How to take the next step in becoming a professional artist

If you’re a creative type, it can sometimes feel suffocating to be trapped in a standard 9 to 5 job, especially if you’d rather be spending your time nurturing your creative skills! Despite your raw talents, making the step from stable employment to becoming a full-time artist can be a tricky one with some inherent risks.

However, if you feel you can’t live your fullest life while ignoring your creative passions, you may feel your only choice is to take the plunge and work to becoming a professional artist. If you’re in this situation right now, here are some steps you’ll want to take:

Find a studio space

Unless you’re lucky enough to have an artist studio space in your own home, you’ll need to find a location from which you can perform your craft. Make sure to take your time viewing different spaces, so you can choose the one with optimal characteristics such as good lighting, inspiring atmosphere and proximity to supply stores (and coffee shops for sustenance!). You should also consider aspects such as accessibility. If you know you’ll need to carry heavy equipment in and out of the space, or need to load products into a van to sell on, then you’ll want a ground floor space where you can work easily.

You may not find the perfect studio spot right off the bat. Indeed, you may need to refurb or makeover a space, so it is fit for purpose. If you’re getting involved in construction, you’ll want to partner with the right companies to achieve the result you’re after. To fully understand, read more about construction insurance and surety bonds.

Prepare for a mindset shift from hobbyist to professional

Deciding to try and earn an income from your artwork may put pressure on you as a creative. Your venture may not be smooth sailing from the get-go, so you’ll need to prepare yourself mentally for occasion struggles and setbacks.

If up until now you’ve only done your art out of pure passion and enjoyment, you should brace yourself for quite a dramatic shift in mindset and creative process. You’ll need to consider what is likely to sell, rather than purely what you’re driven to make.

Invest in professional standard equipment

Whether your tools are pencils, pens, paint brushes, woodworking kit or textiles, to make the jump from a hobbyist to a professional artist, you’ll need to be working with the best equipment on the market.

Perhaps you’ll need to secure a short-term business loan to afford these purchases, but you’ll soon see the difference and how it pays off. In particular, if you’re a maker of furniture, jewelry or clothing, the higher standard your raw materials are, the higher selling price you’ll be able to command.

Establish pricing plans

How will you decide upon a price for your artwork? Perhaps based on the time it took to make the piece, perhaps on the value you think it delivers.

As a newbie to the market, you may need to start with lower prices before steadily increasing as you grow in popularity and demand.

Finding places to exhibit and sell your work

Unless you’re able to call in favors from friends and family who own gallery, museum and retail spaces, you’ll need to get networking in order to find outlets to display your work. Make a list of places to approach, based on the current clientele they attract and the brand they uphold.

Consider preparing marketing materials, such as an overview of the work you do, and have a sales pitch ready for when you meet with potential stockists. What will they gain from stocking your artwork? How sellable do you believe the work to be? How do you envision the working relationship between the two of you? The less effort required from the stockist, the more likely they’ll agree to shared business.

Remember, you can always go online to exhibit and sell your work. These days, it’s easy and inexpensive to set up your own website, and you should probably do this regardless of whether you’re selling online. If you’ve got limited knowledge of web design, try starter services such as Wix and Squarespace to build a simple and easily maintained template.

Look for collaborations

When you’re starting off as a professional artist, you’ll have much to discover. As such, you could do well to look for established creatives to work with and learn from. These makers could also be working within the same realm as you, or be from a different line of craftsmanship.

Collaborating with other artists brings a myriad of benefits for both parties. Not only can you share expertise and inspire each other, but you’ll also be expanding your resources and introducing each other to new potential buyers.

You may be surprised to learn of the artist community in your local area. Get online to try and find a maker’s meet up. You may find this support system particularly valuable in the early days of your art career.

Have a financial backup plan

Depending on your character, you may be more comfortable making the shift from your current day job to selling your artwork if you take it slowly. Consider establishing your art business on weekends to start with, only quitting your day job should your desired career truly take off. Alternatively, you may be an “all in” sort of personality, in which case you’ll thrive off the challenge of diving head first into this new way of working.

Whichever approach you take, it’s advised to have a contingency plan in place. You don’t want to put undue financial pressure on yourself while you’re still working things out. If you can, try to secure a secondary income (perhaps from a part-time job), or start saving up now, while you’re still in full-time employment. Approaching your new career with some money already in the bank will enable you to invest in the equipment you need and pay for studio space, without worrying about how much it’s costing.

Certainly stepping up to become a professional artist will require dedication and grit, but if you make it work, you’ll not look back!


About: James Daniels is a freelance writer, business enthusiast, a bit of a tech buff, and an overall geek. He is also an avid reader, who can while away hours reading and knowing about the latest gadgets and tech, whilst offering views and opinions on these topics.

How to take the next step in becoming a professional artist

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