Brave Enough To Try

Conversation with Artist Katie Smith | We talk about turning your passion into profit and creating diversified income streams to build a sustainable business you love.

July 20, 2023 Cindy Moore
Brave Enough To Try
Conversation with Artist Katie Smith | We talk about turning your passion into profit and creating diversified income streams to build a sustainable business you love.
Show Notes Transcript

On this weeks episode, I talk with Artist Katie Smith, on how to turn passion into profit. We talk about different income streams, and how to diversify your profits, to create a sustainable business that you love.

  • Focus on what you love: What do you enjoy doing? Keyword being YOU. Let that guide your next steps.
  • Start Small: Do you love to paint? Great! You can start profiting with a small product that is both affordable and accessible like making stickers from your artwork!
  • Diversify your income: Start to diversify! Think of selling things like your originals, prints of your originals, print on demand, brand partnerships, wholesale and commissions.

Tune in for more!

🎨 Katies Links:
Visit her Instagram!
Order a sketch!
Check out her website!

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Speaker 1 (00:00:00) - On this week's episode, we talk about turning your passions into profit, defining your own version of success, and creating a sustainable living. Doing what you love. Hey, it's Cindy and you're listening to the Brave Enough to Try podcast, a show created to provide you with helpful life and small business tips, as well as encouragement and inspiring conversations with friends that I've made along the way so that you can be inspired to be brave enough to chase after your wildest dreams. Hey, it's Cindy, your host of The Brave Enough to Try podcast. I am over the Moon today because with Us is a very special guest artist, Katie Smith. Katie is an award winning artist inspired by nature and the world around her. Katie's artwork has been featured in local shops, has earned People's Choice Awards and has graced the walls of collectors around the globe. With each brushstroke, Katie invites viewers to experience the enchantment and serenity of nature. Her dedication to creating art reflects her commitment to sharing the beauty she finds in the world, while fostering a sense of connection for the environment we inhabit.

Speaker 1 (00:01:01) - Katie, I'm so excited you are joining us this week and just in case our listeners couldn't already tell, I am honestly one of your biggest fans. Thank you. I feel like.

Speaker 2 (00:01:11) - I've known you for a while and I just love what you do.

Speaker 1 (00:01:13) - Oh, thank you, Katie. That's so sweet. So for every guest on the show, I always start with the same question. And that's if you could just share a little bit of your artistic timeline. So a quick timeline for the community on how you ended up on this journey as an artist.

Speaker 2 (00:01:30) - Yeah, so you say quick timeline, but I hope you're prepared for a longer story.

Speaker 1 (00:01:34) - Take all the time you need.

Speaker 2 (00:01:36) - All right. So let's just start by saying that I'm what I now call a multi passionate artist because my journey has been sort of all over the place. When I was a kid, I was drawing on everything like I always knew, like I love drawing and including my homework, but I never got in trouble for it.

Speaker 2 (00:01:54) - And then as a teenager, I got more into scrapbooking and I started a scrapbooking and DIY blog. This was back in the early days of blogging and I was published and I worked with multiple scrapbooking magazines. So that's sort of how I got my start as sort of a freelance artist was actually scrapbooking.

Speaker 1 (00:02:11) - Wow.

Speaker 2 (00:02:12) - Yeah. And then at the time, I was convinced that I was going to design scrapbook papers for a living, and my blog really started flourishing. And like, I was connecting with other bloggers and just sort of starting my art journey. Now around the time I was probably about 19 or 20 and actually had a lot of anxiety about like what I was going to do with my life because I never really had an answer to that question of What do you want to be when you grow up? Because I just knew that I loved creating art. I didn't know anything else. But even with all that anxiety, like my mom told me that it was okay if I wanted to just focus on my art and my blog and I just didn't have to figure out everything right away despite, like the pressures of society.

Speaker 2 (00:02:57) - So I did. I focused on my art for a while and eventually my love for paper turned more into art journaling, which made the painting and back into illustration and oil paints. And that's kind of where I am today, is I've never had a normal job because I focus on my art from the beginning.

