The Art Biz ep. 40: Focusing on Making Work That Matters with Suzanne Gibbs

Two years ago, Suzanne Gibbs entered my Art Biz Inner Circle and began taking full advantage of everything that was offered.

As an aside, although we no longer offer the Inner Circle, we do continue to support artists through the Art Career Success System and our new small group artist masterminds. But, no matter how hard we try, we can’t make you do the work, whether it's business or studio based.

And that's where Suzanne's story comes in.

Artist and this week's podcast guest Suzanne Gibbs
©2019, Suzanne Gibbs in her studio painting, Photo courtesy Amanda Looney at AmandaElise Photography.

What Suzanne wanted to share in this episode of the podcast is critical to every artist's success.

She and I started talking about the idea of doing less (not more) in order to accomplish your goals, but it turned into a conversation about focusing more. Focusing on what matters. For Suzanne, that meant making a new body of work.

Nothing is more important to your professionalism as an artist than a consistent studio practice. Nothing!

Listen Now

Music by Wildermiss.

Painting and mixed media collage by artist Suzanne Gibbs
©2019 Suzanne Gibbs, Dropped Voice. Painting on wood panel with mixed media collage, 48 x 36 inches. Used with permission.


We discuss the following.

  • Why Suzanne felt like she was approaching her art career like an amateur in early 2018.
  • The trap Suzanne fell into of thinking that she needed to take advantage of everything that was offered.
  • The vast difference in how Suzanne approached her art business over the course of 2 years, and what the turning point was.
  • Why doing less = focusing more.
  • There's no such thing as balance.
  • How Suzanne prepared for her self-directed studio retreat over the summer to ensure that she maximized her focus and production.
  • How she got over FOMO (fear of missing out).
  • Why it's been critical for Suzanne to have trusted artists and friends to support her during this period of growth.
  • The motivation Suzanne received from her work that kept her from feeling she was missing out on having her hand in everything.
  • How Suzanne's dedicated practice of journaling keeps her grounded and focused.


The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron (morning pages)
Art Career Success System
Sketchbook Skool

About My Guest

Artist Suzanne Gibbs
©2019 Suzanne Gibbs on her studio deck, Photo courtesy Amanda Looney at AmandaElise Photography.

Suzanne Gibbs is an artist and author based in Portland, Oregon. She creates contemporary abstract portraits exploring the roles of women, in particular homemakers, in society. In 2013 she graduated from Claremont Graduate University’s MFA program. She received her MS in Communication from the University of Portland and a BFA in Design from Carnegie-Mellon University. She also studied drawing and painting at Napa Valley Community College and Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

Throughout her career, Suzanne has taught art and creativity workshops to students of all ages in schools, museums, private homes, and from her studio. Her work has been exhibited and collected nationally and internationally.

Follow Suzanne on Instagram: @suzannegibbsart

Music by Wildermiss.

Recommended Art Biz Action

This episode is sponsored my signature business-building program, the Art Career Success System, a program I have perfected after more than 17 years working with artists. Why take time away from your work in the studio to create your own business systems when I have done it for you?

Become part of a community of artists who are forward-thinking and forward-moving while streamlining your business and marketing.

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27 thoughts on “The Art Biz ep. 40: Focusing on Making Work That Matters with Suzanne Gibbs”

  1. Thank you for this interview. It was enlightening to listen to and was a bit of a slap in the face or a kick in the ass if you will. Glad to have heard it at the beginning of the year. It will help me with my goals.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Of course! Thank you for making the time to share your story, Suzanne. You can see that it is a message that needs to be heard.

  2. I LOVED this episode! Cutting out things that don’t matter as much and adding in only the essential to follow small amount of specific goals? TOTALLY my focus for this year, and this was so helpful.

    Thank you Alyson and Suzanne!

  3. Hi Alyson and Suzanne!
    This is a great podcast. Morning papers are such a fabulous way to connect with your muse. Believing in yourself is such a key phrase! That’s been hard for the last few years but it is helping me get back on track. Love your work!
    Thanks bunches

  4. Great podcast -so many insights to ponder – focus is a strong message. and its the kick I need to focus in on a new body of work (in balance with custom orders – at least the committed ones).

    1. Custom orders pay the bills, but they also can suck the life out of personal work and messages (but not always). I hope you can find time for both!

  5. Enjoyed your podcast and thank you Suzanne. I am “stuck” in some quicksand as I travel my current transition in life. I had forgotten about Morning Pages and I think it is what I need to help me move forward. I look forward to the discoveries.

  6. It would be fantastic if you offered a transcript for fans with hearing problems or who read faster than they can listen.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      I hope to be able to do this soon, Chris. It’s a major expense that we haven’t yet been able to do. Thank you for the feedback.

  7. Suzanne,
    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I was listening to the podcast while taking a long walk on a brisk day-perfect timing as you talked about the need to get outdoors and interact with the world.

    I am a professor and am working with a graduate student who is a new mom. She is trying to work out her feelings in her art about societal pressures on new mothers-pressures she was not aware of or ready to embrace while expecting her child. I sent her a link to the podcast as well as to your web site. I know she will be very excited to see your powerful work (really beautiful) and how you are addressing the issue of voicelessness in women.

  8. Thanks so much!! Very timely for me as I too have plans to do a new fresh body of work. Love the ideas about saying “no” to certain things in order to accomplish your goals. Also love that she got tired of seeing the same struggles coming back up again and again until she resolved to make changes. I will be re-listening to this one!

  9. Alyson ~ How important is “showing up for yourself, ” as Suzanne puts it? So very much! Do we make ourselves important enough “hear ourselves louder”? That’s a powerful statement too! Isn’t it a good time to do these things while we’re isolated during Covid 19?

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