As artists, we sometimes live in a misguided and perhaps fictitious reality and this can cause an abrupt collision of sorts...
What do I mean by this?
Well, for starters your friends and family will most likely not consider art to be a “real job” unless you make it super BIG! and maybe get into the famous category, but less face it this most likely won't happen.
The fact remains that most people simply do not understand a career in the arts, or the idea of someone making a living off of their creative talent. After all, that's just a weekend hobby right?
I've heard it many times myself and it's aggravating at best when the sly comments come in and they will come in I promise you that. It is best practice to ignore them and focus on your craft. Don't allow the haters to derail your dreams. No matter who they may be and they may be people very close to you.
Instead, remain positive in your on-going efforts and follow your dreams. Only you as the artist truly know what you are capable of and what your future may hold. The moment you fall victim to the negativity, is the moment you will have lost the battle.
Please if you are reading this post this does not apply only to visual artists either. All creatives are included in this. Actors, musicians, writers we all have the stigmatism to fight against the now common phrase we end up hearing a lot in our creative efforts - “Why don’t you get a real job?” from time to time. Often from well-meaning (or not) family members, or friends.
Of course I must go onto say just creating art will not typically be enough though. You see, way back in the beginning of my career (mid-90s) when I was still young and naïve I had a unrealistic notion that my art would just magically find it's audience and buyers would come in surplus. All I had to do was paint. Sadly I learned my lesson very quickly on this issue and is why I now today try to help young and new artists navigate these often turbulent waters and hopefully see a more realistic horizon to becoming a successful artist.
Truth be told, an artist has to spend as mush time marketing their work as they do creating it. If know one knows about you and your work - guess what know one will be interested in buying said work.
Read more about marketing with my post https://www.savvypalette.com/post/7-marketing-tips-for-the-artist
I know, marketing is typically one of the least favorite things a artist enjoys tackling, but it is a MUST in order to be successful and you can't rely on gallery owner's, or curators to take on this burden for you full-time. Sure they might help you you if you get into a well known gallery, or show, but it is vital to understand and have strong knowledge about your own marketing endeavors.
As the old saying goes, knowledge is power and in this case a power that you are going to need to attain in order to have a lasting career as a working artist.
Of course today we live in a digitally world with Facebook and Instagram at our 24-hour disposal. So generating an audience is not at all like it once was twenty-five years ago and a savvy creative who knows how to generate social posts that get lots of likes, shares and comments is well on their way to being successful. Numbers don't lie, a large fan-based built up through organic traffic and resources will attract bigger opportunities over time.
However, let me state that even with marketing and successful shows, art as a business isn’t always a wonderful bowl of cherries with whip cream. Unfortunately no matter what you may do - you may find yourself on the sour side and just have to wade through the muck so to speak until you find yourself in a better wading pool. Please excuse the bad analogies in this post. Witty they may not be, but hopefully they may grab you and make you think twice. Saving you from the dire pits of artist doom and gloom.
Your work isn’t as bad (or as good) as you think. I tend to look at all my work as unsatisfactory. That’s because I begin every project with an ideal vision of what it will look like when finished, and nothing—and I do mean nothing—has ever lived up to that ideal. The plain fact is that nothing ever will. Such is the nature of my ideals! However, to the outside observer like my wife who gets frustrated with me because she doesn't understand why I am so critical about my own work often re-working something she feels was just fine earlier.
As a full-time creative unlike what most probably think. It is exhausting!
One of the first things I learned when I became a full-time artist post art school was that I could really only paint for about four hours, maybe five if I was lucky on a good day. After that, mental energy and often physical energy just plain wasn't available anymore.
Plus like I mentioned above most independent artists have to focus on their business as well which means answering emails, phone calls, taking meetings, ordering supplies, marketing and perhaps writing blogs like this one in order to keep themselves in the creative loop that drives this crazy mad world we all live in.
For me and my www.savvypalette.com brand a typical day begins at 7am with coffee. I have to have a good cup of coffee before I can even begin to think about what I have on the agenda for the day.
Once this has been accomplished I then turn my focus to my business and spend about two, or three hours managing my business side to my art career. I then take a lunch break and find myself in the studio after lunch most days for about four hours Monday through Friday. In the studio I am often working on two to three pieces at the same time so that I can progress and meet deadlines in a timely manner without succumbing to onset of stress.
Please if your young and new to the art world you must understand that It takes a long time to be “discovered.” Have you ever thought that if you painted the right piece, or got your work in front of the right person, you’d have it made?
I confess to looking for that perfect painting, or client in my early years. A nice thought, but of course not entirely realistic. The right venue, or show will of course help catapult your career, but it will by no means be the end all to success.
Most successful artists are discovered only after they’ve put in significant amounts of time creating art (yes, even bad art,) to have learned what works for them and what doesn’t. They’ve met clients. They’ve approached galleries. They’ve marketed, and they have created and sometimes re-created art. Its a process that can take years and it can be extremely difficult at times.
So difficult and frustrating at time that you may wonder if it is all really worth it? I've been at this pivotal breaking point and it is by no means any fun. It is at these low points in life that we must truly buckle in and prepare for the difficult journey that lies ahead. Choosing to be an artist no matter your discipline is not a easy career path, but if you are anything like me your soul needs it and you won't be happy unless you are creating and hopefully successful.
All I can say to that is you must create art for you first and for most. The financial stuff will come into play when you are ready, but please don't try to force something that is just too soon.
I'm gonna wrap this post up with a brief opinion that it takes more than talent to succeed in the creative art business. Talent, like passion, is good, but it, too, isn’t enough. A person with only mediocre natural talent, but the discipline to learn and practice and create will succeed more quickly than a prodigy brimming over with natural talent who never creates, or creates in a haphazard manner.
The best combination, of course, is talent and discipline, but even if you feel like you have zero natural talent, you can still learn, work hard, and succeed.
I'm pretty confident when it comes to art and talking about art, but I will also be the first to say I don't know everything and I never will and it's an important lesson to understand. Why?
Because the moment you think you know it all, you stop learning. The moment you stop learning, you stop advancing. That spells stagnation, and none of us want that!
So that’s my savvy thoughts of things I wish I had known when I started on my art journey twenty-five years ago. Would I have done things differently had I known them when I was starting out?
I’d like to think I would, but who can really say?
Until next time, be positive. Be savvy and create your masterpiece today!