How I Built an International Art Education Business

Australian artist Cindy Wider shares her story about building a sustainable art teaching business.

 

Artist Cindy Wider is the founder of DrawPj.com. Read her story at www.ArtsyShark.com

Artist Cindy Wider is the founder of DrawPj.com

 

My first serious goal as an artist at 23 years of age was to create a painting of a realistic waterfall for my mum’s 50th birthday present. As I added the finishing touches and the image came to life before my eyes, it dawned on me that I was able to truly paint a realistic, almost photographic waterfall. I became filled with excitement and happiness beyond words! From that moment on, all I wanted to do was to tell as many others as I possibly could that they too could learn to draw and paint.

That desire to share has stayed with me as the foundation upon which my international art education business has been built. Throughout the 25 years that it has taken me to develop my business at DrawPj.com, I have remained driven by a very clear and committed mission to share my love and knowledge of art with as many people as I possibly can.

This profound discovery that I could learn to draw and paint is especially wonderful to me because I can distinctly remember the day many years previously (at the age of 14 years) when I had made a conscious decision to give up drawing and painting forever believing I just wasn’t “talented” enough.

I gave up my art endeavours in one single moment and pursued a successful and rewarding hairdressing career instead, buying my first business, a hairdressing salon, at the age of 21 years. It wasn’t until I was 23 that I dared to return to my love of art. I had contracted a serious illness and was left unable to walk very far, but all I wanted to do was learn to draw and paint. It was as though something was missing in my life and my entire body was calling out to me desperately wanting to create art.

With this mission firmly planted in the very foundation of my being, I began my first art education business 25 years ago with a basic curriculum, teaching just ten children in a public art gallery for one and a half hours per week. In a very short period of time, my business rapidly expanded until I was teaching up to 36 children on a weekly basis. Soon I had established the largest privately-owned art education centre in the small city where I lived at the time.

All of these important aspects, along with a good solid repeat-purchase model helped to make my business viable and sustainable. I treated my business like I treated my hairdressing salon, to make sure that it wasn’t just a hobby. This first foray into art education was just a small beginning for me.

In 2002, I was ready to expand my horizons, explore more of Australia and meet new challenges in life. I met up with an artist whose artwork I had often admired from afar. Stuart Wider (who became my husband) and I joined forces to set up a much larger art education business in an entirely different state of Australia. I brought my knowledge and experience to the business and he brought his.

Among his many skills, Stuart was well-informed on how to write education manuals, having worked in the university system for many years. He taught me about the value of having systems to operate a business. All of this wouldn’t have been possible without good solid business systems in place. Even though these systems do require an initial outlay of time and resources, they are worth it in the long run!

It was those very systems combined with Stuart’s internet skills that enabled us to move into an online business model in 2009 when we became the co-founders of DrawPj.com. Starting out interacting by email with just a handful of students, we gradually expanded to a 42-week art course (when studied at 2 to 4 hours a week) provided in fully printable and downloadable ebooks, supported by over 200 HD video tutorials. The course is available in two versions; one suited to teenagers and adults and the other version specifically tailored for younger children age 7 years and over.

For the past seven years, we have had three instructors teaching for us online, as well as two teaching our course live, four translators, and thirteen other instructors in training, all preparing to teach online and in the real world. Many of our instructors have purchased a license from us to operate their own business with our art course and business model.

Our team is such an integral part of our business, and DrawPj couldn’t survive and thrive without them. It’s also rewarding to know that through this process of helping others, we are also able to provide many income opportunities for those people who work with us.

Most of all, I have learned the value of surrounding myself with others who share this common life purpose; to share our love and knowledge of art with as many others as we possibly can. It’s such a privilege to make a difference in our world by enhancing the lives of so many others through art!

 

 

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Comments

  1. Congrats on being successful as an artist! Yes i agree you have to have solid business systems in place to grow any business. It also helps to have a team as in you and your husband. I would love to have the knowledge you possess !! Im an instructor as well but my marketing skills are limited to a website, newsletter and social media. Thanks for sharing your story!

    • Thanks Mary, yes you are right its great to have a team. You are doing well too though – having a website, newsletter and social media are a fantastic array of promotional channels to have available to you. In my first ten years I only had the local newspaper to advertise in:)

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