Getting started as an "Artist"

I think the most regretful thing a person can do is to let talent or a passion go to waste. You do not need to be paid to create art (although it is certainly nice when it happens!) and if it something you love to do, there is nothing stopping anyone from setting aside some time to draw, paint or develop creative ideas. Whether it escapism, cathartic practice or just plain old fun, the crucial thing is that you are creating…and creating regularly. More often than not, its consistency and practice that leads to proficiency. So first thing first is to not overthink the hows and why’’s and just get to the painting, drawing, sculpting or whatever it is that you genuinely enjoy doing on regular basis.

I picked up drawing again as I was horrifically bored studying for some job qualifications, and it was my most soothing outlet and my favourite form of procrastination. Something I am sure many people can relate to. I had no intention to make money off of it - that just became a lucky by-product of keeping it up over the years and eventually positioning myself very well off and online.

And its not an easy task to just jump head first into the art world and expect to immediately succeed. It’s a horrible stereotype to assume that all art grads end up flipping burgers… and at the same time it is a common stereotype because thriving as artist is difficult and requires persistence and shitload of elbow grease (heh, see what I did there). You pontificate all you want about deeper meanings, conceptual ideas and “finding yourself” before you put a pen on paper, but when all is said and done, it’s the artists who are creating work regularly, and putting themselves out there that are succeeding, regardless (or despite the fact) that they are still holding down a 9 to 5.

The full time artist is in some ways a complete myth. Aside from the chosen few, most will take jobs as teachers, in advertising, design, commission work or other means of income or a salary aside from the actual art they want to make in order to survive. And there is nothing wrong with that. I spent six years working in a corporate job while painting in the evening and weekends before I finally decided I was in secure enough position to go full time. The time I spent in that job gave me invaluable experiences and lessons that carried over to running an art business, and enough financial security that I could pick and choose art projects and tell anyone asking me to paint in exchange for ”exposure” to politely shove that proposal for free work up their own asses.

I use the term art business, because is effectively what you need to create to succeed, and to be equal parts artist, entrepreneur, marketer and salesman.

But I digress. If I were to completely oversimplify the process of getting started and distill it into three crucial points:

  • Create and practice regularly

  • Find somewhere to show your art

  • Find somewhere to sell your art

The first point is entirely down to your own work ethic, and without that the rest of this site is pretty much entirely pointless. Thankfully these days it’s significantly easier to follow points two and three, which is often where most people get stuck struggle and is something I hope to investigate in various degrees of detail throughout this blog with my own experiences as well as other successful artists.

So how do you start?

I will try and end most of these blog posts with a bit of “homework”, and the first thing is just start making, or at least practicing art. Some pointers:

  • Find a preferred medium

  • Develop your own style

  • Create a portfolio of 10 – 20 works

The end goal is to create a body of work that you are comfortable to share to everyone, not just family and friends. There is also no harm in documenting and sharing the process and failures on the way. If anything seeing an artist go from average to astounding, or evolve in style over time makes for a great story and creates a more personal connection with an audience. Public critique also helps (or forces you) to improve. Nevertheless, there are no hard or fast rules to succeed, but you need to have something to show and tell.

And as a cheesy take away, ultimately if making art in particular way makes you happy, make time for it. Regardless of whether it goes anywhere or not, you will enjoy the process which is always a win win scenario. This is not an overnight process…so you might as well enjoy it along the way.

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