Has your art hobby grown large enough that you’re thinking about turning your passion into a business? In this article, I’ll share a few quick tips that will help you know when and how to get started on the road to business success as an artist. I know it will be a big help as you consider starting an art business.
Start with a Call to the Experts
While there’s plenty of sites that offer “free” legal advice out there on the internet for starting your own business, nothing beats professional, local advice if you want to get started on the right foot.
From navigating local, state, and national laws, picking the correct business structure, and exploring the liability and tax implications of owning a business, a good legal advisor and talented financial advisor can help you navigate the decisions you need to make and the steps you need to take as your hobby grows into a business.
Is Now the Right Time?
Once you have your team of experts assembled (attorney and CPA to start with), it’s time to take a look at the state of your art. Do a little cost-benefit analysis with your financial professional, and decide if your hobby has indeed grown into a business. A few of the questions to consider when you’re at a crossroad like this:
Are you regularly investing personal money into your art hobby?
Are you regularly selling your work or teaching art classes?
Is the money you’re making from your art becoming significant enough to replace a part, if not all, of your work income?
Are you making enough money to offset the expenses of having an official corporate structure in place?
As you work with your team of experts, you’ll answer these and many more questions in making this determination. But if you and the experts agree it’s time, then your next move will be to…
Pick Your Business Structure
One of the first things you and your team of advisers will consider is what type of structure you’ll be using to start your art business. Here in the United States, we use three basic types of business structure:
While I’m no legal expert (and this is not legal advice), here’s a basic overview of each type of business entity you and your team of experts will be considering for your needs.
Want to dive deeper and learn even more? Check out what my friends at LegalZoom have to say on this subject by clicking here.
Looking for more tips?
Listen to what I shared with Bonnie, one of my podcast listeners.
One Last Piece of Advice
Once you’ve determined this is the time to turn our hobby into a business, do it right and do it with integrity. Setting up a business is not the kind of thing you want to leave to chance. Don’t fall into the trap of doing business under the table just because it’s easy and may save you a few dollars.
Walking with integrity in business, setting up your business, taxes, and financial accounts correctly is like weaving a net for the blessing God wants to send your way. If you have huge holes in your net because you’re not thinking and working through the details or because you’re avoiding taxes, then you’re potentially setting yourself up for disappointment and failure.
If an art business is in your future, then begin by finding those experts who can help you determine the best time, the best structure, and the best way to set up a business that will be a blessing to both you and others.
No matter where people found themselves within the spectrum of art, one question remained: Is it ok to sell my art if I consider my inspiration comes from the Lord? To be more specific, the question was often “Is it ok to sell something that God gave to you freely?” As you can imagine, I definitely have an opinion on the matter and I hope this article can help clarify this for many of you out there who are struggling with this question.
In short, the answer is a resounding “Yes”! However, not every artist is meant to sell their art and herein lies the issue. It really depends on a few things, namely how an artist approaches their creative expression. For the purposes of this article (Yes, I know that there is a lot of crossover between these and yes, I understand that I’m going to have to speak in generalities since every situation is different) I’m going to focus on artists who approach their work in 3 different ways: their own personal spiritual experience, hobby, ministry to others and vocationally.
Art as Spiritual Experience
For most artists, the practice of art making is something that is innate. They can’t imagine life without it. It’s an extension of who they are and when they are creating, there’s nothing else like it! There’s an emotional release, a rush of pleasure and feelings of overwhelming joy that are rarely found in any other experience. Many times, artists also make a deeper spiritual connection with God during this process. Either intentionally or unintentionally, the artist may feel a real sense that they are not creating by themselves but are rather receiving inspiration from the Holy Spirit and creating with Him. Although this is not an experience unique to Christians, I believe the Father is releasing more of Himself, more of His Kingdom and more of His nature to creatives who are taking the time to invite the Holy Spirit into the creative process.
