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Aoril 2019 I was RECENTLY interviewed about my journey as an Artist.
What is your name and job title?
ARTIST - Painter
How did you begin painting and who introduced you?
I have been creative all my life but 12 years ago - I started painting for fun, with leftover house paint - then friends asked me to do paintings for them, paint their dogs etc - and eventually it morphed into a career! I switched to acrylic paint only last Fall!
How did you start your website?
Initially, I showcased my artwork via a Blog, called “Lesli DeVito Paintings”. I would feature new paintings as I did them and share bit and pieces of my life as an Artist and Mother. I am a firm believer in - “If you behave like you know what you’re doing - eventually you will know what you are doing!” so I plugged away and then started another blog called “My Old Country House” - which, in addition to my ART, showcased our 140-year-old farmhouse in the country - DIY projects, parenting issues, Design that inspired me and basically what I did day to day. I attended a few conferences for Design and DIY bloggers and met other bloggers who knew and loved my artwork . They would feature me and it increased my traffic. Nowadays - these people are referred to as “Influencers”. The relationships enabled me to get my Paintings seen on a larger scale. One blog in particular is called “Young House Love” - they have millions of followers. They live nearby in Richmond and have an adorable Chihuahua named “Burger” who is their "first baby". I sent them a painting of Burger and they loved it and they featured me and my home on their blog !That relationship continues to this day and I consider them good friends! EVENTUALLY - I took the plunge and started a very very simple Art website - pretty much “Art websites for Dummies” . Right around the same time, I was approached by a new website that was looking for “Artists and Makers” called “ETSY” . They were looking to build their website and helped me start an Etsy site and I had good success there. A lot was beginning to happen as far as ART being sold online - new Gallery-style websites were emerging and I was also approached by an new online Gallery (who had seen me on Young House Love) called “UGallery.com” that wanted to sell my paintings. Between all of these endeavors and my family life I stayed plenty busy. FINALLY, in 2017, and after a massive amount of research, - I invested in a REAL website which I built over the course of a summer utilizing and and with the assistance of a business based in Austin, TX devoted specifically to helping Artists build websites called “Artstorefronts.com” . I launched that website which is my current website “leslidevito.com” in September 2017.
With what process did you begin your business and selling products?
Did you ever take any classes or seek professional help?
I have never taken an Art class. I have started a few - but did respond well to the structure. My biggest helpers have been other Working Artists and the assistants at Art Storefronts. I have also learned a TON about the business side of selling of being an Artist at conferences. Most professional Artists will tell you that the actual act of “creating” occupies about 50% of their work time - while the “Business” side takes the other 50% - and this is absolutely true for me.
What is the best part about having your own business?
The autonomy - It’s just me .
What is the worst part about having your own business?
The autonomy - It’s just me .
What was the biggest obstacle you faced when starting up your own painting business?
When I first started - the prevailing sentiment was that artists did not “sell” their work in a retail way but instead the ‘gallery” model was the ONLY way to go. There was a very thick glass ceiling in the Art world it was very hard to “get started”. This is where my lack of fear and a formal ART education paid off. I had not had it beaten into me that “Artists do NOT sell their work!” instead - I painted and people that liked it - bought my Art. It was actually quite simple!
What do you see for the future of your profession?
Art has exploded! There are artists emerging daily, hourly and there is something for everyone! Social media and the ability to have your art seen and sold worldwide from your own home has opened up the possibilities! I have sold my work to clients as far as the Middle East! I think it will continue to grow and I hope that new models emerge - in addition to Etsy - for artists to collaborate. The sky’s the .limit. There will always be a need for Art.
Do you have any tips for a young entrepreneur like myself?
If you have an idea - just do SOMETHING! Don’t wait to get it perfect - often it is in the tweaking and fixing that discoveries are made . I learn so much from my mistakes. Believe in yourself ! This sounds kind of hokey - but truly, you need to believe that you deserve to be called an Artist or no one else will. I totally “winged it” in the beginning and I acted like I knew way more than I did - it got me into doors - and then I learned!
It’s really amazing when I lay it all out there how MUCH has happened in such a relatively short period of time - not just for me but for ART in general - and i can only imagine that even more opportunities for artists are going to present themselves!
What have you learned thus far about having your own business?
Discipline. I have to manage my time wisely - I get up each day - get dressed for work and keep a routine - as if I GO to work - it is too easy to get distracted working from home - but I have learned to stay focused and keep on a schedule. I make sure to take breaks and getting regular exercise is vital to my well-being.
If you were to start your business again, are there things you would do differently? If so what?
Almost nothing - I have been very fortunate and I have learned so much form my mistakes. The ONLY thing I might do differently though is that I would have taken my Instagram page more seriously a few years ago. The difference between starting my page last year - and starting 3 years ago in HUGE in terms of numbers. Sure, there are Artists who are “overnight” successes, but that is rare - usually it takes a lot of of hard work and talent to build your following - and to grow as an artist. I am so grateful I DID start my blog when I did - It connected me in so many important ways - I have built relationships - business and personal - and I have followers who have kept up with my work for over 10 years and that gave me a big head start.
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