February 4, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

Creating a Monthly Report for Your Art Business

We’re obsessed with how many likes we get on social media posts or how many views our videos received.

We are consumed by “getting” more followers and subscribers.

But do numbers equal success?

No, of course not. But they are an easy way to measure what is working well and what might need a little tweaking.

This month in the Art Biz Success community, we’re looking into measuring success.

What do you measure?
How do you measure?
Do the numbers tell a story?

Most importantly, you have to know what success means to you before you can discern any insights in the measuring step. Numbers will never be helpful until there is meaning behind them.

I’ve said before that I believe success is measured by the progress you make, not by comparing yourself to others. Check out The Art Biz Podcast episodes #32 (Success Is Complicated) and #71 (Goals for Artists) for more about that.

This new episode gives you a framework.

January 28, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

A New Direction in Your Art with Lisa Goren

Watercolor painting Iceberg from our zodiac antarctica artist Lisa Goren watercolor on paper 22 x 30 inches

We all seek success (whatever it means to us individually) but aren’t always prepared to deal with it when it comes along. That’s okay, because, as you’ll hear in this episode of the Art Biz Podcast, you learn how to deal if it’s something you really want.

My guest is Lisa Goren, an artist whose work took an unexpected U-turn when the pandemic hit last year, and she went for it.

You’ll hear Lisa talk about artist residencies and the serious work she was making that had echoes of climate change. And then Covid struck. She was no longer able to travel to photograph and paint the wildlife and melting ice around Antarctica and the Arctic Circle.

Instead, she delighted in the animals that were visiting museums, aquariums, and towns. She was more surprised than anyone about what was coming from her paintbrushes. And then equally surprised that people wanted to buy the finished paintings as soon as they were finished.

After feeling like the success of the animal paintings had become a runaway train, Lisa is now taking back control over where the work is going while being open to whatever the future holds.

January 21, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

Planning a Year’s Worth of Artwork with Dawn Williams Boyd

© 2017 Dawn Williams Boyd, All Through the Night: America's Homeless. Assorted fabrics, cotton embroidery floss, antique quilt, lace, buttons, child's socks, 39 x 61.5 inches. Ron Witherspoon Photography

Taking charge of your art business isn’t only about bookkeeping, inventorying the work, and promoting your art effectively.

Taking charge of your art business is about assuming 100% responsibility for your actions—all of your actions, especially in your studio.

We all want to increase our productivity and creativity, and Dawn Williams Boyd has mastered doing exactly that by planning ahead.

Dawn makes figurative textile paintings that reveal stories—not always pretty ones—about life in America. Dawn’s work has an unapologetic social activist message that addresses the Black experience, feminine sexuality, social issues, and this country’s politics.

In today’s social and political climate, there aren’t enough hours in the day for Dawn to convey all of the messages she wants to share in her art. She has to carefully plan the body of work she is going to make throughout the year. She takes charge of her production for the entire year.

In our conversation for the Art Biz Podcast, Dawn and I discuss her process for plotting out which pieces she will make each year. We also talk about why now is not the time to make art that matches the couch, what kinds of conversations she wants people to have around her work, and how she makes the valuable connections that are helping her reach her most ambitious goals.

January 14, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

Goals for Artists and What You Should Be Focusing On Instead

Dance with Me 12x12" collage with washi wood assorted papers acrylic on panel from Curvy Geometric series © Nancy Egol Nikkal

I teach setting goals for artists. It’s the first lesson in the Art Biz Accelerator.

I encourage all of my artist-clients to articulate their goals because they have to know what they want to achieve before I can support them.

And, yet, I know there is something far more important, and more difficult, than setting goals: Doing the work.

We just survived a year in which we lost control of so much in our lives and businesses. We lost control of whether a venue would be open for a show or whether a live workshop would go on as planned or be canceled.

But, in fact, we never had control of these things in the first place.

You will never be able to control results or outcomes, but so much else is in your command. Before we move on in the conversation, let’s first look at goals.

SMART Goals for Artists

I used to teach how to set SMART goals for artists, which is a system for articulating goals and deadlines—a system that was definitely not devised by an artist. The acronym stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound
  • The way I taught SMART goals to my clients and students was fairly rigid. Goals had to be articulated as an affirmation and include the due date: I will do [this] by [this date]. If my student or client didn’t write it to my standards, I made the necessary corrections.

    While I understand this is a tested system that has been used by millions of people through the years, I have let it go. It doesn’t work for most of my artist-clients.

    I think the reason it doesn’t work is because

    January 7, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

    Seeking Balance with Chris Maynard

    2020 Chris Maynard Reflection No. 5 12x15 inches turkey feather artwork

    Balance is the holy grail of every entrepreneurial artist’s quest.

    What does a balanced artist’s life look like?

    And what happens when you actually achieve balance?

    As much as I love the idea of being whisked away by my latest all-consuming project, I also know what it feels like to be out of balance. I much prefer being in charge of my time and my life, and that’s why I loved this conversation with Chris Maynard.

