Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in arts but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jeffrey Boutin, Founder of Buffalo Boutin, located in Eden Prairie, MN, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I am a full-time artist. My customers are nationwide and are art collectors or individuals who want a little color or whimsy in their life.

Tell us about yourself

If there is a backward way of becoming a full-time artist, I think I did it. I have always loved to draw and paint, and like many artists, I didn't feel like I was good enough to actually show my art. Not even to a close friend! When I found out a friend was purchasing an expensive piece of art, I offered to do something similar for the cost of materials. I put no value on what I did. Well, he liked it better than the original piece of art and paid me my agreed price. He told me that he didn't know I was artistic, and since I was feeling good about the piece I had just made, I showed him the art I hid in my garage. He said there was something really powerful about it and encouraged me to go to a gallery just to get their opinion on my art. The only gallery I knew of was in the luxury mall, so that's where I went to get their opinion. It's a funny story, but the gallery bought them on the spot; even crazier is that they all sold by the end of the weekend, and the gallery wanted more, so I was off running painting and selling and establishing my name. I eventually worked with 15 galleries nationwide, but now I have narrowed it down to about 6 really good galleries that keep me busy.

I came to realize I wasted over 30 years thinking I was not good enough to be an artist when really I was just doing what made sense to me and not what everyone else was doing. The truth is I didn't know how to do what everyone was doing. I learned that being unique and recognizable is the "Real" path to success. I would never compare my art to Van Gogh, but he was similar. He didn't paint like everyone else; He painted in a way that made sense to him. I wonder if he ever felt like he was not good enough compared to his contemporaries. I truly feel like I don't know what I am doing! However, I feel like this is a good thing. It keeps me learning and approaching art as if I am learning it for the first time. I decided to start teaching classes on art. I don't focus on technique necessarily but more on the mindset and passion needed to create unique art. Things that I used to be a full-time artist. I have had several students go on to become full-time artists because of applying my information. I think that if I had feelings of inadequacy, certainly many other artists are struggling with it, also. I am very proud of the success I have seen in these students.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

The fact I have been a full-time artist for the last 20 years and have had wonderful relationships with galleries and art enthusiasts.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

There is a lot of fear in being an artist, which is in all aspects of the business. A person has to have the ability to weather the ups and downs of the path they choose.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Have a clear picture of what you are trying to accomplish, but then have side projects that still inspire you.
  2. Be patient, resilient, and positive.
  3. This is the best suggestion….you decide how you will accomplish something. You decide what you are going to do. You be the one that creates your story. Famous artists didn't become famous because they did what everyone else was doing! Be Unique!

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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