How to Balance What you Love With What Sells

Written by: Donata Delano



Time to read 6 min

Art Print with Float Frame

This is the eternal struggle. The balance between creating what you love and what sells is a riddle every artist and creator seeks to solve, and we continue to solve as the market and your customer changes. In this blog post, we will delve into essential questions and strategies to strike that delicate balance without the uncertainty and questioning, “am I meant to do this?”. As someone whose artistic journey has seen significant stylistic shifts, driven not by market demands but by a passion for exploration, I'll sharing some valuable tips that I’ve learned along the way for anyone wondering how to shift when you need to in a way that doesn’t halt your business or require an entirely new customer base.

I get this question a lot from clients – how do you explore and evolve as an artist but maintain brand identity? The answer lies in finding the foundation of your work, your core creative passion and honing in on it so that it’s clear and purposeful. Once you know this, you’re able to filter through the noise or the aspects of your business that aren’t working, easily let them go, but still stay true to your main purpose or source of happiness. Let’s discuss this a bit more. Grab a piece of paper or notebook and get ready to piece together your puzzle!

My biggest mistake: It was hard for me to pivot; to shift when something had failed, to learn from my mistakes and to make the necessary changes. It had become too personal.


This question is so very important. Many of us go years without being able to narrow down exactly what we love. Sometimes you’ll see artists or artisans trying many different things because they’re unable to pinpoint what really drives them and they can continue to do this for years. And sometimes at the beginning this is natural, a trial and error period where you try many different things until you find it. But being able to narrow down your why will really help you filter out and pivot when things don’t work without losing your passion. Not all business ideas are successful and the challenge is being able to see when it isn’t and shifting is hugely important.  


Begin by dissecting your creative passions. Create a list detailing what you love to create and, more importantly, why. Understanding the 'why' is crucial—it forms the bedrock of your artistic identity. For instance, if your passion is painting floral landscapes with watercolors, your 'why' might involve a connection to nature, a penchant for a slow and methodical process, and the therapeutic quality of working with water. This foundation becomes your guiding light as you navigate the creative business. If ideas, products, services fail as business ideas, it’ll be easier for you to let those go while still maintaining your foundation of , in this example, a nature-inspired, slow methodical process.

Now it’s your turn. Spend some time thinking about the following…


This is where you put the first part to the test and find your market. To do this, we’re going to list our product/service on one side and then list all the characteristics and preferences of your ideal customer, without forcing the two to match, for now.

To help you with answering yours, here are my responses.  

What I love to make: Anything with my hands really that expresses nature. Preferably painting or anything that I can paint on.

-     Paper

-     Canvas

-     Ceramics

-     Embroidery


What do all of these things have in common? They’re all natural materials, originating in nature. That’s very important to me, paper, clay, fabric… Neutral in feel and inspired by nature.

What is my why? Work/Life Balance, Freedom to choose my schedule and spend time with my family, ethically-sourced and made products.

Once I answer these questions, I know what I’d be willing to part with and what needs to stay, but beyond that the product might change, or the style might change but my core values stay intact. I hope that gives you a good idea of how to answer yours if you’re struggling to narrow things down.


A woman painting on her desk


To do this, let’s shirt our focus to the market. Clearly define your ideal audience. Who are you trying to attract, and what are their preferences? If there's a misalignment between your passion and your ideal customer, revisit your foundation. Explore ways to maintain the core elements you love while making adjustments to appeal to the right audience. Repeat this step over and over until the product and the customer align.

An example would look like:

IDEAL CUSTOMER: Someone that shops for products that are durable, healthy for their family, willing to spend for high-quality.   


PRODUCT: Baby Clothes


Let’s now see if our product matches our ideal customer. At first glance, maybe yes, but can we dig a little deeper and really hone in on a product or offering that is really going to resonate with your ideal customer over the course of multiple life stages. This customer is someone who might discover your brand as a new parent, but then will transition into children’s clothing, gift giving for friends and family, to perhaps a middle-aged or grandparent looking for high-quality clothing. If your ideal customer wants high-quality and healthy, perhaps your baby clothes can be unique in their fabric or how they’re made or how they tell a story of handing down clothing to younger generations. If you want to appeal to a customer that is willing to spend a bit more, make sure your product justifies that.


  1. If your ideal customer prefers custom-made products over wall art, consider pivoting towards creating personalized artwork for significant life events. Transform your art into stationery, fostering long-term, return-customer relationships.

  2. For an audience that values originality, pivot towards emphasizing the uniqueness of your work. Highlight the value of your original pieces rather than reproductions to attract art collectors who seek a special connection with their acquisitions.

Note: If you’re struggling with defining a customer, head over here to download The Finding Your Customer Worksheet.

A painting leaning on a desk


Remember, the creative journey is dynamic. Adjustments, failures, and pivots are all part of the process. Success lies not in stubbornly adhering to a rigid plan but in the willingness to learn, adapt, and pivot. It's about evolving your craft based on what you learn about your customer. Let go of the expectation that your product or service must remain static.

If we don't, eventually we start to wonder whether our time is well spent, whether it's worth it, whether we're paying ourselves anything close to what we should be, whether we can make a living doing this. And once we get to these questions, failure becomes a possibility if we're not grounded. That spirit you started with starts to diminish, and the doubts take over. It happened to me. I hit a point where I had fallen so deeply in love with what I was doing that I refused to believe that it wasn't actually working. At least not in the way I intended or needed it to.


In the end, achieving a balance between what you love and what sells is a continuous process. It evolves with you and with the market. Hold onto the aspects of your craft that bring you joy, and let go of rigid expectations. Your ability to evolve and adapt will open doors to a successful, balanced space where you can thrive doing what you love. Remember, embrace change.

In the end, achieving a balance between what you love and what sells is a continuous process. It evolves with you and with the market. Hold onto the aspects of your craft that bring you joy, and let go of rigid expectations. 

If you're new here, I'm Donata Delano. I am the creative owner and artist behind Donata Delano Art. Aside from art related tutorials, tips and information occasionally, I also post recipes, crafts and out adventures living abroad in Mexico.


As for my business, as some of you know, I run my art studio out of our home. I have a dedicated room where I paint, package and ship all my artwork to you. If you're curious about my daily life and how I run my business, I post often about my process, my studio and my work on my instagram here:


You can also follow along on Pinterest, where I pin all things design, decor, crafts style and holiday goodies:


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Your ability to evolve and adapt will open doors to a successful, balanced space where you can thrive doing what you love. Remember, embrace change.

Tags: How To Balance What You Love And What Sells - Selling Art


Interesting read! It’s a hard thing to figure out for sure. But it’s important to define our customer and be clear about our business otherwise, what’s the point?


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