The Art Biz ep. 105: How to Work Successfully (and Sanely) with a Relative with Trudy Rice

I can't think of a single relative that I would hire to help me with Art Biz Success. I love them (most of them) dearly, but working with them? No thanks.

And yet so many artists are lucky to have help from close family members: spouses who help pitch festival tents, kids who stamp envelopes and do data entry, and siblings who design websites and help install artwork.

Acrylic painting of Banksia botanical artist Trudy Rice | on Art Biz Success
©️ 2021 Trudy Rice, Banksia Praemorsa (Cut Leaf Banksia, Red). Acrylic on canvas, 61 x 61 cm.

Then there are artists who not only don't have support from family, they have close family members who are negative, resentful, and jealous, which puts an incredible strain on the relationship and the artists' emotional well being. If you are an artist who can count on family members to pitch in, I want you to know how lucky you are. Truly, deeply fortunate.

Trudy Rice counts herself among the blessed. In this episode of The Art Biz I talk with Trudy about her working relationship with her sister, which has been a godsend.

In order to have a successful working relationship with anyone, you need guiding ground rules. You need employee policies and agreements. And you need boundaries established between business and personal. We discussed some of this in episode 104 with Angela Fehr and Robin Edmundson.

It can be uncomfortable to enact formal arrangements with those close to us, and yet it's even more important to have them with the relationships that mean the most. They can absolutely save your relationship.

Trudy and I talk about what her business was like before her sister Jenny started helping her, the specific tasks that Jenny is responsible for, and how they structure their business partnership to make sure they are both happy and fulfilled.


  • The point at which Trudy realized she needed help in her art business. (2:20)
  • Why hiring her sister was a perfect fit for Trudy. (6:17)

    artist Trudy Rice in her studio | on Art Biz Success
    Trudy Rice in the studio for a Home Beautiful magazine photoshoot. Photo credit Annette O'Brien.
  • Writing a job description for a relative—or any employee—is an essential first step. (9:00)
  • Establishing an appropriate pay rate to compensate the skills your new hire brings to your business. (11:48)
  • Structuring a typical week when you’re scheduling more than just yourself. (15:20)
  • Maintaining your voice when someone else is writing your social media posts. (21:24)
  • Communicating effectively in between weekly meetings. (24:01)
  • What Trudy wishes she had known before hiring her sister as her assistant. (28:25)
  • Identifying the areas that would allow you to accomplish more if you turned them over to someone else. (32:24)
  • Trudy’s advice to anyone that is considering hiring help. (34:54)
  • A look at what is coming up next in Trudy’s studio. (37:18)


linen tea towel black cockatoo artist Trudy Rice | on Art Biz Sucess
Trudy's Black Cockatoo Linen Tea Towel with brownies. Photo and cooking by Jenny Woodward.

Trudy Rice Quotes

“We’ve sat down and written a job description with a very clear idea about what she wants to do as well as what she’s good at.” — Trudy Rice

“It took a lot of trust to hand over what I’ve been doing for the last five years.” — Trudy Rice

“This has been an evolving thing because I hadn’t planned on actually hiring anyone.” — Trudy Rice

“Everyone has their own idea about what success looks like.” — Trudy Rice

“If my assistant is good at what she’s doing and enjoying it, then that’s a benefit both ways.” — Trudy Rice

About My Guest

artist Trudy Rice | on Art Biz SuccessArtist and entrepreneur Trudy Rice has been a professional artist for more than 10 years. Based in Melbourne, Australia, Trudy has a diverse business consisting of original artworks on paper, paintings, commissions, large projects, wallpaper, and linen homewares.

Trudy's art is inspired by our natural world, particularly flora and fauna. Her works on paper and paintings are created with mindful observation, the initial drawings are etched in the very sun and water from which the original specimens are found.

Follow Trudy on Instagram: @trudy_rice

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