How to be an artist and think like a business person.

Being an artist and thinking like a business person often go together like two puzzle pieces from different puzzles.  Yet, finding a way to make them fit together is crucial to succeed as an artist. Ok I get it, you think, but HOW?? Do I have to talk to strangers, do I have to be on social media, do I have to meet people in person, do I have to make cold calls, do I have to spend money on marketing, do I have to commit that my art is my business? YES!!! Yes, yes, yes and yes. You have to do all of those things! I’m sorry, I know you don’t want to hear that. It is much easier and much more fun to absorb yourself in your art but if you have no money, you wont be able to keep doing what you love, right?

I am certainly not an expert on being an artist and thinking like a business person but somehow I have been lucky enough to have had success since 1994 when we started our business Schwa Design Group. Back in the day, cold calls were the way to get started. Pick up the phone and just go for it! I had nothing to lose since chances of actually meeting the person on the other end were pretty slim. Turns out, I was wrong. People WERE actually looking for graphic designers and decorative painters and DID want to meet me! Lesson learned, you never know til you try. You must have courage, you must put yourself out there and chances are, someone HAS been looking for you. But there is some bad news, there is probably someone out there, just as talented, just as creative, doing something quite similar. But, that is okay, because YOU are the one who is going to get yourself noticed. How will you do that? Here are a few basics:


Please oh please, tell me you have a website! It is the backbone to people finding you and validating you and your art. Make it simple, easy to navigate, easy to update with new work as you create it. In my opinion, Squarespace ( is the perfect platform for artists. Beautiful templates, easy to use, caters to artists who want to showcase portfolios, easy to maintain, and easy to understand analytics. I am also happy to help, so if you need help getting started, let me know. And if you already have a website, good for you! Be sure it is up to date and still looks great.

Email lists

Are you continually compiling a mailing/emailing list? Do you stay in touch with these folks at least 1/month to let them know what you are up to? If you are not, signup NOW for a free Mailchimp account ( super easy, free to use for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. Again, I can help if you should need assistance.

Business cards

Do you have them? You must! (,, They can be super simple just make sure they are nicely designed and a reflection of how you want the world to see you. In some cases, this will be your first impression people. Print on high quality paper, perhaps hire a designer if you don’t feel confident designing them yourself (check out, www.99designs, thumbtack, or me). You want to be proud of these cards when you hand these out. I love because you can showcase up to 8 different images on the reverse side of the cards, acting as a mini portfolio. In regard to photos of your work, I know some folks would disagree, but I think iphone photos are perfectly acceptable.

Other marking materials

Do you have postcards or other marketing materials for folks to take with them as a reminder of your work? Again, for high quality printing, or or for large quantities for a great price. Be sure to see the paper options and choose the one that best works for your art. They will usually send you samples if you want to see and touch them in real life.

Social Media

Do you keep up with your fans on social media? Post, everyone, post! I know it feels awkward but people are genuinely happy to see something unique coming through their feed. (especially now in this political climate). At least once a week I challenge you to post what you are working on. If you don’t have a finished piece, give your fans a glimpse of behind the scenes, sometimes those are more intriguing anyway.

Send emails to strangers. Why not?

Introduce yourself:

One approach: Hello, you don’t know me, but my name is Jodi Ferrier and I’m using this form of communication because I hate making cold calls probably as much as you hate getting them. First of all, congrats on your amazing success so far and your new adventure with …

Another approach: I was recently on _____ website and immediately thought we should make a connection. I noticed you do some work in healing environments as well as senior living facilities and that is what I wanted to talk to you about. 

Closing Statement: I really appreciate you reading this far. Even if you can’t get to this I totally understand, even a sentence or two would mean the world to me. Have a great week. (thank you Tim Ferris!)

Talk to strangers

Are you out and see an opportunity for your art? Take charge. Find the person you need to talk to and introduce yourself. Tell them about your art and how you see it as an opportunity to work together.

Subscribe to useful websites & podcasts!

I encourage you to listen and to read. Podcasts, websites, they are out there and they are AMAZING with so much valuable information!

A few websites/Podcasts I find inspirational:

The Abundant Artist

Design Sponge

Maria Brophy

Smart Passive Income

Savvy Painter Podcast


The Jealous Curator

The Miracle Morning

There are so many podcasts out there so find some that resonate with you and your interests.

So let’s be honest, I am not an expert at being an artist and a business person, I just have a few major foundations I have put in place over the years that have allowed me to train my brain to think in ways that are conducive to wearing both hats. Anyone can do this! Look at the list above and get started, one foot in front of the other, a slow and steady pace. Be nice to yourself, notice what you have already done and don’t expect the rest to happen overnight. You will get there, I know it!