Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in art education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Joseph Patric Daniels, Founder of The Beginner to Master Art Academy, located in New York, NY, USA.

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

I’ve made a living as a fine artist for the last 20 years. I’ve taught art in the past because I love to help people learn something that enhances their lives, and I’ve always had a skill for explaining the process of drawing and painting that seems to resonate with people. But teaching is time-consuming, and it’s easy to make excuses and miss a month (or more) if I have a big project like a commission or gallery show coming up.

So about six years ago, I began creating online art courses, and they’ve grown into an online school for traditional art, “The Beginner to Master Art Academy.” The virtual school experience/video medium has been revolutionary for me as both an artist and a teacher! Not just because it’s freed up my time and made it possible to pursue both, but because it gives me access to learners all over the world! I have students in 84 different countries, some as young as 9 years old! Creating online art courses instead of teaching one-on-one or in small groups/studio sessions don’t just work for my schedule, it’s great because it works on their schedules! This way, a person can learn from home on their own time- no matter what time zone they’re in. Students can work when they feel inspired, and they have complete control of the learning pace!

More importantly, I almost immediately found that the format offers a much clearer learning experience than teaching in person! I know that seems counterintuitive, but every student gets a first-hand, close-up view of each subject, exercise, and demonstration from start to finish, that they would never be able to get in a classroom.

Planning and prerecording exercises give me a chance to add animations in post-production and show slides of examples. Learning to draw and paint is a visual experience, and this way, I can add so many more illustrative elements and detail that would be impossible to bring to a classroom. My online courses are as close to a one-on-one apprentice/master experience as you can get, but I can offer it to people for dollars rather than charging thousands for my time! Don’t get me wrong, I set aside a few hours every day to answer questions and help learners with their various projects, but that’s the most rewarding part!

Tell us about yourself

5 years ago, I had the idea to write a book about painting, but the book wasn’t going to be just any ordinary reading experience, I decided to create an interactive E-book where each chapter was accompanied by a link to a video lesson demonstrating the concepts and techniques I discussed. So I started researching online courses. The first problem I found, in general, was the quality. Because of platforms like YouTube, everyone’s focus seemed to be “quantity” because there’s so much competition to be at the top of the algorithms. So I decided to focus on quality.

I wanted my courses to have the characteristics of a Nat-Geo documentary if it were filmed up close in a professional art studio while giving you one on one, in-person tutoring. So I decided to focus on the video aspect and cultivate a style and voice that made traditional art feel more approachable. An online course should feel natural, conversational, and easy to watch for hours to make learning the subject fun and easy. But quality takes time and starts with educating yourself. So I took courses to learn to edit and worked with sound engineers to make sure the voice-over and videos are as clear as possible. I have a background in design and art direction, which proved to be helpful in bringing a sense of cohesion to the collection of courses with dynamic typography and a sense of style.

Now that the courses are created, I get to enjoy the most rewarding part. I spend hours every day coaching students, answering questions, and giving critiques of their work. I now have hundreds of thousands of students of all ages located all over the world! Thanks to google translate, I can communicate in dozens of different languages. And at the end of every day, I get to read students' reviews, which have covered the spectrum from excitement (because they are actually doing something they never in their wildest dreams imagined they could do) to heartwarming and even funny! My favorite review was from a 15-year-old boy who simply said, “I’ve become like a celebrity in my school thanks to these courses.”

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I would say the aspect I’m most proud of is the community that has developed around the courses; it’s really taken on a life of its own! Seeing students share their work and give each other praise and accolades in the groups I created is an unforeseen reward- and what’s more incredible is that, in all of these years, I haven’t seen a single discourteous or uninspiring comment. Feedback and a sense of community are important parts of an artist's evolution; you need other learners that are on the same journey as you to share your thoughts, ideas, and artwork with. So it’s important to have a positive, safe space where learners can grow.

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

In the beginning, the hard part is decision-making. It feels like every choice you make is going to make or break your business. It’s easy to get bogged down at this point, but you need to make choices, even if they are the wrong ones. If you don’t start moving forward, you’ll never arrive at your destination.

After that, it’s maintenance! Before you get to hire a staff, you may find that you have become a taskmaster. Because at the end of the day, there are a million small things that need to be managed, and no one else is going to do it for you.

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

  1. Stop procrastinating. If you’ve got the idea, do it. It’s never been easier to be an entrepreneur in history! Get in the habit of starting as soon as possible, whether it’s something as small as answering an email or as big as taking a loan. Start now; don’t put it off until later today, tomorrow, or next week. Just start and keep doing that until you find yourself running a business.
  2. You can’t think of everything that’s going to happen ahead of time. Starting a business is a risk, have some faith in yourself and take the leap. Whatever it is, you’ll figure it out.
  3. Your customers are unique, dynamic, interesting people, do everything you can for them. Think about how to make them happier every minute they interact with your product. Be grateful for them and put them first. Don’t worry about money; that will come if you do the two aforementioned things on this list.

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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