6 Misconceptions About Business Plans – with Harriet Wood


business plans

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Recently, we spoke with Harriet Wood about what life is really like as an artist. Harriet is a graffiti artist, regularly delivers workshops on business plans with us and is passionate that you CAN make a living out of being creative. 

Working for “exposure” is perhaps the most well known myth; you can’t pay rent with exposure I’m afraid! 

But we wanted to find out what it’s really like, and some of the things that people don’t realise when they dip their toe into the world of art…

1. “Business plans are just for people in suits”

A business plan is one of the most valuable things you can create as an artist. Because it helps you work out what you want to do and how you’re going to make it happen. It should have everything you need, from what you’re creating to who’s going to help you get there. From when you’ll hit your deadlines to what materials you need. 


It’s about taking your creativity and using practical steps to get it to people. You could be so talented but stuck in your bedroom and nobody would know about the amazing work you were doing.

Using a business plan means you can take what you’re doing to the people you want to reach.


2. “All artists are starving and don’t earn any money”

People think that you can’t make money from being creative, when you can. Some of the most wealthy people on the planet have earned their money from their creativity and artistic value.

You accept working for free to get there though, and nobody else does it. Why should something as special and valuable as your creativity be undervalued so much?


3. “Women can’t be graffiti artists”

As an artist that paints under the name “Hazard” it means that people don’t often know that Harriet is a woman. The graffiti scene is male dominated and therefore, as a woman, she has to fight to ensure that she’s seen in this industry.

“The most common sentence that’s said to me is “did you do all of that” when I’ve clearly just been painting. It’s ridiculous that people struggle to believe everything I create comes from me.”


4. “You can only do one sort of thing”

Harriet does murals, graffiti workshops, enterprise workshops, blogging, graphic design, illustrations, tattoo designs, label designs and she loves it all! 

Being creative means that you can be versatile in the work you do, and pick up different things, sometimes from week to week. Sometimes you have to!


5. “Mistakes are bad and you should avoid them at all costs”

Plot twist: it’s actually okay to mess things up sometimes. You don’t learn unless you make mistakes. Whether that’s not charging enough or doing a job you hate – which we’ve all done! Making mistakes only makes you better at what you’re good at. 

All the people you look up to have been in the same position before they became the person you look up to. Some of them are still getting things wrong even now. 

People just don’t share that side of their work.


6. “Oh you’re so lucky to be able to do this”

It’s not luck, it’s hard work. Being an artist takes a lot of work, and it’s not an easy ride. People think that opportunities just land in your lap, but it’s never that simple. People don’t see all the hard work you’ve put into positioning yourself to get opportunities – it’s not easy. You need resilience. 

You’re fortunate that you can do something you love, but luck doesn’t come into it.


“It’s the best job in the world, but it’s not an easy ride!”


The arts are always worth going into – no matter what people say. It might not work out how you think, but with the right support, we can dispell even more of these myths.


Harriet Wood is a freelance graffiti artist and workshop facilitator. For more information about her and her work, visit

PAPER Arts offers support for young creatives on how to build a creative career and navigate Bristol’s art scene. For more information about the work we do, please email [email protected]

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The future of paper arts

A Statement from the Board of Directors


Like many organisations, PAPER Arts has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. In 2020, on appointment of a highly skilled CEO, we made the bold decision to review our business model and begin a process of research and development in order to shape a new service and to better support creatives in Bristol with professional development, networking and the opportunity to learn new skills.

Throughout the pandemic we have proudly supported creatives in Bristol, with a focus on young people from St Pauls, our Creative Employment programme hosted over 20 sessions and we welcomed 17 young people to feed into our research and development proposal. 

However, the last 18 months have been a huge challenge, while we’ve been able to successfully deliver a plethora of projects since our inception seven years ago, we have been unable to secure the funding necessary to realise our ambitious plans for the future and to provide our organisation with much needed financial stability.

As a result, it is with a heavy heart that the current PAPER Arts team, made up of Grace, Kate, Katy, Lau and Amie will no longer be able to continue in their roles. Our small team has delivered a substantial amount of value to the community we serve and the Board of Directors are endlessly grateful for the skills and professionalism they bring with them each and every day. We are proud to know and work alongside such talented individuals and believe that the arts sector is a better place with them in it. 

The ideas generated by this team are inspiring and hopeful and the Board of Directors wholeheartedly believe in the importance of supporting the creative community in Bristol.

As September ends and the seasons change PAPER Arts will be going into hibernation in order to survive this adversity. Our voluntary Board of Directors will spend the coming months considering the future of PAPER Arts, the role we can play in the arts sector in Bristol and how we can sustainably move forwards. We don’t know what that will look like yet, but as soon as we are able to share more with you we will. 

In the meantime, should you have any questions or concerns or if you would like to speak to someone about the future of PAPER Arts please don’t hesitate to contact [email protected] – Kirsten Cree, one of the Board of Directors will be monitoring this inbox. 

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