Podcast About Art and Business

2023 Year End Artist Recommendations and Wrap Up

Welcome to episode 35 of Artistic Ambition

This will be the year end wrap up for 2023 of course!

If you can’t remember where all this started, let me refresh your mind. My name is Christina Elkins and I do artwork under CASE Artworks. The reason I chose this moniker was it represents all the different stages of my life. C obviously stands for Christine, A is for Amey which is the last name of my children. S is for Staib. my roots aka my maiden name. E is for Elkins, my married name. It links me to the best man and father I have ever known. I am also a mother to 5 children. 4 that are pretty much adults and a toddler who is currently 3 years old.

In my previous life I was an Art teacher, a designer for Walmart and eventually started my own online business. That business changed the direction of my life and taught me how to run a business when I started with nothing. After 12 years running that online business I was suffering from burnout. This was at the end of Covid, beginning of 2023.

In January of 2023 I officially started my journey back to art. While I’ve had art skills from a young age I had not used those skills much in a very long time. I also realized my education in art had really only improved my drawing and teaching skills. The mediums I knew were because I taught them in the classroom to my students. It dawned on me this year that I am a self taught artist in many mediums. I had never oil painted until 2023. I remember the paint sliding off the canvas and heading over to Youtube to figure out what in the world to do! I knew I was going to love oils once I figured it out. 

I made a goal to learn, produce and promote my art for at least 1 year and see where it leads me. By April I was gathering so many resources and listening to so many podcasts I thought it might be a good idea to share this info with other artists starting on their own path. That's why I started this podcast to document my progress and share info with others. 

Here are the stats for my podcast starting on my release date of April 11th 2023. I have published 35 episodes. Thank goodness I ended on a number that was easily divisible or I might have gone crazy. If you have followed my episodes you noticed that I faded at the beginning of Nov. I got a bit overwhelmed with commissions and life and took a little break. I have reset my goals for the upcoming year and plan to be a bit more consistent moving forward. This podcast has been downloaded 1,852 times. 52% of the downloads come from Apple. If you listen but don’t actually hit the download button for my episodes you are not counted in these stats. Podcasts are only tracked through downloads. If you enjoy what I am doing and want to help me out, go back and hit the download button. My #1 episode of the year was of course episode #1. My #2 episode was Finding your Art Style with Amy Eichler. My #3 episode was First Steps in Starting a Small Business. I interviewed 5 local artists to NWA and I will introduce them and give you my top take away from each of them.

First was Shay Holloway - The price is the price

Erin Foerster - this is an emotional journey

Amy Eichler - do all the things so you learn what you don’t want to do

Erin Kent - this is a journey of kindness and patience and learning

Shelly Mouber - it's ok to be weird. Embrace who you are. Overcome life obstacles

I will make an instagram/facebook post and tag everyone who has helped and inspired me this year. You will also see their info on the podcast episode description. Go support these artists by following their pages. It all helps.

In my opening of the podcast I say I started with 0 followers 0 collectors and 0 connections. Now it's time to see if I had any growth in those areas this year. I created an instagram/facebook/tiktok/ and website account. All are under the name CASE Artworks. Let's start with facebook. I ended the year with 371 followers and 2 customer reviews. I realized I had only posted 16 videos this year and that's not very many. On instagram I ended with 457 followers and 301 posts. I obviously spent most of my efforts there. I also learned on all platforms my content was liked by an overwhelming amount of women and most were aged 35-45. I always felt like I was making art for myself and people like me so that feedback pretty much confirmed this was true. On TT I ended with 220 followers. I will say I thought my growth would be bigger on all accounts but every person who follows me is a legit person who I fought to get on board. They are true followers for the most part. My husband has over 2,000 followers for his Gamers Thumb account and he says most of them are just randoms that never interact. It’s crickets for him there most of the time. I don’t think that is the case for my accounts. I will give props to my husband though. He has a Youtube channel called Gamers Thumb where he does deep dives and reviews of video games. He got monetized this year and it’s been really exciting to see.

