The Flourishing Artist

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Yes, you can become one!

At a time in my life where many people are thinking of future retirement plans, I decided to pick up my art career where it left off – three decades earlier – and make my living solely from my art.

Fast forward to now, five years later, I have a thriving original art business and around 700 clients across 41 states in the USA. I keep my own schedule, travel extensively, work on projects I am passionate about that help others, have sales reps on both the west and east coasts, and have so much work I can’t keep up with it.
How did I do it? Here is where my story begins.

At 17, nearing the end of high school, I was thoroughly sick of sitting in a classroom being lectured to. It was time for adventure and to discover things for myself. So I made a deal with my mother. She agreed that I could leave school as long as I enrolled in a graphic art course in order to learn a skill that I could “fall back on”. I suffered through two classes and decided graphic art was not for me. Fine art, creating my own art, was always my passion – despite being told at school that there was “no future in it”.

Painting Mt Cook in 1977 on my NZ South Island adventure!

With $10 in my pocket, I piled some painting boards and paints in the back of my old station wagon and headed for “Middle Earth”, most recently known as the set for the Lord of the Rings movies, the South Island of New Zealand. When I ran out of money to eat or buy gas, I would strategically set up my easel in locations that were scenically beautiful but most importantly, where there were people. I nearly always found buyers for my paintings, helped by the fact that I was virtually giving them away! Then it was off to the next painting and my next adventure.

It was this experience that taught me a very valuable lesson with regard to making a living from my original art. It is a lesson which has stood by me right up to the present. People buy from artists they know or feel they have a personal connection with.
Whether your art is painting, playing the piano or writing a poem, you are endeavoring to get across a communication with your art. Therefore the more REAL you are as the artist to prospective buyers the greater the chance there is of them wanting to take a piece of you, your artistic creation, home with them to hang on the wall, to listen to or to read and enjoy.
Following my South Island adventure I drove back to my home town of Auckland with a new found confidence. I set up a modest studio and got to work.

Those were the days! The "scarf look" of the early 80's!
Those were the days! The “scarf look” of the early 80’s!

In additional to my landscape paintings, I had always loved architecture, especially historic buildings. Before long and quite by accident I developed a niche market by promoting directly to homeowners of Auckland homes that I considered interesting. Over five years my art career and client base blossomed. Soon however I chose to pursue another calling, this time within the realm of non-profit world. My experiences gave me unique insight into different people, cultures, art and architecture around the globe.

In 2009 I decided to combine my knowledge, experience and passion under the heading of Leisa Collins Art. Now that I have experienced some success and figured a few things out, I hate to see other artists suffering, unable to pursue their artistic passions. Hence the creation of this Flourishing Artist Series.

In my next article lay out how your success as an artist depends on your ability to create.


A fun mural project I spearheaded in Alexandria, VA
A fun mural project I spearheaded in Alexandria, VA