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Regional Arts Development Central West NSW

Micro Grant Stories: Penny Banks online

‘Visual artist Penny Banks found that a small bit of seed funding and good advice can go a long way.

Going online’ was an essential move for many regional artists this year.

Orange visual artist Penny Banks used her $300 Arts OutWest Micro Grant to undertake a course to increase her market exposure, which had been limited by Covid-19 due to the closure of galleries and public spaces. She wanted to learn how to add an online shop to her website to increase the ease of purchasing artworks.

Penny’s experience is a useful example for other visual artists looking to have an online sales presence.

What did you do with the funds from your Arts OutWest Micro Grant?

After discussing marketing courses with Madi Young [of Orange’s Corner Store Gallery], I decided to complete two courses with different objectives:

  1. Marketing for Artists – a course specifically designed for artists wanting to improve their reach through targeted tools and techniques (both online and physical). This 30-day course taught me about some of the ways to run art practice as a business, pricing artworks appropriately, systems for archiving and building a target audience.
  2. Women Making Gravy – a more general business marketing course aimed at utilising social media in a practical and effective manner. I was able to use the information I had gathered about my ideal target market from the first course and apply that knowledge to the second course to ensure I’m engaging with those people on my social media accounts developing and using a social media strategy.

I decided against paid advertising and promotions at this stage in my business because I achieved significantly higher growth than I anticipated during this period once I had a better understanding of how I could make free tools like Instagram work harder for me.

Penny’s website. Photo: Em Wollen Creative emwollencreative (

What were the benefits gained from your Arts OutWest Micro Grant and how did it help you or others during the Covid-19 crisis?

I’ve had a significant uplift in the average number of likes (20%), people reached (25%) and followers (42%) on my artist social media account since completing these courses.

As a result of this increased activity and market exposure, I have been contacted by a major magazine and have found three new stockists in this three month period.

My online shop also launched on 23 May 2020, which has provided me with commission-free sales and an easier way to convert followers to customers.

Whilst I do still sell a few paintings through social media, the website is a more professional way to conduct business with new clients where first impressions count!

The knowledge gained from completing the two courses will allow me to continue growing as an artist beyond the Covid-19 crisis.  Whilst my solo exhibition was cut short, I think I was able to gain more exposure by completing the courses than the exhibition on its own.

I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to continue growth to have a sustainable flow of sales that are less likely to be impacted by other events in the future.

See Penny Banks’ new online shop at:

About the artist

I’m a country kid and a rural gypsy, raised on properties in southern QLD and the New England high country of northern NSW, and having never lived in a capital city.  I’m passionate about rural Australia, life on the land, the ingenuity of people and characters you meet along the way.  This is evident in my artworks – there’s a lot of creatures you might have seen on our place at various times as I grew up.

I grew up in an artistic family.  My grandmother was a full-time artist, jumping between sculpture and painting.  It was my grandmother who encouraged my cousins and I to paint and draw, mould little sculptures with clay and use mixed media to create artworks in little workshops she’d set up to keep us kids busy.  My grandfather was also a fan of oil painting and used this medium to change pace from his busy life in the business world to home life – he and I have this in common.

​My 9-to-5 job is a high-paced, analytical, numbers game that really makes you use the left side of my brain.  Art allows me to switch to the right side of my brain at the end of the day and almost works as a form of meditation.  Painting is a way to connect with my family and my roots, to get a little zen in my life and to create something that brings me joy.