To finish up my podcast stats. My top cities outside of NWA was Capetown, Western Cape which I believe is in Canada and St. Louis, MO. Shout out to Christine Lampe for her support from the ST. Louis area. She is an awesome abstract artist who creates big bold works. We chat on instagram and she's always giving me encouragement to keep podcasting! 🙂

As far as the podcast goes I hope it has given other creators some insight and encouragement. I was listening to so many art podcasts from people who were so successful that they never talked about the hard times. I think we forget as the years go by but that's why I wanted to start documenting right out of the gate. Becoming a full time artist is not easy and I needed to hear some stories of struggle lol. 

While we are on podcast let me share some of my recommendations for other podcasts that might help you on your journey. 1st is The Art Marketing podcast. The dude shares all his info and explains that he can do that because most people won't follow through. They run a business called artstorefronts that holds you accountable and gives you direction. I didn’t really have the money at first to invest in that type of support and I also knew I am a self-starter and learner so I didn’t really need the accountability. I am a goal setter at heart. If you need an extra push then you might want to check them out. I also highly recommend Art Marketing Minute with Eric Rhoads. He is an artist but really focusing on teaching others about marketing. His episodes are short and his advice is to the point. It also comes from the perspective of an actual artist. Another business minded podcast I’d recommend is The Product Boss. This shifts an artist's mind to think about their art as a product that they want to get in front of people. Not everything is going to apply but I have taken away so many insightful nuggets that I can apply to my art business. I truly believe the best way to become a full time artist is to treat your art as a business. The product boss can help keep that mindset. If you are a muralist, then check out The Artist Academy podcast. This artist is in MO and has some great innovative ideas to grow your business even in a small town. She interviews a lot of successful artists. I also enjoyed Artist Life with Rafi and Klee. They are so relatable. It is a true joy to listen to them. It's like chatting with your cool hippy art friends. 

Now here are a few artists I follow on instagram that seeing their work has been a true inspiration. I've been f=growing my skills and they blow my mind and push me to improve. 

@audreymontya makes the wildest felted sculptures. Her works are skillful and creepy and insightful and I just love them. She makes you feel safe to let your weird flag fly. Lol

@wandacomrie is an Australian still life floral artist. She is who I am inspired to be. I am in love with every work she does. Her use of light and variety of textures. I can’t say enough about her work. Go follow her. You're welcome. @sarahabbottartdesign is also from Australia and her work is just glorious. I love painting florals and still lifes in oil and these two ladies just show me the possibilities. Sarah's framing is also perfect. @kebirch is a gouache artist. Seeing her work won’t let me abandon gouache paint. I am not sure how best to use it yet but she inspires me to keep trying because it can achieve amazing results. @nfeatherston_fine_art is a realistic artist who also teaches these skills to others. She is so good you can’t tell the reference from her painting. It is next level realism and her subject matter is thought provoking. She seems like a cool chic you’d want to have a conversation with. Sorry I know the list is going long but art inspires art and these ladies have pushed me along this year. Check out @lilyroseburgess she uses color so beautifully. She’s helped me push those vibrant colors more when I might otherwise be timid. She posts fun content and is transparent about her life as an artist. And last but not least is @janetpulcho she is a watercolor artist. I have historically worked on small watercolors. I never saw many people work large and detailed with watercolors. Seems like things could get out of control real quick. She does beautiful large florals. Her work encouraged me to go big and I created my largest watercolor to date called Unity. It's a painting of a variety of Tulips all stacked together. The values of the tulips range from white to red. Its theme is no matter what color you are we are all in this together.

