4 Moves To Ignite The Passion For Your Art Business

Bang! Pop! Pow!

Is that the sound of leftover fireworks I hear? Or is your art business on fire?

I would love to hear that it’s your business on fire – that you are Hot – Hot – Hot for what you have to share with the world.

If you’re only hearing fireworks outside your walls and not inside your body, there are four things you can do, and keep doing, to ignite the passion for your art business.

©Dorette Amell, Diplomacy Blue. Digital media. Used with permission.
©Dorette Amell, Diplomacy Blue. Digital media. Used with permission.

1. Embrace your role as CEO.

When you decide you want to earn money as an artist, you are no longer just making art. You are building a business.

As soon as you accept your role as CEO of your art business, you will experience a dramatic shift in mindset. You will understand that your talent is bigger than you. It’s the basis for a dialogue you are intended to have with the world.

Along with this comes the responsibility of ensuring that your business is run professionally and profitably.

What’s not to get excited about?

2. Schedule something big – with a deadline.

Every forward-thinking entrepreneur needs something to look forward to, and artists are no different. You want to experience the momentum resulting from snagging a new venue, hosting an open studio, or landing a commission.

Without events and deadlines on your calendar, you risk wasting time on social media and neglecting the hard work in the studio.

Don’t wait for things to happen to you. Create your own opportunities. OWN them!

3. Use your list.

©Deepa Koshaley, Whole II. Acrylic, dry pastels on canvas. 36 x 24 inches. Used with permission.
©Deepa Koshaley, Whole II. Acrylic, dry pastels on canvas. 36 x 24 inches. Used with permission.

You didn’t work hard to attract all of those people to your list only to let them rot in cyber-storage. Use your list!

People signed up to hear from you. If they haven’t heard from you in awhile, they’ll think one of three things:

  • You aren’t doing anything worth sharing.
  • Your business is too disorganized to get a message together.
  • You don’t care enough about them.

Or, even worse, they’ll think nothing because they’ve forgotten about you altogether.

Staying in touch with your list is an opportunity you can’t afford to neglect. They are your community. Maintaining dialogue with them is rocket fuel for your art career.

Create a plan to use your list regularly and then keep that commitment to yourself and your audience.

4. Follow up with people.

Pay attention to signals. Opportunities are often abundant if you listen and act on them.

Did you catch that condition at the end of the sentence? You have to act on the opportunities.

If someone says they like your work, do you accept the compliment and move on? Or do you ask if they’d like to be on your mailing list and receive an invitation to your next event? Or invite them to your studio to see more?

In my experience with students and clients, lack of follow-up is one of the biggest mistakes artists make. I don’t believe it’s because you are lazy. I don’t accept that it’s that you are too busy because we make time for what is important.

I assume that fear is the reason most artists don’t follow up – fear that there will be a rejection on the other end or that they’ll be viewed as a pest.

©Christine Hager-Braun, Illumination #2. Batik fabrics, machine-pieced, machine-quilted, mounted on stretched canvas, 36 x 48 x 1 inches. Used with permission.
©Christine Hager-Braun, Illumination #2. Batik fabrics, machine-pieced, machine-quilted, mounted on stretched canvas, 36 x 48 x 1 inches. Used with permission.

You can’t allow fear to run your life. To live your best life … to take advantage of the precious years you have on Earth … you must embrace bold steps.

If you don’t follow up, you’ll always wonder, “What if . . .?” or “If only I had . . . “ Nothing takes the sizzle out of your momentum like regret.

How do you ignite the passion for your art business?

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30 thoughts on “4 Moves To Ignite The Passion For Your Art Business”

  1. Working your mailing list and especially those who have bought from you in the past is critical. I had a collector commission me a 8 months ago. Last week I e-mailed her with a gentle suggestion that she may like another work. She was happy to give me my biggest commission yet within a day of my mail. Artists must make their own waves.

    1. I first sent out a free survey (surveymonkey) to my list – one question was about what subject was their favorite. From the answers I could then write to each collector personally about my willingness to accept commissions for that particular subject. This collector was ready to go for it.

  2. I am excited about launching my art business officially. My website development is underway, and I’m going to have my paintings professionally photographed.
    Oh and I have written up my artist statement and bio, after reading and doing the exercise for both your books “I’d rather be in the studio” and “The relatively paint-free artist statement”, as well as Vicki’s “Art-Write”. I have also taken advantage of Vicki’s personal writing help at her steal price!
    Can’t wait to share with the world!

  3. I post new work on my FB page and followers (and their friends) get excited about it. It leads to new dialogue and often a sale. Last week I casually posted a painting that was still wet and sold it within a few hours with a promise to ship as soon as it is dry. That gets me fired up!

  4. Alyson, thank you for reminding me about my e-mail list again. I´m thinking about it every day, but still I didn´t send work updates to my subscribers. It´s time to do it!

  5. Alyson, I finally created my very first Newsletter. It came out just as I imagined (Glossy, Colorful and Beautiful). I have made a commitment to print a quarterly newsletter to keep in touch with my Collectors as well as new potential collectors, friends and family. My goal is keep to keep writing to a minimal, to put some enticing Photos of my Season Related Paintings and keep my Art Lovers updated with my current shows and Commissions. By doing this one simple thing as creating a newsletter, I am motivated to create new paintings (some even in series) and it keeps me from wasting a lot of time on facebook and from leaving projects for another day.

  6. Thank you for this article Alyson. The Step #4, Follow Up, hit me right between the eyes…all the times I didn’t pick up on the hints or signs of interest from people came rushing back. Now I know what to look for and prevent losing opportunities. 🙂 A timely article for me!

