About eight years ago, I was at a housewarming party and noticed a set of paintings on the host’s dining room wall. They were commissioned pieces and they fit wonderfully in the space. They were by Stephanie Han. I met her later through a blog and we’ve been friends ever since. Steph was one of my inspirations to get into running as well. She has a full-time job AND paints when she can.
1. Where can we find you online?
2. What was that moment (or moments) that made you take the next step in going into business on your own?
After getting my MFA, I was determined not to let my art practice languish (even if I had a “steady” job, which I still do); that meant regularly creating and promoting my art. I set about creating a body of work and then looked around for opportunities to show and sell my pieces and luckily things have continued to happen.
Sidenote: After Steph graduated from the School of Visual Art (NYC) with an MFA, she worked in freelance illustration but it was a shrinking field because many people end up using stock art/photography.
Steph started painting the Flower Series, first to decorate her first home. She began to submit her art to local art festivals. The first one was the NoHo Arts Festival in 2004. Prior to that, Steph proactively looked for open calls for artists at galleries and other events.
3. What did you do before your business?
I was and still am a full-time graphic designer for the graphic design firm JDA Inc in Long Beach, CA
4. How long did it take you to go from working from someone else to working for yourself?Â
I don’t know if this applies to me, since I do still work for someone else.
5. Tell us something that went wrong/that you learned on your way to being a one-woman show. What was the result of this?
I hate thinking about the money side of things and I didn’t do enough research into good consistent pricing for my pieces, so I’ve probably undersold myself quite a bit, but sometimes you have to go through the process to get comfortable with charging people what you feel you’re worth.
6. Name something that went fantastic, either expected or unexpected that you experienced as a result of owning your own business.
I love it when people just contact me out of the blue because they saw me on the internet. A couple of months ago such an event occurred and it led to a great sale.
7. What are your top 3 lessons learned in the process of being your own business?Â
– Don’t get discouraged if things don’t happen for a while–persevere.
– Always be professional; just because you’re an artist doesn’t mean you get a pass to be late or forgetful. I’ve always hated that whole “artist temperament” B.S.
– Â Don’t be complacent; keep your sites’ content updated and fresh, and engage with your audience.
8. Any last words? What do you do when you’re not working and building an empire?
Art can be an arbitrary and capricious business; don’t take things too personally and follow your bliss when it comes to what you want to create. Don’t feel bad about having a day job, since most of us do. My problem is there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the things I want to do that doesn’t involve work or art! I love to run, bike, hike, camp, ski, knit, watch movies and hang out with friends. It’s hard to squeeze all that in but I try 🙂
Steph won’t toot her own horn, but I’ll do it. In addition to commissioned work, her pieces have been shown on popular TV shows; you’ll have to ask her yourself which ones. You can see her art in person this month as TARfest celebrates their 10th anniversary. Opening reception is on September 20th; meet the specially selected artists from the past nine years featured in this year’s festival.
Big thanks to Stephanie Han for sitting down with me and sharing her story of success. I’m proud and honored to call her a friend and peer.