In this episode... How commitment and consistency helped Jess Currier 10X her art sales in just one year.
The “Artist Success Interview Series" is a collection of interviews from artists who have had great success selling their art and reaching their goals. They’ll be sharing the biggest catalysts to their success and providing valuable tips that you can implement in your own business.
Jess Currier (formerly Velarde) has always been committed to becoming a successful artist. She admits that her art wasn't amazing when she first started, but showing up and putting in the work allowed her to become the talented painter she is today.
Jess’s business began taking off when she started believing that her art was worthy of investing in. She wasn’t always happy with her finished pieces, but she realized that if someone else found value in it, she should be proud of it. It’s simply the process of learning to recognize the growth that you are making as an artist. Your talent, and therefore, your work, is going to change over time.
Jess is currently focusing on larger work for a group show at her dream gallery in NYC!
Listen in to learn how Jess Currier came to believe in herself and how she’s encouraging others to do the same.
Listen as Jess answers these three questions:
- What is the most significant mindset shift you made to get you where you are now? (00:08:42)
- What single action step helped you grow the most? (00:14:02)
- What advice do you have for someone who's not sure if they can reach their next level? (00:19:06)
Resources and links mentioned:
Learn more about selling your art:
- For more practical and energetic strategies to create consistent income and life balance, follow Jessica on Instagram @artistmarketco
- Would you like to know where to spend your time in order to create consistent sales, without letting it take over your life? Awesome! Grab your free training, "The Artist's Day" here: https://theartistmarket.co/
- Learn more about my Consistent Income for Artists program here.
Jessica Craddock: I am so excited to be here with my friend Jess Velarde. She is an oil painting and also an artist instructor and she is amazing at, hmm, what's the word I'm looking for here...uh, sharing with her audience,, practice, practice, practice. That is the main thing I have seen in her feed for, I don't know, the past five years or so that we have known each other.
You can find her on Instagram @jesscurrierstudio.
Okay. So let's get started. I like to ask all of the artists that I've done these interviews with, are you willing to share where you are at financially through your art? Is that something you're comfortable with, and Jess said yes. So she gave me a couple of notes beforehand. She averages, around $3,000 a month.
Sometimes it's less. Sometimes it's more depending on what she's doing, and she has a couple of different streams that help her get there. Do you want to touch on that Jess?
Jess Velarde: Happily, yes, so I actually get this question a lot on Instagram as well. I've been for a little more background, I've been painting on and off for about five years, as long as I've been sharing my work on Instagram.
I've been working with Jessica for the last year. We just realized it was our one-year coaching anniversary coming, yay! We started last April, and since then I have, I'm currently averaging about that 3000 a month. When she asked if I would share numbers, I said, yes, as long as we talk about them in those terms of averages, because it does vary so much.
And I do have a few different streams, like she said. So my primary stream of income is selling originals. I'm going to pull up my notes here and talk numbers because I think that's very helpful. So currently I average in art sales from around 1200 to 2,400 a month. Sometimes that is way less.
Sometimes it's nothing. Sometimes it is, for example, this month I made 6,000 in original sales, because I did a large studio clear out sale. I sold about 30 paintings for about $200 each and averaged $6,000, which is amazing.
It feels great, but the month before that I was preparing for the studio sale. I wasn't doing a lot of selling of other work. I maybe sold one or two paintings. I think I made like $400 from selling originals. So that's why we say it averages out, and I don't expect it to be the same every month. That's my primary source of income with it though is selling. I have a Shopify site, and I have a mid sized email list and a large Instagram following.
That's where most of my collectors come from as well as people I know in real life friends, family. They count too. They are a large portion of my collectors, and I'm very, very grateful for that. So the majority of my income comes from that. In addition to that I've been seeing a lot of consistent income lately from actually reels bonuses.
So if you're not aware, Instagram came out with a incentive program to pay creators directly just for creating content based on how many views they get. So I opted into that. I realized that's a very frustrating one because it's not available to everyone. And it seems kind of random. It's not even just large accounts that get it.
And this started when my account was about half the size, less than half the size of what it was now. That is about $400 to $700 a month, depending on how many reels I create and how many views they get. If I have any go viral or anything like that, but it does bring in a good chunk extra that has been very helpful.
