2015 Artful Business Conference – here’s why you should go

The 2015 Artful Business Conference… I am beyond excited to be able to attend this event IN PERSON this year (you can read what I had to say about last year’s conference here). YAY me!
(Not to mention being able to visit galleries in the¬†big smoke and catch up with some of my besties ūüėÄ )

Why do I want to go so much? (Hint: if you clicked on the link above you’d know why, but if you just want the quick answer, read on.)

Because it’s fabulous.

Last two years I’ve attended, I have learnt SO much about running a profitable small business for heart-centred creatives. People like you and me, who totally love what they do and want to share that passion with the world.

I’ve learnt to focus on my WHY. I’ve learnt about how I can best help people with the work I do. I’ve learnt about how to get my message across more effectively. I’ve learnt how to adapt to change and grow my brand. I’ve learnt that we all tell ourselves stories about who and what we are, and what we deserve – and because of those stories, we limit and sabotage ourselves in our efforts to get ahead (ooh, I feel I’m still on the first chapter of this one! But I firmly believe that understanding the problem is the key to moving beyond it).

I’ve learnt a bunch of practical things too. How to run a successful social media campaign. How to charge properly for your time, and what that means for your business’s bottom line (seriously, we really don’t value our time enough). Getting rigorous about finding your customers. How to¬†use your email list effectively. (You have one don’t you? Of course you do. And you must be constantly growing it. Yes you do.)




So what’s on this year?

More fabulousness of course.

* Business mentors. To point you in the right direction and help you figure out what you should be focusing on. (Read Tash Corbin’s story¬†here, Kym Seletto’s here, and Artful Business Conference founder, Elle Roberts here).

* Financial mentors, helping you figure out your financial potential, and HOW TO GET IT (Sylvia Chierchia is here).

* Web designers, for building a powerful online presence (Nicki McKay is here).

* Creative business owners that have built their biz from the ground up. They know exactly what it’s like to build¬†a business around something that you love (Lynda Rennick is here, and Sonia Lyne (who I haven’t seen in a squillion years since uni, squeeee!) is here).

And last but not least,
* Revolutionaries and lighthouse builders. I cannot say enough about this wonderful person. Karen Gunton is quite simply, awesome.



2015 artfulbizcon 2015 artfulbizcon2


So I’ll see you there, yeah?




Now, I’m an affiliate of this fab event, so that I get a small percentage from every sale – but I would never¬†promote anything I don’t wholeheartedly believe in.

And I really, really, REALLY¬†believe that this event has the power to totally¬†transform your business. So I’m giving you bonus extras! For everyone who signs up through my link, you get a free¬†Brand Clarity¬†coaching session with me – that’s a 1 x hour Skype session and a written report on your biz, valued at $150.

The Artful Business Conference is available online too, so if you can’t be there in person, you can still ‘be there’ and join in! In fact there are a wide range of participation options, so you can find the format that suits you best. Prices range from a Virtual Pass at $97 to a Backstage Pass with ALL the extras at $797.
(So really, even if you spend just $97 bucks, you get $247 value! So what are you waiting for?)




I can’t wait.

Julie X


Inspiring : Laura Mysak (2 years on) ~ florals with romance
laura mysak - roses

laura mysak – roses


“It’s funny how sometimes, the thing which daunts you the most is the area that you should be pushing yourself towards.” Two years after I first featured Laura Mysak‘s surface designs, she took a brave step into the unknown world of large-scale wall art. And¬†suddenly realised that her particular style of painting actually¬†looked great¬†in¬†this format. She¬†hasn’t looked back.


laura mysak - peony

laura mysak – peony


Designing repeats is still an important focus for her, and two years counts as a substantial amount of work; It’s no surprise that Laura’s watercolours are more confident and richer than ever before. “I think the feedback I’ve had from the various people I’ve worked with has helped me develop my style to what it is today. There have been several successes from which I have gained more confidence in my work and just the realisation that other people like it, and are willing to buy into it helps.”


laura mysak - hyacinth

laura mysak – hyacinth

laura mysak - large rose

laura mysak – large rose

“I also think that a general maturity naturally arises when you’ve been trying different things out until one thing fits. Having said that, I do believe my work will always change and grow. And I actually think that’s better than staying stagnant. It’s important to try new things but to always remember what you’re essentially good at and, with me, it’s the original watercolour painting which always remains the starting point for each of my pieces.”


“It’s important to try new things but to always remember what you’re essentially good at”


Since her last interview with me, Laura has been working hard at¬†honing her style and making connections within the industry. Now her work has been spotted by¬†high profile licensing consultants, and she is currently working with some clients she loves. And last year she was chosen to be part of Artistic Britain’s slot on QVC TV. Laura¬†calls it “lucky” to have these things happen for her, but I’m thinking that it might also have something to do with hard work and perseverance…


laura mysak - poppies

laura mysak – poppies

laura mysak - iris hydrangea hellebore

laura mysak – iris hydrangea hellebore


She has her eyes set firmly on the future. Laura¬†is working on gaining more momentum through additional licensing, so that she can grow her¬†brand and get to work with more varied products and clientele. “I hope, one day, to have a range which I can be really proud of and perhaps see it in a high street store!”

