Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in arts but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ciara Barsotti, Founder of Ciara Barsotti Art, located in Chico, CA, USA.

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

I'm an artist who makes landscape and abstract paintings as well as pet portraits. My customers love nature, spirituality, weirdness, and animals. I've found my people through shows at local coffee shops and markets and via social media.

Tell us about yourself

I've been a maker all my life, and my business has evolved through many iterations! I've made and sold stationery, zines, jewelry, prints, commissions, and original paintings. I think I've always had an entrepreneurial bent. When I was 9 years old, I saved up enough money to buy myself a puppy by pet-sitting in my neighborhood. The thing that keeps me going has also evolved. These days the work itself keeps me coming back to it - abstracts are excellent for play and experimentation, and each painting offers discovery and excitement as I begin from some starting place in my head and let the marks I make lead me to a finished piece.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I could point to places I've been featured or art shows I've participated in, but I'm really proud of my mindset when it comes to my art practice as it relates to my business. I am in a place now where more often than not, I feel free to create from a very honest place without worrying about whether or not it will sell. This is something I have to cultivate every day, and maybe it's not the best for making a quick buck, but I'm very satisfied with my work these days.

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

There are a lot of narratives about how difficult it is to make a living with art. It's something I still work on all the time, especially when I start to compare myself to others, or I look at how long I've been in practice and still haven't quit my day job. Frankly, comparison and striving to become an overnight success are just distractions. I've decided I want to run my business in a way that brings me joy, or at the very least a sense of satisfaction, and that I'm not willing to sacrifice my mental health by getting lost in the hustle. It's a tough balance to strike because I do want to be successful, but I also want to continue to enjoy the work itself without it becoming a drag. Because what's the point of that!?

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

  1. Decide why you want to start a business. This will be your north star - if you start to feel like you're in it for the wrong reasons or things are unnecessarily difficult, revisit your reasons for starting your business in the first place. Sometimes your reasons need to change, and that's ok too!
  2. Get started. It's really easy to get stuck in analysis paralysis - taking action is the best way to get unstuck and also the best way to find out what will work for you and your business quickly.
  3. Track your progress/acknowledge your wins. Find some simple metrics to track your progress and get excited when you see any kind of forward momentum. That will just keep that forward momentum going in perpetuity! Focus on the areas you are growing in and doing well at - when that stops working or starts to feel routine, find a new avenue for your business to grow into.

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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