My Chinoiserie Journey: How I Built A 6 Figure Art Business

My Chinoiserie Journey: How I Built A 6 Figure Art Business

 

A Golden Age Of Opportunity

 
I’ve known from a young age that I’d be an artist, but I didn’t realise I could actually make a healthy living from my passion. I would have been happy to just ‘make a living’, but luckily for you and I, we are living through a time where opportunity is limitless.

 

In this blog post I share my story and how I've generated over a million in revenue from my artwork. Read on to discover my most successful revenue streams and tips to help you do the same. 

Before we get into it, if you’re interested in learning my Chinoiserie painting techniques, I can help you! Join me by subscribing for free advice and downloadables, with so much more to come.

 
Diane Hill's botanical nature art chinoiserie paintings in her art studio with Chinese paintbrushes and watercolor gouache paints My original chinoiserie designs for art prints 'Rosie & Bonnie

 

My jaw dropped! How beautiful is THAT! 

Many years ago as I was flicking through a book about wallpaper, I noticed something a bit different, something exotic. It was the extraordinary art form known as ‘Chinoiserie’.
 
I noticed it didn't repeat like normal wallpapers, it was a scene. An endlessly beautiful scene of nature, colour and joy. 
 
 Chinoiserie or Chinese wallpaper mural in Grimsthorpe Castle Lincolnshire
Chinoiserie wallpaper in 'The Chinese Drawing Room' at Grimsthorpe Castle, Lincolnshire. Image credit Chinese Wallpaper in Britain and Ireland by Emile de Bruijn
  

I had to be part of this! 

I wrote to the only company in the UK still making silk wallpapers the traditional way. I wanted to be part of this SO badly.

The stars aligned and I spent 7 sweet years painting and drawing for them in watercolours and gouache, travelling the world and living a dream.

 

 Diane Hill's chinoiserie art desk containing Chinese brushes for chinoiserie art watercolour and gouache paints

My very first artist's desk, full of inspiration and creativity

 

I learnt the traditional painting techniques in China, from master craftspeople. I saw levels of talent I didn’t know existed. I became more and more absorbed into the world of Chinoiserie art.
 
Diane Hill and friend with traditional traditional chinoiserie or Chinese gongbi style bird painting
Me and a fellow artist with our traditional chinoiserie style bird paintings in a painting studio in Wuxi, China
 
I painted in luxury residences, yachts, hotels, casinos and celebrity homes. But my favourite time was painting a floral chinoiserie scene inside a bespoke Rolls Royce Phantom.
 
Bespoke rolls royce hand painted floral chinoiserie scene by diane hill Chinese painting artist
Left: My chinoiserie painting inside bespoke Rolls Royce. Right: Me and the Rolls Royce team

 

Moving On Up 

It was all very very special! But I wanted to share this mysterious and unique art form with more people, so I set up on my own…Diane Hill Limited…ahhh the dream! 

I painted all the walls in my home with Chinoiserie murals, I photographed them and established myself online.
 
 
orange hand painted floral chinoiserie mural wall with birds flowers butterflies
My hand-painted living room chinoiserie wall mural 
 
blue chinoiserie style peacock wall mural Chinese painting
 Hand-painted chinoiserie style peacock wall mural in my home
 
pink hand painted Japanese blossom flower wall mural painting chinoiserie style
My hand-painted pink chinoiserie flower blossom wall mural
 
Work didn’t exactly come flooding in, or at all. But I continued painting at my dining table, in the ridiculously small window of time I had between kids and life. Always sharing on Instagram, learning the ropes every day. 
 
diane hill's first watercolour artist's workspace
Working at my dining table, surrounded by silk paper and gouache paint
  

And slowly slowly, bit by bit, things started to happen. 

