Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in fine arts but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Gloria Green, founder of Gloria Green Art, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
At the core of my career is a deep love for both art and science. I have two “businesses.” On weekdays, I am a pediatric clinical dietitian, looking after children with cancer in the in-patient unit at SickKids hospital. I devote my weekends and evenings (and just about every moment I can) to my work as an abstract artist — I call myself an “artpreneur,” managing both the creative and business side of my art.
I consider my art to be a form of storytelling. Because I paint abstract pieces, I can be free from translating ideas too literally to the canvas. I can leave room for viewers to see their own emotions and inspirations reflected within the art. I try to engage viewers in my work, bringing them in by freely experimenting with colour, medium, and technique. I prefer to work on large-scale, eye-catching pieces. So my customers tend to be art-lovers, collectors, curators, or decorators who are drawn to bold or spectacular ideas and complex stories. And I believe that when it comes to art, there’s not always such a thing as “the” customer: if the art speaks to you, you’ll be drawn to it. Art completes a room, ignites passion, provokes conversation and emotion, and enhances a room or space. Anyone who appreciates art is a potential customer. That’s what I love about it, and that’s what I love about this area of work.
Tell us about yourself
It all started about 18 years ago. I moved into a loft that had these beautiful 16ft ceilings and blank white walls. The space was gorgeous, but it definitely needed some colour. I decided I wanted to create something that I could fill the space, so I purchased some paint and canvas and just started painting, letting the colours direct me. And something just stuck. I felt really connected to this medium, and I wanted to go further. I was also motivated by my late mother, who was very creative herself. She encouraged me to nurture that artistic drive — take art lessons, participate in workshops, and really build the skills. I began developing my own techniques and distinctive style with time and commitment. The more I continued to paint, the more excited I became. The rest is history.
After I had completed and hung a few pieces, one of my neighbours bought one of the first paintings. It made me realize that I might be onto something, and there was a market for my work. That first sale got the entrepreneurial juices flowing. Before I knew it, I had a full-fledged business going. As someone without formal training in either art or business, it definitely wasn't easy to get started. I think people assume that abstract act is something you can just learn overnight or that anyone that calls themselves an artist is either bound for success or doomed to obscurity, depending on their natural talents. But talent isn't everything there are so many other elements involved. I'm somewhat of a technophobe, and these days, social media is such a big part of being a self-started artist. I had to learn a lot of new skills to figure out how to get my work in front of the people who would connect with it most. For me, promoting my new work on social media and engaging with followers is such an integral part of my own personal business — as well as updating my website, ordering supplies, keeping abreast of trends, and so on. So much goes on behind the scenes! Marketing, sales, promotion, supplying stock, accounting, and networking are all such huge parts of the professional entrepreneur's journey, but these elements are hardly ever spoken of. It took a lot of hard work, research, and trial and error. I am still learning and growing as an artpreneur. But passion is the biggest motivator, and it's been incredibly rewarding to watch this business grow.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
The fact that I have been able to discover my talent and share it with those around me in an impactful and sustainable way is such an accomplishment. I genuinely didn’t know I had this in me, and it has been so wonderful seeing others appreciate and enjoy my work.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Uncertainty and unpredictability, for sure. You often don’t know when you will have a sale, so you need to have a little nest egg to fall back on, which means being creative and resourceful, always improving your talents, and expanding your audience. Another challenge, though rewarding, is the need to diversify constantly – whether that’s finding new ways to make your own original art stand out or finding new mediums for people to discover and enjoy your work.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Perseverance is necessary. You must be willing to stick with it.
- Organization is essential — not just on the business side, but also for your productivity as a creator.
- Never stop growing as an artist. Growth is your best friend, and it translates to business growth as well. Take workshops, make artist friends, and seek mentors who can help you grow. There are always opportunities for improvement.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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