I don't know how long this is going to last. I don't know how long Instagram is going to do this. Of course. So it's not something I am relying on, but it is something that I'm taking advantage of while I have access to it.
When it started, I think the first month I earned like $300 and then it's been up to 700. So that's super cool. That's benefited me cause I am creating content to try to sell my work anyway.
So it's nice that I've been able to generate extra income for something that I would already be doing, which is wonderful. Again, I don't know how long that'll last. In addition to that, I do private art lessons.
I have done some workshops and I plan to do more in the future. Currently I'm just doing private art lessons for a couple of students, and I charge $50 an hour for that. That brings in another few hundred dollars a month, and then miscellaneous income.
So if I do a workshop or for example, a friend is using my work. I'm doing a time-lapse video of a floral painting for her music video. She's a musician, and she's you know, paying me to collaborate with her on that. So there are things like that, that come up that are not consistent.
They're, they're very kind of random projects or collaborations. I think I would put commissions in here as well. I don't do a ton of commissions. I mostly sell originals that I've already created, but when I do a commission, I consider it like a extra collaborative project that brings in a little bit more.
And so that's from another two to $600 a month, which comes out
Jessica Craddock: I just want to point out real quick. Sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt you. I thought you were pausing. I wanted to point out that you have plenty of potential commissions that you could follow up on, but that is not your path.
It's not what you decided to do. You would rather spend your time creating more original work and marketing that instead of following the commission line. So yes, while things can pop up such as Instagram reels, is it aligned with what you want to be doing? Yes or no. Okay.
Jess Velarde: A hundred percent. And the way that worked out in practice is that I price my commissions a little bit higher than my originals. I offer a very specific range of sizes. That's something Jessica and I have worked on and figured out. So it is something I offer. It is something I will, you know, reply to people on, but it's not something that's accessible to most people.
That's intentional, because it's not the work I enjoy most. I want to make sure that if I say yes to one of those projects, it's really truly in alignment with the type of work I want to be doing and pricing it in that way, kind of filters that out. People who are really excited about it and really think I'm the only artist who could create what they want will continue pursuing it and working with me and we'll find a way to make it happen. And I'll enjoy that process, you know, Yeah, and make it a little less accessible and same thing. So with the reel bonuses, again, that's something I was already doing. That's something I actually really enjoy making reels.
I have a lot of fun with it. I geek out about it. I really liked doing it. And so if it wasn't, if I hated it, I wouldn't rely on that. Same thing with the art lessons. That's something that you know, doing workshops and classes and just teaching more regularly is something I want to do more of in the future.
Doing these private lessons is, you know, it's with people I like. It's with students that I enjoy working with. It's time well spent that I really enjoy. And it's also I'll have my students come in, I'll work on my, my own originals while they're working on theirs, and I'll just check in. I'll make sure I coach them through it, but I'm also just there painting.
It's sort of , all of these various things. I try to keep them as much in alignment as possible with what really brings me joy.
[00:08:42] What is the most significant mindset shift you made to get you where you are now?
Jessica Craddock: Okay. So, we have the three questions that I always ask. Number one is what has been the biggest shift that you needed to make in order to get to where you are now?
That being $3000 a month average income is what we'll stick with for that question.
Jess Velarde: That my work is worth investing in for other people. It might be cheating, but I kind of have two answers for this. I think they're deeply connected. So one is that my work is worthy of collecting.
Jessica Craddock: Like you decided it's worthy of collecting. Is that what you mean?
Jess Velarde: I think it took people investing in it and telling me that for me to start making that shift, but I feel that imposter syndrome and those voices are still like, you know. I've consistently made about 3000 , for the majority of this year from selling originals. I just did a big studio sale of work. It's not even the work I'm most excited about or proud of, and I sold three quarters of it. Even still, I can tell those voices are there. your work isn't that good. I can still feel that insecurity and that fear and that doubt sneaking in.
Although I do think the, like affirmation of people actually purchasing work and collecting work and telling you it's good. That has certainly helped. I know that it's not a reliable source for that belief at all. It will come and go. You know, it's so dependent on so many other factors, many of which have nothing to do with me or my work.
Some of which do, and there's part of that, you know, that you figure out. But I have to ground myself in that belief and that's going to take work to do. And I think it's connected to... I talk a lot on Instagram and just online and in any conversation with anyone who will talk to me about art. I will talk about how I had to go through the process of giving myself permission to make bad art, to be a bad artist, but I still wanted an artist, even if I couldn't be amazing at it when I first started.
