ASIS Ep.6 – Emiko Venlet: How Emiko used courage to transform her monthly income from $0 to $1500!

By Jessica Craddock

Aug 06

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In this episode... How Emiko used courage to transform her monthly income from $0 to $1500!

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.

Emiko created her consistent income by learning marketing skills -- then using them! Making her first sales taught her how to shift her mindset about herself, her art, and her money.

When Emiko started out, she spent a lot of time trying to do what other painters were doing by mimicking their style and the actions they were taking. Instead of creating an identity and a painting style of her own that would sell, Emiko realized she had lost herself in the process.

Focusing on positivity and exploring her own likes helped Emiko become more confident and develop a style all her own. She then used the marketing skills she was learning and a little courage to connect with others about her art.

Listen in to hear Emiko's story about how she went from bringing in $0 to $1500 a month and more!

Listen in as Emiko answers these three questions:

  • What was the biggest mindset shift you made to get you where you are now? (00:04:29)
  • What one practical step did you take that has gotten you the furthest? (00:09:51)
  • What advice do you have for someone who isn't sure they have what it takes to get to the next level? (00:18:01)

What Emiko is up to today:

I'm now creating art in the studio and surrounded by amazing artists. I had my first solo show in March and have had many group shows. We are launching a wine label with my artwork on it in September. I'm invited to be part of a group show in NYC in September and possibly a solo show at the same gallery in 2024. I'll be working with an interior designer for a gala night in November and another solo show in December.... Lots of things have happened and keep happening.

How did they all happen? Through making connections with people I resonate with.

Resources and links mentioned:

  • Catch up with Emiko on Instagram @emikovenlet
  •  Visit Emiko’s website at www.emikovenlet.com
  • For information on working with Jessica, send your questions/thoughts to jessica@theartistmarket.co

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.

Read the Transcript for this episode

Jessica Craddock: I am here for the Artist Success Interview Series with amazing Emiko. She is an artist, a poet, a storyteller, and her paintings absolutely reflect all of that. Emiko, how are you today?

Emiko Venlet: I am good.

Thank you. Well, thank you so much for having me.

Jessica Craddock: Do you want to tell us about your art really quick before we get started?

Emiko Venlet: Well, I paint imaginary still life. So, I do use still life materials, but I mean real flowers and still life setting. A lot of it comes from my memories. I collect a lot of images over the years, and those are my favorite patterns and colors, fabric, feelings, texture.

I kind of combine all of that to create a story, so when people see my paintings, they always find thread of their stories in my stories. That's why I call myself a storyteller, but I am not a story finisher. I let the viewer finish their story, and that's why I write poems. Poems are short; it's never complete.

I liked that feeling. My paintings, yes, like you said, that you will find so many different elements in it. There is no story, the beginning of a story. If there is no ending of a story, it's just that the collections of your memories just all together. That's what you'll find in my paintings.

Jessica Craddock: It's almost like a snapshot of the middle of a novel. You're looking at what's going on in someone's life, in a still life. It's very interesting.

Okay. Emiko, we talked about if you are comfortable sharing some numbers with whoever is watching this. Would you like to talk about that? Do you want me to ask you specific questions, or do you just want to share?

Emiko Venlet: I don't mind sharing. I started working with you, Jessica, almost a year ago, right? Then when I started working with you, I had zero income from my art. Well, I had a bit, but not significant enough. It was close to zero.

I wasn't making any effort to making sales. I started making more art, the art that I loved back then. It wasn't going into sales, because I wasn't doing anything. Right now I am making 1500 average per month, some months more, some months a little less, but altogether getting to the place where I can grow more. Before there was no mindset for growth because I was like, this is it. People buy, yay, but if they don't, I might even donate my art for free. Now I feel like, okay, I think I can grow more and more, so it's a good place to be.

Jessica Craddock: That's amazing. I love hearing that.

That makes me so happy. I think that 1500 is what I hear from people who haven't started selling their art yet. Their goal tends to be somewhere between that 500 and that 1500 mark. I just wish I could make that. Once you know how to make that, then you can make it, and you can grow from there. But focusing on, I want to make $10,000 a month, but I don't know how to make 1500. It's a really specific skillset to get to that number, some mindset work and some learning how to do some stuff, and from there you can use those same strategies to grow.