When artists of all creative mediums enter in to this process, it’s an intimate place. Art making becomes a responsive act of worship where their ideas, tools, skills and processes become yielded to the movement of the Holy Spirit within them. There’s no faking it because an artist knows when it’s real. For many, there’s no greater place of connection with the Father than when they are creating; writing a song, painting, singing, dancing, weaving or just dreaming. To downplay this experience would be a huge mistake because it’s this process of connecting and creating that is so visceral and transforming for each artist. It’s foundational to our experience and essential for our ongoing growth and connection with God.
In this place of art as spiritual experience, there are don’t have to be any rules or expectations. The experience of creating with God with no boundaries is all that matters. Whatever comes out comes out. It’s all worship. It’s all valid. It’s all important to the artist’s spiritual journey. The artist probably has a vocation that provides income for them and spends their ‘free time’ pursuing their creative outlet. There’s never any pressure to sell or please anyone but themselves and the Lord. For these artists, growth happens as a result of a nurtured relationship with God and the art making process. There’s no timetable or requirements on how or when that growth happens. It’s art as worship, for the pleasure of creating and that’s enough.
For more information on creating with the Holy Spirit (or what some call "Prophetic Art") check out my Definitive Guide to Prophetic Art.
Art as Hobby
The good news is that all artists start here, creating from a place of passion, connection, and expression. There are usually no rules at this point, only a love for creating, experimenting and having fun!
You can probably relate, am I right?
The focus for most hobbyists is creating for their own personal enjoyment. You may find yourself pursuing your art at your leisure… when you have extra time or a few times a month. Many hobbyists don't necessarily have a dedicated studio space to create in and end up creating in the dining room or spare bedroom of their home (or if you’re like me, the back porch, garage, kitchen and the shed out back!)
Most hobbyists enjoy the freedom of creating when inspiration strikes, once a week, a couple of times a month, or even a few times a year. They often continue to create because of the spiritual connection they feel when creating.
Overall, being a hobbyist is an awesome place to be!
When you approach your art as a hobby, you're doing it just for fun. Again, no strings are required - just an enjoyment of the process. The time spent in the creative process is just for you. Sometimes you give art away to friends and family, other times you may sell a piece or two every now and again. However, art hobbyists rarely count on the income from their art sales to live. Usually it's about enjoyment and making enough to pay for materials.
Art as Ministry
It’s rare that an artist creates in a vacuum without anyone knowing about their creative expression. For most creatives, we enjoy sharing our creativity with others – friends, family, our faith community – and that only heightens the experience of creating. Nowadays because of the rise of acceptance of art as spiritual expression within the Church, many artists are finding they have the opportunity to share their art with others through doing things like art shows, painting on stage, performing on their worship team and many other wonderful expressions of creativity. This is an incredible opportunity for all creatives to take what’s been happening in their private studio time with God and welcome others into that process. Instead of their art simply being a place of personal connection with God, now it also has the potential to become a vehicle for others to experience the transformative Light and Light of God through their art.
As with most things that involve other people, sometimes this can get a bit hairy. What do you do when someone doesn’t understand or respond to your work in a way that’s life-giving for you? How do you receive compliments? What if someone has a major encounter with the Lord through your work? It’s never simple for an artist to put their creative expression out for the public to interact with because it’s not just about the work. It’s bearing your soul and allowing others to come into your special place of connection, judge it and many times judge you. Depending on how you’re wired, that can be exhilarating or a real emotional challenge.
Many artists now days are finding real acceptance within their faith communities as they create in the context of worship. People are inspired by their work, it heightens their own spiritual experience and allows them to create with others. It’s from these artists with whom we work most at The Worship Studio. They mostly create as worship and for the joy of the experience, have probably sold a few pieces here and there over the years but mostly enjoy giving their work away to others as a way to encourage them in their own spiritual journey. Artists in this place often struggle with the concept of selling their work because they don’t understand how they can or should sell something that’s such a natural expression of their own heart and given to them by the Holy Spirit in the context of worship.
For artists who are are creating for their own personal enjoyment and spiritual expression, I say “Don’t worry about selling you work.” Allow it to be what it is – a joyful, creative, spiritual experience that you’re sharing with others. Why put the pressure on yourself to sell or not sell when there’s no specific calling to move into vocational art making? For many artists who are, for lack of a better word, hobbyists, they tension of feeling like they should sell their work causes more frustration than anything which only impedes the creative process. I always encourage these folks to enjoy the process, freely give as you have freely received and don’t put undue pressure on yourself or your art making practice.