Speaker 1 (00:03:16) - Hmm. That's beautiful. Oh, my goodness.

Speaker 2 (00:03:20) - Thank you.

Speaker 1 (00:03:20) - And, you know, it's so funny and I know people will probably pick up on it, but I've been following you. It feels like forever now. Honestly, I can't keep track of the years because the years all kind of merged together. But I remember when I first got in touch with you or like when we connected was during the Get Messy community when it was like art journaling and it was really just like making time for creativity and putting your craft like on paper. And so I've watched you flourish over the years and like, you know, I'm a huge fan of your artwork. I think your work is so beautiful.

Speaker 1 (00:03:52) - Every time that I see you post something, it honestly just brings me so much peace and and you know, every artist has like their own perspective of what they want their art to do to the audience. But like, I'm getting goosebumps. But every time that you post art, I do. I just feel so peaceful, so tranquil. And I know I bought an I bought a print from you a couple of years ago and we still have it. It's boxed up and ready to ship because, you know, we're moving in a few months. But I tell my husband, it's so amazing to watch you grow throughout the years because you're just incredible. And so I love that you're on here and that you're able to share some of that timeline with our with our listeners, because I think that's the best advice that we can give them in today's world is like, focus on the thing you love instead of focusing on the thing that society tells you that you have to focus on.

Speaker 2 (00:04:42) - Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 1 (00:04:44) - It's just it's nice.

Speaker 1 (00:04:45) - It's nice to hear you say that.

Speaker 2 (00:04:47) - Thank you.

Speaker 1 (00:04:48) - And one of the things that I kind of want to get into with you in this conversation is how was the transition from being an artist into actually making a sustainable living, doing what you love? So like, I know you really focused on the on the art. Heart on the thing that you are passionate about. But how was the transition from actually doing art into making it into a living? Yeah.

Speaker 2 (00:05:08) - So as I said, I have always been a full time artist and freelancer, but when I started to really make a profit and a sustainable living was actually a number of years ago, I started selling my art as stickers and stickers just opened up a whole new world for me personally. I'm selling a few on my own on my Instagram, and then my sister and I actually teamed up and really started to grow our Etsy shop because as you know, my sister Taylor, she's been on your podcast, she is the business queen. And so she really helped me personally, like growing and selling my art and stickers.

Speaker 1 (00:05:49) - Your stickers. One thing that I really, really love is that it's so accessible for people to be able to purchase your art, but to be able to purchase it in a way that they can afford and in a way that they can use every day. Because I've even seen some of some of our followers and some of our listeners use it in their journaling. I've seen them put it on their water bottles. And so I love the accessibility of being able to have art that you sell in a format that people can one afford, and then two, that people can easily purchase if they're interested.

Speaker 2 (00:06:20) - Yeah, that's kind of what I recommend to all my artist friends is like, start making stickers of your art. I don't even like gatekeeping how like I tell them the supplies I use because I'm like, stickers are amazing not only to sell, but I love collecting stickers from other artists as well.

Speaker 1 (00:06:35) - Yes, it kind of reminds me this. People probably don't do this anymore, but like artist trading cards, I used to be so big into artist trading cards and I was younger and so like, we'd all make cards and we'd like share with them.

Speaker 1 (00:06:47) - But now to know that we can do it in stickers, it's such a great format and you're so right. I think it's such a profitable way to start making money as an artist, because I also think, too, like the overhead cost maybe is not as much as maybe some people are like assuming that it is. They probably think you have to have a lot of money to be able to start that.

Speaker 2 (00:07:05) - No mean you if you're cutting them yourself, which I do, you do need a die cut machine, but that's like a few hundred dollars for a silhouette. It's really not that bad.

Speaker 1 (00:07:14) - And I'm sure that the return on investment is definitely, like, worth it.

Speaker 2 (00:07:18) - Yes, definitely.

Speaker 1 (00:07:19) - Katie, another thing that I want to talk to you about is some of the different revenue streams that you enjoy as part of your creative process. So I know you've already talked about stickers, but is there other revenue streams that you are a part of?

