Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in arts but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kenneth Herren, Visual Artist of Ken Herren Contemporary Art, located in Minnetonka, MN, USA.

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

I am a visual artist specializing in densely textured, colorful abstract paintings. I attend numerous art fairs, have gallery representation, and work directly with interior designers and clients to create custom artwork for home or office. I also manufacture custom stretcher bars for the printing industry and build custom-sized canvases for other artists.

Tell us about yourself

Having retired from a very successful career as a custom picture framer and gallery owner, I am now devoting my energies to my true passion as a visual artist. Although I have been creating work since 2010, it wasn't until I retired that I began working full-time on my career as an artist. The idea that I could actually affect change by enhancing a person's environment with a little piece of my heart and soul keeps me coming back to the easel every day!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

You can put this where ever you think it belongs. Hi, my name is Ken, and I am an addict/alcoholic. Having lost careers, relationships, homes, and just about everything any normal person would consider valuable, including my sanity and nearly my life, I made a decision to turn my life around. With ninety dollars to my name and the clothes on my back, I hopped on a train that brought me from California to Minnesota. I soon found a lasting and fulfilling recovery that has allowed me to stay clean and sober for nearly 32 years. I am blessed to be able to paint, and the painting keeps me grateful, the key to a happy, joyous, and free life.

I was always a creative person but never considered myself an artist until I actually applied myself to the process of putting paint on a canvas. I soon developed a style that is unique, bold, and colorful. My studio was previously in the basement of the art gallery and custom frame shop that I co-owned with my wife, Melissa, in Minnetonka, MN. Recently retired, I now have a working studio in a light industrial area within the same suburb, giving me the opportunity to travel and share my work with a much wider audience.

My philosophy as an artist and the creative process can be summed up by the following statement: "We *(artists) are merely caretakers of someone else's prized possession. We hold each creation in a state of reverie until the right person comes along to give it the continued honor it deserves."

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

It's all work. Good art is inspired work. Getting up each day and facing the challenges of distraction, vulnerability, self-doubt, and a myriad of everyday obstacles is probably the biggest hurdle to overcome as a visual artist.

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

  1. Work hard.
  2. Pay off debt.
  3. Connect (in every way possible).

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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