Art as Vocation
For most artists – especially Christians – who have moved into creating as their vocation, they still create from a place of spiritual experience and desire to connect with God through their own creative process. In fact, most, if not all began in a place of creating simply as a response to their own inner need to create. I call it the compulsion to make, always searching for something to do with their hands. These artists still value the joy, spontaneity and exhilaration of the creative process but at some point began to feel the desire to create as their vocation. It may have been the result of a prophetic word, a longstanding dream of theirs, the recognition that if they were going to keep doing this and getting better they needed to give more attention than just what they could do as a hobby or just because their work started selling and they followed God’s favor on their work. However it happened, did this decision to create for money diminish their spiritual experience? Was God somehow displeased with them because they were no longer just creating for the joy of creating? I believe the answer to that question is a resounding “No”!
Growth in the Kingdom is always based on stewardship of the gifts that a person has been given, regardless of where they find themselves in culture. For the artist, this most definitely includes their artistic gifting and their ability to hear, sense, feel and receive from the Lord. Let me pause and say, however, that I don’t believe becoming a full-time vocational artist means you’ve somehow achieved the ultimate maturity as an artist or as a Christian artist. Many of the best artists around choose to create as a hobby, for their personal enjoyment and have other vocations that they pursue to make their living. Many enjoy this because it allows them to come to their art making with no boundaries, requirements or pressure. It’s simply art for their personal enjoyment, sharing with others and even worship.
Other Considerations when Selling Art
Artists who have chosen to move into art making as their vocation however, don’t have the luxury of simply creating for personal enjoyment, although there is always joy that comes from the process. They have to consider the salability of their work, how it’s marketed, priced and presented to the public in a way that represents their values. Vocational artists can’t give most of their work away because for them, this is the primary way God has given them to make harvest their financial provision. They have to think about things like dedicated studio space, gallery representation or direct retail sales, inventory, shows and marketing their work. These artists have to pay attention to who’s buying their work, why, for what price and to be used in what context in order to continue to grow and thrive. To be successful, a vocational artist has to be both artist and entrepreneur. There is no either or if an artist is to be successful in the marketplace.
This is where a lot of Christians who are artists somehow jump ship. They have this notion that artists who have chosen the vocational art path have somehow sold their soul to the art devil and have lost the essence of creating from a place of spiritual connection. How ridiculous! In my opinion, that’s just a load of religious poppycock and emotional gobbledygook! No one would think of making this accusation to someone who gets a million-dollar business idea from the Lord yet somehow, because we’re creative our motives and intentions are called into question. Should a pastor not be paid because they receive inspiration from the Lord for their sermons and daily ministry?
Vocational but Still Spiritual
Yes, being a vocational artist requires a different skill set and thought process, but it’s no less spiritual for the artist who approaches their life and work as a Kingdom creative. Being a vocational Kingdom artist is a beautiful collaboration with God in which the artist has the joyful opportunity to see and agree with Heaven, co-create their experience with the Holy Spirit and enjoy the benefits of the Kingdom in their life while expecting transformation to be the result of their life and work. All along the way, they get to trust God completely for their provision, opportunities to sell their work and new creative ideas.
I’m one of these vocational artists who did what I do creatively now as a hobby for 15 years before it became my primary income source. For me, this journey of becoming a full-time working artist has required so much more faith and connectedness with the Father than anything I’ve ever done. I have opportunities each and every day to listen, trust and cooperate with the voice of the Holy Spirit not only as I create art but as I create a life and a business that God is using to bring finances into my family’s life. I love the adventure of being a vocational artist and can’t imagine doing anything else.
If you're interested in making a transition from hobbyist into art as your vocation, read this article about what I call "The Bridge" to seeing your dream come true.