Speaker 2 (00:07:32) - Yeah, that's sort of like my main marketing thing as an artist is I have multiple revenue streams that I don't have to focus on just one.

Speaker 2 (00:07:40) - And that's part of being like what I said, a multi passionate artist is I don't want to focus on just one, so I'll just list them off if that's okay.

Speaker 1 (00:07:49) - Yeah, go for it.

Speaker 2 (00:07:50) - Okay, so I paint a lot. So I sell my original paintings and then I make prints of those paintings and I sell them as prints. And then I turned those paintings, and I design more on the side of stickers, which we talked about. And then I also I do a few print on demand things like t shirts and things like that, which I have in my Etsy shop. I just think it's a fun thing because I like t shirts.

Speaker 1 (00:08:15) - So do you use a platform for that?

Speaker 2 (00:08:18) - Yeah, I use print ify.

Speaker 1 (00:08:20) - Okay.

Speaker 2 (00:08:21) - Yeah. And it's really easy to use.

Speaker 1 (00:08:23) - Yeah. I was going to say, I know it connects with Etsy. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2 (00:08:26) - It stinks with your Etsy and with Shopify. So depending on which platform you use, you can just sync them together.

Speaker 1 (00:08:33) - Are you familiar with both? Like have you used both in the past or do you use both now?

Speaker 2 (00:08:37) - I use both.

Speaker 1 (00:08:38) - Now. Oh, okay. So Etsy for I guess it's really good for traffic because you already have a lot of people on it. And then Shopify, obviously it's more organic. You're marketing yourself.

Speaker 2 (00:08:50) - Yeah, exactly. Shopify is my website and then Etsy. I use it because they have 90 million customers built in, so why not?

Speaker 1 (00:08:59) - Absolutely. I'm still trying my to navigate the world of Etsy. I feel like it is. It's very user friendly, but at the same time there are so many people on there. So sometimes I get a little panicky. Yes, because I'm like, There's so much on here, but I love everything. I wish I could buy one of everything.

Speaker 2 (00:09:17) - I know I have a few more revenue streams, so that's wholesale. I don't know if you've ever looked into fair, but they've been amazing for stickers.

Speaker 1 (00:09:26) - Yeah, I've heard of them.

Speaker 1 (00:09:27) - So I know that like you can upload your your work and then little small businesses or big businesses even can can contact you directly and then buy wholesale from you. Is that correct?

Speaker 2 (00:09:37) - Yeah. So I've had customers there like coffee shops, bookstores, a plant shop throughout the US.

Speaker 1 (00:09:45) - Oh, that's amazing. How cool do you say? Oh, yeah, my art, you know, being sold all around.

Speaker 2 (00:09:50) - I know I want to go visit them, but I'm like, they're states away, so.

Speaker 1 (00:09:54) - But how cool would that be? You could like, get a picture of yourself with the little shop and your goods and that's so awesome. So wholesale. Is there anything else to the list that you wanted to add?

Speaker 2 (00:10:03) - I do commissions and also like working with design teams and brand collaborations.

Speaker 1 (00:10:10) - Yes. I just recently got into brand collaborations. I was talking to your sister about this a few weeks ago and it's like a whole new way for artists to connect with brands. So how how has that been for you? Have you found it to be? I know like Tombow is one of your partners, correct?

Speaker 2 (00:10:27) - Yes.

Speaker 2 (00:10:28) - I love working with Tombow. I haven't done a ton of other brand collaborations, a few here and there, but Tombow has been my main design work. I've done both. Like they pay me to do tutorials with their products, and then I have also done collaborations with them where like they pay me for the artwork that they put on their product packaging. So cool. Oh my gosh. I love that. I know.

Speaker 1 (00:10:55) - Is that a partnership that Did that happen organically for you? Did they like get in touch with you or was it like an application process where you you apply to work with them?

Speaker 2 (00:11:04) - Yeah, it was an application process. So they have a creator design team call every year. And so I applied and then I've been working with them for like 6 or 7 years. It's been a while.

