by Carolyn Edlund
Many artists cultivate multiple ways of earning, and have found that teaching is a popular option that can take various forms. Three artists explain their approach, and how teaching can be not only profitable, but immensely satisfying.
If you ask artist Tanya Cole about her teaching experience, you will receive an enthusiastic response; with a background as an Occupational Therapist, she has a keen interest in helping others. Based in Western Australia, she lives in an area with a small population, and in-person workshop turnout tends to be small. Thus, she has mainly turned to online courses to reach a larger audience and produce teaching income.
“I teach online and in-person intuitive process art/art journaling and painting, as well as technique-based mixed media and painting approaches,” she explains. “I also provide contract art mentoring and coaching work to community agencies for individuals with special needs such as Austism.”
Incorporating personal growth and self-insight principles is one of her passions. She is able to blend her work experience with her art business to a global audience through e-courses such as “Healing the Past” that expresses her desire to help others minimize suffering and grow as a person. Working with individuals one-on-one, through a Facebook group and through paid e-courses has provided her a vehicle to reach her goals as a teacher.
“I can’t begin to express the personal reward I have experienced from teaching,” she says. “It has been a true blessing and one I feel extremely grateful to get to experience. Each year, my art teaching business is growing.”
New Jersey-based artist Sandy Sandy is very involved in conducting live workshops, as well as online courses, and keeps a regular calendar of events on her website. As a working artist she produces in her own studio, but has also found great satisfaction in teaching.
“I teach drawing, watercolor and alcohol ink painting with an emphasis on the basics of value, shape, color and composition,” she explains. “With all my students, no matter what their interests or skill level, I stress that they should be kinder to themselves, enjoy the process and go with the flow. This helps them grow physically, mentally and spiritually. Avoiding negativity, self doubt and criticism enables students to see their work differently.”
Her schedule varies from offering in-studio events on a monthly or bi-monthly basis, to visiting a group of students off-site at a private home, to semi-private lessons available by appointment. In September of 2016, she created her first online course to reach students on a global level.
“Being the oldest of four girls, I grew up being the little mother and took to teaching art early on. It was a way of enjoying my passion for art while I was watching my sisters,” she recalls. “More and more, my teaching reinforces the idea that our attitude is the thing that controls all of the other aspects of our life. I think that we all need to lighten up and not take things in life so seriously.”
Her advice for other artists who may be interested in adding teaching to their own small business?
“You have to have passion and energy and be able to feel comfortable on stage,” she replies. “I think it helps to have an outgoing personality, and it’s necessary to have a solid art background, even if you are self-taught. A good sense of humor never hurts either.”
Live teaching can take many forms, and Naples, Florida photographer Peggy Farren of Understand Photography has found that learning is more fun with a trip involved. Her company offers photography workshops in beautiful locations throughout Southwest Florida, and are limited to five people or less, so that photographers from any skill level can participate. Niche trips include Women Only, Bird Photography, Landscape Photography and even beginner “bootcamps.”
“If you are thinking about getting started offering educational trips, marketing and making personal connections is the key to finding customers,” Peggy advises. “People are much more likely to travel with you if they feel they know you.”
Peggy and business associate Joe Fitzpatrick started “The Understand Photography Show” which is broadcast online via Facebook Live, then uploaded to YouTube and iTunes. This has been a very helpful way for new people to get to know them and become excited about the educational trips they sponsor.
“When prospective customers see you, hear you and like what you have to say or the way you teach, they look for ways to learn from you,” she says. “And it goes without saying, your trip had better give them more than their money’s worth if you want them to travel with you again!”
Have you incorporated teaching into your own creative business? What strategies have you used to offer compelling courses and ways to participate?