Tips for new artists that I’ve learned through my career in art:
In my opinion, this is the absolute most important among any of the things artists should know:
Don’t be afraid to be different!
It’s okay if your art doesn’t look exactly like it came off of a list of “top ten artists”, or if your painting doesn’t look like it came from a collection of paintings by Van Gogh, Leonardo Da Vinci, or Basquiat.
Whether your art is in the form of paintings, drawings, sculptures, or anything else; if you want to be an artist, don’t let your perception of “normalcy” prevent you from finding your style as an artist. When you find art that you love, think deeply about the techniques, themes, and styles from it; take the knowledge you gained from the piece and adapt it, experiment with it, or even toss it aside like a piece of burnt toast… The point is, your art is your art. Not someone else’s — I mean… until you start selling it, that is.
Do this enough, and your style as an artist will begin to take shape. Coming up with ideas, or trying to start working on a piece will become more organic than a vegan wearing hemp clothes in a Whole Foods store.
This one should go without saying:
Practice! Practice! Practice!
The term “starving artist” definitely applies here. We, as artists, often have other commitments or busy home lives, and it can oftentimes be difficult to set aside an hour for practicing and perfecting our craft (or anything really). Although there are ways to practice which don’t require such an “appointment-ish” commitment; if you commute via public transportation, bring a bag with a sketchbook and some pencils… or if you’re a student, try practicing between classes. The point is:
Practice doesn’t have to take an hour, because any practice is beneficial; even if it only lasts for five minutes.
It takes practice to learn new techniques and methods, as well as fine tune and perfect your style. Just as body-builders spend countless hours exercising and fine-tuning their diets to figure out what is perfect for them, we artists need to take time fine-tuning our brush strokes, pencil angles, and chisel working.
Don’t be afraid to get yourself out there!
Many of us artists have what’s called “Impostor Syndrome”, where we constantly feel like our work isn’t good enough to show publicly or sell. I’m actually guilty of this myself; my husband had to ask a local cafe to display my art without my knowledge, because he knew I was too embarrassed to share what I had been working on. After all, Your art is like your personal diary and no one wants to willingly share that! Anyhoooo, when the cafe agreed to let me hang my paintings, I actually sold some pieces; I was in utter disbelief that people could relate to the feelings that I splattered onto my canvas. I mean… If you had seen the look on my face when the cafe called and told me about my first sale, you would have thought I had seen a Pegasus riding in a cotton candy Ferrari along Venice Beach. (How cool would that be?! Hmm…sketch book idea?)
Needless to say, it was a magical moment.
To throw more glitter onto my astonishment, a journalist from a local news paper contacted me about setting up an interview and featuring my art. None of which would have happened had I not gotten past the hurdle of sharing my diary (so to speak). Even to this day, I am my own harshest (and by that I mean cut-throat) critic.
In short, if you’re having trouble building up the confidence to display your art: don’t worry about it, we all do.
And lastly, if you happen to get rejected the first time; don’t take it personally. There are plenty of potential reasons: your art might not be the style they’re looking for, or they could be out of space, or maybe you just need practice. No matter what it might be, keep working on your skill and the contacts that are meant to be in your life will be there for good reason. And, most importantly, keep trying!
Network as much as you possibly can.
Once you have a few paintings for sale, or your work has made it somewhere besides your studio; the key to continue growing as an artist is networking. Networking is how you’re going to get in touch with galleries, find jobs for artists, meet potential buyers for your art, and just about everything else. Get in touch with other artists or people that have connections, and don’t be afraid to send some e-mails out or meet in person. You’d be surprised at how receptive people are to helping out budding artists.
Visit local art shows and socialize, or stop through businesses around town and ask if they would like to hold solo art shows for your work. In all honesty, becoming an artist boils down to 60% networking and 40% art. Even though it may seem tough at first, businesses love the free publicity that comes with holding art shows. Not to mention the awesome wall candy they get to display for the month, so don’t hesitate when it comes to getting out there. its a win win situation and who doesn’t love that?!
Becoming an artist takes time:
Patience and passion are the keys to success in the art world; starting out as an artist may seem hard at first, but with persistence your work will start to become organic and second-nature to you. We all had to go through the awkward starting phase, the struggles of trying to learn how to sell your art, as well as the second thoughts about your career choice. It’s all perfectly normal for working as an artist… especially in the beginning. Seek out feedback to grow in your skill, but most importantly don’t let others’ opinions alter your vision.
Everyone has a different taste, and no matter how good your art is; there are always going to be people that hate it and people that LOVE it! The important part is that it’s getting noticed. Now that’s an accomplishment!