Speaker 1 (00:11:16) - It's beautiful though. What a long, fulfilling partnership, right, to to work with not just any brand, a really staple brand in the world of artists because I have. I love.

Speaker 1 (00:11:29) - Yeah. Are you kidding me? Like anytime that I can afford to get some combos, I'm like, whoa, I made it.

Speaker 2 (00:11:36) - Yes.

Speaker 1 (00:11:37) - So you really have diversified your revenue streams. Do you find that that's really important for an artist like to be able to to have different areas where they're bringing in income?

Speaker 2 (00:11:49) - Yeah, I do, because, like, what if one of them shuts down and you only had everything in that one basket? Like by doing all this, like if my Etsy shop for some reason got shut down, I have all my stickers on my website as well. I sell originals, I sell prints like it's not the end of my art business if one thing stops.

Speaker 1 (00:12:09) - Thank you for sharing that because those are some really, really, really great tips. So I'm really appreciative to you. Another question that I want to ask you, sort of in the realm of business as an artist is how do you approach your marketing and how do you approach the the promotion of your artwork to reach a wider audience? Like do you just strictly do social media or do you kind of diversify that as well?

Speaker 2 (00:12:31) - I've diversified it a little bit.

Speaker 2 (00:12:33) - Right now I'm in sort of what I'm calling my free spirit era because I am definitely a free spirit. Or as my sister says, I'm a bit of a rebel.

Speaker 1 (00:12:43) - There's nothing wrong with that.

Speaker 2 (00:12:44) - I hate being held to like a strict posting schedule or like even a content calendar. Like they're just not for me. There's nothing wrong with them. They're just not for me.

Speaker 1 (00:12:55) - Yeah, you just got to let some of that creativity naturally flow. I feel that too. I feel. I feel like that's a struggle for me sometimes because I do have a content schedule, you know, that I would like to stick to because I am trying to grow my business. But then there's that part of me that's like, But I don't want to post that today, you know? I just want to I just want to post a picture of me painting, you know? But it is hard to kind of balance the two sometimes, I think. Yeah, but I love your approach of just like your free spirit.

Speaker 1 (00:13:23) - You know, you post when you want and you do what you do. And I'm a big believer that the people who are meant for you will find you like, Yeah, I'm a big believer in that.

Speaker 2 (00:13:32) - Yeah, that's sort of like my focus right now is I'm selling my art through Etsy and my own website as well as email marketing. But my focus for Instagram and social media is more like just having fun. And I found that just by being myself, I can still connect with my audience and grow and make new friends all the time, which does as well lead to sales.

Speaker 1 (00:13:55) - Absolutely. Yeah. I just we just posted something about a couple of days ago about how you are your brand and how people connect with people. And I'm a big cheerleader for that. Like, that's the mountain that I'll probably die on, you know, like that's I tell people all the time, you are essentially your business. Like people are buying from you more than they're really buying the thing that you're selling or the thing that you're offering.

Speaker 1 (00:14:16) - And I think if you get a glimpse into someone's life and you can connect with them on a deeper personal level, I do find that business is easier to conduct because it just feels more natural, it feels more organic. And that's and that's honestly like how I felt about you when I connected with you many, many years ago. I didn't necessarily say like, I'm going to buy like all her stuff. It was like, I want to get to know this person because I really like them, but I also want to support them. So I'm going to like purchase from them because I want to see the successful you know what that. Yeah, I think that there's I think if we like change the lens and we view it that way and we think like, how can I support this person because I want to see them flourish versus what can I get from this person or what can I benefit from this person? Because I don't I don't like. The idea of that being used or like only going to someone if you need something from them.

Speaker 1 (00:15:05) - Does that make sense? Like the idea of like, let's do it so that we can support each other. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (00:15:10) - I'm all about supporting other artists. Like even as an artist myself, like I want to buy other people's art.

Speaker 1 (00:15:15) - Oh, absolutely. That's like my I told everybody, if you're going to buy me a gift, buy me something from this person, this person or this person, because, one, we're supporting them. But to also get something that I love from them, you know, So it's like a win situation. Another question that I want to ask you, and I think this is just like a kind of a biggie for anybody in the creative field is how do you keep loving what you do without feeling the pressure of having to be successful? Well, I.