I have three questions for you, Emiko, same questions I always ask.

[00:04:26] What has been the biggest mindset shift you needed to make in order to get where you are now?

Jessica Craddock: My first question is what do you think was the biggest mindset shift that took you from almost no sales to consistently bringing in 1500ish a month?

Emiko Venlet: I do think about hard on this question, because I could go either way, right? One way it could go, well, I got the skills I learned from the marketing skills, and I just used it. Then that made the sale, but then to get there, I had to shift my mindset about myself, about my art, and about my money situations. The biggest mindset that I did was probably this, the more you, you become, the more money you make.

It's so simple, but I think before that I was trying to copy this person did this, so they made the sale. This person made this kind of art, and that's why they're selling. So I thought, okay, I'm just going to be like other artists, trying to get their style, trying to do what they're doing, and in the process of that I lost myself. Then that just went backfire. It just didn't work, right, and I had a shift. I can't remember how that happened, but I was like, man, if I cannot be them, the only person that I can be is me. I know myself well, but then I don't know myself. I dove like really deep into who I am.

The therapist is a good idea, of course, but I'm not digging in the past or anything. It's just that I start to collect and then understand, I love this stuff. I don't like this stuff. Oh, I love this stuff. Why? I don't like this stuff. Why? So it's just back and forth questions to myself, and I'm writing down. Journaling helped too.

Jessica Craddock: When you are thinking about who am I, what might you be asking yourself in order to dig deeper, to find the answers to those questions, and how do you remember to do that? What's your process?

Emiko Venlet: I love that question, because I did use this to my students when I taught in the summer, to know what you love and to know who you are. It can be pretty simple, but the truth hurts sometimes. You have to have the courage to face that, but the simplest question that I used to ask a lot was, okay, what are the qualities that I had that I don't like?

What are the qualities in the past that I had and I still have, and people criticize. What are the qualities or characters that I have my parents didn't approve, or maybe I was made fun of. I could collect a couple of threads in there. You don't have to dig too deep to hurt yourself. You don't have to go back to those memories, but there are some threads, and for me, it was, I was a dreamer. I was always a dreamer, and I was always writing. I couldn't write so well, so my sentences are always short. That's why it was easy for me to write poems, poetries, and I always try to find joyful moments. I almost find comical qualities in the tragedies.

I used to hate that quality me, because it makes me a bad person. I turn that around, so I turn those stories about me, turn them around and use them to strengthen my art and myself as an artist. I think I start journaling and writing it down when things get a little bit hard, or when you hear people say about your artwork or yourself, you start to question, is this really true?

If it is true then it must be about me, but it's not bad or good. It's a skill you might need to develop to turn that story around. It's not from faking negative stories into good positive stories. No, I still dream a lot. I'm still a dreamer, but I put different meanings to it, and I use it as a skill and a strength.

Jessica Craddock: Okay, I'm going down this rabbit hole, because I want to .Then we'll get to the next question. How does changing those stories help you sell art?

Emiko Venlet: I feel confident about talking about my art. When I feel confident talking about my art or pricing my art higher, people don't doubt about you anymore.

I don't doubt about myself, and I don't doubt about my work and the price I put on. There is value, and I give a lot of value to it. That confidence that you just naturally have, because you accepted the part that you used to hate, people just come and they want to buy.I don't have to push. I know if I push, I don't feel confident, and it doesn't make sales. It's hard truth, but it's that simple.

Jessica Craddock: It is a hard truth, and it sounds so, you're like, it's that easy. Okay. Well, go do it. Then do it... Perfect.

[00:09:48] What one practical step did you take that has gotten you the furthest?

Jessica Craddock: Let's see. Okay. What was my second question? What is the single biggest action step that you took or that you take regularly, that has led to your being able to explore yourself, have that confidence, and sell your art.

Emiko Venlet: Great. Making connections.

It's the simplest one, but I did not think about it before. You taught me. It was the most challenging path that I had to take, but I'm glad I did it. That led me to where I am right now with the amount of sales I make. I still remember one connection I made, and I reached out to her.

