Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in arts but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kristin Fardy, Founder of Kristin Fardy Artist, located in Ottawa, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am an artist, an acrylic painter mostly. In addition to selling my paintings, I also make those same images into prints, greeting cards, and stickers. One of the great things about this business model is it means I have a pretty diverse group of customers, from those that buy a sticker or two at a craft market for a few dollars at a craft market to those who commission a special painting as a gift for a loved one. My art is accessible in different ways to different budgets.
My work tends to appeal to people with a sense of humour, who don't necessarily think of art as something that always needs to be taken really seriously. They're either fans of pop culture in general or of one or two particular celebrities or characters I choose for a painting, or they just get a kick out of the element of fun or silliness I love to put into each painting, like Taylor Swift as a McDonald's drive-thru employee, or Drake as an astronaut. Some people buy that painting, print, or sticker because they're die-hard Swifties or Drake fans, and others just find the combination hilarious and want to bring that fun into their home or onto their water bottle.
Tell us about yourself
I've always loved creating art, crafts, and anything with my hands since I was a little kid. But it's only in the past few years that I've turned that into anything like a business. I've been a bit surprised to find that in addition to loving the actual creative process, I also (mostly!) enjoy the administrative side too: keeping the books, updating products on my website, and counting inventory. And I really get a lot of energy and satisfaction from exhibiting at art shows and craft markets and getting to talk to people about my art and see their reactions (the feeling of seeing someone get a genuine laugh or smile from my art will never get old!) But what really motivates me will always be the artwork itself - the more I paint, the more ideas for have for the next painting, and the satisfaction of "smearing coloured goo on a canvas to make something that didn't exist before," as I like to think of it, can't be matched!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
On any given day, I am generally most proud of whichever is my latest painting! But taking a step back, I think I'd have to say that my biggest accomplishment to date is building a life that allows me to have so much time to do what I love, painting, without having to sacrifice more than I'm willing to of the other things in life that are important to me, like financial stability, or time with my wife and other loved ones. Because this business is only me with no employees, and because of privileges like my wife's job, my own day job where I can work a reduced schedule, and space at home for my studio, I can find a balance that works for me, and adjust over time as my needs and preferences change.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Achieving the balance I mentioned earlier hasn't always been easy. One of the personal challenges that I deal with on a daily basis is ADHD, which makes it hard for me to choose where my attention and interest will want to go on any given day. It can sometimes feel like I'm at the mercy of some other person inside my brain who decides where to point my focus. I've been learning how to work with my brain instead of against it, in every facet of my life, from business to creative expression, to home life, which has made a huge difference, but there is no perfect solution, and some days it's very hard!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
I would always start by advising any prospective entrepreneur to think about what they want their life to look like and how they see their business fitting into that life. Work is very often a huge part of where we spend our time in a week, and this can be even more true for entrepreneurs, but it can't be the only thing, and it can't always be priority number one. (That's the road to burnout and losing the spark that made you want to go into business in the first place.) A sustainable business venture is one that fits into your life and helps you live the life you want rather than taking over that life entirely.
This often means asking yourself the really tough questions about what you want, how you define success for yourself, and being brave in your willingness to define that success differently than you might feel expected to. Let's be honest - most of us aren't going to sell our businesses to Google for millions of dollars, and some of us won't even be in the business we are now a few years in the future. What are the choices you can make for your business and your life that you won't regret either way?
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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