Enjoy Your Art
No matter where you are as an artist – creating for the love of the spiritual experience, doing it as a part of your ministry or as a vocation – realize that God’s joy over you is the simple fact that you’re doing what He created you to do. As you grow and dream with Him, the ways you express and present your art will change. That’s ok! Enjoy where you are and enjoy the growth process without putting undue pressure on yourself to be someone you’re not. God has an incredible plan for your life and art whether you sell it for thousands of dollars around the world or offer it to Him as worship in the secret place. Just enjoy the Father, create with Him and follow His lead. You never know where things might lead!
People reach out and ask me all the time how to make money as an artist. Yep. Many well-meaning artists have asked this question and most believe that it's a single answer, like there's some shortcut or secret ad you can run to make everyone buy your art and make a million dollars.
SPOILER ALERT: There's no silver bullet for learning how to become a successful artist. However, after working as a creative now for over 25 years, speaking to thousands and personally mentoring thousands of artists via my books, podcasts, and online artist mentoring program, I've come to understand some of what it takes to really thrive. I'm going to share some of those insights with you right here.
Since I also believe no one person has the corner on success, I reached out to several of my thriving artists friends who are creating beautiful work and selling the heck out of it all while living an incredible life.
Based on their input and my experience, here's my top 29 tips for taking your artistic calling to the next level so that you can really start thriving in 2021.
As you probably know by now, information doesn't create change. Real change only happens when valuable information meets action and interaction; action on your part and interaction with others on your journey and an experienced mentor. Why, you ask? Most of the time, there are things in your life you just can't see by yourself. For those who are willing, God uses mastermind and mentoring relationships to bring you to the next level of growth.
If you'd like to make this year your breakthrough year and really start thriving as an artist spiritually, artistically and in business, check out my Created to Thrive Artist Mentoring Program and read some of their stories! Thousands of artists just like you have made the decision to be a part and it's changing lives.
Thanks again to all my artist friends who contributed to this list. Each one is creating great work, thriving as a professional artist and a joy to call friend!
One of the secrets to art business success that I teach artists is that “Connection is Key.” Your ability to thrive creatively is directly affected by your willingness and ability to connect with clients, strategic partners, mentors, and other creatives.
But what do you do if you live, work, and create in the middle of nowhere, or out in the boondocks, as we say down south? Is thriving while geographically isolated even possible? Well, the short answer is yes, and here are a few nuggets of wisdom that will help you thrive where you’ve been planted.
No matter where you live in the world, the internet is your gateway to connection. Even if you only have a cell phone and a mobile data plan, you can still:
So, where do you begin? Well, obviously, in today’s world, social media may be the best way to start building a connection with people online. Connecting with clients and strategic partners online is something you can do from anywhere. From regularly posting on a Facebook page or an Instagram account to posting your art process and how-to videos on YouTube, you’re only limited by your own imagination and a couple of tech tools like a phone, some basic lighting and internet connection.
But the benefits of social media for creatives don’t end there. One of the worst things about remote living can be a crushing sense of isolation, and it makes sense. We weren’t created to live alone. To combat isolation, consider starting your own Facebook group of fellow artists, joining an existing group or program (like my Created to Thrive Artist Mentoring Program), and even starting a simple group chat or text among creative friends! It doesn’t have to be fancy, just get started.
Fine Tune Your Website
Online art sales exploded last year with close to $5 Billion worth of sales. For many artists that I know, 2020 was their best year ever. Now they did have to pivot to prosper during a global pandemic. Still, the fundamentals of what they did on their websites will help any artist succeed.
Your website should pique curiosity, showcase your talents, inspire and inform your visitor, all while providing a clear, simple pathway for them to connect to you and the art you create. A great website is a mobile-friendly hub where you display, describe, and inspire people through your art. It tells the story of who you are, building that initial connection with your visitor. Then it presents them with an opportunity to purchase right on your website or through a link to a third-party site like Etsy, Fine Art America, or Saatchi Art.
Go to Where the Fish Are
So down south, it’s said, “If you want to catch fish, you have to go to where the fish are.” Make sense, right? The same holds for selling art. If art is not selling in your local area, you sometimes have to be willing to travel to where people are buying art. At this point, you might be wondering, “But Matt, isn’t online sales enough?”
