Even though my talent and passion for art was apparent from a young age, it took almost two decades before I made the decision to pursue my talents professionally. That's largely because the narrative around the Arts industry (that I was exposed to) was predominantly negative. It told of the 'starving artist' archetype and was painted as less-esteemed than other professional careers. So, instead I pursued Marketing. I won scholarships and ended up working in a sought-after job right out of university. But, even though my career was going well, I still felt pulled towards entrepreneurship and art. It was a risk (I was also only a year and a half into my mortgage at this point), but I eventually decided to leave and become a career Artist. December 27th, 2017 marked my last day in corporate. And one year later, and I can say it's the best decision I've ever made. My business as an Artist is thriving. I've painted close to 60 murals in the Greater Toronto Area, I've created displays for the largest museum in Canada on two occasions, my art has been covered by Cp24, CBC Arts, and featured by HuffPost Arts and Sharpie, I've sold over 200 prints and originals internationally. Most importantly though, and beyond the conventional markers of success, my quality of life has significantly improved. I live with far more freedom, time and passion- something that I used to journal about years ago.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business? How did the idea for your business come about?
Since the age of 15-16, I was a professional Artist. In a non-liner series of events, I sold hand-painted shoes internationally, I was a Henna Artist and I taught art. The spark to turn my side business into my full-time career came from incremental mindset changes. Through lots of self-learning (podcasts, books, etc) I learned about others who had succeeded in turning their talent into a business, and I started to teach myself how to make it possible. The more I saw that it was possible to find that intersection between passion and profit, the more I was able to conceptualise how to do it with my art.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
The biggest hurdle in my business was tackling the ambiguity that came with pricing art. Because Art is so subjective, there are many factors that come into play when deciding on pricing that will both drive demand and be lucrative for you, the Artist. I overcame this initial hurdle by reaching out and directly learning from other Artists. Factoring in things like time, materials, effort and demand, I was able to come up with a pricing chart that is incredibly useful and consistent.
What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?
I absolutely love reading and attribute a lot of my success towards the books that shaped my mentality. Books like 'The 4-Hour Work Week' made me consider alternate lifestyles, more abundant with freedom and time. Books like 'Sapiens,' opened my mind up to the history of humans and thoughts on the way that we live and work today. Books like 'Ego is the Enemy' made me consider new ways of branding and creation. Currently, I'm reading 'Extreme Ownership,' and I've already experienced changes in how I think of accountability and discipline in my life. I recommend entrepreneurs to read a variety of topics, both in their field and otherwise. All information is transferable and learning about different topics will always better your craft. Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
When I left corporate to become a career Artist, I told only one other person for two months. This was because I wanted the head space to focus, rather than to explain my reasoning. That way, when I did tell my friends and family, I was able to tell them about all of the positives that had already happened and the ones that were in the works. Their concerns were absolutely merited and were ones that truthfully, I had myself, so I answered them honestly, and I think that was appreciated.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
Having a daily routine has been an absolute game-changer. About 2 years ago I started building a routine with small elements like journalling (about gratitude, 3 things to accomplish and an affirmation), using a day-planner and having a specially brewed tea and a homemade smoothie every morning. The routine helped me start my days with consistency and organise myself well. The routine helps keep me grounded even on my busiest of days and bring in much-need structure on others. Ultimately, I think it's the writing portion that has been most influential in shaping my business.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
It would have been nice to have been better versed about the accounting and legal structures behind the business. I'm doing some work on getting myself better acquainted with it now (with the help of professionals), but of course, having known more out of the gates would have been useful.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Timing is key. Sometimes you can be doing everything right, but the timing simply isn't right. When people say 'don't quit,' I think that they're also alluding to the timing aspect of success.
If you're aligned with whatever it is you're going for, a breakthrough will inevitably come- you just need to keep moving towards it.