MOBILE ART LESSON BUSINESS OR BRICK AND MORTAR STUDIO?

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Have you ever dreamt of having your own art studio? If you are creative and you like to teach I’m willing to bet you have.

Today we’ll compare owning a brick and mortar art studio to the Pop up Art School model of a mobile art school.

To do that we talked to our friend Liz Boston of Liz Boston Art Studio in Weymouth MA. Liz has been in business for over four years. She gave us the pros and cons of having a brick and mortar art studio. 

Pros

1. Supplies are stored where you teach.

2. People sign up because they drive by every day.

3. Ultimate control of your own environment (music, heat, A/C, lighting, etc)

4. People perceive you as established.

5. Bring your dog to work.(Liz’s dog is Kona – check out his Instagram account!)

Cons

1. Rent, bills like heat and electric, insurance.

2. Random weird people (not customers) looking to use your bathroom.

3. Loud neighbors (band practicing downstairs etc.)

4. Monotony of every day. Not much change.

Our business, Pop up Art School is a mobile art school. We drive to the site, usually a library or school, to teach art and STEAM classes.

Pros

1. Low start up cost

To start our business all we had to do was purchase project supplies, business cards and a domain.

No brick-and-mortar means no rent, electricity bills or headaches related to the upkeep of a store front. Having storefront business means you have to build out and decorate the space.Although, I have to admit that it would be a lot of fun to plan and decorate a retail space!

2. Flexibility

Our schedule is flexible. We schedule classes when we can teach them and we don’t have regular hours we have to keep. I also like that we’re not “on” all day long; we go to the site, set up, teach the class and clean up. I tend to be introverted, so a full day in front of people can be draining.

Business tasks such as invoicing, promotion and blogging are done at home which means I can be home with my kids when they need me.

3. Lower insurance cost

Our liability insurance is lower than if we had a brick and mortar studio.

4. Variety

It’s exciting to meet and interact with different people. It’s hard to be bored when every day is a new location.

Cons

1. Driving to every job. 

We live south of Boston, MA which has some of the worst traffic in the nation. The year that our business started to takeoff we did not charge a driving fee. That summer, we spent a lot of unpaid time in traffic. As a result, we now charge a $50 travel fee when we have to go outside of our driving zone or drive through Boston.

2. Storage

Teaching art is a supply-centric business. Janell stores all the supplies in her basement. There are stacks of canvases and containers of paint, brushes, glue and scissors. As we expand the business, we are teaching in different locations at the same time, which means we need doubles of the basics like scissors and glue.

3. Packing and Unpacking

For every workshop we print out a checklist of supplies. We carefully double check to make sure nothing is missing. Once we get to the workshop site, there’s no turning back!

4. We can’t control our environment.

Every library is different. When we book a workshop, we send a room set chart to the organizer, but we always bring extra tablecloths because table sizes aren’t standard. Sometimes we are in cavernous rooms and other times we are in teeny tiny spaces.

Not being able to control the environment requires flexibility on our part. Usually, the workshop we teach in a room that is self-contained. A few times we’ve had to teach the workshop in a public area of the library.

Every business has its pros and cons. One person’s idea of heaven is another person’s hell. For Janell and I, the flexibility and variety our business model affords us, is a big plus. Having low start-up costs makes starting a mobile art business affordable for most people. The key, is teaching in places that already have an audience, such as libraries and schools. That has saved us lot of time and money that would have been spent trying to build an audience for our classes.

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