Thank you hater……

I don’t often respond to people who post mean comments, as I believe they like to feed on the drama, by provoking more negativity. My general reaction is delete, unfriend, block, forget it.

This particular person in question decided a few weeks back, in response to a post about one of my eCourses, to express the opinion that I’m making money by ‘writing a lot of rubbish and selling it to other artists’.

This person is, of course, not in my private Facebook group, has never used any of my products, or they would have known better than to call anything I do ‘a load of old rubbish’.

The point about making money by telling others how to make money is an interesting one, though.

I have seen similar accusations made to others who teach, there’s even that old proverb

‘Those who can, do.  Those who can’t, teach.’

This post is as response – not for the hater at all, but for more polite people who may be wondering the same thing she was, quietly, as you visit my website.

To wonder whether somebody only makes money by telling people how to run a business is a valid concern with any ‘expert’.

So I thought I’d take the opportunity to tell you why you should trouble yourself to read a word I write on the subject of art and money, let alone pay for it, spend time on my courses, or implement any of my ideas in your own life.

I believe you have every right to ask what qualifications *I* have to advise *you* how to live your creative life. Here’s the thing. I have not made a success in business by telling other people how to make a success in business.

Yes, it is a part of my income now, but it’s not how I got to where I am.  I feel able to write about Creative Money and how to succeed in the creative industries because of this here real life place:-

Best gallery cafe in the world. Ever.

Best gallery cafe in the world. Ever.

This is The Art House.  in 2007 is was a failed art gallery, 10 days away from closing.  I made this.  OK, me and a whole mahoosive team of incredibly awesome people, and my 3 fellow directors.

We made this!

We made this!

With my 3 fellow founders, Nina, Ziggy & Bik, we proceeded to set up one of the most successful small arty businesses in Southampton. Within 14 months we had grown so big we had to move to a bigger premises. We are now in talks with a major developer about being involved in a much, much bigger creative hub right next door to us.  Our predicted income went from under 50K in the first year (not bad for a business that was 10 days from oblivion) to a predicted £150K this year.

All in the middle of in the middle of one of the worst recessions ever.

It isn’t all about size, of course, or money.  But, you can’t reach many people with a tiny venue and no cash.   Also: Many say The Art House is of the best venues they’ve ever been to.  People have reconnected with art, performed for the first time ever in public, grown and founded countless creative businesses and made friends over delicious cake.  Thousands of people. We are respected and consulted with alongside bigger, more established organisations in the city. In the middle of all this, I realised that my previous limiting beliefs about money and business were untrue and that releasing them had led to the success we’ve enjoyed.

I realised that I’d actually turned into a kickass social entrepreneur.  

That was a shocker, for me, as a dyed-in-the-wool creative hippy type who would rather barter buttons than spend lots of money. I realised, along the way, that anyone who wanted to live more creatively, make money from their passions and thrive doing what they love could do it.

If I could do it, you can do it.  Simples – well, simples with a side of jolly hard work.

To get to this point, I had to do some full-on learning and work through my personal crap, in a big way.

Business is not for sissies, especially small independent business.

I started with little business experience.  I’d only until then sold artwork to cover the costs of materials (a very good achievement in itself I might add!) and wasn’t able to support myself as an artist yet, although I badly wanted to. I’d tried teaching art (a very good way of supplementing a creative income) but again, wasn’t making enough to quit the day job.

I now know exactly what I was doing that wasn’t working.  I know because, having run and grown a business, it’s as clear as day that I’d spent lots of time honing my ART and TEACHING skills, but none on learning how to make money from them. No, I do not make a living entirely from selling artwork right now, as I spend most of my waking hours running my venue and my online business.

If I *was* living off my art, I would need to be doing it full-time or at least a lot more hours than I do now. Right now, my art is a personal journey with little sales going on, and that’s the way I want it to be – right now. But, as a gallery and venue owner, social entrepreneur and member of a huge creative community, I sure as shit do know how this Creative Money stuff is done better than most people!

The Art House taught me that bit and it taught me well. The lessons I learnt over the past five and a half years running The Art House – a real-life business with nearly £200K turnover per year – have turned me from struggling artist to creative entrepreneur who can market, budget, price properly, manage crew, plan ahead and grow, grow, grow all the time.

About a year ago I realised that what I’d learnt, both through my own experience and from the many artists I worked with, could help others realise their own BCD (Big Creative Dream).

But I didn’t feel expert enough, even when we packed out the room more than once when I ran ‘how we did this’ sessions. I didn’t feel expert even with the weekly requests to mentor and support others trying to set up in business. See, I made lots of mistakes, was still making a few, I didn’t feel like I had all the answers yet.  But, I saw other people make lots of mistakes, too, ones I’d already made – and realised I could tell them about it. Like, pricing their products too low.

Not marketing in a way that makes you feel yummy. Selling to the wrong people. Trying to please everyone.

Through the course of growing The Art House, I have talked to countless business owners, professional artists, performers, storytellers, musicians, poets and creative professionals and learnt what has worked for them.

I realised how many of the same principles applied whether you were selling tea or teapots.  Sure, each niche has it’s peculiarities, but the basics of whole-hearted, creative, passionate entrepreneurship are the same whatever you’re doing. But I’m still learning. Of course I don’t feel like a total ‘expert’ (does anyone?!), but the physical reality of my business shows that I must have done some things very right indeed. I felt resistant to sharing this knowledge for a long time, battling feelings of ‘well, I’m not as successful/rich/expert as so-and-so).

