23 Tips to Build your Career as an Artist

Tips to Build your Career as an Artist

Tips to Build your Career as an Artist: BusinessHAB.com

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1. The Background:

For many artists, art is a pastime that helps them unwind and gives them an opportunity to be creative. For some though, art is a way of life. If your dream is to become a successful artist, it may come as no surprise that you will need to hone your craft and strive to become the best artist you can be, but you will also need to approach your art like a business. Like any business venture, there’s risk involved, but if you can strike a chord with the public through you work you may find yourself making a great living through your passion.

Search online to find out which art schools are in your area, or which schools offer specializations in the type of art you want to pursue. While it is possible to become a professional artist without attending school, this is the most common starting point for amateur artists who want to transition into professionals.

  • If you know what type of professional art career you want to pursue, try looking into trade school programs. These programs are generally non-degree programs that offer extensive courses in several specialties, such as graphic design and painting.
  • If you know you want to be a professional artist but are unsure what type of artist you want to be, try looking into schools that offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Bachelor’s programs are typically 4 year programs that give you the opportunity to take a variety of art classes and afford you time to figure out what your artistic passion is.
  • If you have a Bachelor’s degree and are looking to specialize in a particular type of art, consider looking into a Master’s degree program, such as a Master of Fine Arts.

Check with local museums, galleries, art schools, and studios to find out about opportunities to take art classes or attend workshops.  Many art-related institutions offer classes and workshops frequently, so you will likely be able to find several options.

  • Taking advantage of these offerings will allow you to learn more about the type of art you want to pursue professionally, and will give you the opportunity to practice and receive feedback from professionals.

4. Work on improving your artistic skills every day.

As with any career, becoming a professional artist takes hard work and consistent practice. While you may have natural talent and/or have developed new artistic skills in a degree program or by taking classes or workshops, working on your art every day (or as often as you can) will help you hone your skills and find your artistic strengths.

  • Putting in the work also helps build your confidence in your art and in presenting yourself as a professional artist.

Experiment with different mediums and search for inspiration in a variety of places to help you find your unique perspective as an artist. To make a name for yourself as a professional artist, you will want your art to be recognizable as yours. While talent and quality are important, distinctive pieces of art are the most popular in terms of what sells.

  • Traveling, seeking out new experiences, and observing the world around you can help you find inspiration and uncover what you want to convey through your art.

6. Be confident in your abilities.

“Your self-worth is determined by you. You don’t have to depend on someone telling you who you are. Do what you were born to do. You just have to trust yourself.”

The first step to becoming a successful artist is to practice your craft often. It may take years to develop the skills you need to become a successful artist. Even if you are already extremely talented, practice will still improve your skills.

In order to become a better rounded artist, you may want to study the work of those who have succeeded in the past doing what you do. Being aware of the work of masters can help you increase the quality of your own work.

  • Painters may want to seek out the work of historically significant painters. Even if you don’t paint in the same style, an awareness of the methodologies used by great painters can inform your method choices.
  • Writers should read classic literature to have a better appreciation of the craft as an art form as well as a mode of communication.

Successfully marketing your work will mean selling it against the work of others. Art, like many things, goes through phases of what is currently considered marketable or even fashionable.

Art is an expression of something you feel or want to convey, and each artist has a unique way of delivering that message. Find your unique perspective on the world to create something new and interesting.

  • Often, successful artists are those who can look at the same thing others have before, but see it in a different way. Let your experiences, passions and preferences inform your style of creating art.
  • Setting yourself apart from other artists may increase the value of your work.

Like any business venture, a successful artist must be goal driven. Set attainable goals and then strive to accomplish them. Some goals should be short term and easily attainable while others may be larger ones that could require significant spans of time.

  • An example of a short term goal could be to complete one piece per week, to sell your first painting, or to read a book that could help you improve.
  • Long term goals could include getting your own exhibition, finding professional work as an artist, or getting a piece added to a museum exhibit.

In order to be successful you will need to take your art seriously. If you intend to make a living as an artist, you will need to devote yourself to it like one would when starting any small business.

  • Constantly strive to better yourself and your work.
  • Look for opportunities to market your work or expand the reach it has with the public.
  • Take your work seriously and spend as much time as possible working to improve its quality as well as to make it more marketable

Selling your art is not that unlike selling any other product; it requires dealing with professionals that are not necessarily artists but instead specialize in the buying and selling of art pieces.

