Have you ever wondered what it takes to become a successful artist in the booming art world today? Being a fine artist today takes not only years of developing varied skill sets and vision, but also an obsessive work ethic and a touch of madness here and there. Madness becomes a part of an artist’s development of a piece in which her personality paints part of the soul onto a canvas and then taking a step back to watch people either love it or at times, pick apart every aspect of your being. Art is powerful, inspiring and moves us on different levels - to create, attract buyers, or even buy a piece of art.
The jump into being a full time artist doesn’t mean you are just painting or drawing all day; it takes more than just sitting down and creating beautiful works of art! When I have conversations about what I do for a living, people tend to automatically assume that I just get to hangout in my studio all day and paint pretty pictures. However, the reality is that fine artists these days are juggling many other areas in order to make a living as well as to be seen by collectors in the art world. The art world is a big and sometimes intimidating place to stand out in amongst thousands of other artists; opportunities don’t always fall into your hands. Taking risks, consistently being innovative, and hunting opportunities you desire help to elevate who you are as an artist and a business. Understanding how to marry the creative side with business and marketing are keys in becoming successful with your art to the world.
Things I have learned along the way are not always perfect nor do they work for every artist or business. These are the things I have to continue to work on while creating art and developing my business.
Never stop learning
As an artist, you have to push yourself to learn new techniques, trying mediums you haven’t tried before, learning from other artists and keeping up with the relevancy of today’s technological world. Don’t get stuck in one style and always try something new. Your creative process will always be your own!
Taking care of your collectors is key
Always attempt to exceed your customers expectations. Follow up after sales and respond to correspondence as soon as possible. Staying professional with communication in potential buyers and collectors will always lead to future sales and possible connections for increased visibility.
Ramp up your social media skills
Developing good social media skills are imperative in todays world. It’s so important to maintain each site you have developed and monitor the content on a daily basis. It can be a monumental and daunting task outside of the creative process; if this isn’t your best area, it’s suggested to hire a marketing manager to manage this side of your business.
Be organized and know your limits
It can be tempting to take on small $25 projects as it seems like easy money, but be weary. Sometimes this can get projects stacked up too high and you either end up putting out lesser quality work or your timeline for completing projects gets outrageous because you simply have too much work to complete. From someone who has been there before, don’t take on too many projects at once. Quality over quantity!
Be socially active!
Surround yourself with other creators as often as you can. Go to other local art exhibitions, art walks, community service projects and galas in order to see other art as well as to be seen as an artist. Make connections and bring your business cards. You never know who you will meet in a social situation while mingling in the art world. The picture below is from an event which I donated a 4’ hand-painted Mandala on Wood to a Boys and Girls Club charity event in which I attended. From this event, I made at least 25 connections and hundreds of people saw my art!
(Pictured: 2019 Great Futures Gala, Boys and Girls Clubs of the Muskegon Lakeshore (Michigan); May 18, 2019)
Take professional & high resolution photos
Make sure you take or have professional photos that are of the highest quality possible of everything you create. Galleries will often want high resolution photos for possible exhibitions and collectors who desire prints of original work will want the print to look like the original. Utilizing a professional photographer with studio lighting or having a great camera of your own while in the best lighting space will highlight your work as if the collector was standing in front of your piece of art.
417 Photo Works, Springfield, MO
All too often I have to take myself into a quick time-out and tell myself to just be patient. I will have an amazing idea in my head (they are always pretty amazing in your own head) but sometimes making it come to life is harder than originally planned.
This week, I have been working on a massive piece for my upcoming show at Art Santa Fe, Contemporary Art Show. I have a vision, I have measurements, & I have a plan. Or so I thought. Throughout the process in talking with potential large scale printers and talking about material pricing, the actual weight of the finished pieces and how each would hang without ripping the wall to the ground became the reality. But I am not losing my vision and trying to just enjoy the process of learning about making my dreams come to life.
Sometimes the greatest masterpieces take the biggest risks. Many of the most successful artists have spent years developing their craft. Take one piece at a time and enjoy the creative process.
Create a user-friendly website
Make sure your website is easy to use and easily navigated for your visitors. There is nothing more frustrating for a consumer than to try and navigate their way through an out of date & difficult website. I recently had my website recreated because the previous platform was difficult to navigate and understand. Editing your own materials using a site that is hard to use, only amplifies the stress in showing your work and getting your message to the consumer.
Within the last month, I hired Crowstead as management of my new website, which has introduced a world of difference from my previous website that I could barely figure out where to go to log into. You choose what works for you and for your business; make it simple and easier for you to focus on the creation of art without pulling out your hair in trying to become a website designer in the process. There are a lot of great options out there for any level knowledge of website design, choose what works best for you and your business.
Don’t cut corners
When branding your art career, get professional business cards, create a clean and easy to navigate website, and produce your work on quality materials.
I used an AWESOME company out of Canada to print my business cards called Jukebox Prints. They offer an amazing array of paper stocks and unique printing techniques. My cards were printed on 100% recycled cotton with a hand pressed letterpress of my signature. On the topside, my card has a silk matte feel on paper stock in a matte black. Classic, unique, & sustainable. If you can afford it, I would recommend Jukebox any day over the quick print places. (You know who they are).
Remember, when you hand someone your business card, they can tell a lot about you in the first few seconds. They can tell how professional you are, how much you care about using quality products stretches into perception of the materials used in your artwork, and what vibe you are putting out. Make it count!
Often you will see established artists finding their niche and staying in one lane creatively. I say keep growing & keep pushing your skill sets. Being a versatile artist in today’s ever changing world is a good thing.
Believe me, I don’t have everything mastered in the world of art nor do I claim to know all of the tricks. I love art and have been creating since I was in kindergarten. As an adult and wanting to develop as a business, these are only my experiences and what has helped me to become a recognized professional artist and business owner in the last five years.
Becoming a professional artist comes with many ups and downs. There are no steadfast rules to follow to find your “golden ticket” to success. Success is what you believe it to be; you have to remember to continuing to keep creating what you love and learn from both successes and failures.
Artist, Sarah Rasul