I’ve been an artist since I was a child. I never knew how not to do it, but being an artist is not the same as being a professional artist. I embarked on this around 2006 or 7. I started to realize that it was my time to do what I had always wanted to do but didn’t allow myself to really pursue. What’s the difference between being an artist and being a professional artist? As an artist you are creative and passionate about what you do. As a professional artist, you are creative and passionate about what you do but you are also in the business of selling your art, for a living in most cases. This may be oversimplifying but you get the idea. There’s money involved and that’s when it gets serious for me. However, making real money for your art can be a ‘tricky’ business.

Heather painting all over the place.

Heather painting all over the place.

Trick Number One

The number one thing you should focus on is producing the best art that you can produce, whether it be porcelain dolls, illustrations, woodcarvings, or fine art oil paintings. Learn to do what you want to do to the best of your ability. This is an ongoing process with art. Good artists never stop learning so I don’t believe that you should wait until your art is perfect before you start selling it. For many artists, its never going to be perfect. That is how they come back to the easel or the workbench everyday to try again to get close. I do think there are buyers for art at every level of one’s professional career as long as it is priced right. Pricing is a different topic for a different day but, if you choose to be a professional artist, there are buyers out there for everyone.

Ad running in Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine, Nov/Dec 2016

Ad running in Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine, Nov/Dec 2016

Trick Number Two

They have to see it before they can buy it. I know many people who go through magazines and catalogs and say “I paint better than that” or “My friend so-and-so can make better ‘insert type of art piece here’ than that”. Well, are you or so-and-so making sure that people get a chance to see the work like the people that are in those marketing materials? You have to spend money to make money. Spring for the advertising when you get accepted to a show. Run ads in magazines that you respect in your industry. Do a Facebook marketing campaign occasionally. Do something to get your work seen by potential buyers.

Just received a delivery of birch panels.

Just received a delivery of birch panels.

Trick Number Three

Treat your business like a business. Art is my profession and it is my 9-5 and bread and butter. I show up every day to do something related to my business. I paint. I photograph the work. I keep my inventory software up to date. I keep my financial software up to date. I keep my inventory stocked. I keep my materials stocked. I know how much art I need to be producing each month in order to keep supplying my galleries and I keep detailed records of where all of my art is at any given time. Plenty of people try to run businesses in any field but if they don’t do these things, they fail very quickly. Just because you are an artist, it doesn’t mean you are exempt from these rules. Get a personal assistant if you can’t handle these things but somebody’s gotta do it.

Here are the quick plugs for the vendors I use: Quickbooks for financial software; for inventory, customer and show tracking; for my website; Meininger Art Materials for local supplies, for my brushes, for mediums and varnish; for paint; local lumberyard for birch panels. I’ll try other things occasionally but I keep coming back to these.

Trick Number Four through …

Getting into galleries, getting accepted to shows, getting invited to invitationals, etc, etc. These things come after you do tricks 1 -3. The journey is different for everyone so there are some things you may not care about. Things can also change for you on a daily basis and you have to readjust the plan. I know that if you are focusing on 1-3, the rest will become more obvious and easier.

Thanks for reading! I hope that I have helped you in some way. Feel free to comment. I look forward to reading them.

Upcoming OPA Events

Salon Show 2021 Salon Show
The Salon Show will be hosted by Quinlan Visual Arts Center, located in Gainesville, Georgia, June 10 through August 7, 2021 Learn More!
OPA Summer 2021 Online Showcase OPA Summer 2021 Online Showcase
The Summer 2021 Online Showcase is from June 1 - August 15, 2021 and will be open to Associate members only. Learn More!
2021 National Convention & Wet Paint Competition 2021 National Convention & Wet Paint Competition
The 2021 National Convention & Wet Paint Competition will take place in Santa Fe, New Mexico, from August 24 - 29, 2021. Learn More!
Eastern Regional Exhibition 2021 Eastern Regional Exhibition
The Eastern Regional Exhibition will be hosted by the ArtCenter Manatee, located in Bradenton, Florida, September 28 through October 22, 2021. Learn More!
Western Regional Exhibition 2021 Western Regional Exhibition
The Western Regional Exhibition will be held October 15 through November 27, 2021 at the Mary R. Koch Arts Center (Mark Arts), located in Wichita, Kansas. More details to be announced as they become available. Learn More!