As I wrap up this year in review I want to share some of the things I learned this year. The good and the bad

  • I love Live painting! I did 4 live wedding events and 2 live charity events. Seems like my personality would not lend itself to this type of thing but I feel art is my bridge to connecting with people.
  • Working in a series is a good plan. Helps you create art more consistently. Saves money because there are usually shared colors in a series. You can be more productive when you have a plan
  • Don’t run cold ads on social media. It is pointless until you have a proper following. 
  • I don’t like art/craft fairs. I’m too old to be setting up all those displays. I hate getting everything priced and displayed. It is a real headache for me without a lot of payoff. The highlight of an art fair is that I started live painting at them which made the whole thing more enjoyable. I did gather email addresses and if you are going to do them for the love of god at least get an email address!
  • Networking events are the worst. I believe you can’t go wrong by attending and interacting with people but I personally dislike it very much.
  • I don’t like framing and shipping and if I ever make enough money that will be the first thing I hire out.
  • I still love teaching kids and all ages 
  • I overcomplicate everything. I always have such ambitious ideas and designs. Sometimes I just need to keep it simple and give the people directly what they ask for.

The 3 biggest highlights of the year was selling my first original painting to Janelle Potts who has become a collector. She told me buying my painting was her favorite thing this year. That literally brought tears to my eyes. The second thing was Renting my first studio space. It is tiny but it is a start. And being diagnosed with adhd. Learning this about myself has brought so much clarity and freedom from the shame I have felt in the past. The more you know the better choices you can make.

Now let's get down to the dirty details of the money. My last money update to you was in Oct. So these numbers will be for Nov/Dec.

  • I completed 20 commissions for Xmas. Mostly pet portraits, even a couple on whiskey bottles. A couple portraits, watercolor home paintings and even a shirt design for someone
  • I sold 3 original paintings in Dec and several prints and cards of originals

Expenses for the last 2 months were $1,879 with rent at $500 a month that was a huge chunk. I spent most of my money at Vistaprint for cards and branded merchandise. I also bought most of my supplies from Jerry’s Artarama. I do love art supplies even if I don’t need them so that is an expense I always have to keep control of. I also decided to pay $35 each to join the Women in Watercolor Society and the Artists of Northwest Arkansas. The main reason to join groups like this is the membership shows they produce. Artists of Northwest Arkansas are obviously local to me as they are located in Rogers, AR. They do a members show, a gallery in downtown, and hopefully access to a community of more experienced local artists. These types of groups just give a bit more visibility to your art. The low cost to join seems like a fair trade.  

My income for Nov/Dec combined was $6,532 with my largest item sold being a painting called The Escape sold through Nighthawk Gallery in Neosho, MO. for $2,000 they take a 30% commission so the $1,400 is included in my income for the month. That makes my profit for the last 2 months $4,653. 

If you have listened to past episodes, I explain that I have to make money with this art endeavor. My goal is to contribute 2,000 a month to our household. I know I am lucky to have a husband with a good job. He is also a small business owner so he understands the ups and downs and struggles especially starting out. When we discussed making a go of it with this art thing we battened down the hatches and tightened the reins. We have struggled this year so many times and I have felt the pressure to make the sales. Even with that weight I know I come from a place of privilege. Back in the day when I was a single mom just trying to take care of my kids I wouldn’t have had a chance to do this. I know it is a luxury some can not attempt. My words for any of you listening now who is in the phase of life where pursuing art is not feasible. Use this time to hone your skills with what you can afford. I just turned 46 on Christmas day and the one thing I have learned is that Life comes in phases. Whether you are lacking time or money right now, life changes. Be ready when your time comes.

My last thoughts for the year. The last several months have felt heavy for me. The weight of what is going on in the world can make what I am doing seem so pointless and trivial but if you are maker or a creator I encourage you to put that good into the world. We all have something to give and if you can create something that brings any joy or touches any person then that is worth contributing. Also I plan to be relentless in showing kindness and compassion to others and to myself. This is the journey of life and I’m excited for the future. I hope to see true changes in our society and in myself this year. I am refocused and ready for whatever 2024 brings. Thank you to all those who have been supportive. Especially my sisters and my husband who I know listen to my episodes even if no one else does. 

Moving forward I plan to release an episode every other week. There will be more interviews, insights, encouragement and tears I'm sure. Stay tuned for season 2 of Artistic Ambition!

Back to blog

Leave a comment