Navigating Art Business Coaching

I recently received this email from an artist whom I met on line:

Hi Suzanne,

I’m writing to ask you about the Inner Circle art business coaching program that Alyson B. Stanfield runs.

I’ve been going back and forth about it since last year. What’s been stopping me is that it’s a lot of money for me at the moment. I think what we get out of these courses and the coaching depends on what we put into it, and also where we are in our businesses. You’re the only one I speak to who’s in the program, so I figured I’d get your perspective. Can you tell me if, from your point of view, you got any financial return from it?

Thanks for your time!

With gratitude, An Artist (name withheld for privacy)

Hi Dear Artist Friend!

You caught me online this morning! I am excited to respond.

In answer to your question, yes!

As you stated already—you must take responsibility for your own career and do the work!

The support of coaching and peer feedback is great. Please note you initiate all your own work—no one will tell you what to do. Alyson teaches a business framework from which you can support your career as an artist. I believe most artists in her programs do increase sales potential. In her program you will receive suggestions and regular feedback. You will be asked questions that you may not have thought to ask yourself. These questions will lead to new insight when you take the time to write and reflect + try new things.

You’ll need to be open to doing stuff even when your first reaction is… ah, NO!

Artists become more successful when they tightly focus their work and visual voice. This is work I love to do, and I am currently exploring ways to make this my business focus.

You’ll get much more out of the program if you show up to the monthly group meetings with Alyson and your peers in the group. Make sure to prepare ahead and ask questions. Then also listen to other artists questions in the live format of video conferencing. In the IC, you may possibly learn more from each other than from the actual coaching. These group meetings are terrific! However, if you do need to miss them, for whatever reason, there are taped versions of the meetings. The taped versions are perfect for the times when you really do have a conflict and the other work is priority. I might add, if you have a regular day job, the live meetings might be harder to incorporate into your schedule. You’ll need to decide if you will feel comfortable watching or listening to group meetings after they have been recorded or will you possibly feel as though you’ve missed out.

If you have never worked with a coach before, then you should know that there will be times when you feel like a shredded Bansky painting or a wilting flower in need of love, water and sunshine.

This is normal! When this happens, remember to reach out for help. The coaching team and your peers will be there to lend support and encouragement. If you are always needy and reaching out for help, then it is time to ask yourself two things: do I really want to be a visual artist and am I taking full responsibility for my own future as an art business owner and entrepreneur?

I am not sure how many of Alyson’s classes or workshops you have taken. Take a look back at them. The classes or ideas within classes that you may have resisted, might be the stuff you need to focus on. The Inner Circle (IC) can be a good place to get support for these sticky issues. I suggest this research as a starting place for your exploration about deciding whether to join the Inner Circle or not.

Suzanne Gibbs ©2015, Dorky Doodle Femme Fatal. Paper, Ink. 14 x 11 inches. $195

A few final notes.

  1. Alyson’s website has a huge library that Inner Circle members may access at anytime during the program. The information in the library is vast. I think Alyson could sell membership programs to her library because there is so much good juicy stuff!
  2. If the program creates a financial hardship, then I’d say, wait and save your money. Jpoin when you’ve saved the funds. You will be learning things that will require further financial outlay during the program. Being frustrated about money will not lead to excellent results.
  3. Alyson’s programs are best suited to fine artists, not illustrators or other types of creative work.
  4. Creating fine art for sale and teaching art are two different businesses. Many artists run both types of businesses as a means to self support and as a passion for what they do. When embarking on the path of joining the Inner Circle, it may be helpful to focus on one side of an art business. Not both in the same year. It is too much work to grow both an art business and a teaching business at the same time and do the work well.
  5. Many artists repeat the Inner Circle program for more than one year. The first year being the foundational year of building sustainable art business systems. The second or third years as business and income growth years. I am not suggesting that you will not see increased sales in your first year, but many see better results in repeat years (as told to me by other artists, I have only completed one year).

When, and if, you decide to join the IC, I recommend that you spend a massive amount of time on the intake paperwork and goal setting part in December and early January. The prep work you do will become your map for the year (the IC year is January–October). You are the guide to your own growth, the IC community is the support structure.

I hope this helps!

This post is my personal response and opinion about the Inner Circle program created by Art Biz Success and is not endorsed or affiliated to Alyson B. Stanfield’s work.

2 thoughts on “Navigating Art Business Coaching

  1. Mary Ahern

    After just completing my second year of Alyson Stanfield’s Inner Circle I can testify to the quality & professionalism of the program. As an artist who has been showing and selling her work for decades, I can say that these two years have turned my head around for the better. It requires full participation on the part of the artist to gain all the benefits of the program. I believe that the motto should be, “You don’t always get what you want, but you get what you need.” It has been worth every penny and more!


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