Well, yes, but mostly no. I’m a big believer in something I teach in the Mentoring Program called The Parthenon Plan ™ . I encourage artists to create a multi-pronged, multi-strategy approach to building their art businesses. This concept helps creatives build healthy businesses with multiple income streams through the variety of methods they use to connect with their clients.
In a nutshell, don’t have all your “eggs” in one basket. Over the years, I grew my art business both only online and in person. I learned early on that I had to be willing to travel. From Atlanta to Philadelphia, from Atlanta to Chicago, or from Asheville to New Orleans. I sought out the shows and opportunities where I knew that my best clients would be.
“But Matt, I don’t know where to go. What do I do?” First of all, don’t let not knowing something paralyze you. Begin with a little research:
As we begin to return to a sense of normality post-covid, in-person shows and sales will come back. We’ll see old shows return and new shows and opportunities to connect and sell in-person springing up for those willing to do a little “road work.”
The last thing that I would say is be intentional. Be intentional about going to where your best clients are. Be intentional about creating community online. Be intentional about developing strategic partnerships. Don’t be afraid to be deliberate and step out. Be prepared. You have got to build a net, if you will, to be able to catch all the “fish” that God is bringing into your art business.
I hope this has been an encouragement. Thanks for reading.
PS: Combating isolation is one of the reasons why I started the Created To Thrive Artist Mentoring Program. Created To Thrive is a world-wide community of artists that have banded together to be encouraged, inspired, mentored, and challenged. They are embracing their calling as Kingdom artists while living life together online. Sure, we host a couple of live events a year, but we connect on Facebook, post on Instagram, and chat regularly on Zoom for the rest of the year. For many of our geographically isolated members, this online community has allowed them to find “their people.” Created to Thrive is truly a band of brothers and sisters who encourage and inspire each other along the way.
So you want to know how to actually make a living as an artist? You're in the right place! For the last 25 years, I've made my living using my creative expression and I'm going to share with you the top things I've learned so you can begin actually making a living from your art.
You Can't Have Business Dreams with Hobby Habits
A lot of artists "dream" of making a living from their art but few are actually willing to do what it takes. What does it take, you might ask? Things like:
Over the years as I've grown my own very successful art business (I'm a woven sculpture artist) and mentored literally thousands of Christian artists, I've found for an artist to really thrive, they have to cultivate 5 specific areas of their life: heart & mind, art, brand, business and life. Unless you are working on all these areas simultaneously, it's unlikely you'll be able to make a living as an artist.
See, making work that is masterfully created and unique is simply the starting point. That's a given. It's ground zero. Once you're making work that's uniquely beautiful you've got to go about cultivating an authentic connection with your potential audience.
For more on this subject, check out The Thriving Christian Artist Podcast. It's free and filled with hundreds of free episodes that will empower you on your creative journey toward actually making a living as an artist.
Need some more help starting to cultivate those 5 hey areas? Take my "Start Thriving Now" ecourse. It's free and will be a big encouragement to you.
One of the frequent questions I get goes something like, "Matt, I'm on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and TikTok. So, is it even a necessity to have a website?
I get it. Websites can seem so last decade. But an effective website can be the best marketing tool an emerging artist can use to grow their business and expand their influence. So, I want to give you a new perspective on websites while highlighting what I see are the four primary purposes of every artist's website.
All Roads Lead to Your Website
So, I'm a big fan of Social Media. I'm currently on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, while at the same time, my podcasts are being distributed across a dozen different platforms. I've been interviewed on radio, tv, podcasts, and in magazines, books, and blogs. The common thread that holds this all together is my website.
I like to think of an artist's website as the central place or the hub of your artistic world. Your website should be the place that all roads from the social jungle point back to. Your social pages should link to it, your blog should live on it, and when you're interviewed online, on-air, or in print, you should mention it.
Why? You ask. It's simple. Your website is where your Artist Statement lives. It's the place where all the images of you working in the studio, of the trajectory of your work, and the history of your creative process are displayed. Your site is where you showcase your current work, share your event calendar, and talk about your journey as an artist.
