Bonny Snowdon shares a bit of her story about becoming a full time colored pencil artist and the journey it took to get there, including how Ann Kullberg's Shine Video Series helped.
On the January 1, 2017 I took a leap of faith to become a full time pet portrait artist.
I’d written a plan back in 2016, when I’d first started thinking about becoming an artist. I had a background in business, marketing, training, and coaching in the corporate environment — all extremely useful skills to have — and started out on the first day of 2017 with three months of full commission books and the attitude that I could do this!
Social media is a huge part of any business, so time spent researching and building relationships was vital. I had my plan, with the focus on commissions, but with the other ideas floating about in my subconscious as well.
One of the social pages I spent quite some time on was Ann Kullberg’s COLOR Magazine Facebook page. She has an amazing monthly magazine, creates and sells books and tutorials, and is herself a commissioned artist as well as a very astute businesswoman.
I decided to contact Ann to see if she might be interested in sharing my story about becoming a full-time artist less than a year after starting to draw. Amazingly, she replied, set up an interview, and then featured me and my work over four pages of her magazine.
As I’d been flicking through her website at AnnKullberg.com, I noticed that she offered workshops. One of these, a web-based course called Shine is about turning your hobby into a viable business. Continuous professional development is something I have always invested in, I love building on my skills and knowledge, so I enrolled on the course and over the course of two weeks Ann shared her incredible knowledge about becoming a full-time commissioned artist.
Because I’d worked in the business environment previously, there were things that cropped up that made me think, “Oh yes! Of course, why didn’t I remember that?” but there were also things that she suggested that were totally new to me, and to be honest, these were absolute gems!
The one thing that stood out, and still does, is pricing. If you go onto social media and YouTube, you’ll find loads of artists have shared information about pricing, but it was only Ann that made the comment which I believe sets her apart as a successful businesswoman in the art world: set your price, and then each time you have full books, increase your prices by 20-30%; have a range of sizes but don’t over complicate things, people who are buying from you will most likely choose the middle option, especially if the difference in price isn’t too great. This statement seems really simple, and it is, but it works!
Ann shared more really useful info in her Shine webinar about communication with the client, and marketing tips around not just what to include with your finished portrait but why you would include things and how it would benefit you.
Shine was the catalyst for me raising my prices and creating a successful business.
Fast forward to 2019. The majority of things on my initial plan from three years ago are either happening or have happened. My commission business is thriving, I have a subscription wait list, I have full books until mid 2021, I have workshops throughout the UK, South Africa, and the U.S. booked for 2020. I launched my Patreon teaching channel last February, providing video and written tutorials for colored pencil artists wanting to improve their skills and techniques.
As part of my 2020 workshop series, I’ve introduced a new course for 2020, based on something I used to do while working for a leadership and management training organization: Strategy Planning for Artists.
This workshop won’t go into the nitty-gritty of running an art business like Shine does; it's more about taking a dream or a thought and making it into a reality, working on motivation and confidence, really building the excitement and creating the “I can do this” attitude. It will include creating vision boards and envisioning what the future looks like, where you want to be, what’s your biggest dream? Once you start verbalizing your dreams, the energy starts to rise, the excitement starts to build, and you start to actually believe that this is going to happen!
But the board is just the beginning. The second day is spent working through your vision and building a credible plan, adding in small steps to get you to your ultimate goal, committing to time scales, making it all seem far more achievable. I’m a qualified business coach, so I’ll be using my coaching skills to help individuals create a realistic plan for the future.
If you’re planning on taking your hobby further, I would not hesitate to invest in the Shine webinar. The information, advice, and sheer knowledge sharing from a successful portrait artist and businesswoman is second to none.
And if you wanted to join me in my strategy workshop in the UK, you can find more information and book a place via my website: www.bonnysnowdonfineart.co.uk
If you want some help with your colored pencil techniques, I have over 100 hours of real-time video tutorials with full voice-over on my Patreon channel. And it’s not just about the tutorials; I’ve built a fantastic community of like minded artists who want to help and share their knowledge with others.
You can also find me on social media: