How To Take The Leap: From Artist to Entrepreneur

How to Take the Leap: From Artist to Entrepreneur


Art School is a beautiful bubble. It’s warm and fuzzy (even when you think it’s not) and most of the time, you don’t even realize how well you’re being taken care of. Blame early morning/late night classes, back-to-back deadlines, and heart-ripping critiques all you want, but the truth is you have unlimited resources, amazing networking opportunities, and teachers and mentors available to you at a moment’s notice —pretty much all you need to prove yourself. And then you graduate… Here’s a tip: Don’t freak out! If you decided to go into business by yourself, you have to keep it together.



Everyone has struggles. Accept it. Move on. If you are working on your own, especially from home, you have to stay motivated. Excuses will always be there for you —I’m hungry, it’s cold, I have to walk the dog, blah, blah, blah. Schedule everything. Set deadlines. Hustle. Start your own momentum. The Design Trust says creative entrepreneurs should spend around 40% of their time creating, 40% on marketing, 10% on administration, and 10% on professional development. Write it on a piece of paper and tape it to the fridge door if that’s your kind of thing. Find a way to kick yourself in the ass. NOW.


How To Take The Leap: From Artist to Entrepreneur

How To Take The Leap: From Artist to Entrepreneur


Make art. Share it. We don’t care if you paint, take photographs, perform, or write (like we do!). just do it and find a way to get it out there whether it’s a website, an online marketplace, a self-publishing platform, a nonprofit incubator, or a collaborative space. We know it’s big and it’s scary and it makes you feel like Wow, is this the right decision? but you have to keep making progress. And set deadlines because timing’s a bitch. Have you ever wondered why people in business always say “start before you’re ready?” Spoiler alert: It’s because you’ll never be ready! We learned it the hard way trying to polish this website more and more, making it pretty and user-friendly and throwing out piles of crumbled paper balls in our attempt to draft the perfect editorial calendar. It took a long while (we’re not proud of that) to realize that’s a recipe for disaster.




Stop being at home, on your phone, or in your head. Get yourself out there. Meet people. Have a wine or two at a gallery opening. Attend one of those (usually free) events —the Chicago startup community is rapidly growing and it’s getting more and more creative every day. There’s more like you out there. Talk about yourself and your work, give others your opinions, share your ideas. Most importantly, surround yourself with people you can learn from and grow with. Don’t be afraid to walk up to someone to introduce yourself or send an email kindly asking for advice. People are more accessible than you might think. Even if that’s not the case what’s the worst that can happen? Everyone knows that if you don’t ask the answer is always no.


How To Take The Leap: From Artist to Entrepreneur

How To Take The Leap: From Artist to Entrepreneur


Take care of yourself. Find a healthy work-life balance. Running a successful business requires a tremendous amount of time and energy. You’ll be doing everything yourself and it’s not going to be pretty —especially if you don’t eat and sleep properly: Work will dominate you, you’ll lose your friends and your body will be aching. Now that we have your attention, focus: *your business cannot run without you*. Create a system and use it. You need to be inspired to make even bigger things happen.



Not everyone can be an entrepreneur (we’re not trying to reverse psychology you here) but if someone can, it’s someone creative. Did you know that artists and entrepreneurs share more in common than you might think? As the image of the artist has changed radically over the centuries, the creative entrepreneur was born. Vision, talent, inspiration or God-given geniousness may not be able to fit into a business plan, but they’re definitely enough to get you to think differently. Pretend you’re your art is a 9-to-5 job. Don’t give us that look. You know you’ve already be working much more than that anyway. Like we said: *Attitude is king*. Breathe. Take it one step at a time: Start it off. Create your “brand.” Find your tribe. Keep it up as it gets harder and harder. Enjoy responsibly. You’re welcome.

About the Author /

An art critic and pop culture journalist with a BA in English Lit, a MA in Media and another in Art Journalism. Believes in fierce creativity and the beauty of being weird. She’s all about gallery hopping. Writes better with wine.