Without small business, we’re nothing. TheLatch— and GoDaddy have teamed up to rally behind local businesses and entrepreneurs during this unprecedented time of change.
We’re speaking to small businesses and entrepreneurs across the country to better understand how they’re adapting to stay open, how they’re keeping their community safe, and how we can support them now during this time, and beyond. We’re focused on keeping Australia open for business, even if doors are closed. #OpenWeStand
Donna Gibb is an Australian artist and entrepreneur, having launched a series of artistic businesses over the years that empower everyone to take part in the creative process.
With an extensive background in Australian television, Gibb — having painted for over 40 years — pivoted her interests some 20 years ago to focus her attentions on artistic endeavours full time. She’s since launched three separate businesses and revenue streams, each of which has its own website, created with GoDaddy tools and services.
“I have a diverse art space business profile. Party Artworks was the first domain name I created with GoDaddy. I paint at events like birthdays, weddings, corporate events and anniversaries, and while I’m painting, every guest has the chance to add a brushstroke to the canvas. Afterwards, the event hosts keep the piece as a memento.”
Through this platform, Gibb also runs school holiday workshops, adult art classes, specialty workshops, and paint and pour classes with wine and grazing platters.
“I’ve been doing paint and pour sessions long before it became a trend!”
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Such a special wedding we painted at for Emily and Mark. So many elements captured. Including loved ones who have passed away, the ceremony, bridal waltz and their incredible venue, Sylvan Glen in Penrose, NSW. Scroll across to second image for more of the picture. #weddingpainting #weddingpainter #uniquewedding #livepainter #livepainter #donnagibbart #weddingvenuensw #weddingsinnsw #paintingatawedding #guestentertainment #weddingmemrobilia #weddingmemory #weddingmemories #weddingentertainment @sylvanglen_weddings
Since her wedding painting became so popular, Gibb then created a stand-alone site called Wedding Paintings, to help people easily find the service.
“Donna Gibb Artist is my personal artist profile, and it’s a more comprehensive overview of my businesses, plus an online shop to purchase my works.”
Gibb’s art businesses have taken her around the world and have kept her busy for the last 20 years. But now, with the world staying home and slowing down amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Gibb is using the time to launch yet another business she’s had in the back of her mind for a long time.
“I’m taking my business in a new direction of online classes, which is something that I’ve wanted to do for three years, but haven’t had the time. This crisis has enabled me to do that,” she tells TheLatch—.
We had a chat with Gibb to find out more about her art career up until this point, plus the steps she’ll be taking to adjust in the current climate.
TheLatch— Thank you so much for your time, Donna. I know how busy you are trying to get this new platform off the ground! Tell me more about your businesses and how you were operating before COVID-19?
Donna Gibb: My work has taken me around the world. I’ve painted the Melbourne Cup from the Birdcage, I captured the start of the Sydney to Hobart on canvas, I painted Oprah Winfrey’s live show in Circular Quay some 10 years ago, and I’ve painted the Tour De France, all the while running classes and painting at events.
Weddings were a huge market for me, and in the last 12 months, I had put a new focus on SEO [search engine optimisation], which helped people looking for art services to find my sites with keywords and search terms like “wedding painting”.
I was about to revamp the entire wedding painting website, and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit — essentially crushing the wedding industry overnight. I suppose this gave me a kick up the backside to launch my art classes online, and quickly, using GoDaddy.
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Glorious day for a wedding in Townsville. Guests added a brushstoke and wrote messages on the back. Love the afternoon light coming through the alter made in macrame by a family friend. #aberryodonnellwedding #weddingpainting #weddingpaintingbydonnagibb #weddinginspirations #uniqueweddings #townsvillecity #northqueensland #rodeogrounds #weddingidea #weddingideas #weddingmemento #brideandgroom #donnagibbart #donnagibbartist #herveysrange #herveysrangerodeo #weddingvenue @partyartworks
TL: How have you had to pivot the business, and what opportunities have you found in these new times?
I’ve been working to build the site for around ten days, and I was able to set it live last week. I still need to bring more content to the site, but I’ve been working hard to shoot and edit a series of videos that my online students can work off to create their own works of art at home.
I easily taught myself how to use the software. Ultimately, I want to help as many people as I can to get involved in art, so I’m also working to bring an e-commerce function to the site that allows people to buy discounted art supplies. I’m doing what I can to adapt and keep my students happy.
“My students who have been coming to the studio are missing classes, and I needed to find a way to communicate with them and keep them creative in this time.”
TL: Wow! Well done on moving so fast to get that launched and live. I wonder, has it been challenging for you to pivot so quickly?
DG: Of course it’s been challenging and frustrating at times, but in the last few weeks I’ve had some really beautiful experiences in adapting the way I work.
Last week I ran an art class from my balcony with a bunch of kids across the road who joined in from their balconies and from the courtyard below. It was really great. I did the same thing with those kids’ parents over the Easter long weekend — with wine!
Last week, I also did a Zoom class online with my oldest student, Arthur. If an 85-year-old can do this and adapt to change, everybody can. I want to be available to everybody who has an interest in art.
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Arthur enjoyed this morning's art class with Donna Gibb. Arthur wanted to paint something different to his usual landscape. The Ben Quilty book was the perfect insiration for him to enjoy using palette knives. #artclass #artclassbrisbane #paletteknifepainting #oilpaintings #oilpaintingtechniques #inspiredtopaint #artteacherlife @benquilty #donnagibbart #partyartworks
TL: How amazing! Do you feel that this new way of operating online will stick around for good, even after the pandemic passes?
DG: Absolutely. I have so many ideas for bringing my business online and I’m thankful for this time to make it happen. I’m so passionate about painting and sharing my experience with as many people as I can, and while I’m focused on making the online art classes as accessible as possible, I have big dreams to turn the concept into a TV show down the track.
Ultimately, I would love to be able to film myself painting scenes and events from around the world (once we’re able to travel again), and have online students tune in and paint those events with me virtually.
TL: Such a fantastic idea for the future. Tell me, though, how can we support your business in the meantime?
DG: Go to the Art Class Online website and engage with our content. Subscribe to the database to get updated on online classes, check out our Facebook page, and consider how you might want to get involved in art in this time.
We’ve launched a free art class for parents to do alongside their kids right now. I would invite anyone to get involved and then show me your creations afterwards!
TL: What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs in this time?
DG: Without change, things stay the same. It’s tough out there right now, but I think we need to embrace change and turn negatives into a positive where we can.
There’s always going to be a gap in the market, and in a time like this, there will be space created for people to shine with new ideas.
“We’ve launched a free art class for parents to do alongside their kids right now. I would invite anyone to get involved and then show me your creations afterwards!”
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