Getting Your Art Career Started


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Getting Your Art Career Started

by Jessica Molcan 

Graduation is fast approaching and for those of us looking for a career as an artist, the task can be daunting. There is a preconception that to be a professional artist, you need to go through a period of destitution. Not true! To avoid the trap of believing the “starving artist” stereotype and if you want to make art your career, here are some foundations of success to keep in mind. Not all of these are applicable to every type of career, so pick and choose what fits your needs.

Note: For the purpose of this article, ‘artist’ is used to discuss any independent and creative job, including but not limited to visual artists, photographers, writers, and designers.

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

I’m sure you’ve heard this before when people dissuade you against starting a career as an artist. However, there are many professional artists who hold day jobs. While teaching is generally the most popular choice among creatives, just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you have the capacity to teach that something. If teaching isn’t for you, the best option is to find work that doesn’t distract you from your practice, has flexible hours, and allows you to live. Not just to get by, but to live. As long as a job doesn’t deplete your creativity, it will allow you to flourish as an artist.

Find Studio Space

Having a day job allows you to option to find studio space outside of your living space. Naturally, if external studio space is outside of your budget, then you will have to become more disciplined in your practice. Studio space is important. Don’t let the size of your studio dictate the size of the work that you make.

Treat Your Practice Like Work

Not to be a downer, but unless you take your practice seriously —like a job— you may find ways to avoid actually creating work. Home studios can be a hindrance to production if you aren’t disciplined enough. The best way to get work done is to schedule studio time just like you’d schedule work time. Not necessarily 9-to-5, but block out time each day in whichever way works for your creative process.

Taxes, Paperwork, and Inventory

I know, you didn’t go to art school to do lots of paper work! Unfortunately, it’s a necessity when building your practice. It’s a good habit to keep an inventory of all the work you create, keeping in mind the cost of production, the listing price and it’s current location, the buyer (if any), if it’s been shown, and any other details. This will make tax time easier and establishing any copyrights for your work.

Hopefully these tips help you start getting your practice established post-school. It can be daunting, but it can be done.