The Art Biz ep. 4: Making a Living as a Teaching Artist with Elizabeth St. Hilaire

The secret to making a living as an artist is that there are no secrets. Artists find their own paths and each path is unique.

©Elizabeth St. Hilaire, My Muse. Mixed media collage of hand painted paper, acrylic, copper metal leaf, and charcoal, 20 x 20 inches. Used with permission.
©Elizabeth St. Hilaire, My Muse. Mixed media collage of hand painted paper, acrylic, copper metal leaf, and charcoal, 20 x 20 inches. Used with permission.

There are some qualities, however, that you must have. These include:

  • Stamina
  • Ambition
  • Motivation
  • Talent
  • Resilience
  • Boundaries

And … a willingness to learn, adapt, and grow.

It also helps to have a positive outlook, people skills, and a grateful heart.

Elizabeth St. Hilaire has all of these – in spades. I have always admired her business savvy and work ethic.

I was delighted to spend 3 days with her recently. During a hike together, where we talked mostly about art and business, I blurted, Hey! We should do a podcast while you’re here.

So we did.

In this podcast, Elizabeth breaks down where she generates income (teaching, licensing, art sales, books, and DVDs). She also outlines the various teaching models that are available to artists today.

Music: Rollercoaster by Red Fox Run. Used with permission.

About My Guest

elizabeth-st-hilaireElizabeth St. Hilaire is a collage artist in the Orlando, Florida area. Her work highlights the extraordinary within the ordinary, focusing on intense and vibrant colors.

Visit her website to see more of her art, read her blog, order her book, and find out where she will be teaching next.

Your Turn

What streams of income do you have in your art business that allow you to pay the bills each month?

What is your experience teaching art?

Catching Up with Elizabeth on August 5, 2020

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19 thoughts on “The Art Biz ep. 4: Making a Living as a Teaching Artist with Elizabeth St. Hilaire”

  1. Thank you both for inspiring me to think about my art business in a new way! I have a similar experience with college, graphic art, fine art and teaching, but without the level of marketing and publishing. I have more to learn!

  2. Wonderful discussion about what it takes to reach the level of income that I aspire for doing what I love. Loved the fact that Elizabeth stated that we all have our own path. Yet I can see her experience in a similar way as my own. Good advise all around, thank you.

  3. What a wonderful podcast. Very inspiring and informative. I just love Elizabeth…. I took her workshop in Italy last year…. Hi Elizabeth…. it’s Yolanda!! And it was life changing… I learned so much from different aspects of the creative process that opened me and my art to avenues and processes that I was unaware of. Me and my art have just gone to another level from the experience. Thank you ladies for helping us continue creating!!!
    Thanks for all you do!!

  4. Elizabeth is one of my favorite artist! I love her work! I’m working in several mediums, teaching, but find I’m not moving or accomplishing as much as I would like. I suppose I need a better marketing system. Thank you for always being there!

  5. Ooo, I can’t wait to listen to this!

    Teaching makes up the lion’s share of my art income, with freelance graphic design projects helping out. I’ve been teaching classes and workshops at our local art center since 2013. I love teaching, but living in a smaller city in a remote area has its share of pros and cons. One of the wonderful things about living here is that I CAN teach. I don’t have a fine art degree, so if I lived in a bigger city, the competition would push me out. However, it can be difficult to get enough interest to run a class or workshop here.

    I wanted to share this experience in case anyone else has had a problem with low enrollment:
    I usually get just enough people to be able to run a class, but this Fall has been tough. I had two classes and a workshop cancel due to low enrollment. That was a pretty big hit for me, but then our one little independent art supply store in town said I could teach in a space with tables and chairs in their shop for a very small cut (and I could display my paintings there for as long as I wanted, which has turned out to be a great way to advertise my teaching. I’ve gotten two more students that way.), so I jumped at the opportunity and offered a private instruction option to the few students who did sign up for my classes this Fall. Two of the three people took me up on it. I had never considered private instruction before (I didn’t think people would be willing to pay the higher fees), but I’m really enjoying it now. As an added bonus, the instruction is on-going, rather than having to limit it to run a certain number of weeks, the way a formal class would be. So if your classes aren’t filling enough, do consider private instruction. Even if you can’t teach out of your home, there are creative ways to make it happen!

  6. Hi, big props on your whole site. I love the artworks as illos, a great way to share ,support and enrich your blog. appreciating those who support artists with thoughtful opinion.
    great post . Elizabeth’s work is graceful and fun!
    Question-how does one delete a previous comment from your blog? usually one will see such an option, where is it here? Thanks much.

  7. Thanks for doing this podcast with Elizabeth. I have been following her career since 2012 and she inspires me every day. Watching her progress has made me think well maybe I can be a full time artist, too!

  8. Lyna Lou Nordstrom

    Great podcast. Alyson and Elizabeth!!
    Since I will be doing teaching as part of my income and wanting to leave my other (unrelated) jobs behind, it was enlightening to hear Elizabeth’s story. It also encourages me to reach farther out location-wise. Part of me wonders if I am good enough, but I always get praised for my teaching! I will be listening to this again!
    Thanks much!!
    Lyna Lou

    PS I will need to hire the graphic designer, but I will have a better idea what I need & want because I took that class. Tearing my hair out, however is not productive & that is what happened when I did the graphic design course!!

  9. Hi Alyson and Elizabeth,

    Thanks for the great podcast, very interesting discussion. It’s great to hear how long Elizabeth has been a working artist, I have to remind myself, often, that good things take time.

    I listened to half the podcast yesterday, and the other half this morning. Last night I had a dream that I was teaching, but not teaching art, I was teaching maths! Very funny.

    Thanks for sharing the different teaching models, food for thought.


  10. Hi Alyson, I was asking because I don’t know where the delete or edit options are on a blog- I must have posted in places you can do this. I gather from you asking me back that there aren’t any! Will keep in mind if I go posting on blogs in future. Now I am curious and will go look at the only other blog I post on…

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