Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in fine arts but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Monica Cowsert, Founder of M Cowsert Art, located in Dallas, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I'm creative. Storytelling is my business...I just do it through my art. I rarely paint without a story muddling through my head first. From the outside, I'm an artist, though...and an oil painter. And customers? Well, if you have walls, you can be my customer!
Tell us about yourself
Sometimes I think I came to art later in life, but that would make me seem really old, and I don't feel all that old. It's all perspective. I didn't go to art and figure it would even be a big part of my life - it came to me at a time when I most needed rescuing. And isn't this how things work sometimes? If you are open and the timing is right, life can take you in directions you never knew you would go. I had an old aunt that would always say, "if you see a fork in the road, take it." God dropped the bait in the form of another mom, waiting on kids in the playground, who happened to mention she was going to teach some art classes. Boom...fork. Take it, or continue being busy with life in its current form.
If you are reading this, you will know I took it. What motivated me then is much of what motivates me now. Getting better. Being better. Managing my time. Taking it seriously. Showing up. Even on those days, I did not have a creative bone in my body. Show up.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Countless hours went by from the time I first picked up the paintbrush in the studios of others. Paying to paint, making a grand mess in your home, taking the easel to the park...those were all well and good. But I think the biggest accomplishment of this current business is the same as the other businesses I had started...which were a retail store that was precious and a wedding venue - both of that I sold when we moved. That is the accomplishment of actually starting. Not talking about starting. Not thinking about it, writing a plan, wondering if it would work. No...it was actually getting skin in the game. It was making the decision that I had faith in myself and would work hard every day. It was taking the risk to invest in myself. It was knowing that a paycheck might be a challenge.
The bottom line is there is no risk if you don't step out on a limb. You have to be ready to be content to stay where you are or plow forward. I must have been a farmer in my past life because plowing is my preferred method!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Being self-employed is great. Being self-employed is horrible. It all depends on the boss, and I am the boss. I am really good at some things and quite horrible at others.
Being an artist requires marketing skills, which I am fantastic at doing in person. Hand me a computer, however, and my eyes slightly gloss over, and I start thinking about cleaning toilets or getting teeth pulled. It isn't my thing. Now add in the fact that art isn't required for the survival of the human species but is fully an optional luxury, and very few are in this as a get-rich scheme.
So, it is hard to paint your heart out, work hard on the things you don't exactly enjoy, and then pray that the stars align and the right people come into your life, see the story you are telling, feel the love that goes into each piece, and realize they actually need the particular piece. It is so wonderful to know or meet the people who end up with my pieces. I will also say there is a little grieving that goes with these babies that walk out the door. Isn't that funny...
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Believe in yourself. If something is consuming your thoughts, pushing you in a direction, you have the skills needed, go! There are many things worse than failure!
- Don't bet more than you can lose...and I know this sounds like I'm going against all those things written above, but in my line of work, you need to keep your day job or have savings. Studio space in Dallas is expensive, and so are the supplies. I didn't take a few lessons and think I was ready to give it a go. I worked hard for five years before I rented my first studio.
- Show up. Don't rent a studio and think that will make you an artist. Be an artist. To be an artist, you have to show up. Continue your art education. Support other artists when they have a show. Do the stuff you don't like to do, or hire someone to do your website and marketing. Plan Open Studios if you are not in a gallery. Plow forward...you have the land. Make it fruitful.
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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