Ok, there are probably a LOT of things I would tell my younger artist self. There is one thing though that stands out among all of my self-criticism that would have made the biggest difference in my artistic career.
GET OFF YOUR BUTT AND WORK!
How many of you are like me and think “being an artist will be an easier job than working for someone in an office 9-5, 5 days a week”? I honestly thought this until about 3 years ago. Get a great new painting done, ride the wave of praise while I play a whole lot of world of warcraft. There were plenty of weeks that I got no work done. I just sat around and waited for commissions to come in. If you asked me what my goals were, it was to make a living as an artist. I may have wanted it, but I sure wasn’t putting in the work needed to accomplish that goal. So what do you need to do to “make it”?
#1 Paint, draw, and paint some more!
“But Lisa, I do draw, I paint and draw all the time!!” How often is “all the time”? A few hours a week? A few hours a day? The answer to this matters. Spending an hour sketching each day is sure better than nothing. If that is all the time you have, then do it. The thing is, if you’re honestly trying to make a living as an artist, you had better find a way to get a LOT more time into your craft. You can whine and make all the excuses you want as to why you can’t spend more time painting or drawing. They may be great and valid reasons, but the reality is, if you can’t find the time, you’re not going to reach your goal of making your living as an artist.
#2 Start learning marketing and business strategies
The internet is full of free resources here. Just find a few business accounts on twitter and read the blogs they share. It’s amazing what you can learn. The biggest things we fail on as artists are marketing and business strategy. Unless you have the money to hire someone to do this for you…you had better start learning about this subject yourself! It won’t matter how great your art is if you don’t know how to sell it! Don’t just learn it though, apply it! You will need to apply these things to your social media presence and your own websites.
#3 Get your work out there!!
I used to just post my work to my website when I finished a new piece and call it a day. This generated ZERO sales. I had to start listing things on eBay, sharing my finished work in relevant forums, then on my own social media accounts once those became a thing, and in relevant groups within those sites. Relevant is the keyword here. Sharing your floral art in car forums isn’t going to gain you much of a following. Learn who your target audience is and start thinking about how to connect better with them. In addition to online things, start looking for local galleries, coffee shops, and businesses that would be willing to display your work. If the only place your work is seen is on your website and in your garage, you’re not going to get far in your dream to be an artist for a living.