My name is Hillary Scott and I'm an oil painter from the Boston area. My creative journey officially began 18 years ago when I decided to major in Illustration at the University of Massachusetts. I have been an artist since the moment I could hold a pencil, but decided to make it a career when I was 19 years old. After graduating with my BFA I became a high school art teacher for a few years. When I was laid off from that, I went back to school to get a degree as a physical therapist assistant because there was a lot of pressure on me to find something "practical, and recession-proof". Unfortunately my heart was never fully in it, and once I graduated I only lasted about a year and a half in the field before I was, once again, laid off. I started taking on illustration assignments, and I would literally take anything I could get. I illustrated my first children's book in 2014, titled "The Good Guy Lullaby". I worked on several other self published books after that and I loved illustration but felt it was time for a change. I was very interested in learning to paint landscapes so in 2015 I signed up for a plein air workshop and never looked back.
What made you take the leap into entrepreneurship?
I have always had the entrepreneurial spirit and never liked working under someone. I found that I could not fake passion in the many jobs I held over the years. I got laid off a number of times, and finally decided it was time to focus completely on trying to sell my art.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
The biggest hurdle for me was learning how to not only become a better artist, but also a better business person. I have never been very good about marketing myself but obviously without that, one has simply a product and no sales. It's been a long, slow journey but every year is better than the last. I manage to get my art in front of more people and venues every year, and it's paying off.
Did you every deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your enterpreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
Absolutely....Just about everyone in my family opted for a safe career and I never fit that mold, even as a child. I was encouraged to major in art, but only if I wanted to be an art teacher. This pressure to work a "real job" was why I ended up going back to school for a career in health care. I won't say I regret the decision to do this, because it erased any doubts that being an artist was the only career for me. Throughout the 3 years in school to be a physical therapist assistant, I could not deny the feeling it wasn't the right path for me. I wish I had the courage to follow my heart earlier on, but as they say, hindsight is 20/20. What matters is that I figured out what I wanted to do, and I'm doing it.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
Improving my craft. I have been continuously taking classes/workshops with master artists since 2015 and this has been a game changer for me. I know marketing and business sense is very important but in my opinion, there is no substitute for a great product. And by product, I mean my paintings. Once I started getting better at what I did, people started noticing. That was the turning point for me.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
As I mentioned above I needed to improve my skill level. Yes, this is a lifelong journey, and as artists we're all critical of our work. There's never going to be a time we don't think we need to improve. However, right out of the gate I wish I hadn't spent so much time and money trying to market work that was sub-par. What I needed to do was invest the time honing my craft before I started shopping around for galleries and collectors.
What advice would you give to an upcoming and old entrepreneur locally, and internationally?
Work hard and don't get discouraged. There is so much rejection, heartache, doubt, and many naysayers. If this is truly what you want, and you're willing to work for it, you will get there eventually.