Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in fine arts but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Allison Johnston, founder of Fuzzy Grapefruit Creative, located in Houston, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I'm an illustrator and artist who helps individuals and small businesses tell their stories and connect with customers through the use of emotive visuals. Most of my clients come to me because they appreciate the unique and whimsical, they have a sense of humor, and they value the way I'm able to capture realness and honesty in my work.
Tell us about yourself
I went to school for graphic design, but I've been making artwork for much longer. Although I don't call myself a designer anymore, my design background really provided me with a good foundation for visual work. Concepts like color theory, symbolism, and visual hierarchy are all elements I use each and every day to create illustrations, and I absolutely love what I do. Getting the opportunity to create a portrait for someone special or custom graphics for a small business owner feels like such a gift. On days when I feel less motivated, I try to remind myself of the trust in that relationship -- my clients are trusting me to visually tell their stories and create something beautiful. It can be daunting, but it's a huge honor, and it brings me so much joy (and brings them joy too!)
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Honestly, my biggest accomplishment would have to be the mindset shifts I've made over the years. When I decided to start turning down graphic design projects and focus more on illustration, it was a little scary, but I knew it was the right move for me. The second big change was pushing myself to treat my business more seriously. When you love what you do, it can sometimes be hard to distinguish work from play, but if you don't take it seriously, no one else will either. Before long, I was implementing more effective workflow solutions, making smarter investments in my business, and raising my fees. Yes, the work is sometimes fun, but it's also sometimes really challenging. It's certainly not the "hobby" it once was.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
For me, downtime is hard. Again, when you love what you do, the line between work and play can get blurry, so it's hard to ever have an "off" switch. Currently, I work 7 days a week, but I try to reserve client work for Monday - Friday and work on personal projects on the weekend. It might sound a little crazy working 7 days a week, but I think it's one of the trade-offs to having a really flexible schedule and having the freedom to be your own boss.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Know yourself (get clear and honest about what you want out of life).
- Have patience (change takes time).
- Never underestimate the importance of community (entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey, friends, and supporters will be essential to getting you where you need to go).
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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