With Mike & Mickie Cooper

 Editor's Note: Mike & Mickie Cooper own Murals & More LLC in Franklin, Tenn., 20 minutes south of Nashville. Mike has been painting murals professionally for more than 25 years, with hundreds of exterior and interior murals under his belt. Both Mike and his wife, Mickie, have been teaching mural classes all over the country as well as in their studio in Franklin. They make a unique team in that they are right- and left-brained. (We will let you figure out which one is which.) In this column for Focus on Faux, they are providing lively commentary and also hope to dispel any myths about the illustrious world of mural painting. Mike and Mickie invite you to send questions about the industry and try your best to stump them! Send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and put "Fresh Perspective" in the subject line.


The Business Side of Your Art

Oooohhh…so you want to paint murals for a living? I’ll bet you’ve gotten all kinds of great comments! Most of it, of course, being the kind that bolsters your ego: “OMG, you are sooo good!” “You’ll have clients lined up for months!” “You’re a natural at this!” I know all kinds of people that would love to have you paint for them!”

And this is what you want to hear. You’re an artist. Of course, you want to hear people singing your praises.  

But here is the one thing that nobody tells you when you decide to paint murals for a living:

“IT. IS. A. BUSINESS.” And therefore, it must be treated as such.

Read the last part of that previous sentence: “…for a living.” You’re deciding that this is going to be your livelihood. It is going to be providing your income. And if you think you’re just going to get by on your good looks and talent, well…wake up and smell the acrylic, baby. Because if you want to paint murals for a living, first and foremost you have got to become a salesperson.

You might well be the next Michelangelo, but nothing goes on a wall without first being sold. Which means that you have to sell your services. And with that comes: business licenses, liability insurance, employees, payroll, taxes, expenses, business accounts, federal IDs, CPAs, marketing, advertising, websites, social media, tools, equipment, supplies, storage, additional cell phone expenses, computers, cameras, drawing tools and workspace.

And did I mention networking? Networking dues? Calling on potential clients? Even coming up with a list of potential clients! Make that lists! And it is something that has to be done every single day to be successful. And you do want to be successful, don’t you?

And to think: All you wanted to do was paint large, and make a living. And, you will. Eventually. Trust me: That “starving artist” crap is for the birds.