Then I put the work in, and I became a good painter. And I started making better and better work, and that, that was instrumental. Just saying, I'm an artist. I will paint. I will show up, and I will share it, even if I think it sucks.
That carried me into selling as well, because now I'm not only saying I will show up and do the work. I will create regardless of the outcome, because I'm committed to this process, because I love it, because I want to be an artist. It's who I am, you know, that's all flowing out of that, and you know, the outcome is kind of irrelevant in that mindset.
I'm now extending that to encompass sales, because I'm going, okay, I'm gonna show up. I'm going to do the work. I'm going to put it out there, be vulnerable. I'm going to share it. I'm going to make it available to purchase in exchange for currency, and that's another step of that vulnerability.
Right? And so you have to hold onto that mindset that even if I look at this painting and I judge it and I say, oh, it's not my best work, oh, it's not as good as this artist or it doesn't demonstrate this level of skill that I wish I could. Doing the studio sale is a great example of this, because there's a lot of older work that if I were to do those same paintings now, I would do them quite differently.
Right. I would do them with a different level of skill and a different approach. If I want to sell those, I have to be able to say these have value as they are, and it's going to touch someone where they are. I don't need to judge it or change it in order to put it out there and make it available, and have it be meaningful and valuable for someone enough that they want to bring it into their home and treasure it.
If I were coaching someone else through this, you know, we would go down that path of, well, if you're holding it back, you're actually really robbing the world of something beautiful.
You're robbing people of the opportunity to connect with something that's meaningful to them. It doesn't matter what you think about it. What matters is what they think about it.
Jessica Craddock: So many, I mean which one, which one do I grab onto? But I think the fact that you said, " It doesn't matter. I have to do it anyway. I will do it anyway." Even though that's not technically a mindset shift, that is what leads to the mindset shift. So I talk about confidence, a lot inside of my programs, but also that while sometimes you will get it from an external validation, you can't build it from that place.
You have to build it from me. I can't not do it. I must take action steps. Those action steps, as Jess has learned, lead to the external validation, and it turns into the cycle almost of, I am putting in and getting back.
You made so many good points there, but that was the one that stood out to me the most. So thank you for sharing that.
[00:14:02] What single action step helped you grow the most?
Jessica Craddock: So what one practical step have you taken that has gotten you the furthest?
Jess Velarde: Do the work to show up and keep painting and to make the work available for sale. Put it out there. Make the work, share it, make it available for sale.
Jessica Craddock: And like what you said earlier that actually saying it is for sale is another layer of vulnerability that is not always that easy.
Jess Velarde: Because people could not want to buy it, which happens all the time to me.
Jessica Craddock: I mean, that's how sales work.
Some people want to buy it. Some people don't and that's okay. That should be the way it is.
Jess Velarde: It's a good, good thing when people leave you. That means that you are saying something that means something and that people care to hear, some people care to hear. Other people do not want to hear, and that's why they're leaving.
Yeah. If you're not offending anyone, you're probably not sharing very many real thoughts.
Jessica Craddock: Even something so simple as, keep practicing. You probably suck right now, but you'll be amazing in five years. You would never say it like that. I just said it like that.
Jess Velarde: I come close to that. I talk about if you're new to my work or my content, I talk a lot about how I think the word talent, as we often use it, is kind of a myth. It's also really unhelpful. Like, it just doesn't help, because it's so easy to get stuck in that mindset of, if I'm not naturally good at this without practicing, then I'm not supposed to do it.
I'm not actually an artist. What, what?
Jessica Craddock: And that idea, as you know, easy as it is to understand can be very divisive. Like some people are going to go, you're right. Talent is talent, and you can't tell me otherwise. ,
Jess Velarde: I think you just touched on something really important.
The reason I'm so happy that people who completely disagree with me on this will just leave. Is that they're not who I'm talking to. That's not the conversation I feel called to have. I appreciate different perspectives and some there's nuance to this always. And, you know, I love engaging in the nuance with people.
