So you are a newbie who is wondering how you can kick start your art career? Or perhaps you recently finished your BFA or MFA. And you want to know how you can reach those lofty heights of Artistic achievement? If so then you are what they call an aspiring artist. And you have come to the right place because we are about to share with you some of our best tips to get you a solid footing before you embark into the tumultuous Art-world. And make no mistake that it is a tumultuous world indeed. So keep your eye peeled & your ears to the ground for this one
What is your USP?
No doubt you have heard of the term Unique Selling Proposition. And if you haven't, then it is time to do some research on business principles. After-all you want to get into the art business not just Art. Anyway, always remember that most people including those who call themselves Art lovers are not engrossed into the minutia of the various Artistic forms. So chances are that they will not be able to tell apart Geometric abstraction from Cubism. So you need to find your own ‘niche’. Something that people will easily identity as your genre. Be sure that it also matches your preferences as an artist. While all artists find inspiration from the greats of yesteryear like Van Gogh & Monet, but your work needs to be as they say unmistakably you. Deliberate attention to being different will pay rich dividends even more so than your mastery of Art. It is not to say that you aren't or shouldn't be a master at your work, but it is equally important if not more to stand out of such a crowded art world. And once you have decided on your style, try to grow a thick skin. Remember that there will be times when you will feel down & out. But you must have the confidence to persevere. And you are going to need this confidence to also be able to network, one of the most important of all activities you will have to do as an artist. Getting your work recognized by the influential parties in the art world, exploring ways to reach out to new audiences & finding opportunities to expand your collaborations with other artists is also another quality you need. Before you even decide that you want to be a professional artist, it is important to know what you really want to get out of the endeavor. Just like art means different things to different people, so does success! And it is important to be very clear about what your goals are to be able to get anywhere & after getting there enjoying the process too. One of the most common is the psychological satisfaction of having created great art. Artists are born with that urge to constantly better their work. And if it means a lot to you, then you ought to ensure that you don't feel that you are neglecting that aspect. Another important one if the fame & glory bit. It can be a powerful motivating factor in an artist's life. And right along with it is the financial part. There is no denying that we all need financial stability, but how much does the wish to make money figure in your plans? Once you have a good idea of what your goals are, it becomes much easier to organize your art business & implement different strategies which will help you achieve those specific goals.
What strategies will you adopt to reach your goals?
One of the most common factors to successful artists is their approach to their art career. Almost all show an amazing level of dedication & discipline. Remember that the market is always hungry for more artwork. And you want that artwork to be yours. So there is only one way to go about it i.e., creating a large body of work so that you have the ability to cater to multiple chances of exhibiting. And the best way to do it is to set aside regular hours of your day for nothing but creating art. Waiting for inspiration to strike you is not a winning strategy in today’s consumer culture. You must practice your craft & keep looking for inspiration. It could mean turning to art full-time. And what you create also needs to have that unmistakable feel of consistency. The topics of your creations should not vary wildly. They should seem a gradual & natural evolution of ideas. The ideas you use as well need to remain comparatively coherent. It doesn’t mean repetition though. The media you use also need not vary too much. Jumping from oil paintings to Papier-mâché sculptures can scare buyers away with too much unpredictability. The same remains true for your style. Not only it must remind people of your other works, but it must also give them a sense of consistency. Unless you have a trust fund backing you, this is one of the most important questions artists must ask themselves. While it might seen romantic & idealistic to jump headlong into art or even go to extremes like move to New York to pursue art, it not the best of business decisions. And an artist must become a shrewd businessman before they can become successful. Unless you have an alternative stream of income, the pressure of making rent is enough to affect the most talented of all artists. A starving artist is not a great artist at all. Human beings are not designed to function devoid of their immediate physical well-being. To put it in a nut-shell the great cathedrals of Europe were not built by starving artists! And the good news is that there are many jobs which will not only cover you living expenses but also provide an impetus to your art career. From graphic designing to creative designing for mass manufacture, the opportunities for artistic talent are numerous in today’s world. Even the corporate world has taken notice. There are people who get paid for simply creating a memorable experience of visiting museums whose clients tend to be employees of giant corporations.