Now, the whole point of having a website, though, is not just to have a website. The whole point of having a website is to move people through a process where they can do four things.
Learn About You
As you are designing your website, you want to speak about what you do in a way that connects with what your site visitors are looking for. If you go to my website, www.MattTommey.com, you can see how I speak to people that are looking for unique, nature-inspired woven sculpture.
I am speaking not only about myself, my art, and my creative process, but I am intentionally sharing what I do in terms of what my potential clients are looking for. In marketing, we call that the WIIFM – "What's In It For Me?" When you ask this question, you have to think about it from the client's perspective since that is who you want to be able to connect with.
Have Their Needs Met
I remember walking through a store one day when U2's "I still haven't found what I'm looking for" began playing in the background. I had a chuckle because it was true for me that day, but it also brings up a great point.
Your website needs to persuade visitors that the solutions you offer, the art you sell, the classes you teach, or the book you wrote is something that they need. The language you use, the pictures you share, and the stories you tell on your page need to connect with these potential clients in a way that makes them want to take advantage of the opportunity you're offering based on their values, their desires, and what they are looking for.
Number three, your website has got to have a clear invitation. You want to have an opportunity to invite visitors to get involved in your world. It can be as simple as an invite to a show, an offer to take a class, or even an opportunity to purchase a piece of work.
The secret is you have to ask the visitor to take action, and you've got to be really clear! In the Marketing world, we call that your Call To Action. Your CTA is effective when a site guest can clearly understand what they are being asked to do and quickly and easily do it.
Lastly, you want to make it easy for your site visitors to stay connected with you. That's why I tell the artist in my Created to Thrive Artists Mentoring Program to make sure that there is an opt-in page on their websites.
An opt-in page is where somebody can make a purchase, register for a class, or even give you their email address. Again, your website is not of any real use if it is just a brochure out there. You want to make sure that it's a vehicle to connect, persuade, invite, and enable your clients to communicate with you, do business with you, and refer you to others.
I hope this helps as you take that step of creating or refining your website. If this article has helped, take a moment to share it with a friend, share it on social media, and comment below!
Thanks for reading.
Choosing someone to walk with you on your own artistic journey is probably one of the most important choices you'll make as an artist.
Why? Because who you choose determines what seeds you're going to plant in your life and ultimately, what fruit is going to be produced.
As you consider choosing an art mentor to help you on your journey as an artist, let me offer a few questions you need to ask:
Have you ever wanted to know just what it takes to get into an art gallery? I get asked about this all the time, and in this article, I have three tips, straight from a local gallery director, that will help you get your art ready for submission to a reputable gallery.
As many of you know, I have been transitioning out of my River Arts District studio, where I have been for the last ten years, into a private and not open to the public studio. As a part of this move, I am starting to sell my work through galleries again.
I was making a delivery the other day, and I had the opportunity to talk to the director and their staff. I shared with them that one of the big questions that I get all the time from the members of my Created to Thrive Artists Mentoring program is, "Matt, how do I get into a really reputable gallery?"
Of all the things they shared about what to do and what NOT to do when seeking gallery representation, the following three things really stuck out as vital to artists wanting to sell their work through a reputable gallery.
Follow the Procedures
I know that might seem like a "Duh! Everybody follows the procedures!" But not everybody does! In fact, too many artists just show up at the gallery and ask, "How do you be an artist in this gallery," or another favorite question, "Can you just look at my work on my phone?"
Listen! Any reputable gallery has got a process, often found on their website. It will detail when they are looking at work, how to submit it, and the time frame in which they'll get back with you. If you research a gallery you are interested in and can't find their submission process online, then reach out with a call or email asking how they would like for you to submit work for their consideration.
The critical thing to remember here is that every gallery has procedures, and they all want you to follow them; why, you wonder? It's because if they are a reputable gallery, they are a busy gallery, and following their procedures shows a gallery owner that:
Always remember that a gallery isn't just someone who shows off your artwork from time to time. They are going into business with you. When a gallery accepts your work, they partner with you to distribute your art to the world. So, it's vital that you follow their procedures at the beginning of what can be a very fruitful relationship.
