Danielle Beck is a founder and host of the Art For Wellness Podcast and ‘Snuggable’ artist, and motivational speaker— breaking stigmas of mental health challenges. Danielle’s most recent features can be found in established outlets such as Metro, Africa Travel, and CAFC. She has helped thousands of artists through free bootcamp for creators and photographers to take back control over their time, income, and future by creating the conditions to transform their creative practice into a thriving, profitable, and fulfilling career.

What if the secret to creating a fulfilling art career is connecting with yourself?

Well, speaking from experience, you can transform your creative practice into a career that truly fulfills you by finding out how your business can align with who you are. And, you can do so in a few actionable steps and by changing your mindset about how to approach your creative business. 

As creatives, our true sense of freedom and fulfillment is not found sitting at a computer all day in an office cubicle. As an artist who started out in the corporate world and made the shift to a creative career, the hustle culture was simply not in alignment with who I am and what I wanted to do—and it’s the same for many of my artist friends and students.

I create art for many reasons, just one of which is for improved well-being and enjoyment. We are surrounded by this hustle culture—and, as a result, it's easy to get distracted from walking our own paths and meeting our own needs when it comes to lifestyle and career.

That said, when starting an art business, often the biggest barrier that you face is yourself. I know this from first-hand experience. I have suffered from a range of mental health challenges, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, psychosis, and sleep hallucinations. From this experience, I have learned a lot about fear. And that, unless identified and approached, fear can take the reins in your life, creative practice, and business … if you let it!

No one is immune to limiting beliefs and mindset barriers, especially around getting started with a business. It isn’t easy to work with fear, but what I want to share is that it’s not impossible to do. When I was first getting started in a creative career, I felt this huge sense of lack, self-doubt, and fear, which held me back and kept me in the corporate world for a lot longer than was healthy for me. I was telling myself a certain narrative around my fears, that might sound familiar to you as well. 

These fears for creatives can sound like:

  • I am not worthy enough/good enough to earn money from my art.

  • I don’t deserve to make money from my art.

  • Artists don't make money and I won’t make enough money from art to sustain the lifestyle I really need and desire.

  • I’d be ruining the fun that creativity brings by selling my art—it would spoil my motivation to create.

  • I believe successful artists are seen as part of this select society and because I am not in that circle, and because I don’t have the VIP connections, I simply won't achieve that level of success.

  • Being wealthy would make me become selfish or greedy. 

  • The business side of being an artist would be too difficult or boring.

  • I don’t know where to begin (but also don't seek support from mentors).

  • I’ll just wait around for clients to find me (rather than publicize my content).

  • I’m worried about selling art because my income would be reduced overall since people would not be able to afford my art at what I’m pricing it at.

 

Do you think, say or resonate with any of those?

If yes… hear me when I say, we have limiting beliefs, but we don’t always notice that we have them. 

Here’s what I realized after years of staying stuck on the edge of the diving board … unwilling to take the leap of faith to a creative career. Limiting beliefs can be governed by fear and can keep us stuck, sometimes for years.

However, when we identify and become aware of the specific thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are holding us back, we can start to work with them and rewrite our futures. Even just by having an awareness of what your specific limiting beliefs and fears are, and by being compassionate towards yourself (especially during the tough times), you can push through. How we choose to think about our lives and the actions we choose to take, have the power to change them.

If you want to be pursuing your passion and dreams every day, to have more freedom and fulfillment, and to be working on your own terms doing something creative—that is a real opportunity. However, if you aren't quite there yet, it may require you to step outside of your comfort zone and shift your mindset.

Here’s the thing: by not sharing your art with the world, what you do is deplete others and yourself from finding inspiration, fulfillment, and achieving your goals and dreams! 

Artist Danielle Beck. Photo courtesy of the artist. 

Here’s how I learned to follow work that fulfills me and build a growing art business.  

Step #1 Meet yourself where you are at. 

Plain and simple. Figure out what you need and want from your creative practice and business. 