Do you know how to run a business?
Yes. All artists have wondered How to sell my artwork? or How to choose the right market for my business?. And like we discussed earlier, for any degree of success in today’s art market you must be business savvy. And this means knowing the minute details of running a business. It is no different than running a restaurant. You need to give your customers a very good reason to choose you over other competitors. And you need to keep re-inventing your brand & also your products to keep their interest. And just like other businesses you need to keep track of your inventory. You also need to give customers ample information on how they can care for the artwork. You will find more information in our article on LinkedIn.
You also need to keep accounts for your business. Yes, even art businesses get audited by the IRS. And have you ever thought about the logistics of shipping your art to your customers? Especially if you sell internationally, there are numerous legal & regulatory matters that you need to keep eye on. And all this takes some learning & effort. So if you thought that a career in Art is limited to art, then think again. And while most business have set hours, running a business in this field does not. And then comes the part of pricing your work. It is more of a business skill than a question of what that particular work of art means to you. A lot of artists make the mistake of using artistic or even sentimental notion in this crucial business decision. And it sabotages their often brilliant creation’s market appeal. One must remember that most things in this world mean different things to different people. And it is true for the art world which is dependent on the subjective. Another factor is that it might be great art but it also needs to be good investment for the buyer. Are you asking for the customer’s big chunk of cash in exchange for something which is only going to be a solace to them as a wall-hanger but will not fetch them decent returns after a few years? Is this approach also affecting the consistency in the prices you charge? After-all what feelings you work evoke in your mind is going to change with each one of your art works (& perhaps also varying from time to time). Check out this awesome blog about the technique of pricing your art
Do you have the life skills necessary to make it as an artist?
Now this part is more about you than your art. Like we’ve discussed before, creating art is going to be only part of your job. A major part is going to be building skills like being organized with your time, efforts & even your budget. Another skill is the ability to focus on your work no matter what distractions life throws at you. The ideal scenario you envisage might be one in which you do not have responsibilities or even other interests which demand your attention, time, effort & money. But real life is never that simple. Artists are also human beings with families, social needs & ambitions. Any artist worth their salt will tell you their trials with raising kids & also keeping focus on their artwork. Multi-tasking your daily life with the requirements of creating your art is key. And that focus can often be found only with some set goals of ‘production’. You will have to set some figures you intend to achieve, whether it is the number of paintings or sculptures (or your choice of art genre) or the number of artist competitions you enter or even the number of social events you attend to further you art career. All these have to be measurable & analyzed. And these production goals do not mean your quality should suffer. To ensure that you have the quality aspect well covered as well, you will have to constantly get reviews & criticisms from peers. Just they do in a factory with what is called ‘quality control’. Your art needs quality control too. Just that in your art factory you create the art as well you ensure good quality control too. We have already mentioned how we need to have some hours of the day or the week set aside for this. But you also need some time off to get some fresh ideas in. And that again means, you need some specific plans. These include getting yourself involved in situation & circumstances where you are more likely to be inspired. Here is a great blog which will give you some tips on getting fresh ideas & inspiration on How to write a poem.
ShowFlipper is a global art platform for all artists regardless of genre. You can read about many aspects of the qualities required for you to become an artist in their blogs. And the best thing about them is that they will answer that all important question about ‘How to promote artwork?’ for you. They have a wealth of information on all the factors which make an artist’s life from choosing a topic, the techniques used to market the artwork, the general market variable in the art world to getting inspiration from the great artists from yesteryears. They also have regular competitions for artists to participate in & win prizes worth thousands of dollars. They also write blogs & press releases for you apart from creating a customized social media plan for your artwork. And they have a huge number of artists on their site from more than fifty countries. This ensures that you have a community of peers to get ideas & advice from, in order to keep your work appealing to your audience.