This kind of goes without saying, but it was one of the key "what NOT to do" things the gallery staff shared with me. They told me, "If all of our artists would be like you, Matt! You are actually on time. You were here when you said you were going to be, and you have your paperwork!"
Here's a Pro Tip for getting an art gallery director and staff to love you and your work: Make it easy to do business with you. It starts with things like:
Do this, and they will have a great feeling about you and your work. And when the gallery owner and the gallery staff feel good about you and your work, they are much, much, much more willing to talk to clientele about what you do creatively, both to sell pieces and to refer clients back to you for commissioned work.
Make Great Artwork
Again, I would hope this would seem obvious, but too many people just don't seem to get this. You've got to be making great work for a gallery to take you seriously. You may be a great marketer, but if you create sub-standard pieces that are not desirable in the marketplace, then you can't expect the gallery to get excited about what you do.
While you're out there looking for a reputable venue to represent your work, owners are looking for artwork that will enhance their art gallery's reputation. I share these concepts often, both in this blog and on my Thriving Christian Artist and 5-Minute Mentoring Podcasts, about:
Investing in yourself and your art is the path towards creating high quality, unique art that will be prized and appreciated in the marketplace.
When you do these three things, I promise that you will make friends and influence gallery owners quickly. You'll be set apart from so many other artists in the Marketplace who may be great at what they do, but they aren't making it easy for a gallery to do business with them.
I hope this has been a big encouragement to you. If this article has been a blessing to you, take a moment to share it with a friend, share on social media and comment below!
Thanks for reading.
Do you ever struggle with a lack of time and feel like you just can’t get everything done? Do you ever wonder how you are supposed to be the artist that God has called you to be, yet don’t seem to have enough hours in the day? Well, if that’s you, then keep reading because I’ve got some practical strategies for finding more time for the things that really matter.
One of the five roadblocks I’ve seen hold artists back over the years is this whole concept of overwhelm and the lack of time. You might be nodding your head right now, thinking, Matt, I know what you mean. A lot of artists struggle with this, but here is the thing that I have learned about overwhelm and lack of time. How you spend your time is simply a reflection of a few things in your life:
And all of this can be summed up into one word: Vision.
How you spend your time is directly related to vision. It’s the Bible that tells in Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish,” or as another version reads, “the people cast off restraint,” and one of my favorite translations says that without vision that “people run wild.” So how does all this relate to time and time management?
Vision from God about your life and art allows you to have a standard by which you choose how to use and prioritize your time. It helps you to know who you are and what you are called or meant to do in your life and with your art. Without that in place, then it's too easy to let circumstances and other people determine what your priorities are in life. Then before you know it, your time, your money, your energy, and your focus have been hijacked by someone else’s agenda.
I had to get to this place in my own life. The place where I fully embraced God’s call and plan for my life as a husband, a dad, an artist, and as a father to Artists. Understanding who God created me to be and knowing what He has called me to do guides how I choose to invest my time. This vision for my life helps me to prioritize what I say yes to and what I say no to in my day.
What’s Eating Up YOUR Day?
So, I am going to give you a little assignment that you can do right now to start taking control of your time. For the next seven days, grab your journal, a legal pad, or even a piece of paper and write down everything that you are doing in 15-minute increments. Now, I know that you are probably saying, “OMG! That is a lot of detail.” Yeah, it is, and that’s the point.
This time assessment is a commitment, but it’s really going to reveal where you are spending your time. Yes, I want you to include the random scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, the daydreaming, and anytime you spend unfocused. Be sure to include doing things for your family and friends, even the things you do out of guilt or obligation.
Time for YOUR Aha Moment
And then at the end of the week, what I want you to do is this: Go back through that assessment and look at the areas where you choose to spend your time. Ask yourself the following questions:
The point of this exercise is not to feel shame for what you didn’t do but to help you see what you can do. Most people who do this week-long time assessment end up having a complete light bulb moment of realization: “OOOohhhhh! My Goodness! I’ve wasted a whole lot of time on a whole bunch of nothing.” The important thing is to take that Aha moment and use it as a call to action.
