She Had to Follow Her Dreams – Joan Kennedy, Artist, Illustrator, and Author – Issue #329


Yes, it’s possible to build a successful creative business

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Joan Kennedy - Artist

My guest for this episode is Joan Kennedy. She is a multi-award-winning international artist, illustrator, and published children’s author. 

Everything she creates is inspired by a deep desire to acknowledge and admire the beauty of our animal kingdom, which she believes should be protected at all costs.

Her unique style reflects the movement and energy of the animals she enjoys to paint. Mixing watercolour and vibrant inks she tries to capture the essence of the animal with each brush stroke.

She was selected as only one of six businesses in the U.K. to curate a body of work and go on various funded exhibitions to China — winning best exhibit award. She has also exhibited at the British Embassy in Prague.

Her work features in exclusive galleries throughout China and she has collectors throughout the globe.

Joan Kennedy and her art

You can find Joan and her work here:

We talk about:

  • Her initial job that wasn’t fully utilizing her creative talent.

  • Her first business teaching children through music.

  • Why she finally decided to follow her artistic dreams after putting them off for many years.

  • The incredible success she’s had with her creative business!

  • The advice she shared with her daughter.

Key points from our conversation

I want to call out a few points from my conversation with Joan to consider if you feel like you’re not living up to your potential or leveraging your true talents in your job. She also talked about the importance of following your dreams.

Don’t settle

Joan didn’t begin her working career as an artist. She started working for P&O Transport in Dublin, Ireland. She got married and moved to England. There, she taught children through music for 19 years (her first business).

Her painting was more of a hobby when she lived in Dublin (although she sold over 50 paintings then). But, she stopped when she moved to the UK because she was extremely homesick. Her creative spirit was blocked.

However, she finally decided that she would always regret not trying to make a go of it as a full-time artist, and it was too much to keep running two businesses (music and art). So, she focused on what she loved the most and put all of her energy into it. It was really difficult, she almost gave up, and it took years for her to make it work — but it’s now a successful business.

Leverage your talent

It’s frustrating to have a valuable talent you’re not fully utilizing. I know musicians, writers, artists, etc. wish they could spend their days doing what they love, and find a way to make living with that talent.

Unfortunately, most creative folks have a completely different day job that pays the bills. They spend 8 hours at work and try to squeeze in time for their creative explorations in the evening and on weekends.

There’s no better feeling than being able to fully express your talent, invest time every day in getting better at it, and being able to make a living with those skills. It may take years to plan a path to that goal, but, as Joan said, it’s worth it.

Be proactive

When you listen to this episode, you’ll hear how proactive Joan was about promoting her work. She didn’t just produce her art and hope that someone would take notice.

She’s applied multiple times to have her work featured and exhibited around the world (e.g., China, the Czech Republic). She was selected as one of only six creative businesses to have her work curated in the U.K. and featured in the British Embassy in Prague. None of this would have happened if she hadn’t stepped up to submit her art.

Waiting and hoping isn’t a very powerful career strategy. If you want things to happen in your life, you have to be proactive and take action to pursue your goals and dreams.

⬆️ Scroll to the top if you want to listen to our entire conversation, and hear more of Joan’s story! 🎧

Do you have a creative friend or family member who wants to make a living doing more of what they love? They might enjoy this article and podcast episode. Feel free to share it with them!

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This week’s office hours topic

⭐ Record, Edit, and Publish a Video

Invincible Career®
Office Hours – Record, Edit, and Publish a Video – Issue #328
This week, let’s talk about making some videos! It’s time to go from a theoretical discussion to actually recording, editing, and publishing something. You may decide that video isn’t your “thing.” That’s ok. But, I’d encourage you to try it for a few weeks, share them with your followers, and see what the reaction is. You might be surprised…
Read more

Larry Cornett is a leadership coach and business advisor who hosts a private mastermind community for ambitious professionals with weekly challenges, office hours, and 24×7 support. If you’re interested in starting your own business someday (or accelerating an existing one), check out his “Employee to Solopreneur” course (launching in 2022).

Larry lives in Northern California near Lake Tahoe with his wife and children, and a gigantic Great Dane. He does his best to share advice to help others take complete control of their work and life. He’s also on Twitter @cornett.