It's not that I'm talking about the people who are like, this is dumb. You're stupid. Of course, talent is real. It has nothing to do with practice. Yeah. It's the person who's sitting there going. You know, it's me 10 years ago. It's the person who's sitting there going, oh my God. I thought I just wasn't cut out for it. And to hear that sort of healing balm of you can absolutely do this and it's worth doing. You're capable of doing it. It just takes so much more work than you thought it was going to, but you can do it. Like I want to have that conversation. I want to speak over that person
who's sitting there feeling that way. This is also why I want to teach. I get excited about it because I wish someone told me that 10 years ago. Thankfully, once I got into art school, I did an MFA program where I had instructors who said those things over me, and it was amazing. It was so healing.
It's what got me to where I am now. It's what helped me make those mindset shifts to put in the work. But goodness, I wish someone told me sooner.
I'm going to yell that from the mountain tops, because there are so many people who probably need to hear it.
There's so much art that the world is missing out on and creativity that the world is missing out on and joy that those potential artists are missing out on experiencing because they don't think they're cut out for it. When the reality is, you just have to learn the skills, and so clearly I get very excited about this, very passionate,
Jessica Craddock: very emotional.
Jess Velarde: I do think there are aspects of those mindset shifts that translate to sales.
Jessica Craddock: Absolutely.
Jess Velarde: It's the same kind of thing. It's that posture of, you know, this work is worth doing and it's meaningful to, you know, put in the work to get better at it. But that quality is like to some degree irrelevant or just not as important. It's important, but that's not the thing. The thing is the practice of creating. And I think in that it's also the practice of sharing and of making it available for people, for people to support you financially, so you can do more of it. That's worth doing. That's worth pursuing and learning how to do well.
Your practice, your work, your creativity is worth it.
Jessica Craddock: I say this a lot, but I believe that business and sales are like the biggest catalyst to personal growth and mindset changes. Just like Jess believes that painting consistently and sticking with the practice is the biggest shift to mindset changes.
So, it's almost about overcoming your own personal threshold, the thing that you most want to bring to the world, to create, and learning the skills to go after it, despite where you are at right now.
[00:19:06] What advice do you have for someone who's not sure if they can reach their next level?
Jessica Craddock: All right. Number three. What advice do you have for someone who isn't sure they have what it takes to get to the next level?
Jess Velarde: So a broken record here ...it is to show up and do it anyway, which is so, so much easier to say that than do it.
Right? But at the same time it's actually kind of easy, because the answer is not that you have to fix yourself or think differently. Just get over it. For me like going back to that parallel of painting itself, because I think every artist listening will probably track with that on some level.
I was insecure. I didn't feel like a real artist. I thought everything I created sucked. I thought I did not have the skill. I wasn't cut out for it. I was terrible and I, I was inexperienced, so I was not a great painter when I started. The work I made was objectively not very skillful.
It wasn't very good. And so those things were rooted in my experience of ah, this is not going well. Let's say I had to commit to say, okay, even when I feel like this, and this is all I can see you know, avoiding it, hasn't gotten me anywhere good. I am miserable, and I still want to be an artist.
I was doing a lot of other things at the time that were not painting. And I still wanted to paint, even though I was frustrated that I was bad at it. So I said, okay, I'm going to just go paint every day. And at that time I started renting a studio space, but this started even before that. It started, I carved out a little corner of my home and I said, I'm just gonna paint as much as I can.
And I'm going to share it, and I'm going to do those actions period. Then the mindset changes followed my actions. The mindset changes, followed my behaviors. And so, I would say whatever the next level is. So is it, do you want to sell your work? Do you want to talk to people about your work? Do you want to create a collection or a series or explore a new medium?
Like what is it, where do you want to be? What would a person who is that thing be doing with their day to day life? What do they do? And I mean, literally not what are the mindsets they have or how do they approach things, but what are they physically doing with their hands and their body and their, you know, words?
What are they doing? Then go do those things and keep doing those things. Don't stop doing those things. Months, years later, I guarantee you, you will look back, compare yourself to where you were and go, oh my God, I'm this person. But it's because you've been doing the things and your brain will catch up.
Your mindset will catch up, but it, you can't fix that first. Like it'll happen as it goes and you gotta work on it. It comes with the practices and with the action. I am very biased in that direction.
Jessica Craddock: I was just going to say, I agree, and I disagree with you. I think you can change your thoughts to create the actions, but I've done that.
