Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in fine arts but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kara Thomas, founder of Kara Lynn Thomas Illustrations, located in Halifax, NS, Canada.

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

I'm a self-taught artist and freelance illustrator. Over the last eight years, I have taken a lifelong love of painting, drawing, and creativity and turned it into my dream career. I create a combination of hand-drawn and digital designs - ranging from custom portraits and illustrations to logos business cards. My goal is to bring the whimsy and naturally artful imperfection of hand-drawn designs to the digital world. Whether you are a business owner looking to stand out from the crowd, or a pet owner that wants to commemorate their fur baby without spending a fortune, I am here to create something special for you.

Tell us about yourself

The business of illustration and design has been one of constant evolution for me. And I still continue to evolve and learn every day as an artist. I began painting with acrylic on canvas. I also taught myself hand lettering with the idea of creating custom signs and chalkboards. I really wanted to figure out how I could utilize my creativity in a way that could become a sustainable career. Eventually, I realized that digital design was the way forwards, and I haven't looked back. Motherhood became my motivation to really apply myself to work in earnest. I had been working various customer service jobs before my daughter was born in 2017. But when I started my maternity leave, I realized I wasn't motivated to return to that work. Instead, I became motivated to work for myself. I wanted to create a schedule that could honour my children's daily routines without taking me away from home and that would foster a creative environment. This is still my main motivation today. Being a mother is a constant source of inspiration for me. I am so grateful for the journey it has led me on as an artist and an entrepreneur.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Whether it is a large-scale collaboration or a single portrait ordered from a friend, the greatest accomplishment for me is hearing that I have created something special for them. Knowing that at the end of a project, I have really captured the essence of what they imagined and seeing the joy that brings my customers. It's the greatest joy I've experienced as an artist. That joy is what inspires me to work with the passion and creativity that I pour into every illustration.

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

For me, as a creative individual, one of the hardest things is remembering that I am running a business. Accounting, invoicing, and record-keeping did not come naturally to me. It's the responsibilities of the logistical side of running a business that constantly pushes me out of my comfort zone. But, I've discovered that remaining persistent has helped me to grow, not only as an individual but it's helped to refine my creative process in a way that has made me a better artist and business owner.

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

  1. Put work into creating a consistent brand for yourself. Decide what unique impression you want to make and the feeling you want to evoke in your customers when they see your product or content and stick to it.
  2. Allow yourself the freedom to evolve as an individual and entrepreneur. There's more than one way to get the job done well. So stay open to new ideas and inspiration, and follow what lights you up. If you do that, your work will never fail to bring you joy and satisfaction - even on the hard days.
  3. Set healthy boundaries! First, within yourself as the business owner. Decide the perimeters of what you're willing/capable of accomplishing, your schedule/time available, and your communication and working style. Then you can respectfully and consistently share these with your clients. When people know exactly what to expect from you and communication is clear, you are sure to save yourself and your prospective clients/customers unnecessary grief.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

You don't need to please or appeal to everyone. Stay true to yourself. What makes you unique is what will bring you success. It's in staying true to yourself that you attract the clients/accomplishments you dream of.

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; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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