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Getting started as a professional artist is a daunting, long, uphill battle. Below I will help those who are just starting out, look for grounds to steady their footing in this climb.
If there is a word that describes my aspirations in life it is definitely, "Artist." As a small child I spent countless summer hours working with my grandmother in her art studio painting, drawing, and sculpting. As I grew older my school notebooks filled with sketches along the bindings and I carried a personal art paper book everywhere I went. In my late teen years I started sewing and designing clothing and by college I was designing, making, shooting and editing the clothing pieces I created. Two things are different from where I am now and where I was then in those early college years with art. My art skills have drastically increased, and I am now making a living on what was once a hobby.
In college I didn't even plan to make my art a career. It was after I left college to find the desolate job market in shambles that I reverted to depending on something I had done my whole life. Maybe it was the moment of despair and urgency that gave me the drive to make it happen. In this journal I will talk about everything I learned starting out and along the way.WILL
When times are tough Apathy and Depression will be your worst enemy. It will make you sleep in late, procrastinate on work, waste time when you are up, and then make you feel guilty for getting nothing done all day. I have suffered this many times but come up with some solutions to help keep me on track and out of its clutches.
-Set an Alarm and do not allow it to snooze ever. You will always snooze it if possible. Better yet, do not put the alarm in reach of your bed. Put it next to something you wear when getting up in the morning like a robe.
This will encourage you to get up by making it harder to sleep in and easier to get ready in the morning.
-Create an early routine and stick to it. For Sean and I, we get up in the morning and aren't allowed to touch our computers until we are showered, have eaten breakfast, done our 30min exercise routine, cleaned the room, and gotten dressed. That way we are ready to work, energized and in a nice environment when we are done.
-If you are feeling less inspired about your art while working or getting easily distracted, set some goals for yourself! It could be that you have to get a certain project finished or have to work on it uninterrupted for 1hour before you get to do some brief fun thing like visit your favorite webpage, play a short game, or take a walk. Better yet, if you can use work you like to do to get yourself through work you don't like to do then you have a double win!
-Sometimes there are things you don't want to work on because of fear or anxieties they give you. A little question I like to ask my self in these scenarios with my art projects is this: "Am I afraid of working on this because it will kill/injury me?", for the record I have never answered this question with a "yes". The next question I ask myself is this: "Will not working on this project hinder my reputation or personal goals?" in most cases when the project presents me with fears and anxieties, I answer this one with a "yes". It makes your choices clear, and helps question silly anxieties and fears. THE PLAN
Any time I feel particularly low or depressed I try to channel the angst I feel into bettering my life. I use it to fuel my motivation to make my situation better! This can be hard though without some direction to start with. Here is a good chart to help you hone that direction:
A: THIS IS THE BIG PLAN AND GOAL: This is what you want! In this case it is most likely a living as an artist.
B:THESE ARE WHAT YOU NEED TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOAL: A good example for this is clients who will purchase your art!
C:THESE ARE WHAT YOU NEED TO GET B: Like advertisement and promotional material, viewers, etc.
D:THESE ARE CONCRETE WAYS TO ACHIEVE C OBJECTIVES: This is where the list gets nitty gritty, it could include regularly posting on a site like DeviantArt, getting an ad campaign for your website, getting a certain amount of subscribers for your YouTube channel, getting business cards made etc.
In the end it is all of those D objectives that you need to be working on, instead of constantly looking at the giant looming picture. When ever you are feeling down in life, have those D objectives ready to go and take them on one at a time.GROWTH & CRITICISM
I was sure if I should put this one first or social networking and marketing, because I hate to say it fellow artists, the latter is going to take up just as much of your time if not more. Growth is damn important though! It is what makes up our essence as developing artists. So here are some pointers I can provide on it:
-You will never make everyone happy. There will always be people who don't care for your art or deliberately go out of their way to make you feel worthless because of it. Before I get to this next point I want to clarify. You don't have to bend over and take it from anyone. They can't control you, they can't force you to abandon your style and they aren't the only fish in the sea. If you are feeling bullied by an individual you don't owe them anything and they aren't going to be your customer (nor do you want them to be one, TRUST ME).
-That being said, well put criticism can be gold for your growth, because like it or not what you hear (especially frequently) will be how many people are perceiving your work. I have worked some jobs in color correction and gotten asked to change nit picky little things dozens of times in a single project. In the end it made me a better retoucher and made me way more aware of the little details. Consider looking at the criticism you get and thinking about how something would be if you changed your piece to fit those parameters. Sometimes you will be pleasantly surprised. Remember though that criticism should be concrete enough to be able to make changes to. I am wary of crit that doesn't tell me what could be changed. In the end it is your art and your choices!
