Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in fine arts but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Julie Schumer & Cat Tesla, Founders of Art Smart Workshops LLC., located in North Port, FL, USA.

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

We began teaching in-person abstract painting workshops together before the pandemic, then pivoted to an online format when the pandemic hit. Our business, Art Smart Workshops LLC, includes both in-person and online painting and business workshops for working artists. The Boldly Abstract workshop teaches artists how to find their visual style, techniques to use in abstract painting, and how to execute an abstract painting confidently. In addition, we have a suite of courses for artists to improve and grow their art businesses called the Business of Art. Graduates of the Business of Art courses wanted to continue with our mentorship, so we started a membership called the Business of Art membership which provides monthly content and coaching for 2D artists running their own art businesses. Our customers include artists from around the world with all levels of experience.

Tell us about yourself

Julie Schumer is a self-taught artist whose work is shown in galleries across the United States and is in many private collections. Julie lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has been teaching expressive painting workshops for a number of years and has found it thrilling to help painters learn new skills, gain confidence, and become excited about their painting journey. Originally she taught only live workshops. Now her courses are offered in an online format, which enables those in distant lands to participate.

Cat Tesla is an award-winning artist who is represented by galleries in the U.S. and U.K. Cat started teaching in-person workshops and, due to the demand, began offering them online so that artists around the world could participate. Cat lives and works from her studio in North Port, FL. Tesla believes that anyone can be a great painter or establish a successful art business; they just need someone to show them how.

Both Cat and Julie realized there was a gap in the art education marketplace for artists, and between them, they have more than 40 years of experience in the world of art. There wasn’t much in the way of teaching artists how to paint boldly abstract, where they learned both how to optimize their own visual style and also confidently create the work. In addition, there was virtually no course available that taught the business of art. How does one build a crate for shipping artwork? What does the body language of a potential art collector tell you? What are the steps required to do an art fair? How do you create a call to action on social media to build your email list? What terms should be in a gallery contract? These types of questions needed to be answered for artists in order for them to grow and succeed in their businesses.

We’re motivated by the artists we teach because we walked in their shoes long ago. We understand exactly what it’s like to build a body of artwork and start an art business. Their struggles were once our struggles.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Our biggest accomplishment is seeing the artists we teach to be successful both with the creation and development of their artwork and their businesses.

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

Dealing with unknowns is a challenge. There are always new challenges to deal with that require learning new skills quickly. In our business, we had to sift through and analyze a number of tech products, decide which would work best for our company, then learn and implement them.

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

  1. Have a passion for what you are doing.
  2. Research your industry to make sure you have a viable market, and determine what niche you can fill that your competition doesn’t.
  3. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Have a partner or hire help so that you don’t burn out.

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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