 
For the first 3 years I focused exclusively on bespoke hand painted projects, this made sense as I had no money to invest, all I needed was my own two hands and some basic materials. I worked with some incredible interior designers on the most luxurious schemes, painting murals directly onto walls, or creating silk wallpapers from my studio.
 
 
left: diane hill using natural animal hair Chinese paintbrush for botanical floral chinoiserie wallpaper right: pink floral chinoiserie wallpaper dressing room home decor
Left: Creating my bespoke floral chinoiserie wallpaper design. Right: The finished design, a dusty pink chinoiserie wallpaper mural.

 
silver vintage style chinoiserie wallpaper living room design
My bespoke chinoiserie design transformed into a luxurious silver botanical wallpaper mural
 
 left: diane hill using a natural hair chinoiserie paintbrush for gongbi style art painting original floral chinoiserie design on silk painting paper. right: framed vintage floral chinoiserie wallpaper art print panelsLeft: Painting my custom chinoiserie design onto silk paper. Right: The finished design as framed chinoiserie wallpaper panels. 
 

Rags to riches!

 

At year one I’d jump for joy if an enquiry landed in my inbox, desperately awaiting replies and discouraged when they didn't come through. By year 3 I was inundated with a 12 month waiting list and was able to pick and choose what suited me.
 
gouache and watercolour artist diane hill on ladder painting custom chinoiserie wall mural
On top of a ladder midway through one of my bespoke hand-painted projects
 
Eventually I felt overworked and financially limited. Being up a ladder all day is not easy and there was a ceiling to my earning capacity. So I turned to the wonderful world of print, with a global audience and an established presence in the design world I was able to sell my art online. 
 

My revenue quadrupled!

 

My business scaled fast because I set up with an automated print on demand studio (The Print Space), this meant orders were fulfilled automatically and I was not responsible for packing and shipping, giving me more time to create art.

 

pink and blue floral chinoiserie wall art prints with birds butterflies flowers bright wall art

My chinoiserie art prints 'Felicity' and 'Rosie' ready for shipping

Print your paintings! 

If you want to scale your art business and serve a global audience I’d encourage you to sell your art in printed form. This could be art prints, wallpaper, fabric, accessories, the list is endless. But my biggest tip is to start with the easiest route with the biggest margin and in my humble opinion, that is art prints.

 

drawer full of colourful vintage floral botancial chinoiserie wall art prints

 My drawer of bright and beautiful chinoiserie art prints

 

The art of marketing

I learnt that the marketing of my work was more important than the art itself! I realised that you could be the most talented artist in the world, but without an audience you won’t sell a thing. I spent every spare moment learning about online marketing, I binged podcasts - Shopify Masters, Amy Porterfield, The Ecommerce Roadmap, just to name a few, and read many books, my favourite being Donald Miller - Selling a story brand


I learnt the importance of email marketing, brand presence, web conversion optimisation, SEO and all the things I never thought I’d understand in a million years! I applied them and over time my sales were consistent, without any paid ads.

 

chinoiserie artist Diane Hill and botanical floral watercolour gouache paintings in artist studio

At my home studio with my colourful chinoiserie art works

 

Brand collaborations

With a growing online presence I was approached by brands offering collaborations, you can learn more about them here. Brand collaborations are an incredible way to connect with new audiences and potentially earn a considerable passive income. This could be in the form of royalties (a small percent of the overall sales, 4-8% average), where you do the work once and get paid for years to come, or you could licence a design for a larger one off fee.

Related blog post: The wait is over! Affordable chinoiserie wallpaper and matching fabrics available now!

 

diane hill in vintage botanical chinoiserie maximalist style room home decor

Surrounded by my chinoiserie home decor designs in collaboration with Harlequin

 

Supply the demand

My social media following consists of a large number of artists who are inspired by my work and eager to learn, so I also began selling my own art materials and launched an ebook to share my techniques. Today this accounts for a large percentage of my business revenue and is incredibly rewarding, which is why I’m now developing an online course.

Related page: Learn To Paint Chinoiserie Art


My advice to any artist growing their own business is to look for opportunities and capitalise on them. If you are regularly asked for something, explore how you could make that happen. You’ll be serving others and growing your business simultaneously, how great is that!

 

chinoiserie artist diane hill in her watercolour gouache art design studio surrounded by bright colour vintage botanical floral chinoiserie home decor wallpaper designs
In my art studio surrounded by my chinoiserie creations 

chinoiserie or Chinese painting art studio with botanical wall art prints and floral art works
My creative haven; my attic turned art studio

 

My Business Bloomed 

 

 Since my dining table days, I’ve converted my attic into a bright and beautiful art studio where I’ve been able to create the dream I set out to achieve.

