9 Surprising Truths to Being a Creative Entrepreneur

Artwork Archive | November 15, 2017

Photo credit: John Partipilo Photography

“What is one surprising truth you have learned about being a creative entrepreneur?”

This question was asked in the Nashville Creative Group, an online art community of over 7,000 people, by founder and artist Beth Inglish.  

Here are the nine truths that emerged from the comments, insights, and discussion in the group. Plus, the lessons learned along the way.

Some may resonate deeply with what you already know, some may be an exercise in stretching yourself into an uncomfortable space for growth and hopefully some spark new reflections that will propel you along your path as an artist.


Know and defend your value

“Everyone who knows you expects excessive discounts, if not flat-out freebies, of your goods or services.” Neth Williams

Gift only with purpose and believe in the value of what you offer.

If money is an exchange of value that gives you the opportunity to give and receive, then begin to think about your relationship with money from that mindset.

Do you believe firmly that you deserve abundance? Or are there things and deep-rooted experiences that prevent you from having a positive financial relationship with your artwork?

Your relationship with money matters. Value is communicated to your audience by the price of your goods and services.


Take responsibility for your gift

“We as artists have the unique ability to make someone's world a better place.” Bill Schumm

As an artist, you have the ability to use your voice to create work that can transcend your canvas. You also have the power to connect with people in a real, meaningful and unique way — a way that rarely happens outside of art.  

It can be scary to illuminate the subtle, side-lined or nuanced feelings in a life that is often fast-paced and values objectivity and quick understanding. By creating artwork, we only hope that someone finds comfort in knowing someone else has had a similar experience, thought or emotion.

Your responsibility is to understand the power of that gift.


Cultivate a money-positive mindset

“People will happily give me money in exchange for simply having fun on canvas.” Liz Kelly Zook

This is a perfect example of a positive money mindset. The words you use are powerful and create meaning in your life.

How do you describe how money is discussed between you and your clients? Is it positive or negative? Do you apologize or feel guilty for prices? Or do you embrace that your art is a creative labor deserving of financial exchange?

Develop a language that reflects a positive money mindset and attract more of what you want.


Learn to leap every day

Learning to leap isn’t just in the beginning. It’s waking up and believing that what you are doing is important enough to get past the fear and doubt. It’s about making a commitment to your creative work, even when you aren’t feeling inspired.

“I want to get to that point, but am still on the other side of the fence trying to make the leap. It's scary!” Annie Cho

It takes mental strength to keep a positive mindset. Practicing mindfulness just a few minutes a day can help build that muscle.

Being involved with a community to learn from is also essential. Having people on your side to support you will make leaping so much more lovely.


Design your day for success 

“No one will ever work as hard for your business as you will.” Audra Guidry

Many artists are also small business owners.

If your business isn’t what you pictured, focus on creating one that feels exactly what you want.

Design the business of your dreams if you’re going to design it at all.

What does your perfect day look like? Your week? Create a process to design your every day, putting intention into each step.


Following-up with clients is just as important as exposure

“Most people are horrible at follow through. They ask for something, express interest and then ghost.” Brian Goins

It happens. It happens to those just starting out and to established artists of 40 years.

Everyone’s attention span is constantly bombarded, so don’t take unresponsiveness personal.

Instead of getting discouraged, create a follow-through process when you need to continue connecting with a potential client.

In sales terms, “it takes many steps for leads to convert.”


Say no to the wrong clients

“Businesses often approach artists to show their work and offer to give them exposure, but will not agree to rental fees of the work.” Michael Weintrob

If this happens to you (which at some point inevitable), then you know they aren’t the right client.

Identifying the audience you want to work with makes saying “yes” or “no” to opportunities much easier.

Before wasting energy and resources on something with little return, say no to anything outside of what you want. Or, turn it around by sharing with the client how you work with others to see if there is an opportunity to work together.

Don’t take what you can get, ask for what you want.


Let creativity be your compass

”If I knew what I was getting into, I may have never done it. Now that I’m in too deep to turn back I would have it no other way! I love it!” Ted Amell

Basically, never give up. It sounds cliché, but it’s true. Just don’t do it. Keep being exactly who you are.


Focus on evolving, not originality

“Even if you think you have an original idea someone else probably has had the same idea or has done it already. I try to always be evolving, that way nobody can keep up.” Jeff Bertrand

It’s that nagging question we ask ourselves at some point during our process: “I am original?”

The truth is, growth and evolving is better than focusing on being “original.” Evolution can only happen with time. So emphasize doing the work, over and over and over again to really get somewhere.

It’s where the magic of originality is born.

So the next time you feel overwhelmed with the idea of creating something completely new, simply get to work.

One last truth about being a creative entrepreneur?

You have to be organized to get ahead. Start managing the business side of your career better with Artwork Archive.


Beth Inglish is a contemporary abstract artist who uses line and color to create expressive work and channels the energy from her spirit to transform people and places. She is also the founder of the Nashville Creative Group, a community established to connect, support, and share with thousands of local artists instantly.
The Nashville Creative Group is a community vibrantly active with artists, musicians, communicators, technologists, and activists.
To learn more about how Beth uses creativity, connection, and community to change the world for the better visit her website or Beth Inglish Art.
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