The following blog is the third in a series of articles from our guest, Ruth Payne
. For many of
you in the Vancouver area, Ruth Payne will need no introduction. Ruth is the curator at the Ferry
Building Gallery and the Visual Arts Coordinator of West Vancouver Cultural Services.
"Sacred space and sacred time and something joyous to do is all we need. Almost anything then becomes a
continuous and increasing joy."
– Joseph Campbell
The Four Basics for building your art business are People, Space, Time and Money
- People to advise, encourage and help you
- Space to do your art and business
- Time to do your art and business
- Money to keep the wolf away from the door
The people in your life who support your art business are your pit crew. They are the ones that spin your
tires! They beam you up, dust you off and say…get back on the horse! Know who these people are. Let go of
the naysayers, who may be envious or are just Negative Nellies. You don't have time for anyone who does
not have positive and encouraging energy in regards to your art and business. Life is wondrous, the world
is waiting for your art, and it is full of creative art marketing opportunities for you to grab. Let no
one hold you back. Most people, if you explain heartfully to them, will understand and have great respect
for the time you need to do your art, the path you are pursuing and the goals you have for your art sales
You need a space that is yours to create art in. This may also be the space that you have your art
business office in, where you do your marketing from. It is not the kitchen table. It is also not your
bedroom or dining room. It is separate from the activities of daily life, and it is your designated art
This space can be carved out in an unused garage, garden shed, empty room, space borrowed from a
neighbour, artist's warehouse studios as in 1000 Parker Street, Vancouver, communal artist's spaces,
rented apartment space, and the outdoor studio if you are a plein air painter.
One very successful Vancouver artist has his studio in a converted garage off the alley. He rolls up the
doors and it is called the Alley Gallery. Voila! Good lighting is essential, from either a skylight,
natural and preferably northern light, or incandescent, but not fluorescent. Fluorescent light distorts
Your tools of the trade are a professional sturdy working easel, firm armless chair, preferably the
twirling type with a flexible back, your paint and palette table, a filing cabinet for your business and
art inventory keeping, and a worktable for your journal and sketchbook.
Now add a chair or two for visitors, as well as a small table by the entrance where you have a photo of
yourself at work, business cards, portfolio, invitations to exhibitions you may be in, and a vase of
Of course your art speaks for itself, and also the essence of who you are shines through in your studio
space. Potential art purchasers are intrigued to meet the artist in his studio, see work-in-progress and
generally feel a part of the process. It's all integral to your 'artist's magic' and every bit of your
presentation is important. Visiting other artist's studios can be a great way to get creative ideas for
your setup, renovation or to make your studio suit your personal style better. It is also a wonderful
opportunity to network with other artists in their art-making space. I think it is useful to have a small
shrine in the studio. This can be a table, a corner area, a small shelf, whatever works for you. On this
you will put inspirational mementos, photographs of your children and mate, the seashell you brought home
from your painting trip in Mexico, your little statue of Buddha or whatever has spiritual significance
for you, and a candle. It is meant to centre you and bring you to the present moment of appreciation for
your artist's life.
Note: your business and tax set-up will take into account the space in which you work. Your costs and
rental or mortgage agreement i.e. a percentage of your income, if used for work, may be deducted from
your taxes. Please read your self-employed/ small business tax form available from Revenue Canada to
learn about maximum workable deductions. For detailed information on The Business Of Finding A Workspace,
a discussion of zoning requirements, leases, etc., please see Art, the Art Community, and the Law, Self-
In the next part of the article, Ruth discusses the other two basics: time and money.
Ruth Payne, Visual Arts Coordinator,
West Vancouver Cultural Services, Ferry Building Gallery
About Ruth Payne
Ruth brings 25 years of experience as a gallery curator, visual artist, stress management consultant and
teacher and runs the popular Arts Connection Networking Salon for visual artists.
This article first appeared in the My Art News Letter #23