everyone can paddle, but some of them will swim. Everyone can achieve something.”

“I'm not a great believer in things like talent, because if you say it's about talent, then actually you are saying there's a whole percentage of the population who have no access to that because they don't feel they have the talent.”

About My Guest

Born and bred in London, Sally Hirst now lives in Norwich in the United Kingdom. Her studio is in the city centre of this historic city and she loves hearing the medieval church bells ring every hour and the chatter of shoppers in the nearby marketplace.

As well as being a professional artist educated to Masters level, Sally is also a qualified teacher with many years of teaching experience. She currently teaches a range of online courses that enable her to reach students at all stages of their creative journey, worldwide.

Follow her on Instagram @sallyhirstart

Sally Hirst

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2 thoughts on “The Art Biz ep. 164: Maintaining Your Studio Practice with a Busy Teaching Schedule with Sally Hirst”

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Ah geez. Darn it! It’s corrected and was blessedly correct above, but I hate that. The show notes for new downloads will be correct. If you have already downloaded it, you’d need to delete and re-download to see the correction. Thanks, Chris!

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