A childhood dream of becoming a full-time Artist.

When I began to run my own business I discovered lots of things. Some are good and some are not so good.

Fran's website www.franhalpinart.com

Q: Tell me your first memory of Creating and when did you decide to build a business around your work?

My favorite subject was always art. I always remember being allowed to draw during class when everyone else was doing religion. No idea why I was given this pass but I remember feeling very special at the time. My teachers recognized I had a real interest early on and nurtured that.

Q: Was there something you discovered about yourself once you started to run your business? 

When I began to run my own business I discovered lots of things. Some are good and some are not so good. I discovered that I’m great at interpreting a client's ideas and bringing them to reality. This is so useful when you’re working in a commercial setting or if you’re creating an original painting for someone. I also discovered that I’m terrible at keeping accounts. It’s always last on the list. That’s why I have an accountant. Someone to keep everything on the straight and narrow. Running a business and keeping the family and house and dog happy can be a challenge but I love it. I love a bit of madness lol. When things get super busy I get very focused and find ways to get shit done. I’ve discovered I’m very driven and I’m not afraid of a bit of hard work. The only trouble is I want it all but fitting it all in is impossible. As a business owner, it’s so hard to say no to jobs, no to paid work, but this is what I found I had to when I wanted to realise my dream of having my first solo show.

Q: How did you grow your business from the kitchen table to now, was there one thing that really changed everything? 

This question can be answered in a few different ways. My business has spanned over twenty years now. Jaysus that makes me sound ancient. The biggest change happened a few years ago when I joined bite the biscuit. There were only 1k people in the group when I joined! Finding a community that ‘got me’ was the most exciting experience. Before this, I hadn’t really Facebook for business. However, finding the Factory for the first time changed EVERYTHING. Tara became my mentor and a friend and helped me find the confidence really put myself out there. I went from knowing very little about social media to launching my business page, website, and Instagram. I wouldn’t be without it now.

Q: What was or IS the biggest struggle with running your Creative business?

When I started out as self-employed at the age of 22yrs. That was over twenty years ago now. My biggest struggle was finding enough work. I had long periods where I had nothing. Always just on the brink of collapse before a nice job would come along and everything would be okay for another while. I hated waiting for work opportunities to happen! For me, the biggest turnaround came when I started using social media and I found a brand new audience. I always trace this back to when I joined The Factory and finally found out how to use social media and how to promote my work. My current struggle is not the lack of work but the abundance of work. I swore blind I was stepping back from murals so I could concentrate on my own paintings. This hasn’t happened yet this year. I’ve discovered that murals are quite seasonal. The summer seems to spark a flourish of interest. So I decided to just go with it and enjoy the beautiful and interesting jobs I’ve had the pleasure to get involved in this summer. Once it settles down I will get back into my studio full time.

Q: Why Did You Choose To Use and Join The Biscuit Factory? 

I heard about The Factory through a friend of mine. She was one of the first members and recommended it to me. I had no idea what it was about really. All knew was you could learn how to run a business as a creative. I mean wow! There were no business studies for creatives when I was in college. That is a huge mistake. It should have been in every Art College. I decided to take a chance a chance and join this group of creatives. I’ve go to say, it’s been the main catalyst for changing my life. I know that sounds a bit dramatic or exaggerated but it brought me and my work to a whole new level.

Q: Have you had any reservations about entering the Biscuit Factory? 

Honestly, I was more curious than anything. I had never had this kind of support from a group before. The amount I have learned over the past few years is just incredible. Each month we get a guest speaker or professional to talk to us about an aspect of a creative business. Everything from Pinterest and LinkedIn, from marketing to setting up a solo show. I never expected to get so out from this group.

Q: What Measurable Benefits Have You Seen? 

For me personally, the factory gave me the support I needed to be brave enough to exhibit my first solo show in 2018. Tara helped me get into the press and helped me navigate all the social media platforms at the time. I found the courage to put my own paintings out into the world and I’ve never looked back. The factory helped me launch my career as an artist and not just someone who did commissions for other people. I finally realised a dream that I had since I was a child. To become a real live artist and I’ll be forever grateful for that.

Categories: Case Study