5 Mindset Tips to Kick-Start your Art Business Journey


When I first decided to pursue my creative dreams I had to make some choices about how I was going to approach it. I spent a lot of time analyzing what others were doing with their art practices. I listened to and read so many insightful interviews from artists I follow and admire. So, I thought it would be fun to share my top 5 takeaways that helped shape my mindset and kickstart my art journey.

#1 | If they got this, you got this too

When was the last time you walked into a store and took a good look around at all the artwork on the shelves? Did you ever think to yourself, “I can create this kind of art!” or better yet, “I can do better than this!”?

After seeing what artwork was being sold in stores, I soon realized that with some strategic effort I could create similar work.

I understood that if those artists could do it, then I’d be damned if I couldn’t either!

This was my very first A-HA moment. When I realized I could create the same quality artwork I was seeing in stores. I understood that if those artists could do it, then I’d be damned if I couldn’t either! And that’s how my whole journey began.

That’s not to say that I didn't have loads to learn and grow but I felt like I had enough of a good base to at least get started. So the next time you’re out shopping, take a closer look at the artwork you see and ask yourself if you can do it too? And if the answer is ‘heck yes’, then you’re one step closer to your surface design dreams!


#2 | You and your art mean biz

My second A-HA moment came when listening to an interview, unfortunately, I don’t recall whose it was. But the one thing I came away with was if you don’t take yourself and your artwork seriously, then why would anyone else?

This is soooo true. For most of my life, I never spoke to anyone about my artwork or even my interest in the arts. I’m pretty sure most of my family and friends thought art was simply a hobby. And for a long time that’s exactly how I treated it as well. Even though deep down I’ve always wanted to make a living from my artwork.

I made a conscious decision to change the way I spoke about my art and how I presented it to the world.

Once I realized “if they can do it, then so can I”. I made a conscious decision to change the way I spoke about my art and how I presented it to the world. I embraced a professional enthusiasm for my creative dreams and refused to shy away from sharing all about it.

The idea is if you exude genuine confidence about your work, others will respect you for it even if it’s not their cup of tea. You’re letting everyone in on what you love doing and why. And when you do that, everyone around you is more likely to help spread the word. Which can open many doors!


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#3 | One small step now, one giant leap forward in the future

This productivity mindset comes to you by Bonnie Christine, and if you walk away today remembering only one thing, I hope it’s this point. This is the one that’ll get you going, keep you motivated, and inspire you to keep at it. It’ll keep you on your toes thinking and refining your end goals. And at the end of the day, it’s the one piece of advice that’ll most definitely get you the closest to achieving your dreams, whatever they may be.

To illustrate this, think of all the steps you need to complete a single goal. Let’s say you want to build a website to showcase all your best work. So, what do you need to do?

  • You'll have to do research on the best website providers that fit your needs
  • You'll need to decide on your business name and look into domain names
  • You’ll need to design your dream website (or hire someone to help you)
  • And the list goes on...

The concept is to tackle one of those smaller tasks every single day.

You get the point. Any large goal you have (ie: a website) can always be further broken down into smaller bite-sized tasks. The concept is to tackle one of those smaller tasks every single day.

So let's say, today you’re planning on starting the research phase. You'll look into Squarespace and what its pros and cons are. Tomorrow you’ll look into WordPress and compare its benefits. You'll keep doing this until you have a complete list of potential website providers. By the end of the week, you’ll have the knowledge to make an educated decision on which one is best for you and your needs. Once that first task's completed, you should keep the momentum going by moving on to your next task.

Sometimes after completing a few bite-sized tasks, you'll realize it just added 5 new ones to your list! That's pretty daunting, right? Here’s the kicker, if you hadn’t completed that first task you wouldn’t have known what your next steps were. Now that you have those 5 new tasks, you know exactly what you need to tackle next! How freeing is that?

As you complete your daily task, whether that's a large 3-hour task or a tiny 5-minute task, you’re doing the work needed to get you closer to your end goals. And in this example, that’d be publishing your very first website!

If you work on something a little bit every day, you end up with something massive. - Kenneth Goldsmith (quote from Show Your Work by Austin Kleon)

Add all those bite-sized tasks at the end of the year, and I bet you anything you’ll have accomplished so much more than you ever thought possible.

#4 | Show up, share your work, and don’t give up

This mindset tip is an extension of my second point. To elaborate, creating new artwork is only part of the equation. You need to show up, share your art and most importantly you need to keep at it.

All this boils down to the more you do something, the more you’ll get out of it. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your creative pursuits. You need to be persistent and be willing to share your artwork, your journey and the lessons you've learned. This voyage will help you develop your voice as well as find your audience.

Find your voice, shout it from the rooftops, and keep doing it until the people that are looking for you find you. - Dan Harmon (quote from Show Your Work by Austin Kleon)

For some more mindset inspiration, read Show Your Work by Austin Kleon.


#5 | Think like a biz, act like a biz

I once shared with a peer group that I was a part of that I wanted to begin thinking more like a business. I was immediately asked, “How do you even do that?”.

The answer I gave was simple, what do businesses think about when running them? The main goal of any business is to make money. So what can I do as an entrepreneur to make a living?

The best way I’ve found to tackle this is to make a list of all my creative goals and a list of my business goals. Then try to align both lists to complement each other. Weed out the goals that no longer fit or revise them if needed. For example, one of my creative goals is to add new fun artwork to my portfolio. The business goal attached to that is so I can then license that artwork out to companies, thus earning a living.

Everything you do within your business should have a reason to exist.

Every artistic goal I have should link to a business goal. And at the end of the day if I can’t earn a living, then I need to re-evaluate what I'm doing and adjust the course. Try a different approach.

Thinking like a business is all about strategy and purpose. Everything you do within your business should have a reason to exist. It may not always come down to dollar signs, but it should always pave the way to paid opportunities down the road.

These purposeful strategies extend into your brand as well. Your voice, your values, and how you present yourself to the world should all be an extension of your goals. Keep in mind, that you don’t need to have it all figured out from the start. Trial and error and what ends up working for you are a huge part of the game. Everyone’s creative business and its goals are different and so will their outcomes.

Lastly, the more you think like a business, the more you’ll act like one too! It all comes with practice!

Final thoughts

These 5 mindset tips are always in the back of my mind. They’re my foundation and what keeps me motivated to pursue my BIG dreams. I hope you’ve gained some insightful approaches that inspire you while on your journey. So, which one of these resonated the most with you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!


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