4 Moves To Ignite The Passion For Your Art Business

Bang! Pop! Pow!

Is that the sound of July 4th fireworks I hear? Or is your art business on fire?

I would love to hear that it’s your business – that you are Hot – Hot – Hot  for what you have to share with the world.

If you’re only hearing fireworks outside your walls and not inside your head and heart, there are four things you should do – and keep doing – to ignite the passion for your art business.

©Frances Vettergreen, One Hundred. Oil and wax on panel, 36 x 36 inches. Used with permission

©Frances Vettergreen, One Hundred. Oil and wax on panel, 36 x 36 inches. Used with permission.

1. Embrace your role as CEO.

When you decide you want to earn money as an artist, you are no longer just making art. You are building a business.

As soon as you accept your role as CEO of your art business, you will experience a dramatic shift in mindset. You will understand that your talent is bigger than you. It’s the basis for a dialogue you were intended to have with the world.

Along with this comes the responsibility of ensuring that your business is run professionally and profitably.

What’s not to get excited about?

2. Schedule something big – with a deadline.

Everyone who owns a business needs something to look forward to. We want to experience the momentum resulting from a new venue, an open studio, or a commission.

Without events and deadlines on your calendar, you risk wasting time on Facebook or neglecting your studio work.

Don’t wait for things to happen to you. Create your own opportunities! OWN them!

3. Use your list.

You didn’t work so hard to get all of those names and let them rot in cyber-storage. Use your list!

People signed up to hear from you. If they haven’t heard from you in awhile, they’ll think one of three things:

  • You aren’t doing anything worth sharing.
  • Your business is too disorganized to get a message together.
  • You don’t care enough about them.

Or, worse, they’ll forget about you altogether.

Staying in touch with your list is a major component of your dialogue with the world. They are your community. Sharing with them and listening to their responses is rocket fuel for your art career.

Create a plan to use your list regularly and then do it!

4. Follow up with people.

Pay attention to signals. Opportunities are often abundant if you listen and act on them.

Did you catch that condition at the end of the sentence? You have to act on the opportunities.

If someone says they like your work, do you just accept the compliment and move on? Or do you ask if they’d like to be on your mailing list and receive an invitation to your next event? Or invite them to your studio to see more?

I’ll bet that lack of follow-up is one of the biggest mistakes artists make. I don’t think it’s because you are lazy or too busy.

I would guess that most artists don’t follow up because of fear. There are fears that the opportunity will be too overwhelming, or that nothing will come of it.

Neither of these is an acceptable reason for avoiding follow-up. You might be busy right now, but you never know when the well will run dry.

And if the opportunity leads to a dead end, so what? At least you will have taken the chance.

If you don’t follow up, you’ll always wonder, “What if . . .?” or “If only I had . . . “ Nothing takes the sizzle out of your momentum like regret.

How do you ignite the passion for your art business?

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22 comments to 4 Moves To Ignite The Passion For Your Art Business

  • Working your mailing list and especially those who have bought from you in the past is critical. I had a collector commission me a 8 months ago. Last week I e-mailed her with a gentle suggestion that she may like another work. She was happy to give me my biggest commission yet within a day of my mail. Artists must make their own waves.

  • I am excited about launching my art business officially. My website development is underway, and I’m going to have my paintings professionally photographed.
    Oh and I have written up my artist statement and bio, after reading and doing the exercise for both your books “I’d rather be in the studio” and “The relatively paint-free artist statement”, as well as Vicki’s “Art-Write”. I have also taken advantage of Vicki’s personal writing help at her steal price!
    Can’t wait to share with the world!

  • I post new work on my FB page and followers (and their friends) get excited about it. It leads to new dialogue and often a sale. Last week I casually posted a painting that was still wet and sold it within a few hours with a promise to ship as soon as it is dry. That gets me fired up!

  • Alyson, thank you for reminding me about my e-mail list again. I´m thinking about it every day, but still I didn´t send work updates to my subscribers. It´s time to do it!

