Mindset Matters: When You’re Not Crushing It In Your Art Business

So you’re scrolling through Facebook or Instagram at the beginning of your day, maybe you’re sipping your tea or eating your breakfast, and the first thing you see are just a bunch of posts where artists are showing off their sold commissions or paintings from their shops. Their posts are flawless. Even though they don’t have a ton of followers, for some reason the engagement on their posts are ridiculous. They seem to be so good at what they do, but you start to compare yourself to them and wonder what the big difference is between you and them – why didn’t you sell that piece you wanted to sell,  or why haven’t you landed at least one commission this week, this month, or maybe even this year despite all of the hard work you’ve done?! Here are some points to keep you focused on your own business and creative output:

That artist is not you. You don’t know them, their business, or what their finances really look like. Their customers are not your customers.

Most of the artists that are crushing it in their art businesses have likely been in it for a bit longer than you and probably started in a similar place you did. Perhaps you can connect with that person – send them an email or a DM and ask for advice in the area/s you’re struggling with, or learn from them just by following them closely on social media.

Stop worrying so much! It doesn’t matter how much that person is making or that they seem to have a higher level of engagement with their social media posts – your work and journey are your own!

Real Artists’ Thoughts on This Topic

Abstract Painting by Chloe Meyer

Chloé Meyer

“On the pros and cons of comparing myself to other artists… On the one hand, a lot may be learned from studying the careers of people we admire in our industry. We can read their bios and CVs, see where they went school, their exhibition history, etc. This can give us ideas of what we can do to improve our own careers. On the other hand, there is the potential to compare ourselves to them. Doubt will creep in… How did they get a solo show five months out of school? This person has over a hundred thousand followers and they never smile in their photos, should I stop smiling? This artist is selling out all their shows and every painting has blue in it; should I only paint with blue? As Teddy Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It’s crucial to remember to stay in your lane, run your race, have faith, trust the process, and keep moving forward.”

You can buy or commission work from Chloé on her website and follow her on Instagram.

Embroidered T-Shirt by Michelle Hawran

Michelle Hawran

“These days it seems like social media is the key to being a successful artist, and it does help me connect with potential clients and see what other artists are doing out there. But then it becomes far too easy to compare myself to these amazing, established artists! I’m constantly comparing my amount of followers and likes to theirs, and some days it makes me wonder why I do art at all.

Carousel Painting by Michelle Hawran

But then I have to remember that I did not choose an easy career. All of these artists that I look up to had beginnings just like me, and as long as I’m putting everything I have into my pieces, then I will be successful. Between my painting and embroidery, I get to work on something I love everyday. And honestly, the massive student loan debt is a great reminder to keep going and stay focused—can’t waste that degree!”

You can buy or commission work from Michelle in her Etsy shop, Michelle Hawran Illustration, and follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

Sketches by Danielle Golinski

Danielle Golinski

“Here are a few things I have learned on those days when I feel overwhelmed, unfocused, and just plain stuck (which for me happen fairly often since I juggle running my small business with working as a part time substitute teacher and being a single mom to my 3 and 5 year old!). I have to constantly remind myself that baby steps really do add up and big things happen because of small steps over time. The second thing is lists, lists, lists!  They help me stay focused and crossing stuff off gives me a sense of accomplishment. Lastly, on days when I feel too tired or uninspired I give myself small rewards as I get things done. For example, monthly bookkeeping done, time for my favorite snack, website and store update done, relax and read a chapter of whatever book I’m reading. The main thing to remember is that it happens to all of us and to just keep going!”

You can buy or commission work from Danielle on her website and follow her on Instagram.

Watercolor Landscape by Octavia Spriggs

Octavia Spriggs

I pursue my art in the hours when I’m not at my day job as a marketer/graphic designer, so staying focused and motivated is key! With my background in graphic design, I am used to working with clients and really enjoy it. In a way, clients can be a great motivator. I want to make my client happy so I strive to meet deadlines and communicate clearly. This has really translated well for me when working on custom pieces. However, a lot of the art related to my business is not client focused so I like to imagine myself as a client. I try to set goals and deadlines for myself and constantly keep a list of future painting ideas to help keep myself on task. When I decided to go all in and get my business license, I also wanted to share my work online to hold myself accountable and push myself to keep creating. A huge positive about sharing my work is that I’ve found that people from all over are really supportive and I love getting feedback and messages that keep me motivated every day.

Watercolor Landscape by Octavia Spriggs

I really enjoy following the work of other artists – it helps me break out of my bubble or leads to me trying new techniques. I really try to adapt anything that inspires me to keep my own stamp on whatever it is. I think everyone suffers from maybe feeling like you’re not moving or advancing fast enough and it appears like everyone else is doing more…for me I mainly struggle with time. Since I do this in my “free time” I have tried to go easy on myself but still make creating a priority a few times a week.