-Practice! I spend the little ounces of time I have left working on clothing experiments and practicing color correction. If you can think of nothing else to do with your time, practice, practice, practice!!! Experimentation has taught me a ton of personalized technique I use on images.
-Tutorials and classes. While I don't frequently get out and see what others are teaching, I try to do it occasionally because it is interesting to see what techniques others are using. There are tons of things I have learned from others that have in turn strengthened my own techniques and visual arts.SOCIAL NETWORKING AND MARKETING
If there is anything that I see great artists drowning in, it is this category. It is a big world and there is a lot of media noise to get heard in. If making art is 100% of your time social networking should be 120% of your time. I am only slightly joking with this one, it is a huge hurdle to jump, and for those who are learning to be less socially awkward (like me @_@) there is a lot of pressure, to learn to get through.
like facebook, google+, deviantart, and Fine Arts America are key to succeeding the social conundrum of making and keeping fans! You go to sites like these because they are the gathering points of people. But you can't just drop off a bunch of your art and expect to turn into a super star. Here are my tips for using sites like these:
-Use them to their fullest, this means fill out your profiles in a meaning full way, use journal CSS, make things pleasant to look at.
-Don't just post your work, write about the back story and making of.
-If you are given space to use tags, use every last character you can to fill them out! Don't even try to tell me that there aren't more relevant words,..there are always more relevant words to use. Here is a great tool to help you with that: [link]
-Make interesting titles for your work, especially if you are a photographer, no one cares about "img.3455"
-Talk to people, that is the whole idea behind social sites! If you don't get out and see other people, they won't see you. I have seen a lot of artists who think that it looks cooler to ignore comments left on their art by other viewers because that is what they see the top artists doing. This will not help you make friends, it will only instill in others that you are rude and disinterested. (especially if you don't have that many comments) Be friendly and gracious, people want to know you as much as they want to know your art!
-Get on a routine so that people can expect content from you. It doesn't have to be exact, but it is better to post regularly once a week than it is to post four times in one week and nothing else for a month. I have heard some people say quality over quantity, I am going to be the devils advocate and say that they are both pretty darn important in the scheme of marketing.
But hey, that shouldn't be a problem for you if you keep practicing and making new art.
-On that note you could have one social network for more frequent postings and then another network for more refined less frequent postings.
-Make one or two social networks your home base of operations. These are the places you enjoy to be the most with your art. All of your other social networks should have links pointing to these special ones. For me DeviantArt is my main social hub and YouTube is my secondary main. Everywhere else I post links to those two! This way you will hone and funnel your audience to one or two locations for highest concentration.
-Host contests, raffles, blog, and make educational posts on your social home bases, these are great ways to engage audiences while you aren't putting up artwork. (I see what you did there Harmony!) XD
-If you make art of some kind that you think a certain audience would really enjoy, talk to blogs, forums, and News Gathering sites. They just might feature your art! Sean and I have done this in the past for several videos. One video by a friend of ours is now hosted on the front page of Cleverbot!
Without taking the chance we would not have gotten that video there. News stations and specialty groups love finding art content that is relevant to them! I have even had some news groups watch my accounts after contacting them because they want to get first picks if I make something else they would like to feature. Twitter has been great for this, there are groups who twitter and scour tweets all day long for content relevant to their sites. The worst that could come of it?...Maybe if your really lucky a grumpy comment back that they aren't interested, no skin off your nose. (haven't yet had any news agency send me a grumpy message, just to let you know.
-Social sharing sites like reddit and buzzfeed are super excellent ways to get your art seen! I have gotten great feedback in the past from posting on the picture and video sub-reddits, and even better feedback from posting to small sub-reddits like /r/sewing. These are the social hubs that make art go viral!
-There are also tons of sites that make selling art easier for artists! Usually they do take a percentage of profits but it is usually very low. Here are a few I know of: Etsy, Ebay, Amazon, Society6, Fine Arts America, and DeviantArt! If you aren't quite at the point where you can full on afford to manage your own website these are a great way to go!