  • Alyson, I finally created my very first Newsletter. It came out just as I imagined (Glossy, Colorful and Beautiful). I have made a commitment to print a quarterly newsletter to keep in touch with my Collectors as well as new potential collectors, friends and family. My goal is keep to keep writing to a minimal, to put some enticing Photos of my Season Related Paintings and keep my Art Lovers updated with my current shows and Commissions. By doing this one simple thing as creating a newsletter, I am motivated to create new paintings (some even in series) and it keeps me from wasting a lot of time on facebook and from leaving projects for another day.

  • Thank you for this article Alyson. The Step #4, Follow Up, hit me right between the eyes…all the times I didn’t pick up on the hints or signs of interest from people came rushing back. Now I know what to look for and prevent losing opportunities. 🙂 A timely article for me!

  • My passion is ignited by my passion for education for girls. I just did a soft launch today of an online shop to sell my Book series in support of this cause. I have written The United Nations Girls Education Initiative requesting the use of their logo and support.

    This cause has always been near and dear to my heart. It was time to do something. Book Art for Girls

  • Ruth de Vos

    A timely reminder, Alyson. I need to schedule something big! I’ve been a bit stuck as to what – that is, what big thing do I really want to achieve next. Maybe some time out to recharge will spark some new creative ideas!

  • Four excellent points – and I really appreciate the dialogue here in your comments section.

  • A good thing. I was to go and teach a class in OR the end of June. I was lead to this by a friend. She pushed me and the store that would host my class. Well, long story and all that…the business owner was a jerk and not professional. He didn’t promote the way he said he would. And the kicker was he said, “oh I’m not good at doing e mail and getting back to people.” I went right to HERE. Alyson has said this many times that this is not how to run a business. I think it is just an excuse to cop out and be “flighty”. It is not how to run a business. After some comments from my friend I sent the man a message that I was canceling my class with them. After he got back from vacation…??? He responded to me with a very nasty e mail calling me names.
    Enough!!! I went and Scheduled Something Big…with a deadline… I had not read your post yet. I got into displaying and demoing at the L. A. County Fair — Millard Sheets’ Gallery. It was late as they had finished taking people in Feb. But an artist with health issues had backed out.
    My deadline is July 20th!!! to create and inventory work that will last in the gallery for a month of selling. It’s hard work and a big deadline but I know I can do it. Especially after reading your post here!
    Thank you!!!

  • Alyson,

    Great article – thanks for writing it!

    Since I made a consciense decision to make a career out of my painting (becoming CEO), a lot has changed:

    – built up my inventory for a show, thereby becoming more experienced & confident with oil painting – as well as having a deadline!

    – created new website with FASO (btw, great marketing info with them – how I found your article, too!)

    – reading marketing info – can’t seem to get enough advice!

    – created email marketing subscribers list (with subscribers’ permission) & am sending newsletters

    – painting daily en plein air to learn & grow

    – mostly daily blogging, posting my art to my Facebook business page, tweeting & Pinterest

    – keeping a planner with goals & to do’s

    Wow, writing this has made me realize how much effort I’m truly putting into this. Bragging? No! I know there’s always more to do & look forward to reading & learning what to push for next to reach my goal of becomming a successful artist. Paying off? Time & hard work will tell. 🙂


  • You can’t do business if you don’t
    follow up. Sometimes that’s the
    hardest process but in the end it’s
    worth it.

  • I loved all the varied responses to this post…especially fond of the survey idea!
    Passion has never been an issue for me (in fact some years ago I presented, in a number of locations, a day long even called Passion) because life itself is a passion for me. I was especially struck by your comment about people perhaps being afraid to “follow up” because what’s to be afraid of? People are people and if they’ve expressed an interest in your art, then you have something in common. The follow-up -my take on it, anyway – is that it’s more about establishing and nurturing relationships than anything else. Good relationships yield all kinds of results, the best one of which is all the good energy you generate!

  • Tom

    Another informative and very useful article:)

    The follow ups seem to be so important and I’ve found it amazing, and often surprising, what even the simplest ones can bring.

    I’m only just starting to see first hand how important this side of things are….probably because for the first time I’m really forcing myself to be more aware of the opportunities and the act on them!!

    It’s something I’ve really had to learn to be better at, and actively keep myself in check with…probably more so than any other part of the business at this point…..

    Thanks, your articles really help to inspire and keep the ball rolling!!

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