The Art Biz ep. 28: Making a Living as an Expat in Paris with Marcus McAllister

Have you ever wanted to start over? To move somewhere else and begin a new life?

2019 Quiet Insistence acrylic 65x53cm
©2019 Marcus McAllister, Quiet Insistence. Acrylic on paper, 65 x 53 centimeters. Used with permission.

In 2001 I sold many of my belongings, left my safe job in the art museum, and rented a U-Haul to start my new life in Colorado.

I had no idea what was ahead for me. I only knew that I wasn’t living the life that I was intended to lead. I was suffocating.

It was pretty brave of me to take this step, but I was just moving across the border.

My guest for this episode had a much grander adventure in mind. Twenty years ago, Marcus McAllister packed up his art supplies, flew to Paris, and never looked back.

In this episode, Marcus talks about his decision to live abroad, his sketchbooks, the sources of his income, and the importance of relationships.

Show Notes

In this interview, you will hear about:

  • How Marcus has been scrappy yet intentional about his business and career.
  • His sketchbooks (and why he doesn’t even walk the dog without taking one with him).
  • How Marcus ended up in Paris and transitioned to a  full-time artist, and how his career has changed.
  • The way Marcus overcame the language barrier and presented himself as an artist to find work.
  • Why it’s important that artists own the title of “artist.”
  • The dedication Marcus has to always having a sketchbook on him, with over 100 now in his possession.
  • The different sources of income Marcus has including original work, mentoring, and hosting workshops.
  • How Marcus keeps his expenses minimal, and is open to be vulnerable and authentic when times are financially tough.
  • The connection between creativity, struggle, and doubt.
  • Marcus’s go-to marketing methods and how he promotes his shows.
  • The important connections Marcus has made through his relationships over the years, and why he thinks all artists would benefit from spending more time cultivating relationships.
  • How Marcus makes the initial contact when networking, and how he follows up and stays in touch.
  • His tradition of Sunday teas in the studio and the importance of listening to your gut and knowing when it’s time to evolve and shift into something new.
  • His advice to artists who aren’t as gregarious as he is.
  • Etiquette for networking at events as an artist, and why you shouldn’t be afraid to let those business cards fly.
Marcus McAllister Art
©2018 Marcus McAllister, Consummatum Est. Acrylic on paper, 46 x 61 centimeters. Used with permission.


About My Guest

Marcus McAllister is an American-born artist living in Paris since 1996. Originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, he received his degree in Fine Art from Louisiana State University in 1991 and has made his living as a full-time artist for nearly two decades.

Marcus and Sketchbooks
Marcus with a sampling of his sketchbooks.

For more than 30 years, Marcus has carried a sketchbook with him wherever he goes, using it as a tool for pulling order from chaos. His acrylic paintings are developments and expansions of the sketchbook-generated ideas. Marcus's style combines fine art, illustration, and mysticism.

Follow Marcus on Instagram.


This episode is brought to you by the Art Career Success System. This year-long training program designed especially for artists is made up of four separate classes that rotate throughout the year. You can take one, two, three, or all four.

When you enroll in all four, you will have a complete system that you can use at any point in your art career. Whether your goal is to increase your income, expand your venues, become more articulate about your work, enhance your online reputation, or nurture your audience, the Art Career Success System puts the information you need into a reliable and repeatable system. Click here for the details.

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10 thoughts on “The Art Biz ep. 28: Making a Living as an Expat in Paris with Marcus McAllister”

  1. Alyson and Marcus, thank you for your wonderful podcast.
    I, myself, have just moved from Toronto to Kitchener,
    [Ontario, Canada] Its a fresh start but recently I’ve felt a bit stuck. I listened to your talk this morning and it inspired me!!! Im so grateful to you both. You allowed me to remember…I got this!
    I loved hearing you talk about your intuition. I feel lighter and energized!

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

    All the best to you both,


    1. Hello Emily! I’m glad you found the podcast helpful, and wish you the best as you settle into your new surroundings. It’s always hard to deal with changes, particularly while having to wait for the new, good things to manifest. Remember it takes time, so hold the faith in your choices–you got this!

  2. Thank you. I feel sometimes I’m not seeing the struggle. I feel similarities in my life and Marcus’s, this made me feel better about who I am. Its ok to have struggle. It is not instantaneous success for all artists and if you have to struggle it doesn’t make you any less of an artist.
    Thank you again!
    Sharon Wensel

    1. Hello Sharon, I’m happy that you connected with the podcast. I find it so important to remind myself that the best things come over time, after facing challenges. In fact it’s during the struggles that I can really see what’s important to me and where I need to go. My best to you in your work

  3. This was fantastic! So many ideas and worthy information for me. Now to grow and implement some of these ideas! Exciting and thank you so much for this pod cast!

  4. Really enjoyed this podcast with Marcus and appreciate his business tips and artist life insights. His courage and determination to move to Paris is inspiring, very bold. I love that he has so many sketch books. That is something I know I would benefit from doing more often. Aside from that, I love the jazzy music you use to open and close the podcast!

  5. It was almost spooky listening to this interview as I moved to Spain from the UK in the very same year as you moved to Paris, Marcus.

    I loved the interview and definitely resonated with so much of what you said! (I’ll post a link to it on my blog next week.)

    One thing that you didn’t mention, Marcus, that I feel had a big effect on my life in Spain, is the ‘license’ that being a foreigner in another country gives you to, in a sense, adopt another persona. I think it allows us to step into a version of ourselves that we might want to be, but have felt more inhibited about expressing in our own country and/or culture. That made it easier to claim my identity as an artist.

    Now spending time back in the UK, I realise I’m a very different person than the one who left all those years ago and I know I’ve brought a lot of the ‘Spanish me’ back with me and, although it sometimes feels like a handicap, I know that really it’s an advantage as I’m more open and confident in my own skin, as well as having learned deeply that there is always more than one way to approach anything!

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