Like many children, Anne-Marie Zanetti enjoyed working creatively with her hands: drawing, sewing, woodworking, or playing in the mud. And just like many adults, life happens, and she was led away from this passion.

When her youngest child began school, Anne-Marie’s husband said more-or-less, “take a break for a year and do what your heart desires.” So, that’s what she did. Anne-Marie began taking classes, attending workshops, entering competitions, and accepting commissions. She believes getting out of your comfort zone, putting in the hours, and having a good grasp on the business aspects of your studio practice are crucial for a successful transition into the creative field.

Read Anne-Marie’s success story.

YOU HAVE A HIGHLY TECHNICAL STYLE, THOUGH YOU DIDN’T START YOUR ART CAREER UNTIL LATER IN LIFE. HOW DID YOU DEVELOP SUCH PROFICIENT SKILLS?

In hindsight now, I have realized how important donations were for my practice to get off the ground. Early in my career, my children’s school organized an art show fundraiser. I chose to donate my paintings and the shows helped me in a number of ways:

  • I could paint any subject I wanted without worrying about the end result too much.

  • Experimenting was easier. I could investigate in different techniques, mediums, and styles more fluidly.

  • I received that much needed (but not always welcomed) feedback from a large group of people.

  • The exposure for my work was increasing (word of mouth should not be underestimated).

  • I was contributing to something worthwhile and it gave me a reason to paint in abundance.

These years were my early training ground! We all know the hours and hours it takes to hone your skills. I had a reason to paint, and people to appreciate my contribution—all the while I was becoming more and more proficient.

HOW DID YOU BUILD YOUR ART NETWORK AND GROW YOUR INTERNATIONAL PRESENCE?

I find my creative art is a solitary venture. So as an artist, I make an effort to stay connected. I’ve found that social media has been invaluable in this area. I regularly peruse my Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter accounts to see what other artists are doing. In fact, I have created many relationships with artists in other countries through my social media connections.

Being represented by Lethbridge Gallery in Brisbane, Australia has ensured I maintain face-to-face contact with other artists to share ideas and foster connections within the community. Art classes are another wonderful way I meet with other artists and find amazing teachers and mentors.

YOU HAVE SHOWN WORK ALL AROUND THE WORLD. HOW DID YOU BEGIN SHOWING INTERNATIONALLY?

This is where a good gallery (and special friends) can really help! Being represented by Lethbridge Gallery here in Brisbane, who has relationships with overseas galleries, was the beginning of this journey for me. I was fortunate that the gallery owner believed in my work enough to take some of my paintings to two art fairs in the United States. He then promoted them to the galleries he has relationships with.  

At the same time, a school friend who owns a gallery in New York very kindly asked if I would like to add some of my work to her collection.

You never know where a connection could lead. Through entering various annual competitions coordinated by the Brisbane gallery and doing art workshops, more opportunities have been created and it has given me the confidence to broaden the scope of my work.

BEFORE USING ARTWORK ARCHIVE, HOW DID YOU ORGANIZE YOUR BUSINESS?

For about a year I had been searching for an online program to help with my art organization. I have a real curiosity for computer programs that increase efficiency, and not just in art. A fellow artist told me about Artwork Archive, so I immediately Googled it.

At first I thought it was a great program to catalog and keep track of my art—which had been saved to numerous Word and Excel spreadsheets for years—but I am so glad that it has become far more than a catalog tool for me.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER ARTISTS LOOKING TO BETTER MANAGE THEIR NEW ART CAREER?

I believe, as an artist, you should try to acquire as much exposure as possible. I routinely seek out exhibition and competition opportunities, and regularly engage with potential clients and other artists. This can be difficult without jeopardizing the quality of my work, or my sanity.  

Artwork Archive has made these processes much more manageable by giving me the ability to log and track details of paintings, clients, galleries, competitions, and commissions. It’s also crucial to my practice to be able to print out reports, portfolio pages and invoices—and providing a platform to expose my work publicly.  

Since all my information is on the cloud, I can reach my information from anywhere there is an internet connection, on any device. I’m also in the process of creating reproductions of my work and I’m excited to use the built in tool that Artwork Archive has for tracking all the details of these.  

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO ANOTHER ARTIST CONSIDERING USING AN INVENTORY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM?

I find myself referring fellow artists to Artwork Archive because my experience has been so positive. The program makes the obligatory administration work much more simple and manageable—giving me more time to paint.

I can keep track of my work, print out reports, get a quick look at my sales (which makes me feel better when I’m doubting myself), and know that the site is always promoting my work through my Public Page.  

Artwork Archive’s commitment to improving the software with upgrades is also a bonus to my business and my peace of mind.

Looking for more guidance for early career artists? Check out Anne Kullaf’s advice for emerging artists.