Watercolor Landscape by Octavia Spriggs

Setting aside small windows to paint at least means I’m moving forward even if it’s little by little. If I really feel unfocused it’s helpful for me to get outside and go for a run or a hike – I almost always come back with new inspiration. I like to take random photos of the sky or anything I find interesting outdoors so a shuffle through my phone’s photo gallery sometimes helps too. I also try to mix up my subject matter and go back and forth from a more formal piece to my sketchbook. Sometimes being uninspired – or even the odd feeling of anxiousness after of not painting for a certain stretch of time – is an invisible hurdle I imagine in my head and usually I can push through the “stuck” feeling once I start putting brush to paper.

You can buy or commission work from Octavia in her Etsy shop, Octavia Spriggs Studio, and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

Sea Turtle Painting by Natasha Udovenko 

Natasha Udovenko 

Personally I think comparing yourself to other artists can be really daunting but at the same time I love seeing what other artists create and as soon as I start getting upset (the cons) I turn it all around by switching off the “self-judging” me and switching on the “how beautiful this work is!” me and then I want to start creating more.

So, to draw the line:
Cons: Doubts about how good you are or how talented you are.
Pros: Get inspired and motivated to create more and better! It’s a challenge that makes you work harder, gradually bringing your art to another level. And that’s what we need!

When I feel that I’m not getting anywhere or I just feel low and unfocused I always try to listen to my body and, perhaps, at that moment it just needs something else – so you need to do some other activity, e.g. clean the house, go for a walk, read a book or simply cook and listen to some music.

Sea Turtle Painting by Natasha Udovenko 

Sometimes our brain just needs to be unfocused so that it can take a break. It’s sort of a scream-for-mediation act.

In this case I get myself out of the this “I can’t get anything done!” box and stop torturing myself by focusing on other activities. Amazingly, my body and brain get their refreshment and then I sit down and create something in one go!

Sometimes it happens during longer periods, like several days or even a week, then I scream for help – but as my friend put it – just let it go. If you can’t focus on this work, don’t force it. Distract yourself and do whatever you want and then you are going to be back in shape when you just don’t expect it! So – let it go and listen to your body 🙂

You can buy or commission work from Natasha in her Etsy shop, The Art of Nata, and follow her on Instagram.


Do you have any tips for  keeping a healthy mindset when it comes to your art business? If so, let us know in the comments!


Subscribe to The Art Spectrum for more posts like this!



Other Helpful Posts for Artists 

How to Keep Your Books for a Small Business: Bookkeeping and Accounting Basics 

Best Hosting Platforms for Artist Websites (And Why You Need One)

How to Successfully Sell Art on Redbubble


Please follow and like us:

Interview with Artist Nathaniel Armstrong

House Drawings by Nathaniel Armstrong #drawings #nathanielarmstrong #draw #artist #findnewartists #artblog

 It is my pleasure to introduce artist Nathaniel Armstrong! You can find Nathaniel’s work in his Etsy shop and follow him on Instagram @nathanielarmstrongart. You can also contact Nathaniel directly by email to inquire about commissions.

House Drawings by Nathaniel Armstrong #drawings #nathanielarmstrong #draw #artist #findnewartists #artblog

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with your art?

     Hi, first of all thanks for the interview. I grew up in the state of New York in a city called Oneonta. Currently I live near Seattle. I remember being young and I would draw things occasionally. They were mostly surreal and fantasy pencil sketches, inspired by things I liked: Lord of the Rings and The Simpsons. If you pulled out my old sketchbook you would see a lot of people fighting with swords. These drawings were a lot of fun, but I didn’t consider it a career option really. I went many years without drawing or painting much until halfway through college. After nearly failing Chemistry 102 as a Geology major, I decided to pursue visual art genuinely. I have been making art regularly since then- about seven years.

Drawings by Nathaniel Armstrong #drawings #nathanielarmstrong #draw #artist #findnewartists #artblog #blackandgrey
Drawings by Nathaniel Armstrong #drawings #nathanielarmstrong #draw #artist #findnewartists #artblog
Drawings by Nathaniel Armstrong #drawings #nathanielarmstrong #draw #artist #findnewartists #artblog #ballet

Where do you draw your inspiration?

      There are definitely weeks and months that I don’t want to think about making art. I want to mention how important music can be as an inspiration. The textures, compositions, and melodies in music are a natural companion to art. I like albums as a way of listening to music and if there is a counterpart in visual art it would be a “series”. There are times when I get excited about an idea and I want to make a series of five or twenty. It is nice to explore an idea and then put out a chunk that feels satisfying- something that musicians do really well.

Drawings by Nathaniel Armstrong #drawings #nathanielarmstrong #draw #artist #findnewartists #artblog

What are your favorite materials and processes that you use in your work?​​

     As much as I like drawing and painting, digital art is an exciting new tool. I usePhotoshop often as well because it allows me to do things I cannot do with traditional media. In the same vein, playing an instrument is another tool that has helped me challenge myself in a new way. But, there are a few different materials that I like especially. Black and white pens on tan or gray paper is a look I like. Starting with a medium tone paper is nice because I can work on highlights more directly.

rawings by Nathaniel Armstrong #drawings #nathanielarmstrong #draw #artist #findnewartists #artblog
Drawings by Nathaniel Armstrong #drawings #nathanielarmstrong #draw #artist #findnewartists #artblog

What have been some of your favorite past or current projects or commissions that you’ve worked on? Do you have any in the making?