I’ve made Chinoiserie accessible and created a multi 6 figure business selling my art online. I’ve landed some incredible licensing deals with aspirational brands. And I live a fulfilling life, working 30 hours a week, doing what I love.

 
diane hill and family in front of chinoiserie blossom flower wallpaper mural
My family and I celebrating the Barbie move release! I love them so much :)
  

From Me, To You 

So from my privileged position, I’d really like to help you. You may have already achieved your dreams, or you may be at the very beginning. Either way, I'd love to help you grow even stronger as an artist and professional. There are just 3 magical ingredients you’ll need:
 

Passion, ambition & perseverance. 

 
If you apply these 3, there is no way you can fail, I promise. You don’t need to be the best artist, I certainly wasn’t! You just need drive and ambition, you got this!

I hope you enjoyed reading about my journey!
 

Are you interested in learning to paint with me?

 
If so, please sign up below and I’ll send you some free painting resources!
 
With heART,
Diane

 

More Posts

11 comments

  • Author image
    Amaryllis Archanjo: February 21, 2024

    a Dear Diane, it is a very inspiring story! I’m Brazilian, a weaver and I also love working with arts in general (paint, brush, paper, different media…) and I’m a collagist, but I have enormous difficulty selling myself, I’ll follow your advice, I’ll teach myself how to sell myself better. Thank you very much for the advice, much success to you

  • Author image
    Maretta King: February 14, 2024

    Diane it is a wonderful thing that you’re doing out of your busy life to share your knowledge and wisdom that you have learned. I am myself a creative but it’s still a lot to learn and I am willing to be open to learn from your knowledge and wisdom. It’s a blessing and I thank you for your time. 🙏🏽

  • Author image
    Chisomo : February 08, 2024

    I absolutely loved hearing your journey. I remember enjoying silk painting at college before I got into fashion. Recently I’ve become interested in interiors and personally love a wallpaper, mural or chinoiserie. What I love about your work is it’s more colourful. You’re talented and have worked hard and I’m glad it’s paid or and you’re living your dream life.

  • Author image
    Geri: February 08, 2024

    Diane, Thank you for sharing your artistic journey and your beautiful pictures with us. I was feeling discouraged before reading this, but you have given me hope that I still have a chance of making a career out of art.

  • Author image
    Joan: February 07, 2024

    Diane, I love your work. I, like you, was blown away by Chinoiserie art and it was your art I saw first. I felt compelled to learn more. Then, unbelievably, you created your e-book. Your generosity in sharing your skills amazes me. I have your brushes, silk paper and have paint at the ready to start my own Chinoiserie journey. You are an inspiration and deserve all the success and adoration you receive. Thank you so much.

  • Author image
    Helen Morris: February 07, 2024

    Diane, I have followed you for years and been thrilled for you with each step towards your success. I too am a Chinoiserie fiend and have made stencils my chosen art form. I bought your e book when you launched it and am looking forward to learning hand painting skills for embellishment of my stencilled works. Thank you for your tutorials and newsletters, they are always a pleasure. You deserved all the success that has come your way. Long may it continue.

  • Author image
    L Barnett: February 07, 2024

    Diane! Thank you for generously sharing your journey. As with your art, it is very inspiring.

  • Author image
    Adriana Dickson: February 07, 2024

    Dear Diane,

    I have received your newsletter and read it with much joy! congratulations and thank you for your beautiful and inspirational writing!
    thank you!

  • Author image
    Sadaf Ismail: February 07, 2024

    Hi Diane,

    Love every email from you. You are always so encouraging and generous with your skills. I have one question here. How did you approach designers or people who commissioned you initially at the beginning . I don’t know how to approach people or get that 1 st job !

    Thanks

  • Author image
    Marti: February 07, 2024

    Thank you for sharing this and inspiring so many!

  • Author image
    Afreen Shaikh: February 07, 2024

    Such journey and stories inspires people around and I m inspired too. It gives a sense of possibility, even I could achieve the same.

    I love art and painting. Hope to start up my own studio one day (for sure) and earn out of it, just the way you did! A 6 digit salary. Your story was motivating. Thank you for sharing it. :)

Leave a comment