Then, I thought about how seeing an ordinary artist make a successful business, not a huge multi-million-pound one, just a great thriving local business and a decent living, might be useful to some of you. So I girded my loins, faced my fears about it and put together my Creative Money eKit to share some of the major blocks I had and have around money and business, and how I work through those.

A lot of how I got to where I am is because I followed the path beaten by people ahead of me, like SARK, Leonie Dawson and life gurus like Tony Robbins (who I have heard so many people vilify (his teeth are quite funny) but whose work has added so much to so many lives.  Bless his massive teeth!

People who, having figured out some stuff about how dreams are made real, decided to share what they have learnt with the world.


Who no doubt gathered a huge share of haters along the way, as all who stand out from the crowd will inevitably do. Who I’m sure are accused daily of setting up some freaky self-help pyramid scheme where they get rich off the insecurities of others. But the thing is, these people’s work helped so many people, me included. My life now surpasses the wildest dreams I had ten years ago.

I’ve been drawing a map, sometimes a rough map, of how I got here.  A map in Sharpie pens, in a recycled journal or two.

I do this by sharing the lessons I’ve learnt, supporting and cheerleading the group each month with deep learning, block-busting and business-head-getting. It will be fun, challenging, emotional, deep – all of the things I enjoy and live for!

When I do not know something, I will hold up my hands and say I do not know something.  I will ask somebody who does, in most cases, as I am blessed with a big network of amazing people in my life. You see, life is largely experimental.  We’re all trying out new things, tweaking as we go and learning, always learning.

A great lady and teacher, Clare Campbell, once said to me ‘If a teacher ever tells you they know everything, run a mile in the other direction’.

I don’t know everything.  Not even close.

Take off your running shoes, pull up a chair, grab a cup of tea and let’s share this magical, creative journey.

Oh, and thank you, hater, for giving me this blog post 🙂 I wish you happiness and success in YOUR art, too.


Thank you hater…… — 20 Comments

  1. There are ethical and unethical systems in business. Your business is clearly based in honesty, years of effort and experience-and joy for what you do. You put your real name and face on your business and you create community in the process. Finding ways to sustain your life and art– and helping others do the same seem highly ethical to me–and quite wonderful. It is also obvious that you work very hard. Congratulations for your talent and your expertise and your ability to share it. Too bad your hater did not see the world of difference between what you do and the nameless-souless- faceless- big buck enterprise machines- that make absurd promises to hapless consumers. Congratulations on what your have created.

  2. I think you are bloody great and I think the Art House is great, too. When we started our co-op in 1988 we had trouble with people not wanting to pay for our work because we were spending all our money on expensive furniture (the sofa was a gift from a friend who was downsizing – and he had got it 2nd hand), or because we were sposed to give everything for free as a co-op (when we had major loans to repay and the people criticising us were on a good whack from the charities they worked for). We paid ourselves £40 a week and got it in the neck from everyone because of their assumptions about what we should have been doing. Then the VAT boys couldn’t believe we were on such low wages and we were warned to pay ourselves more in case someone thought we were on the fiddle. It was a damn nightmare. On top of the logistics of running a business. Don’t get downhearted. Keep doing what you do best. It is working. For most of us. XXX

  3. awww so sorry, you got some hate responses to your course. I LOVE this post thou! It is an excellent way to surpass the small back-and-forth negative conversation and get straight to the point about how much work (internal & external) is needed to really live your dreams. Great job! 🙂

  4. Thank you hater too!!! How else do people progress and learn except from other other people who have experience??? I have been a teacher for many years and the first thing I tell my classes is I don’t know everything and if they don’t question they wont learn!! But they also have to listen to my experience as well!!!!

  5. For what it’s worth Jani, I put off reading your bit about how to make money because my heart literally sinks whenever I read money/business stuff. However, when I finally forced myself to go through it my heart lifted again – because it is readable, ethical, and something I could relate to. So many thanks – you have achieved what I thought was impossible, shifted my thinking about money (ever so slightly).

  6. Hooray! Glad it was helpful to you. I always think that the more I have struggled with something, the better equipped I am to teach others about it. Makes it worth the struggle 🙂

  7. Wow – some serious challenges there Angela! That’s rather put ours into perspective, in a lot of ways – we’ve managed for the most part to attract a very supportive and lovely type of customer, which does make me very grateful. Thanks for your kind words & for sharing your experience. x

  8. Thanks for your kind words! I’ve always reckoned that sticking to a place of authenticity and honesty (including admitting my limitations and mistakes) was the safest option, and it does seem to work!

  9. I loved this post. Wonderful to hear your story and also you have given me a much needed dose of courage as I prepare to launch my first proper book on the world! It’s a bit of a trek but I absolutely want to visit the Art House as soon as I can!

  10. Great post. I think we often post comments like this because this is something we might be wanting to do ourselves. Your post gave great background to your experience and why you do what you do. We won’t please everyone and neither should we. Your work is great, really creative and full of wonderful energy. You are clearly on the right track. Continue to enjoy and shine and make us all happy with what you share in the community.

  11. Thank you for telling your story. I had no idea that you created a place I’d love to go to every day (but can’t because I live in Southern California, lol). I’ve signed back up – so glad to have met you through Leonie. She’s amazeballs, isn’t she? And so are you, dear. So are you.

  12. Thanks so much for your kind words, Christine! Perhaps you will visit one day, in the meantime you can follow all our Shenanigans from sunny California 🙂 Leonie is amazeballs, that’s the truth!