When there’s creative content within you that needs to be shared, you may need to stop for a second and think about what that actually is. Maybe something deep down inside of you seems to be pulling you toward a greater purpose. When you’re motivated by purpose, vision, and passion rather than money, you become intrinsically motivated, which is the most long-lasting kind of motivation—and in doing so, you’ll begin to notice that others who align with your values will want to be part of what you are doing. 

Instead of thinking of your art business as ‘sales’—think of it like this: building meaningful connections and relationships with viewers. Because when you do that, you naturally develop a trust factor that leads to increased profitability and client loyalty in your business.

 

Plus, since art can be hugely impactful in both the life of your viewers and yourself, remind yourself that your work has a greater purpose. Your art is useful in:

  • Connecting viewers to themselves and others.

  • Introducing new perspectives.

  • Improving wellbeing and mental health—art becomes an enjoyable creative coping mechanism that you can transform into a fulfilling and profitable business that sustains you. 

  • Opening important conversations and reinforcing important messages.

  • Tackling various meaningful themes, stories, valuable life lessons, and topics.

  • Making an impact or contribution or supporting an important cause.

  • Inspiring viewers and motivating viewers to take action for change.  

 

Some things you can ask yourself to meet yourself where you’re currently at are:

  1. What makes you feel the most alive in your creative practice?

  2. What is it that is going to get you through the hard times?

  3. What are those things that bring you the most joy, fulfillment, and inspiration?

  4. What tangible and emotional benefits are you bringing through your art content or offers?  

Step #2 Work on establishing your identity. 

This is about building connections at a deeper level. Part of profiting from what fulfills you is about implementing strategies that align with the aspects of who you are and who your clients are.

When you put yourself out there with content that allows you to share your values and ethos, you’ll naturally be attracting the audiences and clients who you want to work with and who want to work with you. These are your "target audience" and they will be happy to pay for what you have to offer. 

To educate clients on what values you bring, you have to know the values that you have to offer. 

You can answer this for yourself by asking:

  1. What is the main thing that you want to be known for and why? 
  2. How do you want to make others feel? 

A great way to get started is to get your work in front of where these clients would hang out! Find out more about what they need, desire, and struggle with, and connect to them this way.

 

Step #3: Be intentional by establishing clear goals that you are capable of following through on.

When you see money as a tool to sustain and enrich the lives of yourself, your family, and others, you are allowing yourself to have a life tool that brings abundance. With this mindset, the possibilities are endless. There is no inherent moral value to money. Instead, set clear, smart goals around money instead.

Once you’ve got that abundant mindset nailed down, you can decide what creative business income streams you want to have to bring your vision to life. 

Consider what you want your business to look like on the day-to-day. Would you be creating passive income or are you working closely with clients?

How do you sell your art? Do you do commissions, sell online, implement print on demand, secure licensing deals, make NFTs, sell in shops, show in exhibitions, work with galleries, sell at markets, do the art fair or trade show circuits, or spend your time teaching or coaching? 

To discover where avenues you want to pursue (you can't do them all at once), ask yourself:

  1. What are you trying to achieve with your business? 
  2. How much extra income would you need to be free from financial strain or stress? 
  3. How much do you need to make to break even?
  4. How often do I want to work with people directly?
  5. How often do I want to travel?
  6. Do I want more passive income that takes more work up front (like licensing)? Or do I feel more fulfilled creating originals or different types of work?
  7. What do you hope to accomplish by the end of the month, year, two years, or five years?

Plan your business intentions and make a series of decisions from understanding what you do, how you do it, why you do it, and who you do it for! By doing that, you will feel more in control of your future and you get to call the shots in your art business. 

 

A final note on finding fulfillment by sharing your story 

Start before you feel ready.

The sooner you start sharing what your offer, the sooner those people who are happy to work with you, who share similar values with you, will find their way to you! Then, the better their lives will be when they do and as a result, the quicker you’ll find fulfillment from your work!

There’s a goldmine waiting to be dug up when you pledge to take intentional action. 

If you are looking to learn more and dive deeper into how to start building and growing your creative business, you can join Danielle's free Art for Wellness Bootcamp