THE PRACTICAL ARTIST’S WAY
Katy Ann Gilmore is a visual artist living in Los Angeles. We asked her for a little Expert Advice:
What advice would you give to someone who feels overwhelmed by the competition? Stay true to your own aesthetic. It’s really easy to feel overwhelmed and compare yourself to others, so instead focus on the unique voice you have to share with the world.
What top three tips would you like to pass along for those who have just started to use social media? 1: Be consistent and post regularly. 2: Actively comment, like, and encourage others. I’ve focused on this in recent months, specifically on Instagram, and I’ve been able to build a small community. We all love encouraging comments, so why not share that with others as well? 3: Look for accounts that give off the vibe that you want to present. Think about how you can emulate their success while still maintaining your individual voice.
When you think of the best people to work with, what traits do they share? The best people to work with are flexible but also steadfast. I love when I find people that have confidence in their service or product, but are also able to stay objective and align themselves with whatever solution best achieves the greater goal.
Give a budding entrepreneur your best hiring and firing business practices: To bounce off the question above, look for people that possess these traits! I tend to work best in an environment that relies on self-autonomy mixed with mutual accountability. Unfortunately, I’m still mostly a one woman ship at this point, so my “hiring” and “firing” experiences could be broadly generalized to choosing vendors or signing on individuals for specific projects.
Entrepreneurs often say that “you can’t do it all.” What three things do you always outsource? Again, I’m still operating my own ship at this point, but I worked for a few years as a finance coordinator and before that as an administrative assistant. Thankfully, these jobs prepared me for the administrative and financial tasks that I wouldn’t know otherwise. One task that takes up a lot of time is documenting and organizing my drawings. As much as photographing and archiving work can be enjoyable at times, this is definitely high on my list of duties to outsource as soon as possible.
What business book would you recommend to someone who is either about to launch or in the early growth stage? I’m not sure if this qualifies as a business book, but I love #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso. It’s a great account of how tenacity, hard work, and astute emulation can take you far. It doesn’t go into the fine details of running a business, but it provides great encouragement and inspiration. Let me repeat how much I love it: I LOVE IT.
My best advice to a woman launching a venture is… Take calculated risks. I’m all about pursuing your dreams, but I also tend to be practical (perhaps sometimes debilitatingly so). Think about your current skill set and whatever skills you might need to gain. Take advantage of online courses through EdX, Udemy, Skillshare, and the like.
What would your advice to your younger self be? I’ve thought about this a lot over the past several years. I’m originally from the rural midwest, and there is certainly a different mindset concerning pursuits that are “idealistic” and “impractical”. I didn’t grow up in an atmosphere where creating your dream job was something that was encouraged. So I would say: “Katy, you’re tenacious. You’re talented. Go for it. You’ll figure it out.”
Finally, please share your top five tips that would benefit an entrepreneurial woman launching or growing her business:
- Work on building an audience. With art, I have to get people to know that I exist in order to sell work. I suppose this is true for most ventures, but focus a good chunk of time networking and on social media.
- Keep building your skill set. Take online courses, talk with individuals that possess skills you need, or think about outsourcing if necessary.
- At this point, I’m doing a lot of commissions mixed with new work that develops germinating ideas. I make time to do both as I think it’s important to balance regular production with creative development.
- Strategize and organize. Think about how you can quickly make your way through a pile of email, streamline your packaging process, or coordinate errands or trips to the post office. It’s no question that you’re going to be busy, so find ways to maximize your time to best help your business grow.
- Respond to customers quickly and kindly. This is good customer service but also part of building an audience. I want to make sure that those who purchase drawings had a great experience interacting with me. Obviously being kind is a great life practice in general, but it’s essential for maintaining and gaining customers.
Image: [Katy Ann Gilmore]