There are no set steps that can take you from the beginning of your art career to the pinnacle of success.
I know you would feel much more at ease if I could advise you to first do this, and then do that, and then do this other thing, and if you follow each step precisely, you’ll be assured a spot in the history books. But I can’t do that.
What I can do is give you some sort of idea of the phases artists work through over the course of their careers: a timeline of artists’ career moves from just starting out to the highest levels of establishing and cementing a reputation.
First, a word of caution: Because an article is linear, you might read this and think that you have to implement one step before you can move on to the next step. This isn’t the case.
I can’t come up with a single artist who has hit on each one of these points.
Artists who are full of confidence and forging their own paths can jump past entire sections!
Hopefully this list will plant the seeds for your next move.
Beginning Your Art Career
Start your mailing list immediately. You will have no idea what to do with this, but trust me. Just
Eric Fischl was one of the first contemporary painters I remember embracing in the 1980s. I loved his memoir, Bad Boy: My Life On and Off The Canvas, and suggest that every serious artist should read it. Here’s a quick video review of the book.
I am thinking about leaving a high-paying job for an art career. While my husband can cover our family’s needs, I am having trouble letting go of knowing I can provide for my children – on my own. It feels too selfish. Do you feel guilty for sacrificing security for love and passion? Is the artist’s life selfish?
If “Follow Your Passion” works for you, heed the call! I’m not going to tell you not to follow your passion. You just won’t hear me offering those words as quick-and-easy business advice, which is often how they appear in print. Here’s my alternative version, which I hope serves you.
In recognition of the Fourth of July holiday and celebrating independence, I interviewed Chris Guillebeau, author of The $100 Startup, who’s book is all about freedom.
You may think it unimportant to define, but granting agencies, galleries, and collectors have their own definitions. Every artist, at some point in their careers, will be called an emerging artist by someone. If you ruled the world, how would you define “emerging artist”?
If you are in the dark about what you want from your art, perhaps these 9 pieces of advice might help. First . . . Don’t quit your day job! You need money coming in while you’re figuring all of this out. If you don’t have a day job, go get one.
One week from today, on February 23, I will let you in on the secret Artist Conspiracy membership program that I have been testing since the first of the year.
Bruce L. Bunch, Greenback Cutthroat Trout. Watercolor, 9 x 12 inches. ©The Artist
I have a positive spin on the word “Conspiracy.” I view the Artist Conspiracy as a get-together of like-minded artists who are conspiring against perpetuated myths such as:
Artists must be poor and sacrifice their well-being for their art. Artists are “bad” at marketing. Artists should accept the solitary life and find solutions on their own.
You can conspire against the same myths in your daily work.
Don’t refer to yourself or other artists as poor or starving. Don’t say you’re bad at marketing. Don’t accept that you have to do it all alone.
The worst time to pursue an art career is when you’re desperate – desperate for money, desperate because time is running out, desperate for attention. If you’re laid off from a day job, it’s tempting to think “Now I’ll have time to focus on my art.” I’ve been hearing this a lot over the past two years and it worries me.
You could learn a lot from Olympic athletes like Shaun White. I learned to train hard, have fun, create a signature trick, and let ‘er rip. The most important lesson was watching White give his fans exactly what they want–even though he didn’t need to.