“Balancing Act” is a series focusing on the amazing people who run a successful business while working full-time, and somehow still manage to eat and sleep occasionally.
Tricia McKellar is an accomplished photographer and collage artist with two amazing shops, and a stunning website. Her images range from gorgeous, soft scenes of birds and nature to richly layered compositions that are a wonderful blend of mechanical and natural. If you look closely enough, you can sense the technical side of her brain in her digital collage. On top of that she is just a darn nice person, and I learned that she also has a teenage daughter (as do I). So when I say she is one amazing balancing act, I mean it, and then some! Without further ado:
1.Tell a little about your business – what do you make/ sell, how long have you been in business, and what do you love most about it?
I’m a mixed media artist & photographer. For the past couple of years, I’ve focused mainly on my photography. I love trying to open my mind to new ideas. After a day of shooting, I look at possibly 100’s of my new shots on my computer.? I winnow them down and delete many of the images. Sometimes my first impression is that an image is junk, but then something causes me to look again, and sometimes that image turns into one of my favorites. After all this time, I don’t have a formula for an interesting photograph– I think that’s what I love most– the
2. How does it differ from your day job (creativity, skill, autonomy)?
My day job is as a database administrator. So I sit in front of a computer a lot. Getting out with the camera, driving around? looking for birds on telephone lines and lovely landscapes, is heaven.
3. What has been the most challenging part of juggling a business, day job, and family? How have you gotten through the difficult parts?
It is tough to juggle it all. My only child is 19 and in college, so I
have a lot more time and freedom now to devote to my art making and business. My advice for those with younger children is to do what you can with the art, but cherish the time with your children– they grow up so fast!
4. Identity is often closely linked to what we do professionally. How do you identify yourself, and does it relate more to your business/ artisan side, or your day job?
I don’t really feel the divide. I love the art, the IT work, the
business of being an artist. I think we need a variety of interests
and skills to keep our brains fresh and curious. I just wish I had
more time or enjoyed napping on the couch a little less :)
5. Give one organizational or business tip (or product) that has been invaluable.
Hmmm. This is a tough one– I have so many ideas and questions about indie businesses.? I think there are two key ideas for success with a creative business: make what you love and know where you want to go.
Make what you love and people will respond. Maybe a million people won’t like it, but do you need a million buyers? Maybe you only need a few hundred or thousand fanatical buyers for success.
What do you want in your future? Where do you want to be in two years, five years, ten years? Knowing your heart-felt desires will make decisions along the way much easier (for example, should you wholesale? should you make pendants of your art? should you start screenprinting tea towels? should you start photographing weddings?).
6. Some people use a side business as a way to slowly change gears from employee to business owner. In the future, do you ever see yourself transitioning to full-time entrepreneur? If so, what would ultimately help you ultimately make that leap? If not, what benefits do you enjoy with your current situation?
Yes!!! I would like to work for myself eventually.
With a daughter in college and a fabulous day job, I think it may be
several years before I take the leap. In the meantime, I’m working on developing my craft and becoming the best photographer I can be. Also, as an artist, it’s very nice to have the day job income and not worry too much if my photography is selling. I can develop my work without the stress of needing to sell my art to pay bills.
I’m also using this time to develop the skills I need as an entrepreneur. I’m currently focusing on indie business marketing and plan to make a study of copywriting soon.
I’m also thinking about developing multiple streams of income. What kinds of businesses would dovetail with my photography business? What kinds of businesses could I maintain while touring the country in a big RV, photographing lovely landscapes? :)
I have a *very* new project that I am really excited to tell you about. I’ve started a blog dedicated to living the creative life and building an indie business: http://www.wonderthinking.com It’s *very* new, but I’m excited to get started– this is an idea that has been bumping around in my brain for a couple of years. I’d love for folks to visit and leave me comments, tell me what to write about :)
Thank you for your amazing work, and your insights Tricia!? Best of luck to you!