10 things I learned since becoming an artist image

Life as an artist is never what you think it’s going to be. The myth of the starving artist is as wrong as the one of the renowned millionaire artist. Not that these don’t exist, they’re just extremely rare. For most of us, we just work hard at it, just like everyone else. Being an artist is being an entrepreneur.

Here are 10 things I’ve learned since becoming an artist.

10 things I learned as artist

1. You never stop learning

There is always something new to try, perfect, or master. Whether it’s a new painting technique, a new digital software, or a new marketing strategy. There’s so much involved in having your own business that it’s a never ending learning experience.

But that’s what makes it fun!

2. You never stop improving

The more you practice, the better at it you become. From the actual creation of artwork to the selling aspect of it. The more you create and the more you fine-tune your style. The more you share and sell, the easier it becomes. Just like with everything else in life, practice makes perfect!

3. Let go of perfectionism

Speaking of perfection, as an artist, I had to actually let go of perfectionism. An art piece can be touched up forever and ever until the end of times. Often, I would go back to a painting and add little details, touch up a color, slightly change a line. I had to learn to stop doing that. Of course, it’s always good to go back to a piece with a set of fresh eyes and correct some things, but constantly changing the painting does you no good. You have to know when a piece is done. Because otherwise, there would be nothing to ever sell.

Perfection does not exist. But isn’t that what makes art so wonderful? The little quirks, oddities, the happy mistakes? Each artwork is unique, beautiful, and perfectly imperfect.

4. Marketing is the most important part of the job

Creating beautiful artworks is great but it’s completely useless if no one sees them. Unfortunately, it’s not magic. Uploading your work and posting it on a website is not enough, you have to promote it. You have to share it, put it in front of people, connect with others, be present on social media, engage with your audience.

The marketing part of the job actually takes more time than the creating part for a lot of artists, and for me personally too.

Marketing is key and you learn that early on as an artist.

Related article: The Reality of Selling Art.

5. Creativity is something you have to cultivate 

Being creative is a skill. Like all skills, it needs to be cultivated. You don’t just wake up one day with a stream of ideas flowing. Well, maybe some people do, lucky them! Most creatives I know, we work hard at it. We look for art wherever we go, we read, we go to museums, we constantly seek inspiration.

It’s one of the most important things I learned as an artist. Creativity is not necessarily inherent but has to be brought out of you. It’s a result of constant work.

6. Taking care of yourself is important

Being a creative entrepreneur is hard. Having your own business, you have to wear all kinds of different hats and it never stops. There’s always more to do. It’s important to know when to relax and take a break to avoid a burn out.

For me, I have to juggle my full time job alongside my art business and it’s definitely not easy every day. I learned early on that it was fine to just have fun some nights instead of working like crazy all the time. Enjoying time with friends and family is just as important -if not more one could argue.

Whether it’s physically or mentally, be kind to yourself. Only then will you be able to give it your all and live life fully.

7. Having a second job doesn’t make you any less of a professional artist

As this article in The Guardian illustrates, it’s absolutely normal to have a day job while working in the arts.

Having a second job is nothing shameful. It doesn’t mean you are falling, and it sure doesn’t mean you’re not a true professional. For some, having a day job is even a perk. They get to have a steady source of income while doing what they love on the side, without having to worry about money. Being an artist, you can go several days, weeks, or months without selling a piece. If you have another job, it’s not a problem. In some cases, that other job can also be something you love just as much as creating art, so win-win!

Of course, my own personal dream is to be able to be an artist full time and without having to have a day job to support myself. But am I less of an artist because I haven’t reach that goal yet? I don’t think so.

8. Planning ahead is effective 

If you have a plan it’s easier to stick to a schedule. If you actively plan to do a painting, chances are you’ll get it done. Procrastination is the enemy when you are your own boss. You have to set boundaries for yourself and plan effectively.

I tend to spend too much time randomly browsing the internet and finding excuses not to get started on a piece of art but I learned that when I planned to create on a certain day and when I would make it part of the schedule, then I would actually do it.

It works for marketing also. Make a plan for when you post on social media. Plan a marketing strategy, and stick with it.

9. Invest in yourself

If you don’t invest in yourself, no one will.

Buy that better paint, better software, buy that course you need to learn how to master a technique or to learn how to make a website. If you need it, don’t be afraid to get it.

10. Try something new

New technique, new style, new color scheme, new material… Just something different you haven’t tried before. As previously mentioned, you never stop learning and therefore, you have to try new things! You never know what is going to work until you try it.

Experimentation is a big part of developing your skills as an artist.

So, these are a few things I learned as an artist. Life as a business owner is not easy but it can be fun!

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