She reached out to me. That connection eventually led to many more sales later on. It's not that she bought like tons of art from me, no. Because of that connection I made, there are threads, more people are introduced to my world, to my art. Then there'll be more opportunities to teach, to show, I have to say, that's the action I took. I'm still glad I took that one little action. I still keep taking it, and I try to remind myself that. 

Jessica Craddock: Okay, let's do two more. What was hard about that. Why was it hard for you, and why was it worth it?

Emiko Venlet: Why was it hard? Well, I think we're all afraid of being rejected. You reach out and they say, no, I can't do it, or reach out and then you don't hear from them. Their rejection probably was in my mind, and that was the hardest part. Try to make connections. It's not screaming sales right from the beginning.

There are chances that it will not make a sale, this one connection. So I think my mind immediately went, well, why would I make an effort if it doesn't make direct sales? That's probably why it was so challenging. It's just not directly rewarding me.

Jessica Craddock: It's not you do this, you get this.

Emiko Venlet: It's easy, right? If it's A to B, so clear, then you will do A, of course.

Jessica Craddock: Yep.

Emiko Venlet: There's B right ahead, but I couldn't see B. I couldn't see what comes after, but the that's why it's so worth doing it. Like you said, it's magic. One connection, it's like a web. I used to think one connection, one sale.

No, it's actually one sell, many more. That possibility that you cannot foresee when you start is totally worth trying.

Jessica Craddock: You've got a couple that have just snowballed on you, if I remember correctly. The latest one you were talking about is that you had a studio visit with someone who you were really excited about and hoping that they were going to buy something because they'd shown interest. Then they didn't end up buying, and you were so disappointed. Then she shared you on her Instagram stories or a post or something like that, which led to someone else finding you.

That person has bought how many paintings from you now?

Emiko Venlet: Seven or eight.

Jessica Craddock: When you make that direct correlation, if I do A, B has to happen. You're going to be disappointed often. You're not going to want to keep going, and you're going to stop. When you do A and see what happens over here, what can I do next,

there's always more threads to follow, like you were saying. That drive leads to another, creates a web, makes infinite possibilities from every connection you make. It's just about starting and finding all of those people that you love, that you want to make those connections with to grow. Honestly, I think that is the secret to growing organically.

Emiko Venlet: Yeah. I think so, and it's not something that you learn from all the marketing courses out there. They might talk about, whatever, I don't know what they call it, but I had never heard of this magic.

Jessica Craddock: We like to talk about magic around here,

Emiko Venlet: Yeah, but it's so true, and that's exciting. That gets me going.

Jessica Craddock: Yeah, me too. If you don't believe it, look for the proof. Look at your own life. When have wonderful things happened that you're like, well, I can't recreate that. Where did it come from? What was the initial starting point? My bet is that it came from someone that you feel connected to.

Notice those things, take that in, and use that as your fuel to go do some more. This is not supposed to be a coaching call. How do you make connections? What's one way that you, Emiko, make connections?

Emiko Venlet: Well, right now my main platform is social media. When I say social media, it is Instagram. When I first started making connections, that was really through Instagram, but I had never thought of checking out local people, not artists. I didn't search for artists, because I had that enough. I was looking for ideal buyers, so I had to look for local shops and local places, restaurants, cafes, organization that I truly enjoy getting to know. It is what people do, but I never thought of just going there and checking what they're doing. If you genuinely like something, give them a line, you leave a comment, engage and you don't have to over engage.

You just go there and show them your genuine interest. That's exactly what I did when I started, and that was scary enough. But that's what I did. Now I still do that, but right now, it is more, I search for people that I really directly want to connect to. Then I just send them DM voice messages.

Jessica Craddock: What do you say to these people? You're like randomly reaching out to people that you've found that you want to talk to? How do you do that?

Emiko Venlet: So there's one a florist that I really wanted to work with, but I didn't know what to say. I didn't want to say hi, and just introduce myself out of the blue.  I really did follow her. I did genuinely enjoy her work, so I gave her lots of likes and left comment here and there. I did not hear back from her, but one story. One story that she posted really made me smile, so that's how I started. I just said that was so funny, so I shared my stories, right.