  7. My passion is ignited by my passion for education for girls. I just did a soft launch today of an online shop to sell my Book series in support of this cause. I have written The United Nations Girls Education Initiative requesting the use of their logo and support.

    This cause has always been near and dear to my heart. It was time to do something. Book Art for Girls

  8. A timely reminder, Alyson. I need to schedule something big! I’ve been a bit stuck as to what – that is, what big thing do I really want to achieve next. Maybe some time out to recharge will spark some new creative ideas!

  9. Aleta Jacobson

    A good thing. I was to go and teach a class in OR the end of June. I was lead to this by a friend. She pushed me and the store that would host my class. Well, long story and all that…the business owner was a jerk and not professional. He didn’t promote the way he said he would. And the kicker was he said, “oh I’m not good at doing e mail and getting back to people.” I went right to HERE. Alyson has said this many times that this is not how to run a business. I think it is just an excuse to cop out and be “flighty”. It is not how to run a business. After some comments from my friend I sent the man a message that I was canceling my class with them. After he got back from vacation…??? He responded to me with a very nasty e mail calling me names.
    Enough!!! I went and Scheduled Something Big…with a deadline… I had not read your post yet. I got into displaying and demoing at the L. A. County Fair — Millard Sheets’ Gallery. It was late as they had finished taking people in Feb. But an artist with health issues had backed out.
    My deadline is July 20th!!! to create and inventory work that will last in the gallery for a month of selling. It’s hard work and a big deadline but I know I can do it. Especially after reading your post here!
    Thank you!!!

  10. Alyson,

    Great article – thanks for writing it!

    Since I made a consciense decision to make a career out of my painting (becoming CEO), a lot has changed:

    – built up my inventory for a show, thereby becoming more experienced & confident with oil painting – as well as having a deadline!

    – created new website with FASO (btw, great marketing info with them – how I found your article, too!)

    – reading marketing info – can’t seem to get enough advice!

    – created email marketing subscribers list (with subscribers’ permission) & am sending newsletters

    – painting daily en plein air to learn & grow

    – mostly daily blogging, posting my art to my Facebook business page, tweeting & Pinterest

    – keeping a planner with goals & to do’s

    Wow, writing this has made me realize how much effort I’m truly putting into this. Bragging? No! I know there’s always more to do & look forward to reading & learning what to push for next to reach my goal of becomming a successful artist. Paying off? Time & hard work will tell. 🙂


  11. Victoria Pendragon

    I loved all the varied responses to this post…especially fond of the survey idea!
    Passion has never been an issue for me (in fact some years ago I presented, in a number of locations, a day long even called Passion) because life itself is a passion for me. I was especially struck by your comment about people perhaps being afraid to “follow up” because what’s to be afraid of? People are people and if they’ve expressed an interest in your art, then you have something in common. The follow-up -my take on it, anyway – is that it’s more about establishing and nurturing relationships than anything else. Good relationships yield all kinds of results, the best one of which is all the good energy you generate!

    1. Victoria Pendragon

      I have a small framed piece of calligraphy that I had made years ago that hangs in the wisdom area of mt bedroom that says: Live without expectations and all will be well…and so it is.

  12. Another informative and very useful article:)

    The follow ups seem to be so important and I’ve found it amazing, and often surprising, what even the simplest ones can bring.

    I’m only just starting to see first hand how important this side of things are….probably because for the first time I’m really forcing myself to be more aware of the opportunities and the act on them!!

    It’s something I’ve really had to learn to be better at, and actively keep myself in check with…probably more so than any other part of the business at this point…..

    Thanks, your articles really help to inspire and keep the ball rolling!!

  13. I actually love the business side of selling my art.

    This year I committed to being seen more by adding 4 open studios during the summer months, along with my annual post Thanksgiving one.

    My list now gets newsletter and an over-sized postcard monthly with one of my artworks on the front and studio happenings on the back. It has gotten noticed resulting in several opportunities and sales I otherwise would not have been offered.

  14. I’ve been sending a regular newsletter since 2005 and posting on social media since it began, After my staycation (taking July off) I plan to figure out something that will build the list up with targeted leads. It has been self-cleaning lately.

  15. Alyson,
    Thank you very much for choosing one of my fiber art pieces for this newsletter! I have been taking classes from you for years, online and in person, and have learned a lot about wearing many hats, from being the CEO, the CFO, the marketing manager, to being the artist in the studio and the cleaning maid.
    My advice to those who need to re-ignite their passion for their work: figure out WHY you do what you do. Then set your goals, yearly goals, monthly and weekly goals. Break these goals down into tasks and do them. If your tasks are aligned with the WHY, the big picture, you will stay motivated. That includes newsletters, personal emails or snail-mail thank-you notes. Why? Because you want to stay connected with your fans. They gave you their contact info because *they* want to be connected. Nourish their souls with your art!

  16. Wonderful clips from so many artists. Their dedication to Alyson is what I have, but, my action doesn’t speak so loudly. I am starting a new path!!! Back to the business of Painting and sharing! Thank you.

  17. Really nice to see the positive motion of many happy artists.
    I have to get to work, slowly and methodically to make headway and enjoy painting and promoting again.
    Thank you.
    Cree Scudder

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Your Artist Mailing List: Rethinking + Assessing

Get a transcript of episode 182 of The Art Biz (Rethinking Mailing Lists for Artists) followed by a 3-page worksheet to evaluate the overall health and usage of the 3 types of artist lists.

Where can we send it? 

To ensure delivery, please triple check your email address.

You’ll also receive my regular news for your art business.

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