Speaker 2 (00:15:38) - Think the answer for me is pretty simple, because creating is what I love. Like art is my passion and I'm just not myself and I'm not creating. So it's just that I have to paint and I won't let anything stop me.

Speaker 2 (00:15:53) - So I think if you find yourself uncertain about pursuing your passions, my strongest advice is just to do it. Even if you're not like able to dedicate yourself to like full time art making, totally understand that still make time for it when you can. Like there's always small pockets of time throughout your day that you can make a habit doing what you love. I love.

Speaker 1 (00:16:14) - That. It's so well said. I just had a conversation with another artist. Her name's Michelle Schultz. She's really also incredible to and she said the same thing. She's like as a mom of three, I just find like little pockets of time throughout the day to do what I love and to be able to, like, push the needle forward because she's like, This is what I love to do, so I'm going to make the time to do it. And then hearing you say like, it's what you love to, and so you're going to make the time to be able to pursue it. I think that's so important because if it aligns with you and it feels good in your heart and it feels good in your soul, it should be the thing that you're doing.

Speaker 1 (00:16:47) - And even if you do five minutes of it, it's still better than no minutes, you know, dedicating to the thing.

Speaker 2 (00:16:54) - You'll feel better.

Speaker 1 (00:16:55) - Yeah, absolutely. 100% agree with that. And speaking of success, do you agree that artistic success looks different for everyone? Like, do you do you are you a believer? Because I am. I believe that success is going to look different to every single person. And I'm just curious to know, does your version of artistic success look different from other artists in the field?

Speaker 2 (00:17:13) - Yes, absolutely. So I think I'm able to create without so much of the pressure of success because and I have not always felt this way, but I've gotten to a point where, like, I've realized that I don't really care about being a super famous artist or making $1 million. So I sort of redefine success for myself according to my own terms. So I worry less about like, what other people are doing and like this is not put down people who want to make $1 million or have big dreams.

Speaker 2 (00:17:44) - I am in awe of those people. Yeah, but I think you should also define your own version of success. And that's not my version of success.

Speaker 1 (00:17:53) - Absolutely. I, you know, and I another hill that I'll die on is I tell people all the time, success does not look the same as the person next to you. It can be whatever you want it to be. And I was just having this conversation with my family because and, you know, it's they tell me all the time, they're like you, you're changing as you're getting older and in a good way, not like a bad way. And I tell them it's the older I'm getting, the less that I want out of life and the more that I'm content with less. And that for me is like my version of success, you know, like we're we're getting ready to move. And I love the idea of small living and I love the idea of only having what I need and living off of my garden and joining co-ops and sharing with the community.

Speaker 1 (00:18:36) - When I was 20 years old, I would have thought that that was crazy, you know, because I was like, I'm going to live in a big city and my art's going to be in galleries and I'm going to like, do all of the things. And now I'm like, I love waking up in the morning and spending five, ten minutes painting whatever I want. Not for anyone else, but just for myself, drinking my cup of coffee, homeschooling my daughter, and then sharing creative resources with people because I want to see other people achieve their dreams too. And like for me, like I've made it and I know a lot of people might be like, That's crazy. But for me, that's what success looks like. Like I'm very open and I wake up loving what I do and I don't feel the pressure from the world on my shoulders like I used to. So am I 100% in with you? I do believe that you have to define what success looks like to you and what's important to you.

Speaker 1 (00:19:22) - And I think if you hold that at the center of your focus, everything else kind of just everything else just kind of fades.

Speaker 2 (00:19:30) - Yeah, exactly. Like if you're struggling with the pressure of being successful as an artist, as a creative, as whatever, throw away all the checklist of other people and just make your own.

Speaker 1 (00:19:41) - Absolutely. Oh, that's so well said. That. And then I can't believe like we're already coming to the end of our interview. I'm like, I'm looking at the questions and I'm like, I want to ask her a million more. I want to keep you on here.

