APPLE PODCASTS | SPOTIFY There’s no doubt that starting your business takes courage, but what about all the steps that come after that? Sticking with your craft even when it’s hard, leaving the comfort of a steady paycheck, trusting your vision when everyone on the Internet is trying to give you advice…all of that takes serious confidence! […]
There’s no doubt that starting your business takes courage, but what about all the steps that come after that?
Sticking with your craft even when it’s hard, leaving the comfort of a steady paycheck, trusting your vision when everyone on the Internet is trying to give you advice…all of that takes serious confidence!
In this episode, I sat down with artist Sarah Jane Tart to talk about leaving her day job to become a full-time entrepreneur, how she’s learned to play to her strengths in marketing, and tactical steps to build confidence in your business and creativity.
Sarah Jane is a Christian artist based in Wilmington, NC, where she creates calm, coastal paintings for happy homes. Her artwork has been featured in places like Magnolia, Arts to Hearts Magazine, and Amazon’s The Summer I Turned Pretty.
Press play for the full interview or keep reading below!
“I always loved art,” Sarah Jane says. “But I had no idea you could be an artist.” She followed her love of creativity to journalism school, with a concentration in editing and graphic design.
After graduating in 2015, Sarah Jane started working in advertising as a Studio Artist while taking art classes on the side. She learned everything from painting to pottery, and eventually, friends and colleagues took notice.
People started asking if they could buy Sarah Jane’s art prints, or if she would design their wedding invitations. That inspired her to start a dedicated Instagram for her art. In 2016, she opened an Etsy store selling everything from lettering to stationery.
Over time, Sarah Jane naturally shifted from stationary to painting. Her husband bought her an easel as a wedding present, which turned out to be the boost of confidence she needed to get started. Her first painting collection was inspired by her wedding bouquet.
By 2017, Sarah Jane had gotten herself a tax number and was trying to figure out the business side of things. Luckily for both of us, her search led to The Blueprint Model!
“Until that point, I was just spending money. I wasn’t making any money. I wanted to paint, but it was so hard for me to imagine how to get it to a point where it was actually a career.”
After taking The Blueprint Model in 2019, Sarah Jane made her first-ever profit of $50. The business grew steadily from there, with $8,000 in profit the next year. By 2022, she could see the light at the end of the tunnel and was preparing to go full-time.
She dedicated herself to painting at night and on the weekends, picked up a part-time job to supplement her income, and started taking a paycheck from her art. Her hard work paid off, and by the end of the year, her business revenue had surpassed her graphic design salary.
“The thing that made me feel sane and like I could do this was I retook The Blueprint Model to make sure my plan made sense.”
With her spreadsheets and a plan mapped out, Sarah Jane was able to confidently hand in her notice – secure in the knowledge that she was making enough to cover her needs.
Now that she’s working in the business full-time, Sarah Jane has a bit more breathing room to explore her art. But those first few years were spent building her skills and figuring out what she liked to paint.
Unexpected inspiration came when her mother-in-law requested a landscape painting of the marsh on Bald Head Island, North Carolina. Sarah Jane fell in love with painting the marsh. She started a new landscape collection, which launched in early 2020, right before the world shut down.
“I was so excited about these paintings. I’d figured out how to price them in The Blueprint Model, I had a show set up…and then we all got sent home.”
Sarah Jane didn’t let the pandemic get her down for too long.
She started working from home and showing her art at online galleries and by the end of the year, she’d sold all of her marsh paintings – though she admits it took a while and most of those sales came from friends and family. “It’s hard in the beginning because you’re so excited, but no one knows who you are.”
Now, three years later, Sarah Jane’s art has won some incredible features and new collections sell out almost instantly.
“The big takeaway of my story is that it’s very slow. It took me time to figure out what I wanted to do, how to make it happen, and then practice painting.”
The biggest lesson Sarah Jane has learned in business is to play to her strengths. While some artists love doing pop-up events, she prefers to work from home and finds in-person events draining.
Instead of events, Sarah Jane uses email marketing to sell her collections – and it’s been a huge success (I know because I’m on her list!).
“There’s a million ways you can run a business, a lot of different models. The best thing I’ve learned is that you can pick the one that makes sense for you and your life – and not how someone else on the internet is doing it because that won’t necessarily work for you.”
Sarah Jane’s best advice for any creative entrepreneur is to trust in your vision. “So many people want to give you unsolicited advice, and it’s from a kind place but it’s not always helpful.”
Understanding the finance side of your business, leaning into your strengths, and practicing your craft are all great ways to gain more peace and confidence in your business.
“The most important thing is to just keep painting,” Sarah Jane says. “It’s going to get better. It’s hard to see where it’s going to go at the beginning, but if you just keep painting, that’s the part that matters.”
To hear the full story and more about Michelle Boyd, press play on the player above for the full interview or click here to download the transcript.
Sarah Jane Tart is a Christian artist based in Wilmington, NC, where she creates calm, coastal paintings for happy homes. Her creative practice is a combination of outdoor explorations, an obsession with color and a joyful spirit. Drawing inspiration from her coastal surroundings, seashells have become tools in her painting process, while the marsh has become her outdoor studio! Her connection to nature started young, running wild and free along the creeks and fields of her childhood home. Sarah Jane has painted for brands like Magnolia; shown work at Serena & Lily; been featured in Arts to Hearts Magazine and In Her Studio Magazine; and has artwork on the set of Amazon’s The Summer I Turned Pretty. But most notably, her paintings and prints are in homes like yours across the US!
December 7, 2023