The Business of Art, Part 3: “How Do I Balance Creativity and Business?”
Welcome back to our Business of Art series, where I answer the most common questions I get from artists like you about starting a business with your art!
Once again, I’m writing this one with the help of my wife Andrea, who’s the business mind behind ColorByFeliks!
This week is all about BALANCE.
Making a living off your art requires being both an artist and a businessperson, and as an artist myself, I know it can seem intimidating when you think of the business side of things.
Thankfully, it’s not as hard as you think, and Andrea and I are here to show you why. Let’s get started!
“What is the hardest thing about having your own business as an artist?”
As an artist, I have to admit that the hardest part about what I do is the business part.
All I ever wanted to do in the beginning was share my acrylic paintings with the world, but I quickly realized that it’s not that simple.
Despite developing my painting skills for years, I learned that nobody really knew who I was.
I realized that if I wanted to make a living through my art, I would have to learn some business skills to complement my art skills.
This business promotion takes time and energy, and I wish it didn’t because I’d love to spend all my time just creating.
The sooner you accept that reality, however, the sooner you can make peace with it and just learn the business skills that will help you get further.
Andrea and I have actually put together resources on the specifics of getting started with the business side of things (more on that later).
But as Andrea reminds me all the time: once you have the skills to market yourself, the most important thing is CONSISTENCY.
Because most artists don’t like doing the business side of things, if you just stay consistent and keep doing a little every day to market yourself, you will grow.
“How do you divide your time between creating art and the business side of things?”
I’m extremely blessed that I now have Andrea to help me. She is always working on the business side of ColorByFeliks because that is her passion, but it wasn’t always like this.
I was trying to make it as an artist before I ever met Andrea.
Before ColorByFeliks was making any money, Andrea was in school and had a job, so she had no time to help me.
I know the struggle of needing to balance the fun part for us creatives (the art) and the not-so-fun but equally important business side.
I was also working full-time while Andrea was in college, so my only free time was nights and weekends.
I set that time aside not just for painting, but also for business things like figuring out social media and making time-lapse videos.
That stuff wasn’t nearly as fun for me as painting, in fact, I really disliked it, but I knew that it was essential.
I want to be extremely positive and encouraging in my content, but part of being positive means telling you the harsh truth: if you want to make a living at art, you will have to make some sacrifices at first.
That means working on your art and business after you come home tired from work or while your friends are out having fun on the weekend.
It also means using time that you’d rather be painting to work on your marketing and business.
You don’t have to choose that life; painting can absolutely be just a passion that you do for your own pleasure.
But when you make the decision to turn it into a career, just understand that that decision comes with some big sacrifices.
It all seems so simple looking back from my success, but I never would have gotten where I am now without a period of doing a lot of things I didn’t love.
I don’t mean to scare you, just to prepare you. You can do this, but just be ready to do some hard work!
If you stick with it, I promise there will come a day when it gets easier!
Now that we have the mindset covered, let’s get into more specific questions.
“How do you handle things like sales and income tax?”
The answers to this question will vary a little, depending on the tax laws in your country. So I will answer this from the perspective of an American, and try to be as broad as possible with my answer.
Sales tax is handled on our Shopify store for us but we still have to file taxes every quarter.
One thing that is super important for artists to remember is that you need to set aside a certain percentage of your revenue for taxes. In America, it’s 20-30%.
Andrea and I were both used to having our taxes withheld by our employer automatically, so when we started making money we didn’t do this and were then shocked by how much we owed.
It’s much easier to set some money aside each month in a savings account and not touch it, so you’re prepared when tax time comes.
We have an accountant that helps us keep track of our income and expenses so that is really helpful and they taught us all about how to file taxes so we suggest either hiring an accountant or working with a program like Bench accounting or Quickbooks/Quicken.
“How do you promote yourself?”
If you’ve been reading this series from the beginning, you’re probably realizing a common theme: promote yourself using the power of social media!
I started seriously marketing myself on Instagram in 2017 and that’s how I made the jump from selling one painting every few months to selling paintings every week to not having to sell paintings at all.
I think it’s important to start by focusing on the platform you like most but then as soon as you’re ready, to expand to as many platforms as you can manage.
Not only will this help you reach more people, but these platforms are changing all the time and you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket.
As far as what you should post, that will be different for everyone but one thing is the same: post as much of your work as possible.
Sharing art with the world is the only way artists have ever gotten discovered.
At some point you will simply have to decide to face the fear and post your work for people to see.
Don’t worry about what people think; chances are you’ll receive lots of nice comments; most people are friendly.
Even if some people aren’t nice, just keep posting.
Your mission is so much more important than a few negative people.
Just remember, if you’re out there being true to yourself and sharing your artistic expression, then I’m on your team and so is Andrea and everyone else in the community we’ve built online.
If you take Andrea’s advice and stay consistent, good things will happen for you.
Well, that’s all for this week. I can only get so detailed on these blogs without making them too long, but if you want to get every step of the blueprint Andrea and I used to build ColorByFeliks, we’ve got something special for you!
If you’re an artist who’s struggling to know where to start, how to promote yourself, or if you really can make a living at your art, we’ve created a roadmap to help you!
For the first time ever, we’re sharing our Art Business Course that gives you the EXACT steps we used to build one of the biggest art pages on social media.
Our mission is to help as many artists as possible to experience the freedom and power over their own career that we’ve experienced.
We’re here to empower artists, and that includes you.
Learn how to promote yourself, how to manage your growth, how to attract good business deals and avoid bad ones.
I’ve been blessed to have Andrea’s business savvy to guide me so that I could focus more on being an artist, and now you can too!
Sign up now to get on the waiting list to be first to know when the course launches and get a discount: