Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in arts but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Christine Dion, Founder of Christine Dion Studio LLC, located in Manchester, NH, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Christine Dion Studio LLC specializes in colored pencil portraiture of animals, people, and homes. The Joyful Art Garden operates under the studio umbrella and provides artists with courses and membership to learn colored pencil drawing techniques. My clients range from pet owners and law enforcement personnel to aspiring artists.

Tell us about yourself

I'm an award-winning, internationally published artist based in New England. In 2016 I was made an Honorary Member of the NH Canine Trooper's Association for the K9 memorial portraits I create for their handlers. My portrait work can be found in homes and police stations across the United States. I honed my artistic abilities through years of dedicated practice and participation in workshops throughout the US. I have provided art lessons through the public high school art classroom and private lessons for 30+ years. I no longer teach in the public classroom setting and now teach online in a colored pencil membership called The Joyful Art Garden.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My greatest accomplishment in business is providing my clients with a piece of art that bridges the gap between grief and joy. Often I'm commissioned to create a memorial piece of art. It may be a K9 memorial portrait or a portrait of a deceased loved one. I have measured a portrait's success based on my client's reaction. I have made many people cry when receiving one of my portraits, including a number of K9 handlers! I have dubbed it "the tear factor" when rating how I perceive a client will react!

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Separating myself from the art I create is one of the hardest parts of being an artist. At 19, one of the first commissioned portraits was for a co-worker's deceased father. My client had given me a photo of her father, and in the black and white photo, his head was barely 1 inch in height. If I had more years of wisdom under my belt, I would've respectfully declined taking on the project. But I was eager to get my art career going and to leave the job I had at the time, which was in a bank. I created the art as best as I could, and when I gave it to my client, she yelled at me and berated the work I had created as being horrible. She wasn't wrong, and it could've derailed my plans to be a full-time artist, but I ate my humble pie and moved forward.

Now, I can pretty much guarantee my client's delightful responses to the commissioned art. However, I'm also careful to check my ego at the door. I am thankful for the artistic abilities bestowed upon me. Therefore I pay it forward by using those abilities to bring joy into the lives of others.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Know who YOU are. Have a firm grip on your core values and utilize them in all areas of your business. Integrity goes a long way, and operating in alignment with your core values is important.
  2. Work with systems/schedules. Develop a system that works with your schedule and bandwidth. Your business does not have to be the traditional "9-5". Look at the end goal and then work backwards to figure out the steps you need to take to reach that goal.
  3. "No." is a complete sentence. Be willing to say "no" to opportunities that do not align with your personal or business values. It can be drudgery to work for a client or work on a project that drains the life out of you, no matter how big the monetary payout may be. Learn to say "no."

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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