Tuesday, September 16, 2008

On Becoming a Professional Artist

I found this on Casey Child's blog, but he found it on another website. Very insightful and worth reading and sharing.

"Being a Professional Artist

Be Prepared to Struggle. The life of a freelance/self employed/gallery artist is not an easy one. It definitely has it's ups and downs. The pros- you can be creative everyday, you can set your own schedule, you can travel whenever you like, you are in control of your day to day, including your future... The cons- inconsistent cash flow, stress of not knowing when work will come, sometimes you have to do work that is less than exciting, no health insurance, bills sometimes get paid late...

Be Down for the Long Haul. It's not going to happen overnight. If you're lucky- in 5 years you maintain some sort of consistent work flow, sales and success. For most, it takes 7-10 years. The first 3 years are the hardest. With a lot of people, these are the 'make-or-break' years. Frustration, lack of motivation, laziness, insecurity and lack of drive will overwhelm most people who even think about being an 'artist'. You can't claim to be something if you make no effort or have no aspirations. Wanting to be and being are two completely different people.

Make a list of goals, no matter how lofty, outrageous or small they may be. Work diligently and daily until you achieve these goals. Appreciate and celebrate the small successes, but stay hungry and keep your focus on the future and the unaccomplished goals.

Put yourself around successful, healthy and creative people. If your friends are excited about life and what they do and who they are, that energy is contagious. People that have no drive, no direction or aspirations are dead weight- they are going nowhere, talk about the same things and, typically, their depression and negative energy will affect you and take you away from your own goals. Sometimes it's difficult, but if someone truly cares about you, they should be happy for your success and dedication, not jealous, bitter or resentful. Life is way too short.

Be honest with your work and your weaknesses. You HAVE to be your own worst critic. Do not settle for where you are. You should constantly strive to get better and learn something new. Complacency turns into laziness, which falls into boredom and mediocrity. Why do something if you don't care about it? No one is 'making you' do it. If art is a hobby, that's all well and good- but don't fool yourself and think you're something that you're not.

Be humble. Realize that you're not that good. There are 10,000 artists living that are better than you. There are 100,000,000 in art history that are even better. Feel good about what you do but don't lose sight of this reality. Challenge yourself to do things you don't think you can do, either out of fear or lack of knowledge. Expose yourself to ALL kinds of art- painting, sculpture, film, furniture design, illustration, architecture, animation, etc. Ask yourself WHAT and WHY you like certain aspects of your favorite art pieces and allow that to nurture, inspire and motivate your own work.

More than anything stated, the most important ideal is to HAVE INTEGRITY.Stand behind what you do, have your own voice, your own aesthetic and your own opinions. Don't try and be the 'Flavor of the Month'. Please, Please, Please- whatever you do, don't be a [jerk]. The art world is very small. Don't let yourself get labeled as a clone, a copycat, a spineless, unoriginal bastard. No one will respect you or your work. It's lazy and unethical, disrespectful and disgusting.

Don't turn work or commissions down. No job is too small. Sometimes, you even have to do work for free.... ALWAYS be professional. Try to challenge yourself and take on more than you can handle. You will be surprised, when it comes down to crunch time, if you focus and make deliberate decisions and actions- you will accomplish much more than you thought you were capable of."


Amy Sullivan said...

Very important advice~
Being an artist is hard work.
A couple of weeks ago a very dear relative~who I thought understood, how hard I have been working on my art. ~said to me~ I was thinking about you the other day~can you do those cartoon portraits, you know, with the big head?~I was like~no~ I really don't have a talent for them. That is a whole different style from my portrait art.~then he asked if I thought I could set up a booth at the mall & paint kids faces.~~~Well....I really could not believe my ears.~Amy~

Jennie Chan Moscatelli said...

That's a very good article with lots of great advice. I know it gives me alot to think about.

Thanks for posting!

Terry Rafferty said...

Interesting and important thoughts here - thanks for sharing them. I just found your blog via a comment you left on Jennifer Phillips' page - I'm very curious about your plans for the graphite figure, and will check back to see what you do!

melissa said...

Love that! I relate, thanks for sharing.