  • Be on time for meetings you schedule and treat people courteously and with respect.
  • Follow through on your commitments to buyers so they may be inclined to return for future purchases.

When opportunity knocks, make sure to answer the door. Depending on the kind of art you make, different situations may present themselves that offer you a great opportunity to show more people your work, be featured in a gallery or exhibition or even transition into another realm of the artistic world such as working as a staff artist for large companies.

  • Weigh your options carefully, but when a good opportunity arises, go after it with your full focus and devotion.
  • Don’t allow good opportunities to pass you by because of fear, insecurity or anxiety about what may happen. Believe in yourself and seize the day!

Being an artist requires being self-driven. The benefit of working on your art is that you do not have to work on anyone else’s schedule and you have full control of how you go about your day. The downside to that is that you will need to make yourself work even on the days you don’t want to.

  • Success will require long hours and hard work, so you will need to be able to drive yourself to do the things you don’t want to do but need to do in order to become successful in the long run.
  • Try giving yourself a set schedule like you might have with any other job. Eventually it can become habit, which will make it easier to stick to.

Art is all about perspective, and sometimes the perspective of others will not match your own. You can be certain that if you create a piece of art that seems wonderful to one person, there will be another that simply does not appreciate it. Learn to accept constructive criticism, but also to let un-constructive criticism roll of off your back.

  • Don’t expect everyone to be fans of your work. Some may voice their displeasure with what you create, and they may even do so in a very rude way, but that just means your art simply wasn’t made for them.
  • Remember that everyone has different taste and you can’t possible make something that will be universally loved. Instead, make things that you love and others will appreciate it too.

Being an artist can sometimes mean odd schedules, frustrating lows and extremely exciting highs. Having relationships that don’t support your passion can be very stressful, especially if you feel you have to defend your work or your devotion to it.

  • Don’t allow people to remain in your life if they are constantly critical of you or your passion for art.
  • Having the support of your friends and family can make working as an artist even more fulfilling, so cultivate good relationships while doing away with bad ones.

Every artist faces a situation where they feel as though they should just give up, or their schedule just doesn’t seem to permit as much time for their art as they wish it could. Don’t give up when the going gets tough.

  • Remember why you love to create art and the way you feel when you complete a piece.
  • It’s okay to devote time and energy to other facets of your life, but stay involved in your art, even if for just a few minutes here or there.
  • You never know when your luck could change, but if you stop creating your art, it never can. The piece that makes you world famous could be your next one.

19. Create a portfolio of your work.

To promote your work through almost any professional organization, you will need to create and submit a portfolio of your work. A strong portfolio highlights your best pieces, so include any pieces that you feel particularly confident in, as well as any that have garnered positive critical feedback. Your portfolio should also showcase your abilities, so feel free to include promising unfinished pieces that display any skills not seen in your other pieces.

  • Whether you choose a digital or paper format for your portfolio will depend on your career goals, personal preference, and the type of art you typically create. If you are a graphic designer, for example, you will want to create a digital portfolio, as this will likely be the expected format. If you specialize in small, original drawings, you may want to include original or copies of your work in a physical portfolio to show to gallery or museum personnel.

Learn how to get your art into a gallery to help you establish yourself as a professional artist. While the competition is fierce and it may take some time for you to break into the gallery world, getting into a gallery is a great step towards selling your art and making a living as a professional artist.

  • As you start submitting your work, visit gallery openings and events to get to know the people that work there, as well as other artists. The more people get to know you, the more familiar they will become with your work.

21. Start social media accounts to display your art online.

Regardless of where you are in your career as an artist, starting an Instagram and/or Facebook account to display your art online can give you a boost in recognition. Once you create an Instagram and/or Facebook account, start posting your art at least 3 times per week, if not every day, to familiarize your followers with your unique artistic style and perspective.

  • You might also want to look into how to advertise on Instagram and Facebook to widen your social media audience and, eventually, boost your sales.

Think outside the box and reach out to various establishments to ask if you can display your art. Retail stores, restaurants, public parks, craft fairs, and festivals are great places to display your art and get noticed as a professional. Try to be creative and don’t be afraid to put yourself and your art out there – you never know what opportunity to exhibit your art might lead to a sale.

23. What makes an artist successful?

Success is an internal and personal metric. There are many superficial interpretations of what success means. Most artists won’t define success by how much money they earn, what their work’s market value is, or whose collection they are in. In the end, success is personal. It’s about how much you are able to express, what you have to say, think and feel, and how it connects with others.

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