Donna Arnold is a mixed media artist who's been a part of the Created to Thrive Artist Mentoring Program for over 9 months. This is her story.
What was your life as an artist like before becoming a member of the Artist Mentoring Program? What was your biggest roadblock?
I had a full career as a high school art teacher, then ran my own art school for a number of years. Following a move to a new city in retirement, my main artistic efforts were directed toward local and regional art competitions. I had made most of my money as an artist by teaching and my perks by being juried into shows.
What prompted you to become a part of the Artist Mentoring Program? Specifically, what were you looking for?
In a new city I didn’t have a network from which to pull students nor places to exhibit and sell my work. I joined a local art organization but it was mainly a social group. I didn’t know how to promote my work or myself. I knew I needed help in using social media effectively, needed a new website, needed to learn how to market. And, I needed encouragement that I was worthy of the time, effort and money it would take. I became willing to make the commitment to the mentoring program because of the Christian foundation that proved to be authentic.
Since becoming a member, how has your life changed? How have you experienced breakthrough?
First, the effect of Matt’s teaching and the other available materials have greatly boosted my self worth as an artist. I used to just see myself as a teacher. Now I know that the work I produce is of high quality and marketable. I had previously had a web site that was costing me a pretty penny a year and got zero traffic. At Matt’s suggestion, I contracted with Jeremy to help build a site that could build traffic. My primary marketing tool was to post my work on Fine Art America and that netted me the sale of one pillow and one print and they got most of the money. I began posting my work on FB and Instagram and writing blog posts on my new website. Matt’ s teaching about cultivating the people I knew began to pay off.
What's been your biggest "Aha Moment" that was a real gamechanger for you while in the program?
I have had two breakthroughs. First, I promoted some classes in my home studio which led to successive sessions throughout the summer and fall. I also used an area of my studio to display work for sale - and the students bought it! At the same time I applied to and was juried into a co-op gallery in the heart of the arts district of the city. At my suggestion we had a holiday open house and I used the same promotion techniques I had learned so far. The day of the event, I had more of “my people” come through the door than I could have imagined, I sold more in that one day than I had the year before! And because of the additional exposure, I have been asked to teach a week-end workshop for the Watercolor Society of Indiana in the spring.
What would you say to encourage other artists who are currently in the Artist Mentoring Program along their journey? To artists considering becoming members?
The Mentoring Program is definitely worth the investment for personal growth. I still have a lot to learn and know the resources are available - if you take advantage of them and do the work. I don’t know any other place to find the quality of instruction and resources.
What's on your horizon? What are you dreaming of and moving toward in this next season?
I need to build a newsletter on Mailchimp, create some video pieces for social media, prepare for a solo show at the gallery and keep up with studio production.
For more about Donna's work, please visit her website at http://www.donnaarnoldart.com