 Then I heard back, and I started getting a little bit more detailed, what I read in her feed. She was looking for volunteers to deliver flowers to some local hospitals and stuff, and then she didn't have any staff. I said I wanted to volunteer, but I can't on this day. I hope everything goes well. So just little conversations, I didn't go directly to, "Hey, do you want to work with me?" I'm like, oh, that's too much. I started little by little into her world so she feels also welcome, and s he wants to get to know me.

Now I've finally told her that I'm really interested in working with you, because I love your design. I love what you do, and here is a suggestion. She replied, "I'd love that." We'll see how it goes, but I'm finally learning to have small conversations

Jessica Craddock: And it's not that it has to be small or it has to be big, but it has to be something that you can do.

Emiko Venlet: Yes. That I felt comfortable enough, but the challenge is always just the beginning. Right. The challenge is to actually do it. Once you're in the conversation, it will flow.

Jessica Craddock: Yeah. It's just getting started, stepping outside your comfort zone.

 [00:17:58] What advice do you have for someone who isn't sure they have what it takes to get to the next level?

Jessica Craddock: If someone came up to you and said, I'm not sure that I can do this. I don't know if I can actually make money for my art. What would you say to them?

Emiko Venlet: Well, I would first tell them to go see you. But I think having a good mentor, great mentor will help. It's not what I wrote down actually as an answer, but it really does help to open your mind, let you see the possibilities. A good coach, a good mentor can do that instead of guiding you too much. That's what you have to do.

I've taken tons of calls like that. This is what you're supposed to do to make money, and if you don't follow, then you don't. But it's not like that. Sales doesn't come like that, and a good mentor can guide you and open up that you see the possibility. Look, this is what could happen. Would you take it or not?

Then it is your choice to take it. Yeah, working with a good mentor, I think it's one of the things that I know it costs money, but it'll come back tenfold, I promise. I think it's so true, and that's the first thing that just popped up in my head. I think a lot of people wants to know it is vital. To me it is really vital, and it's really helpful. I think it really comes down to that.

Jessica Craddock: I very rarely am without a mentor. I've been in business for a long time now, and I will not go without a mentor. It's too easy to get stuck in your head and not be able to see what is around you.Even though they tell me the things that I already know, when I hear them again, refreshes it and I can then go do it. There's just a lot of power in that. What was your other answer out of curiosity?

Emiko Venlet: Keep asking yourself this question, is this what you want to do or not, cause a lot of actions we take it's either autopilot or based on fear. As long as it's based on true fear, then any action you take, won't get you to where you want to go. You only take to a place of more fear. If it's something that excites you and you want to do it, and if you want to do it, you want to try, then you definitely see some results. Then you definitely want to continue, and I think that's the important aspect of running a business. You want to do it, right? You have to find what you want to do, what you love. I think it's about knowing yourself better and better, And the simplest question you can ask yourself is, is this is what I want to do.

What is your desire? What is it that I want? If this is not what I want, then what do I want? You don't have to get that right away, but sometimes we are so afraid to admit this is what we want that we don't go get it. If it excites you, then you just go there. If it doesn't, then ditch it and find something else, and that's okay. That's the second advice that I would give,

Jessica Craddock: I love it. Trying to think if there's anything else I want to ask you. Anything else you want to add while you're here?

Emiko Venlet: No I'm good. I'm good.

Jessica Craddock: Okay, well, I'll let you get back to your painting that you're working on. How do we find more of your work?

Emiko Venlet: My Instagram account is Emiko Venlet, V E N L E T, and my website is Emiko Venlet, the same name, .com.

Jessica Craddock: Perfect, and Emiko is E M I K O.

Emiko Venlet: Yeah. Yeah.

Jessica Craddock: All right. Well again, thank you, Emiko, for sharing all of your words of wisdom.

I very much appreciate it, and I'm sure everyone else does as well.

Emiko Venlet: Thank you very much, Jessica.


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.

About the Author

I’m a mentor for intuitive visual artists to sell more work, more consistently, at higher prices — with better work/life balance. Founder @ The Artist Market Co.