Starting an Art Career later in life - Interview with Betty Krause
'I was just about 50 when I began although, that seems late in life the timing was perfect for me'. - Betty Krause
This is a transcribed from an Instagram Live interview.
Betty is an influential artist from California with 110 thousand followers on Instagram. You can also find her on YouTube, her website, and Facebook. Betty’s inspiration comes from nature, flowers, meadows, and mountains which reflects the joyful and positive outlook she has on life.
I would recommend her YouTube program ABSTRACTLY YOURS – with Betty Krause. Where she shares her process so that others can create your own unique abstract.
Natasha: Welcome, thank you for joining me today. I am so pleased to meet you.
Betty: Great to meet you too.
N: A lot of people start life going down the mainstream path - playing safe and doing what is expected or required of them to earn money to pay the bills. Then somewhere along their journey they either discover art or go back to it. Should we try to fit in with the mainstream?
B: I think the art journey is different for everyone. There is no right path but rather follow your heart and see what works best for you depending where you are in life.
As you mentioned I didn’t start art until later in life. I was just about 50 when I began although, that seems late in life the timing was perfect for me. I don’t think I could have done it before then as I had other things going on, mainly a career that paid for my home and put food on the table. I got started when I came towards the end of my corporate career and I was able to easily transition into my art career.
N: Like you mentioned the journey is different for everyone. Talking to other artists; some stay at home with little ones, other artists are almost empty nesters and can see it as a great opportunity to follow their dream of being an artist’s… is it ever too late to start?
B: I don’t think that it is. The moms that are at home painting with little ones in bed sleeping is the perfect time to be creative or when the kids are at school, they find a few hours for themselves to be creative, which is wonderful.
Every step that you take, every moment that you spend creating and focusing on your art, learning techniques, styles, tools and products is important to draw upon when you decide that creating art becomes your career.
Or you might be like me. Art was not something on the radar until later in life and that’s ok too. It certainly wasn’t too late for me. I would never have dreamt that I would have a successful art career when I was younger.
N: Being creative is not just painting. Many people are creative in a craft, some artists boo-hoo craft but can it help a serious art career?
B: Absolutely. I like to think about it like this. When we go to school, we learn lots of things, such as math, history, etc. Let’s take math for example. There are basic things I learned back then that I apply today. But there are a ton of things I never apply and wouldn’t know how to apply. When we are creative, we are tapping into parts of our creative side. It helps us in our path somewhere down the path.
When I was starting out and I was doing mixed media, or even before that when I was making cards and I was stamping, I was learning how to use those products. I enjoyed making the cards for birthdays and other occasions. I would spend hours on the cards, making them perfect. It was a lovely time I was spending with and for myself.
I stumbled upon mixed media on the internet. I completely fell in love with it and I knew immediately that it was what I wanted to do. I went out and bought lots of different products and I created a lot of mixed media art for several years. I stamped, collaged, I did mark making. Anything I could do I tried it.
I was learning what worked and what didn’t work. I still use some of those things today, like my love and passion for layering and creating those interesting areas, where some layers are peeking through and some are hidden. I learned all that in mixed media and my card making. I was layering back then too. That is still carried through to the work I do today. Nothing we learn in the past is ever wasted.
Then abstract art caught my eye. It was very hard at first and it was quite a journey to where I am today. I wanted to be an abstract artist and consciously decided to move in that direction. I kept the paints, canvases, paper, and mark-making tools for my abstract art.
I love having time to myself and being creative. Here I am today finally creating in a way and style that I love, and others love too.
N: Leaving the known for the unknown, the reliable for the unpredictable. How did you find that?
B: For me, there was an easy transition. I left Corporate America and I began working with my husband in his house painting business. I went from going to an office in a corporate environment to doing all the marketing for our business. In the beginning, I also did some of the painting too. I wasn’t going to an office for 8 hours a day. It was flexible where I did the work in the mornings and the afternoons became my creative time.
When we sold the business, I was able to spend more time on my art. That was when I was able to market myself as an artist. And, I was able to make more art that I loved to make and got it out there for folks to buy. For me it was a slow transition, however, this worked for me. It just slowly evolved.
I know for some artists they suddenly quit their day job and say from this day forward I’m a full-time artist. I know a lot of them spend time on weekends and evenings doing their art and get to a point where they could not do both and had to make a choice. Where it was not like that for me. It was more of a soft transition.
Again I feel there is no right or wrong way to start. You can go slowly like I did or go head-on into an art career. Both can be very successful.
N: So many artists want to be creating great work and have a successful art business to sell their work. What is the best starting point… having great art… or a good business model?
B: Both are important but if you are just starting out you must make great art first. You must put in the hours and create art that you have invested yourself in. You must work hard to improve your skills so that when you create art it is not only art you love but what other people love too.
I’m not talking about trying to figure out what other people like and making that. You need to make what is coming from within you, what you absolutely love and what you are passionate about. But you must develop those skills. There are absolutely no shortcuts. You must put in the hours. It has been said that it takes 10,000 hours of practising your art and your creativity to be good at it.
N: What I’m hearing from you is that you didn’t start off big. You slowly enjoyed your creative times which grew into a passion. You slowly discovered abstract art after trying other creative pursuits. You slowly built your business into a successful art career. There seemed to be no rush along the way.
B: Yes, that’s very true in my case. When I first started creating, I didn’t think that it would be my career. I really enjoyed my creative time and the process of creating. It was after several years of creating and posting on social media (and getting positive feedback), that I decided to pursue my art as a career. Again, it took time to learn how to run an art business, how to market myself, how to make sales, etc. This has been my best year so far, however, I’m still learning every day.
N: Thank you, Betty, for sharing your story with us and sharing about your beginning. I know many artists see where successful artist are and forget that they once were at the beginning of a career. I am sure hearing about your journey will be an encouragement to others. Especially those who feel they are late in the game. I can see it is never too late to start an art career and be successful at it.
B: You’re most welcome. It has been a pleasure sharing with you and I wish you and your listeners successful art careers.
Recapinging Betty's Chat
Art is a journey – different for everyone
There is no right way to start a career
It is never too late
Tap into previous skills and training to further your career
Don’t be concerned about slow beginnings
Invest time into creating and building on your skills
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