Tuesday, May 20, 2014

10 Artists Tips From Boykin Art Studios: Go From Amateur to Pro with Your Business

I pulled up to Christina Boykin's headquarters at 9PM on a Friday night; start-time for nocturnal creative-brains. Known for her photo-realistic oil portraits, Chalk Shop street paintings, cephalopod, and feminist themes, her work has a little of everything I love. Christina has a precise, realistic style inspired by unique people and the fibonacci sequence.

She's a busy woman: art studio owner, single mom and Client Relations Coordinator (aka, Batman!) defending victims of workplace discrimination. Christina's down-to-earth and very eager to help the art community. I completely agree with her helpful advice for artists and indie business owners:

1. Make The Time
'Even if you just stare at your canvas for 15 minutes, make time every day for your art. It's self-perpetuating.'

2. Invest Half of What You Make Back Into Your Business
'Invest in supplies or even something like a new hat for your next show. This is the type of work that just never ends so it's good to have a reward system- it's saving my life!'

3. Take Care of Your Supplies
'Wash your brushes as soon as your done! Also a tech tip for oil painters: Liquin Extra Fine Detail medium! I don't know how I painted without it. I'd pay twice what they ask, it makes your paintings dry fast!'

4. Use Your Resources
'There are so many recourses, hit up Google. Use the Small Business Association and SBDC - they will send someone to your house to examine your business and help you be successful!'

5. You Don't Need Art School: Do What's Right For You
'Art school isn’t necessary to become an artist.  It might help but nowadays a degree doesn’t go as far as it used to, no matter what field it’s in.  Not all artists can school and that’s okay.  Find a community workshop, a mentor, an online tutorial.  The most important part of school is learning how to learn.  If you can do that without going to school, you’re better off and in less debt.'

6. Choose Your Projects Wisely If You're Busy 
'I have to choose my projects wisely (as a mom). There's a lot of projects I'd like to do but don't, I have to make it about making income for my son. I'm discerning, set a schedule and stick to it!'

7. Go To Art Shows! Participate! Communicate!
'If you want to go get into doing art shows- go to them. Talk to they showing artists, they are rarely stuck up, they love it when you ask questions about their process. Network and communicate with your fellow artists.'

8. Respect Your Galleries
'You have to expect your gallery to be able to run their business, the going rate is for them to take 50% of what you sell. They have to keep their lights on. Be respectful, organized, and on-time. Help them promote the show and think of their success as well as your own. Gallery representation isn’t for everyone but if you choose to seek that avenue for your work, find out how to make the relationship mutually beneficial to both you and the gallery.'

9. Do Your Research
'I've been teaching myself since I received my first oil-painting set and instruction booklet at 14 as a Christmas gift. I'm a nerd and did research papers for fun! With the library near me I was in heaven. If you look for it, you will find it!'

Loki the studio dog sits by her mom's side while she paints as the unofficial studio mascot. 

10. Be Proud to Disobey Orders: Forge Your Own Path
'You might make a toxic business connection or get some bad advice from a well-meaning family member but you should always follow your own gut.'

I can't wait to collaborate with Christina and others and on ways to help creatives. Forging a path creatively takes a lot of hard work and dedication, it's soul-sucking work. It's important to foster a supportive community. Check out Boykin Art Studio to more of Christina's work.

What tips do you have to share as artists, creative, resellers, and indie business owners? spill in the comments, let's all continue to help each other.
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  1. Interesting post! Good practical tips too.

  2. Good tips! Especially the going to school one. I swear it did me more of a disservice than anything. It makes sense they would groom you into the artist they think is....good? Appropriate? Whatever, I mean it's human nature to teach people to be whatever it is you think is marketable. unfortunately they groomed me to well, I couldn't get past it. Anyway sounds like an amazing wise lady!

    1. She is indeed, & sweet to boot :) My friend went for a fine arts photography degree and says the same thing. She didn't like or recommend it. I didn't go to school but I was "trained" into a copywriting style I don't like either. Sometimes you -can- teach yourself better than school or work can.

  3. This is so interesting and inspiring! Great to see someone succeeding while being creative and doing what they're passionate about. I love these business posts, Van!

    1. More to come Melissa, excited to talk to more artists/makers in town and beyond :D

  4. Having thrown several art shows I was always impressed with the artists that were professional. Some of the most business savvy were actually the most talented... Some people have a misguided view that creative types can't be organized or something.

    1. That they do. Or that a creative job isn't a "real" job. That's why you really do have push past the judgement and keep marching to your own path!

  5. Thank you so much, Van! I really appreciated talking with you about running a creative business!

    1. Thanks Christina! Really appreciated the peek inside your mind and world :D


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