Artists Transform Passion Into Business

By Lindsey Adkison
The Brunswick News, Ga.

It’s often said that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.

While it’s a lovely concept, parlaying a passion into gainful employment isn’t always easy.

Ed Hose knows that first hand. The illustrator has spent a lot of time and energy getting her career off the ground. She now has her own art studio, Drawing Conclusions, in a kiosk at 135 Pier Village Market, St. Simons Island.

Her path to professional artist took many twists and turns since she began freelancing right out of high school.

For more than a decade, Hose has been working exclusively as a freelance illustrator. Utilizing a unique technique that combines illustration and digital colorization, she draws just about anything her clients can think of or imagine.

Hose has worked with companies and organizations around the world, doing books, magazines and even clothing. She opened her studio in October 2014 as a combination workspace and gallery, where she has items for sale. Even though she’s settled into her new space, she still finds a number of challenges that come with her creative career.

For Hose, the greatest obstacle is finding a balance.

“There are a lot of challenges to running any sort of creative business, I imagine. I mostly want to make stuff, and finding balance with personal and commissioned work is a challenge,” she said. “The other challenge is discipline. I don’t have that innately.”

Like Hose, Mandy Thompson is another artist living the dream of making art her livelihood. The Brunswick-based painter became a working artist slightly more than two years ago when she discovered that people truly wanted to buy her work.

“I was propelled by others’ requests to purchase prints of my journal pages,” she said. “I tumbled into being an artist as a result.”

Since Thompson devoted herself to becoming a professional artist, founding Mandy Thompson Art, she has learned a great many things.
One of the key lessons is the ability to be flexible when it comes to business.

“Today’s artist must also be an entrepreneur, but there could be no better time for artists to share your own work. Any artist with an Internet connection can make connections, form peer relationships, learn new skills, and ultimately get their art out there,” she said.

Finding a niche when it comes to products is also key. Thompson is experimenting with a variety of products and is testing many different waters, trying to find the best way to market her work.

“I’m learning that artists thrive on multiple income streams, so I’m working on product lines such as journals, mugs, stationery as well as continuing to find ways to sell my originals and prints,” she said.

“I’m taking a lot of baby steps, and I’m still new at this, but so far something is working.”

While Hose and Thompson work in illustration and paint, respectfully, Anthony Quickle, a St. Simons Island sculptor who has been working in the medium for decades, has another list of specific challenges. Namely, how to sell his work and find materials.

“I tried the art gallery route for sales, and found it was a little confining,” he said. “I’ve done a few outdoor festivals, but the sheer logistics of loading, transporting and setting up 20 or so sculptures that weigh 50 to 500 pounds each takes the fun right out of that venue.”

To alleviate that issue, Quickle decided to work by commission. But he still faces the challenge of locating unique materials — primarily stone and bronze — and services like 3D scanning.

“The Golden Isles are beautiful and I can’t think of anywhere I would rather live, but we’re not an industrial area and my supplies and vendors services must be freighted in or require some long drives to drop off or pick up,” he said.

But, he says, that does allow him to branch out more and try other options when it comes to his art.

“The benefits? I get to work with stone and steel, wood, clay, bronze to bring my artistic vision to life,” he said.

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