I’m sure she will.

You can find more of Laura’s beautiful work on her website,¬†www.lauramysak.co.uk.


laura mysak - wildflowers 3

laura mysak – wildflowers 3


Inspiration : Ben Conservato {illustration}
ben conservato - cloak and dagger V3

ben conservato – cloak and dagger V3


“I did struggle with taking photos at first; for someone who studied photography, it kind of baffled me that I couldn’t get it right.” So says Sydney-based Emma Kidd, artist, illustrator, printmaker, zine maker,¬†and photographer, and the face behind Ben Conservato. She thinks she’s figured it out though – “Plain old white background and natural light never fails.”

Emma¬†started drawing monsters “Because I don’t draw people perfectly. It just became more and more monsters… and sea creatures.” Her characters are whimsical and mostly friendly (but I wouldn’t want to meet some of them in a dark alley), and her menagerie has extended to include lots of wings – winged horses, monkeys, and men, and birds that don’t wish to fly at all.


ben conservato - orange birdman

ben conservato – orange birdman


“… apart from the time my mother, who worked at a business college, insisted I learn how to type.”


ben conservato - kingston - winged copper plumed horse

ben conservato – kingston – winged copper plumed horse


ben conservato - two characters from the 8 x paper doll pack

ben conservato – two characters from the 8 x paper doll pack


The name Ben Conservato¬† came about originally when¬†Emma started up a jam-making business after travelling through Italy a few times. “Well preserved” seemed the perfect name then, and she still loves it now. ¬†But it’s been a long {and sticky?} road between jam-making and illustration. Most of the time her journey has been a positive one, “Apart from the time my mother, who worked at a business college, insisted I learn how to type.¬†…¬†I’ve always been doing something in the creative, even if it is while I do some other job that I hope didn’t interfere with my own work. It sometimes does.”


ben conservato - four armed sea man

ben conservato – four armed sea man


Emma¬†has always drawn a lot, and was encouraged as a child¬†to be creative and do what she loved even if it didn’t earn any money. She completed an Associate Diploma in Fine Arts, specialising in photography and printmaking. “There I¬†discovered photographic etching and at the time, in 1998, it changed my world.” She also completed a graphic design certificate a few years back. “I thought it’ll be good, it’ll be creative. But when you’re sitting there and doing work for other people and they’ll want you to make their logo bigger or use comic sans or something horrible. Then when you get home you’ll think ‘I’m going to paint now’, but I just have no idea what to do¬†because I’m¬†drained.” So, she says she mostly keeps hospitality as her fall-back position – “It is something I can do and rarely bring it home to the point I am unable to do my own work.”


ben conservato - cockatoo on a night adventure (without his wings)

ben conservato – cockatoo on a night adventure (without his wings)


“My workspace is generally (apart from the piles around our small flat) a stand-up desk in the corner of my once workroom, that is now my son’s room. He is only 2.4 years old, so he can’t kick me out yet, or at least hasn’t tried. It is messy and sometimes frustrating, but I like there is a place I can leave all my paint there, pieces of creatures and other things without having to put them away. I can paint things in passing throughout the day if there is limited time. I tend to work when he is doing his half day at “school” and when he sleeps.”

“In the business, I tend to try to do everything myself. ¬†There are times we all financially struggle doing our own work and trying to stick to it. There are definitely low points in the year.” But it’s still worth it. “The best bit is being able to create and actually get some type of recognition that that is my style.”


ben conservato - shallows and deep sea - 5 piece nesting doll set

ben conservato – shallows and deep sea – 5 piece nesting doll set


What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“Don’t let graphic design kill your style.”


You can find more of Emma’s wonderful work in her Etsy shop, BenConservato. And I totally urge you to check out this lovely video about her as well.



How to define your business personality (with case studies)


brand personality - jg


In the last post, I talked about defining your business personality with words. It’s fun, did you have a go?¬†How many words did you come up with? If you’re anything like me, I can find an enormous list of words that fit aspects of what I do. I’m so complicated LOL!¬†(I’m the same with colour – it’s so hard to¬†limit myself to just a few). But with your business, you need to be clear-sighted and cull those words¬†down quite a bit, to get to the essence of who and what you are (6-10 words is great).

To explain how that business personality is expressed visually, I thought it would be useful to look at a few great shopfronts and websites. As I said last post, Business Personality and Business Identity work hand in hand. With the visual stuff we’re getting more into the area of Business Identity here – the colours, fonts, imagery etc that you use in¬†your branding, but the point is that it should be very expressive of your business personality.



If you’ve been hiding under a rock, The Collective is part magazine and part inspiration for business-minded creatives. It’s the brain-child of Lisa Messenger (and if you’ve never heard her story, you should – it’s a gob-smacker).