    In this episode I talked with Chris about finding balance in life as well as in making and marketing art. He shares the secret behind his seemingly successful quest for balance, how he approaches requests for commissioned pieces, and the systems that he uses to stay on top of it all.

    Balance may seem elusive, and, yet, we all need it in order to be our most creative and successful selves.

    Whether you’re currently searching for balance in your work or have already homed in on what the perfect balance means to you, this is a conversation you won’t want to miss.

    December 17, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

    Leveraging Your Location with Ashley Lucas

    © Ashley Lucas, Belmar Colorful watercolor painting of Belmar Sea Side Town

    I don’t believe in making art for a market. I believe in making art from your *soul* and then finding the right audience for it.

    But sometimes we are lucky enough to make the art we want, then tweak it just a bit so we can broaden our audience. My guest for this episode of the Art Biz Podcast has found a way to do just that.

    Ashley Lucas (aka Lady Lucas) is an artist whose work features smartly dressed animals and other sweet anthropomorphic characters. She has illustrated numerous children’s books, coloring books, and other unapologetically cute projects.

    By placing her characters in the local townscape Ashley has increased the appeal of her work to a specific audience that continues to grow. I talked with Ashley about how she came up with the idea to tap into people’s love of a specific location and how she leverages it for her prints, products, and commissioned work.

    We also discuss how she connected with a community even before moving there, how she juggles her life as an artist with that as a mother of a two-year-old, and which social media platform offers the greatest return for her work (it’s not Instagram).

    Even if you don’t “do” cute or illustrations or location-specific art, you’ll want to listen to ideas for connecting to new communities.

    December 10, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

    Procedures for Art Commissions with Sema Martin

    Waiting for Santa Sema Martin drawing of cat in christmas tree

    By now you may have picked up on the fact that I am a sucker for a reliable system. My signature program is called the Art Career Success System for a reason. Systems work. They provide you with a framework that, once in place, you can return to repeatedly and update to match where you are at any given moment in your art business. 

    I love figuring out systems, maybe even more than I love following them, because systems are always there to support my progress. And my guest for this episode of the podcast has proven that a clearly defined system can take your art business to the next level.

    Sema Martin is a full-time artist living in the French Riviera. She currently has a 4-month waiting list for her pet portraits, which is likely due in part to a system she has developed that keeps her organized and her customers satisfied.

    In our conversation, Sema shares the the 8 stages of commissioning work from her.

    We discuss how she standardized her sizes, how she makes it easy for clients to buy from her by offering multiple currencies, and how social media serves a dual purpose to both promote her work and to share her progress with clients. You’ll hear how she stays organized and at the end of this episode I’ll tell you how to get a copy of her system spreadsheet.

    December 3, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

    Growing Your Art Business on Instagram with Jeanne Rosier Smith

    Pastel drawing of crashing ocean waves in blues, greens, and grays

    So many artists have benefited from Instagram. This isn’t news. It comes up frequently in my interviews, and it’s so ubiquitous that I haven’t been able to pinpoint a specific lesson to devote an entire episode to.

    Until now.

    Jeanne Rosier Smith’s success on Instagram wasn’t random. She made a conscious decision to focus on using Instagram to grow her following and expand her art business, and it has paid off. As you’ll hear, she has been focused and deliberate in her use of the platform, while also allowing a great deal of flexibility in the process.

    It’s important to Jeanne that using Instagram is, above all, fun.

    In this episode, I talk with Jeanne about the strategies she has used for the past 3 years to build a following of 37,000 and reach the 6-figure mark in sales for each of those 3 years.

    You’ll also hear about how she maintains good relationships with her 8 galleries even while selling on Instagram, and why she doesn’t schedule posts in advance.

    November 19, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

    The Benefits of Blogging About Your Art with Lisa Call

    Textile art by Lisa Call

    Blogging about your art may seem less fashionable these days, replaced entirely by the quick and simple posts of Facebook or Instagram, but Lisa Call has proved that nurturing a blog can be one of the most beneficial practices that an artist can pursue—for marketing as well as self-discovery.

    Lisa dove headfirst into the blogging world back in 2005 and created such an excellent blog that I have referenced it many times both on this site and in the first three editions of my book. Unfortunately, her blog went up in flames before I could mention it in my fourth edition.

    That major set back hasn’t stopped Lisa from continuing to create what I consider one of the best examples of a good artist blog.

    Lisa makes textile-based art and uses hand dyed fabric to create large abstract compositions. She uses her blog not for marketing her work but as a place where she can share her opinions about art and learn more about herself and her work. In fact, Lisa credits her blog as the single greatest factor in her success as an artist. (Turns out it had been an unintended marketing tool all along.)

    In our conversation, she shares the benefits of blogging and why she decided to revive her blog after all those posts disappeared. We also go over some of the steps she’s taking to republish old posts and how her blog has led her to opportunities that she otherwise never would have imagined. Of course, blogging isn’t for everyone, but if you enjoy writing and sharing insights about your life as an artist, this is an episode you are going to want to listen to.