And it takes a really, really, really, really long time to go and find all the thoughts to change the beliefs, to change the actions, to change the reality. It's so much faster to go the opposite direction. Reality, action, belief, thoughts.
Jess Velarde: I think, I think you're right. Like it is. I shouldn't say it's not possible. It absolutely is possible. It's just in practice, it's really hard.
Jessica Craddock: It can take hours or days or weeks or months, but we don't have years.
Jess Velarde: You still gotta be working on your, your thought life and what mindsets your practice. That's part of it.
Jessica Craddock: It's purposeful.
Jess Velarde: It's both, right? So you also don't just show up and do the things and then magically, like it takes some level of intentionality and awareness and reflection and going through that process.
So you're still doing that work of mindset shifts and mindfulness, , as you approach it. It still takes those practices, but those practices are just so much more effective when you pair it with doing the work.
Jessica Craddock: Let's see anything else you want to add to someone who is maybe, let's say, 10 steps behind you. So maybe they're making $300 a month with their art. What is the next thing you would tell them to go do specifically?
Jess Velarde: I'm trying to think. I'm actually thinking about where I was when I was making $300 a month with my art and what, what I needed to do next.
Literally what I did.
Jessica Craddock: Good answer.
Jess Velarde: No, so probably what I would recommend is looking at how are you making that $300 a month? What is working and how can you do more of that? And I'm not talking about, oh, just paint more. Because when I was making $300 a month, I was selling paintings for 50 to $75 that I should have been selling for like $300.
So I was selling a lot. I was working a lot, but I wasn't making much money. So I'm not saying just like scale that and work yourself to bone necessarily. That's not what I mean by duplicate or multiply. I think just for yourself, like to reflect on the ways that you are putting yourself out there. You are making your work available, and clearly it's resonating with people enough for you to make a few hundred dollars a month.
That is significant. It's not like you are through the hardest part. Now you just have to figure out how to scale it in a sustainable way. So I think it starts with that reflection of how did you get where you are now and acknowledging that that is a big deal. It's significant. You're officially a professional artist.
I know it doesn't feel like it because you're not like making your full-time income that way, but by definition, if you've sold work, you're a professional artist.
And letting that sink in, kind of soaking in that. And then looking at, okay, what worked, what didn't. What am I doing right. How do I lean into more of that in a sustainable way? Just sitting in that for a minute and reflecting on that and like celebrating that, giving yourself a pat on the back. I think that's what I would want to say to you is like good job.
You're amazing. You're selling your work.
Jessica Craddock: Yeah. And that's a really amazing example of what we were just talking about where things are already happening, but then you being very purposeful, mindful, and reflective about, oh, things are working. What is working because usually what happens is I'm making 300, not 3000, it's not working.
And you telling yourself a different story and not being able to see how you could start to scale that. So, perfect answer.
Okay. We already told people how to follow you on Instagram.
Would you like to tell them anywhere else to follow you or sign up for?
Jess Velarde: I send like very vulnerable, like heartfelt, I spill my soul to my email list now.
That is like the core place where I am investing in connecting with people.
Jessica Craddock: Okay. So how did they get on your email list?
Jess Velarde: Yeah.
So there's a link on my Instagram bio that says sign up for my newsletter.
And I will add if we talked about anything that like resonated deeply with you, if you want to continue the conversation, if you have questions, just send me an email and be like, Hey, let's talk about this.
Jessica Craddock: Do you want to tell your email address?
Jess Velarde: Hello@jessvelarde.com.
Jessica Craddock: There you go. Easy.
Well, thank you, Jess. I so appreciate you doing this with me as always.
Jess Velarde: Thanks for having me.
More about Intuitive Art Sales
This is the show where I, Jessica Craddock, am going to teach you how to source your art marketing from within. You're going to practice claiming that authentic art business that you want and leaning into the most natural way for you to get there. You're going to learn to get connected to your intuition, your confidence and your community, so that you can sell your art consistently while holding strong boundaries on your work life balance.
Seasons 1 & 2 are full of interviews with your peers. In these episodes, I explore what each artist wants and give them the next steps to get there. You can take their struggles and their challenges and learn how to navigate your own and create actionable steps towards creating more art sales, more consistently at higher prices than you've ever sold before.
You can find all the episodes here.