The Collective labels itself as “game changers | thought leaders | rule breakers | style makers”. It’s aimed at 35-ish creative folk who are intending to go places, completely on their own terms. It’s glossy, romantic and big. So, it uses lots of stylish, large-format vista-type images, ¬†with a bold, hand-painted script font. It’s lots of black and white too, which further emphasises¬†strength. Black and white is uncompromising.

brand personality 3




Meet Me At Mikes is a blog about life, crafting, and a whole bunch more, written by Pip Lincoln who is the author of several books on crafting, and writer for a number of other well-known places¬†such as Kidspot and Frankie Magazine. It’s completely colourful, cosy, homey and happy. I love this header! Its collection of bright, clear colours are wonderfully¬†cheery, its shapes are simple and clean. Using a variety of colours in this way conveys¬†inventiveness and a vibrant interest in living, and there is always tons of colour throughout her blog.¬†The scattering of blocks on the end only¬†add to the whole playful effect. Her imagery is filled with retro, cute, and lots of closeups of homespun textures. It’s like she’s inviting you into her home.

brand personality - meetmeatmikes




The Darling Tree is an entirely different kettle of fish. Jo Klima founded The Darling Tree as a shopfront for her design services (which she still offers), but has more recently extended into surface design and products printed with her patterns. She has shifted from a quite feminine, gentle style, to one that is more expressive of her spiritual journey, and focuses on a vibrant palette of purples, pinks, and aquas, in a variety of bold, painterly patterns (her site loads a different pattern in the same palette every time you refresh). Like The Collective, Jo chooses a bold, handwritten font to be expressive of individuality and strength. The whole suggests artistic expressiveness, femaleness, strength and daring.

brand personality 4




Chelsey Andrews is the force behind The Paper Mama, which focuses on DIY crafts, personal style, and food. As well as her own blog she writes about DIY and craft for companies like HP Create and Better Homes and Gardens.

Her style is definitely very feminine, with tons of flowers. Her colours are warm, rich, with some lovely soft textures in both the aqua background and the handpainted header. They are also not overly bright and a bit muted, giving a sense of the old-fashioned. The handpainted header and the not-quite-straight hand drawn chain circling her photo all evokes that  retro homey, DIY attitude, with the big blooms making it full and sensuous and very girly.

brand personality 5




Now, if you’ve got an Etsy shop or similar, it can be a whole lot harder to convey your sense of brand personality, because so much of the screen space is taken up with Etsy’s set format. While it can be harder, it is not impossible as these shops show inventive ways to use their header space.



Within Etsy, you’re mostly limited to your shop banner to convey your brand, unless people choose to scroll down. But POAST¬†(who I featured a little while ago here)¬†still¬†manages to create a space that is cool, modern, and very definitely Scandinavian. The Etsy¬†banner space is quite long and not very high, so you need to use an image that uses¬†horizontal space well. Laurie has used a misty image of the mountain forest to great effect, choosing one that has virtually no colour to complement¬†her mostly white ceramic style. The shop¬†name is in a clean and modern san serif font with the horizontal removed from the A, making it both distinctive and classic at the same time. It is also smack bang in the centre, giving a sense of balance and maturity.

brand personality 6




Many people choose to use an image of some of their work for their header, and if it’s done with care, this¬†can be a great idea as it can instantly capture your mood and colours. Theater Clouds¬† (who I wrote about here) has evoked the whimsy and serenity of her work with an image of tiny sailboats. The image is beautifully lit (as is all her work), has a lovely horizontal flow to it, and is warm and inviting with the use of soft red in the boats and text.

brand personality 9



A bit more “blokey” by the very nature of using hulking buffalo as his subject matter, Wired By Bud has created a scene specifically for use as a header. It’s kind of humorous and fun, and shows off what he can do. His shop name is in a strong, classic font that contrasts well with the wire shapes. The only thing I would tweak is the quality¬†of his banner image, as I find it fuzzy and grainy and that’s distracting.

I know Etsy does compress images so you might not get it perfect, but if you are having any similar problems, try uploading your images as the highest quality .jpeg, or even a .png file.

brand personality 8




Of course, you don’t have to incorporate any of your work into your banner, or even any images. Ceramicist Jeanette Zeis relies on an extremely simple, hand drawn banner of her name. Why this works is that it strongly echoes her ceramic style –¬†¬†there is evidence of the hand-made in its uneven lines and edges, it is soft yet strong, with a touch of the classic in¬†the wreath of leaves, reminiscent of ancient Greek crowns. Overall it looks open and gentle, and doesn’t take itself too seriously.

brand personality 10



Got any questions about ANYTHING in this post?   If you do, pop your questions in the comments below. Do it! You never know who else might be wondering exactly the same thing but be too shy to ask.

Let’s help each other!

Julie x

(p.s. I’m just about to launch into Brand Coaching for you! With Questionnaires, Skype sessions and a whole heap more. If you’d like to be in on the ground floor AND get a substantial discount on this service, get on the mailing list below!)