-If a site has social groups like DeviantArt groups use them! Use forums on sites, and chats. These are great fast ways to meet other artists and viewers who want to be social with you!
are a great way to make yourself professional looking! I am currently in the process of updating and recreating one for myself. When you have a personal website you can have the power to make it look exactly the way you want it to! This is the best way to have a crisp clean portfolio, artists bio and contact. If you don't know how to make a website there are several fairly beginner friendly sites that will give you the basics, WIX in particular is very easy to use. Also if you have access to DeviantArt's portfolio creation tools, they are nice as well.
it is easy to hate ads, they get in the way when we are trying to do things most of the time and more than a few of them are just plain ugly. I am going let you know right now though that as an artist, they will most likely be paying your wages at some point in time, and if you learn to use them, they can be powerful allies! I have actually used the DeviantArt profile Adcast system twice now and I would use it again! I have also been making Ad Revenue on YouTube for the last few months on videos featuring my art! If you are going to get involved with advertising your art there are a few things you should remember to make it worth your while:
-Never buy ad space that is based on views! Only buy ad space that guarantees you a certain amount of click-throughs! This makes sure that your ad was actually acknowledged. Per thousand view impressions ads may sound like a way better deal but they aren't in most cases!
-I have actually found it useful when advertising to not
use my most impress image for the Ad image, because if a viewer is impressed by a more mundane image, they will likely be more pleasantly surprised to find more impressive ones on my webpages.
(Don't make it an image you would consider poor in quality though!)
is extremely important and will likely lead to work and viewers down the way. There are several connections you should consider:
-Local connections: Get started in your local community, especially before trying to get to a more competitive high profile level, you will find more quick success to get you started. The best way to get started in the community is to volunteer work on local projects with other artists to get to know people in the community. On the film side of things Sean and I found a lot of film projects being listed on Craigslist to start and later found Facebook groups and networks based in our local community. Be friendly and helpful and people will get to know you in the community.
If you are a photographer you could collaborate with models, clothing artists, and beauticians to have wilder more striking photo shoots. If you are a traditional artists you could work on film and photo sets or network with other traditional artists in your area. The possibilities are only as endless as your imagination, and you all should have plenty of that! You could even start your own projects!
Never miss an opportunity to network with others, this could mean going to physical meet-ups (don't forget business cards), and also premieres of other peoples projects. On the business card front, carry them with you everywhere, I always try to have at least 20 available. A good business card will have your full name, business name(if you have one), email address, phone number(optional), the skills you have (traditional arts, photography, editing, VFX, color correction, costumes, acting, keep it to what you really want to be doing!), and usually some piece of visual art you have created, logo, or a professional picture of yourself.
When you get someones business card yourself, log into Facebook when you get home and add them or their business as a friend if you can. Do this religiously because it will create a way to keep track of who you have met and who you haven't met in your community and it will also help give your projects more audience/distribution when you do them. Sometimes I am just browsing Facebook and get a message from a past acquaintance asking if I am available to work on a commission for them. This is an easy friendly way to get a hold of people quickly.
-Friend and Family Connections: I can't tell you how many times I have gotten work from friends of friends or family. If you are just starting out, go look at your Facebook page, that is the starting grounds of your growing audience! Don't feel bad to post your artwork, they love to see it, even if you are a very new artist (I am always thrilled to see what the younger artists are doing when their art comes through my feed.)! If I don't post often enough on my page my friend and family let me know that they are feeling neglected.
-Big Artist Connections: Sometimes something really special happens when you take a chance and contact a bigger artist. You make a connection with them as a fan and blooming artist. I have a writing friend who was working on his first novel and decided to write to one of his favorite famous writers. He let them know how much of an inspiration and dream they had been in his life and how much he looked up to them. They wrote him back asking about his novel and ended up becoming a constant communication. If you don't take some risks you miss beautiful possibilities! Don't get discouraged not getting communications though.
-Branching Out Your Mediums
can help you gain a new path to a new audience. I did this by making video tutorials for people who were interested in my art and wanted to know my techniques. In turn I gained a new audience for my art.
-Who Is Looking For You?
Your art may be intended for selling prints and originals but think outside that box! Advertisers and many film productions are looking for art to license for their projects. Your bigger money could come from places you wouldn't expect.
This could also give you the opportunity to work on projects you never dreamed of.
-Galleries and Local Businesses
may be looking for you! I am not super fond of Galleries due to the high profit percentage many of them will place on art, but they aren't the only local businesses. I have seen offices, restaurants, and other small stores displaying and selling local artists artwork.THINGS YOU SHOULD HAVE OR GET
Lets make make a list here and if you have anything to add let me know!
-Have a schedule
-Have a plan
-Social media sites
-Routine content distribution
-List of things to frequently update
-Self-Worth and Fun.
Last I just want to remind you, it is easy for people in this world to undervalue artists. Don't ever undervalue yourself though! You don't have to drop prices for people, you aren't a disposable cog, and you are unique! People won't start taking you seriously until you take yourself seriously, so show them who you are, what you do, and be proud.
CSS made by `TwiggyTeeluck
Texture by `Princess-of-Shadows