Nadia Fairlamb is a sculptor who works with wood and mirror glass, and she also teaches art to young people through various educational programs in Hawaii, where she is based. Her work speaks to the integral link between culture and environment, and she carries that focus into the business side of her practice as well, collaborating with designers and hospitality managers to infuse her community with art. In 2017, she won a CHF Business Accelerator Fellowship, and this year she progressed to the next level of the program, as an Executive Fellow. In this episode, Nadia talks about her impressive trajectory, and how her focus on art-entrepreneurship boosted not only her career but her creativity as well.
The Journey to Becoming a Profitable Artist
"I decided that the only way I could be profitable with my business is if I tried. In other words, for about three years I gave up almost all other work to see if I could become a full-time professional artist."
"I started by trial and error, by putting myself physically at different art shows, craft fairs, events, things like that, for several years to test out my product, to meet a lot of different kinds of people, and to see what could be bought and what people were wanting to buy."
"I am now very picky about who I choose to donate to and why. However, when I first started, five, six, seven years ago, I wasn't picky. I took as many different opportunities as I could to have my work seen and shown in front of different audiences. That was until I decided, until I figured out, who my target audiences were."
I Run a Business, and My Business is Art
"The first thing I did was figure out where and who my ideal interior designers, decorators, art dealers would be, and then once I figured that out, I put together a professional booklet, like a portfolio, of my work that I wanted to showcase for them."
"I consider myself a business owner, and my business is art. So I know that I'm running a business, and every artist that I know that's making money is doing it the same way.”
"Selling art is really putting oneself in a really vulnerable place. Because it's not like you're selling a toothbrush or a hamburger. You're selling something that’s part of yourself."
"I have a company and my business name and my LLC, and that so far has been my brand. And it no longer really fits what I do and who I am as an artist. I'm wanting to shift from ‘This is my business’ to ‘This is me and this is what I make.’”
What I Learned From CHF's Accelerator Program
"Honestly, I wasn't trained to think like a business person—at all. I had very limited training in what it takes to get a business off the ground and get it going.”
"I feel like I'm taking away [...] a level of confidence that I was really needing and really wanted to have. Not just about making money but about myself, and confidence about the work that I make as a fine artist."
“My biggest hurdle has been the self-confidence to raise my prices and ask for those prices, and then get paid for the price point that I want to get paid for. That's really just a self-confidence thing that has been solved through repetition, persistence, and action."