One of my own favorite projects is a series of small house drawings. I got carried away and I made about twenty. They were all four by six inch ink drawings of houses. Some were houses that I had seen around town and some that I had made up. It felt nice to commit to an idea and pursue a lot of possibilities. Another example is a few years ago I bought some acrylic paint and canvases and I started painting regularly for the first time in my life. I gained appreciation for abstract art by failing to become a good painter. Trying to find realism in paint was a challenge for me; but, I painted at least twenty canvases.

Drawings by Nathaniel Armstrong #drawings #nathanielarmstrong #draw #artist #findnewartists #artblog
Drawings by Nathaniel Armstrong #drawings #nathanielarmstrong #draw #artist #findnewartists #artblog

As far as the future, I think it would be a great to make books, albums, videos. I would like to write stories and music and combine that with artwork in some way. Album covers, posters, typography, and animation are also formats that I hope to continue working on in the future.

Drawings by Nathaniel Armstrong #drawings #nathanielarmstrong #draw #artist #findnewartists #artblog


Subscribe to The Art Spectrum for more posts like this!


Please follow and like us:

2018 Etsy Gift Card Giveaway!


In honor of all of those talented Etsy artists and artisans our there, I’m hosting a $25 Etsy gift card giveaway! What would you spend your gift card on?

2018 Etsy Gift Card Giveaway

Here are some of the wonderful Etsy artists that have been featured on The Art Spectrum!

Deanna Jensen from Dear Summit Supply Co. 

Annie Tarasova from the DreamyMoons


Virginia Diakaki from The Greener Pastures

Essi Kimpimäki from Essi Illustration

Meri Gold from Pale Illusions

Taylor Mason from the Mason Makers

Rachel Gregor


Delphine Leviste from Atan Mouala 

And many many more! You can browse the Etsy section of this blog for more interviews!

Please follow and like us:

Artist Interview with Sally Welchman from Mogg Shop

I’m excited to introduce Sally Welchman from Mogg Shop on Etsy!

Can you give me a little background on yourself and how you developed your unique style?

Hi, my name is Sally and I live in Brighton in the UK. I went to art school and took a degree in design and then a masters in ceramics in Cardiff, Wales. I was then awarded funding by the Welsh Arts Council to do a one year ceramics residency in a small town in Germany. I had already been doing a lot of drawing during my M.A. and had produced some kind of 3D assemblages with wood I picked up in the street and other items collaged together, and in Germany I continued with this, creating paintings of animals using some of the ceramics tools and techniques I was using on my pots too. I think working on wood is a little like decorating the surface of a pot, because its an absorbent hard surface that can be carved into or sanded back. I like that you can keep a design simple whilst still giving it depth in that way.

Why the use of reclaimed wood?

Partly I use reclaimed wood because I like the idea of turning old things into new and reusing something that already exists. From an ecological standpoint I think that’s a good thing to do. Also though I just really like the look of wood that has already had a life and looks a bit battered, so its also for the aesthetic.

What are your sources of inspiration?

My inspiration comes from animals, our two pets (a dog and a cat) but also from feelings and human emotion. I am really interested in facial expressions and what they do and don’t reveal and how human expressions do not always reflect our true feelings: animals and young babies don’t cover their sadness or anger with a smile or “put on” a confident face when they are nervous etc. That’s something that interests me.

I work as a facilitator on a great project at the Brighton Museum, which is about providing a space for marginalized artists – often people with a diagnosed mental health issue or learning disability to make art. This is a project that has been running now for several years and is very inclusive and person centered. People can pretty much create what they want there and I find that very positive and inspiring. For my own work, I honestly feel that every day that I can make art is pretty exciting – I feel like I have the best “job” in the world!

Have you worked on, or are you working on, any exciting projects?

Coming soon I think is a book that will feature one of my cat paintings. It will be written by Desmond Morris (a famous and respected sociologist and author in the UK and a painter himself). The book is called Cats in Art and is due out in September (the book is now out and you can purchase it here!). I have also just finished taking part in an Open House exhibition with other artists at Bright Moon Studios in Brighton, which was a lovely experience.

What is life like as an artist in Brighton?

Life for an artist in Brighton is really good. Brighton has a large artist community and many galleries and events where you can show work and take part in open houses, craft fairs and networking opportunities. People here seem very supportive and interested in art and the city itself is close to London, with its major museums and galleries and also the countryside of the Sussex Downs and the wonderful seaside. Sussex has a long artistic history going back years and the Charleston House (home of Vanessa Bell) (@CharlestonTrust) and Virginia Woolf‘s house are nearby as well as the Ditchling Museum which showcases the work of significant local artists and craftspeople of the last century.

Thank you for reading and make sure to check out Mogg Shop on Etsy and get one of Sally’s reclaimed wood paintings!


Subscribe to The Art Spectrum for more posts like this!

Please follow and like us: