Our September blog post explores how three of our Establish members learn new skills and develop their business knowledge outside of WebinArt. Running your own creative business takes a lot more than making beautiful products and these three members really showcase just how much work goes in to learning and then acting on that learning in order to create a successful business from your practice.
Ruth Singer asked three members to create specific questions to ask each other so each mini interview is unique and full of insights. Emma, Kate and Camille all said how interesting it was to explore the questions and the answers and think about how they develop their own business.
Emma Fitzpatrick with questions from Kate Unwin
When learning new skills, techniques and ways of working are there specific podcasts, websites, blogs, etc. you can rely on to inspire you?
I find Facebook groups like ‘Intaglio Printmaking’ very helpful for technical advice and Crown Point Press has a video resource section called ‘magical secrets’.
Through the WebinArt programme, I discovered the excellent podcast site called ‘Letters from a Hopeful Creative’ by creative coaches Sara Tasker and Jen Carrington. I often refer to a series of online interviews produced by ‘Fine Art Summit’. I check out blogs by artist Kiah Kiean Chng and recently signed up for several online workshops through Domestika and Patreon.
I love the magazine ‘Pressing Matters’ which showcases exciting work by printmakers. In addition, I think it is essential to find a few people in real life on the same journey and support each other.
Was there a particular project that you found to be challenging but helped you to develop?
Yes. I was commissioned to produce a series of over thirty paintings (original and giclee prints) for St Martin’s Lodge – a new boutique hotel in Leicester.
I had to learn how to create a consistent feel across all the work and to work to specific ratios which made me plan the compositions. I hadn’t appreciated the pressures when working on commissions and how you can lose some of the freedom of playful expression.
Most of us have gaps in our knowledge, and addressing them and learning is important. I discovered that my 2D and 3D design skills were very useful in terms of preparing the images for delivery. It was a great experience and fast tracked my creative and professional development.
What’s your approach to developing your business? Do you have structured goals which are timetabled and planned or do you prefer to develop and grow more naturally?
I do both. A large percentage of my income comes from my providing services as a freelance designer/visualiser. I am currently developing a business strategy that will support my fine art practice. Making a shift in thinking to being a business owner rather than a freelancer is important.
I had projects scheduled for 2020 which were cancelled and so I am reticent to plan too far ahead – I plan to be flexible. My life long goal of spending most of my time producing fine art is also my daily goal and this needs to be scheduled or it can easily not happen. I am currently developing my skills as a printmaker and online teaching.
My approach to a goal is to break it down into a list of tasks and schedule these into my calendar. I like to keep time aside for the potential ‘wild card’ opportunity that may knock on your door - the journey doesn’t have to be a linear one. Writing down what success looks like to you or creating a ‘dream’ goal list is a good first step.
You can see more of Emma's work here -
Camille Medina with questions by Emma Fitzpatrick
You share some great tips on self-development on your Instagram page – is this an important part of your business?
Yes, you could say that self-development and self-improvement are both part of me down to my core. I’m very curious and I’m also set on doing the best I possibly can, which means that I need to constantly be learning in order to get better at what I do and be my best self.
In fact it’s such a big part of who I am that I want to inspire others to do the same, live the kind of life that they really want for themselves, and not settle for less. And since I’m all about leading by example, I share my journey as much as possible to show others that they can do it too.
How do you manage your time for your business development/learning? Do you schedule regular time slots or have longer concentrated periods when needed?
I do 1h-1h30 of reading every morning Monday to Friday.
Once a month I also do a review where I assess what I’m proud of and what went well, what opportunities for improvement I see, and set priorities as well as the goals I’d like to achieve for the month ahead. The monthly review is followed by a fortnightly check-in: it’s a bit like the monthly review but smaller. Essentially, I check whether I’m on track and reassess my priorities and goals to make sure they are still relevant.
I don’t have a real schedule for courses and tutorials. Although I do tend to take more courses during the first half of the year.
In addition to the above, whenever possible I try to book a whole Friday off to only work on my business (marketing plan, funnel, values, etc.).
Finally, I also have phases when I have dinner watching business and self-development videos on YouTube (so even if I’m eating, I’m still learning!).
What recent resources or learning have you found particularly useful for your business and learning development?
Book-wise, my top 5 of the moment, in no particular order, would be:
‘The Big Leap’ by Gay Hendricks
‘Pocket Full of Do’ by Chris Do
‘The Win Without Pitching Manifesto’ by Blair Enns
‘The Coaching Habit’ by Michael Bungay Stanier
‘7 Strategies For Wealth and Happiness’ by Jim Rohn
For other resources:
Indie Roller for a resource that covers all things indie biz in a fun and friendly way. I recently took their Digital Marketing Bootcamp course, and oh my! I wish I’d known about it sooner! Indie Roller has a great online community, and they also have a podcast that I like to listen to while I work.
Also with a podcast and a YouTube channel: The Futur. The Futur is an educational platform whose mission is to teach one billion people how to make a living doing what they love. Their content always leaves me feeling energised! They’ve got great for advice on pricing, digital marketing and self-development.
And in recent months I’ve found WebinArt to be a useful resource too, especially for peer mentoring, feeling part of a local community and for picking the other members’ brains when I feel stuck on something.
You can see more of Camille's work here -
Kate Unwin with questions from Camille Medina
What has been your biggest learning curve since starting your business? What did you have to do or learn to overcome that challenge?
Learning to slow down, not rush, take time to make decisions and not be too disappointed if something doesn’t go the way I thought it would. I am launching new products all the time and I try to create some anticipation and excitement around them. It can feel a bit like an anti-climax when I put it out into the world and not much happens!
Do you schedule in special time for learning and developing your business? If so, how often and what sort of things do you do?
I do schedule it in. I normally intend to spend one day a month looking at what’s working and what needs improvement, which areas may need more concentrated thought and certain products or collections which need reevaluating. Here is where I might identify what extra work, research and learning I also need to do. I try and also have a separate day for marketing and planning six months ahead. I have to say that because I get bored easily and my mind wonders, I tend to jump around all over the place within these set times but hopefully if I have at least a day for the more business and planning side of things, rather than just drawing and making, I can make progress!
What resource (book, course, podcast, etc.) has had the biggest impact on you and your business in the past year and why?
When I set up my shop on Shopify I did a short course which taught me how to get started. As it was all completely new to me I took all the business and marketing advice on board and I think it gave me a really solid foundation to build on. It talked about writing blog posts which were related to my brand and business but not about my products. I have done this and it’s really made a difference. This short course also made me feel like I was taking control of my online presence and making my online shop my own which was really empowering.
You can see more of Kate's work here -