Speaker 2 (00:19:54) - Well, mean, I can talk about art all day.

Speaker 1 (00:19:56) - You know, it's so funny. I have found that. When when I'm doing interviews like this, I'm just the happiest because I'm connecting with other people who are doing what they love. And I'm hoping that the byproduct of that is that the people who are listening will feel inspired and start to believe that they can do it too, because I don't think that there's anything extra special about us.

Speaker 1 (00:20:19) - It's not that like we were given more skills or more talents in other people. I think it's just that we love it so much that we can't imagine not doing it.

Speaker 2 (00:20:30) - That's precisely how I am as well. Like, I love art and I love sharing art with other people so that they can discover it as well.

Speaker 1 (00:20:37) - Yes. Even even if they're not like artists themselves. But if they're just viewers who can appreciate it for what it is and then make them feel something or make them connect to something that's more than themselves, I think we've already like we've done our the best job that we could do. Yes. And then finally, I'm getting sad. I have to ask you our last question. And then finally, and this is the same question for everybody, because it's super important, I think, for people to get encouragement is what advice would you give or do you have for other artists or creatives who are aspiring to make a living doing what they love? I'm going to.

Speaker 2 (00:21:14) - Say start small because my favorite quote by Morgan Harper Nichols is slow.

Speaker 2 (00:21:19) - Progress is still progress. And I just I love that quote. So start small, start slow, build momentum as you go so you don't have to make a huge goal and figure everything out on day one. So start with small baby steps like posting your art on social media. Even with prices in your stories. I found my art sells a lot better if I post the prices and or selling stickers like online. Start with one small step and then focus on that consistent progress rather than like immediate overnight success.

Speaker 1 (00:21:54) - Yes, absolutely. It's more attainable that way. And I think baby steps. Yeah. And every step counts, right? One foot in front of the other. I mean, you're still going to get where you're getting. You just at least you don't feel overwhelmed. You don't run the risk of burnout and you don't run the risk of feeling like, no, I'm not good at this, so I'm going to give up because I think a lot of people try to do too much too soon or they try to do it all by themselves.

Speaker 1 (00:22:18) - And then when they don't hit the the quota or they don't hit their goal right away, they throw in the towel. And that makes me nothing makes me sadder than hearing that somebody threw away their dream because they thought it was impossible. So I love that. Thank you so much for sharing that. Yes. To all our amazing brave enough to try listeners start small. It could be anything. It could be declaring your dream out loud. It could be reading a book. It could be connecting with somebody on social media, all those little steps. Eventually it makes me think of like planting a seed, right? You plant the seed today, you're not going to get a flower tomorrow. You're going to have to water it every day and nurture it. And then eventually, when you don't even realize that the flower is going to bloom. And I think that people should really take inventory of their life and figure out, okay, what are the seeds that I can plant today that I can nurture and take care of so that I can enjoy beautiful bouquet of flowers in the future?

Speaker 2 (00:23:14) - I love that.

Speaker 2 (00:23:15) - I was thinking of it earlier. Also is like creating a painting. Like you start with one layer and then you do another layer. Like you don't have the painting all at once.

Speaker 1 (00:23:22) - Yes. It's not like you just go with the brush and it's done. There it is. Yes. That's beautiful. That's actually beautifully said. The painting. I love that idea. Thank you. You have to put it all on there for it to all come together.

Speaker 2 (00:23:36) - Yeah, it might look a little messy at times, but.

Speaker 1 (00:23:39) - But it's one brushstroke at a time, right? And Exactly. Essentially, you have a work of art, and I love that. Katie, I've loved having you on the show. I'm actually getting really sad that we have to come to an end. Our listeners are going to just love getting to hear from you and I'm going to plug in all of your information in the podcast notes so that way that they can get in touch with you. Other than that, to are brave enough to try listeners, Thank you so, so much for joining us on this week's episode and I can't wait to catch you until the next one.

Speaker 1 (00:24:13) - Thank you. To continue the conversation, come join me over at Instagram at It's Cindy Moore or at Brave enough to try podcast.