I’ve decided to take the plunge and build an art career. What are my first steps?
I often receive questions like this. Without knowing too much about the person, it’s difficult to respond. But in all the years I’ve been helping artists build their careers, I can say with a good deal of confidence that there are four major steps to kick-start a rewarding art career. Today we’ll look at the first step.
Step #1: Devote yourself completely to a studio practice
You can’t make a few nice pieces and sit in the easy chair. You have to work, work, work. While I don’t believe that an artist needs an art degree to succeed, I do know that art school gives artists a leg up on creating the habit of being in the studio. If no one instilled this in you, it’s something you need to figure out.
Like anyone else who is self-employed, no one is going to tell you when to get up, when to go into the studio, when to take a break, when to stop for the day, or when to take a vacation. These are things you must learn to do for yourself.
The great thing about being self-employed is that you are free to organize your schedule so that it works for you. The downside is that some people aren’t very good at setting goals and boundaries. If this is you, don’t use it as an excuse. Consider it a challenge to change your ways.
1) Make it regular–whether it’s the same time every day, the same number of hours each week, or on the same days of the week. Not a morning person? Then for Pete’s sake, don’t say you’re going to get up early and go to the studio. Schedule your studio time when you are most creative and productive.
I’d love to say that all you need is passion and excitement about your art, but you also must have a healthy dose of discipline to channel that enthusiasm. Don’t believe me? Read Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin. Colvin shows how two people with equal parts talent take very different paths when one of them commits to a deliberate practice. And if you want to see discipline instilled in a lifelong artist, check out The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp.
2) Keep it sacred. Don’t let anyone or anything interfere with your studio time. I’ve read about a few artists lately who wouldn’t allow phones in their studios for fear that they could become a distraction. It’s also important to be able to turn down requests and invitations that would take you away from your studio time.
See the other 3 steps: