How To Be a Full-Time Artist
We’ve all heard the term “Starving Artist” when it comes to choosing Art as a Career, but the times are changing and this is no longer the case, especially with the development of social media and having an online presence.
It is really easy nowadays to turn your art and passion into a thriving career choice…you just have to be willing to put in the hours and the hardwork which is often overlooked.
So how do you get started?
By far, the biggest obstacle you will face is your friends and family. It’s great if you have a really supportive and understanding group of people surrounding you and pushing you forward, but a lot of us, unfortunately, don’t have that. You’ll often be faced with people telling you to look for a job that actually pays well or even some putting your choice of career down. If you’re truly passionate about this choice then you need to push those comments aside and go for your dream!
Your Art Path
There are a bunch of different paths and opportunities for you to take and you need to consider the best one for you. For me, I’ve taken 2 routes. I started with a commission based business which grew successful, but have then branched into teaching – my true passion.
The best thing to do with whatever path you choose is to develop your personal style and build a body of work. A body of work is increasingly important, especially if you take the freelance option, as it’s your chance to show your potential clients what you can do. In your body of work, you want to include your best works which really represent you as an artist and ones which portray your style.
You can create a body of work, or portfolio, both physically and digitally. Many freelance artists and illustrators have a website which showcases projects they’ve worked on, client work and private works – all of which are browsable online at any time. A physical portfolio is also a good idea to keep as you can show to galleries and other places of interest.
Your Art Career
Many people think of Art as a pointless career, but art is the foundation of everything. The device tour looking at this on…designed by artists. Chairs, tables, pretty much all your interior decor…designed by artists. So to say that art is a dead-end career and “you’ll never make any money” is absolute nonsense.
When choosing your art path and art career, make sure that you research as thouroughly as possible (I always find this key!) find out what you need – do you need qualifications, degrees? And work from there. Many employers hiring an artist do actually require their artist/designers to have some kind of academic qualification so it’s well worth looking into beforehand.
If you’re looking at freelancing or starting your own art business then the best thing to do is to research heavily into business. Some people think it’s a walk in the park and that they know everything, but trust me, there is ALWAYS something to learn about in the world of business and you’ll start a lot better off with a few business practices under your belt.
There are a huge array of courses to look at and people to flow, but find some that you really connect with and go from there. Talking to people who themselves are entrepreneurs is also helpful and will give you some insight. I highly recommend checking out Gary Vaynerchuck – a truly inspirational business man.
I’m going to give you a few tips for starting with your own business – as that’s where my expertise lie!
One fo the most important factors to business, especially in this day and age, is social media. Get on at least 2/3 platforms and really engage and connect with your audience in order to grow it. Nurture the relationship between you and your followers. Make sure you post often and interact on each post. This is key to building that “know, like and trust” factor which is crucial for business.
Get yourself a price list. Whether you’re selling original art, taking commissions or undertaking freelance work. Set yourself a price list and stick to it. If you’re just starting out, don’t set the bar too high – start with some smaller prices as you can always increase. It’s always a hassle to decrease prices (unless it’s part of a sale/event) so start small and increase.
Look into a short accountancy/bookkeeping course. Yes, it may be boring, but familiarising yourself with the things that actively run and keep your business afloat is absolutely crucial. If you can’t afford to enrol in a course, take a look at YouTube for some helpful tips and practises. Knowing the flow of your money is vital.
Create a business plan. I can speak from experience here – if yo don’t have a plan and some clear goals, your business will be all over the place. A proper plan ensures proper, and measurable, success. Most business thrive when a business plan is put in place so dig out your notebooks and start setting some goals!
Your income doesn’t have to be a pittance and you can actually survive, and thrive, with an income from Art.
If you’re going down the route of being employed by someone, you can expect to start off with at least a £19k salary. The more you build your portfolio and connections, you have the potential to earn even more. Of course, with formal training, you can expect to earn a boosted amount from the get go.
Of course, if you’re looking to become self-employed, the only thing standing in your way from earning a six-figure plus salary, is you. The time and effort you invest into your business is everything. Dedication goes a long way.
At first, being self employed, you’re not going to earn that desired amount and you may even take a loss in your first year of business, but keep the momentum and passion and you will build the business that works for you, selling your art. With my commission based business, I was earning a healthy 10k salary, but since turning my efforts and attentions and reall upping my game, my teaching based art business earn upwards of £40k per year. It may have taken 7 years to do so, but it’s completely worth the time investment to live the life and work the way I want.
Let me know what your dreams and goals are for an art based career in the comments below.