Ask Yourself This
Once you’ve completed this exercise and find yourself staring in the depth of this Aha moment, this is what I want you to ask yourself. “What am I willing to give up or change in my life right now in order to live the life that I believe that God has designed me to live as an artist?” I know that it's a tough question, and not one to be answered lightly. But I’m also convinced that every artist who answers this question is ready to step into the fullness of what God has for them.
I hope this has been a big encouragement to you. If this article has been a blessing to you, take a moment to share it with a friend, share on social media and comment below!
Thanks for reading.
Have you ever dreamed about starting your own art business but got stuck knowing when and how to begin laying the foundation?
I see this frustration show up all the time in artists who have emerged past the hobbyist phase with their art. Maybe they have been selling a little bit of art from time to time, and now they are starting to see the reality where art can grow from being a lucrative side hustle into their full-time vocation.
This is when the questions I get from these artists start to change. I start getting asked things like…
I hear all this and more, and I always tell people this; It is never ever too early to lay a solid foundation for your art and your art business. And every time I share this bit of wisdom, the very next thing I hear is, “well, Matt, what do I do next?” Here are the top three things I always share.
Accelerate Your Confidence
As you start working intentionally on your art business and while continuing to develop both spiritually and artistically, you begin to gain confidence in an accelerated way. It never ceases to amaze me that once you start to get some success under your belt and people start responding favorably to what you are creating, all of the old fears and hesitations seem to melt away.
Fear of failure, fear of technology, and even the fear of not being good begin to be replaced by confidence as you take that leap of faith to get out there and start doing stuff. And to be clear, this isn’t something that can be bought or even something that God is just going to download to you supernaturally.
This release of confidence comes with the territory. As you step out, God is there to release grace and confidence in your life equal to the task that you are pursuing. So, gaining confidence is a huge reason why it is never too early to lay a solid foundation.
You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Runway
Building a successful art business is a lot like building a long, beautiful runway. A lot of people think that they are going to build this great “plane” of an art business, then all at once, their art career will begin to take off and soar. While I would love that that to be true, here is the deal: your “plane” will never get off of the ground without a runway. The truth is, you have got to have a runway to begin to build up speed and accelerate in order to take off and be who God has called you to be.
Laying a foundation for this “runway” starts in your spiritual life. You begin by aligning your mindset, your heart, and your mindset with the truth of how the Kingdom works, how money flows, and how to connect with the broader move of what God is doing in the earth and raising up this army of artists. With this started, then begin to focus on all of the marketing, business, and art stuff that it takes to really thrive as an artist.
As you are faithful to do this little by little each day, you’ll be laying a firm foundation for that “runway.” Then when the day comes and you are ready to push the accelerator on your creative life, you will shoot down the runway, take off, and soar as an artist.
Start Healthy, Stay Healthy
Laying a healthy foundation early on avoids do-overs later in life. I don’t know if you are like me, but when I get something that has to be assembled, a curtain rod, a bookshelf, a piece of lawn equipment, whatever it is, I never look at the instructions. I always jump in and start doing it. Maybe this is a guy thing, but I don’t think it is.
Inevitably, I get to a point where the thing I’m building doesn’t look like the picture on the box. Maybe it’s because I’ve put “Part F” backward into “Slot A” while using “Screw I” instead of “Bolt L” to hold it together. Then I have to take the whole thing apart and redo it. This entire process wastes time, makes me frustrated, and always leaves me wondering “Why didn’t I just read the directions?”
Laying a solid foundation in your spiritual, art, and business life is a guaranteed way to avoid a bunch of unnecessary do-overs in your journey. Otherwise, you are forever trying to figure things out on your own, and having to come back weeks, months, and even years later to undo negative patterns of thinking and ways of doing things. Seeking the advice of someone who has traveled this journey before you, a mentor, can be one of the best first steps you can take in laying a firm, healthy, do-over free foundation in life and art.
I hope this has been a big encouragement to you. If this article has been a blessing to you, take a moment to share it with a friend.
Thanks for reading
Matt Tommey is an artist, author and mentor who is passionate about empowering artists to thrive spiritually, artistically and in business.