The San Diego sunshine, crisp ocean breeze and melting ice-cream cones on the pier have my Summer vibes in full effect. One thing about the summer here in beautiful San Diego is star studded, costume clad cesspool of fun and awesomeness we call Comic-Con. For those of you that followed my early work, you know the geek in me can’t resist the opportunity to paint some of my favorite heroes. Batman, Joker, Star Wars etc. This year I’m excited to drop some new comic-con 2017 themed original artworks from Deadpool to cat woman (in honor of all the strong ladies out there of course!!)
Why Deadpool, you ask? Lets just say uh….we can relate haha. Original works of art are available for sale on my store here. Just a final tidbit, remember to do something creative today. Inspire yourself even just just the slightest bit every day and watch how quickly it snowballs into a more passionate, creative you 🙂
Now here’s the kicker: It’s going to take time and effort.
I know what you’re thinking “Oh great, now she’s going to just say that tired old spiel of ‘work hard and you’ll make money’,” But surprise!! It’s not just that for once. How amazing, right?! I’m actually going to explain some of the key goals and what you can do to achieve them. Alright, let’s get onto what your here for, the good stuff, that is.
1: Money Doesn’t Come Quickly
If there is one thing that’s certain, it’s that making money as an artist can be tough. I mean we’ve all heard the age old adage of the starving artist right? It could take a few months to get your first sale, maybe even a few years and you’ll probably find yourself wanting to torch anything art-related after a point. Don’t give up there though, because when you get that first payment for your work you’ll have that sweet, sweeet moment when you finally get to say “worth it”. (Just… uh… don’t spend it all on coffee within a week… I di- my friend did that).
2: You Have to Network and Market Your art
This is how you can go about the actual process of trying to make money; about 90% of your first sales are probably going to come from referrals by friends, family, or other connections. So get yourself out there; start telling people about what you do and make sure that as many people as possible know that you’re an artist that’s looking to sell their work or do commissions. Carry pictures of your work in your phone and set up social media accounts, websites, etc.; basically any places where people can find you and see your work. Art is subjective and we as artists tend to view our own work more harshly than a perspective buyer would so keep your head up and keep trying.
3. Art is basically a business
Shhh…Here’s the secret. (Saaayyyy whatttt…. its not about the art?) Well yeah…and no. Of course some talent will have to work its way onto your canvas but I’ve seen artists generate a good amount of money selling work that consists of scribbles or magazine clippings taped together. How? They have their business model down better than the average hobbyist artist; Now, if you’ve ever started a business you know its an insane amount of work, and that’s no different for marketing yourself as an artist. People don’t just swoon to you in droves, no matter how good you are skill wise. I’ll touch more on this aspect later but if you want to start learning more about the business side of art; pick up a few business books, podcasts, videos, or whatever it is you can squeeze in the time for (and don’t forget to hit that follow button for my updates, because I’ll have posts on this coming very soon).
4. Get yourself out there
The only way to sell art is to let go of your preconceived notions about your own work and get it out there. Vend at local fairs or try popping up a small table on the sidewalk (just check with local laws first). Try contacting gallery owners, cafes, restaurants, interior designers and pretty much anyone else you can think of who might need something art related; this will get you a good amount of exposure and immediately place you above all the other artists that don’t do this. I actually started in a small, off the beaten path cafe and ended up generating quite a bit of sales with pieces ranging from 80$ – 300$; so don’t overthink it, just get in where you fit and keep moving up from there.
5. Public Murals
Public Murals generate a huge range of viewers to your art. If they like it and you make it easy for them to find you, they will find you. Collectors are hunters; they like to acquire things that not everyone has. They are trend setters, trail blazers and have a taste for uniquity; if you put yourself in their path and they love what they see, they won’t hesitate to support an artist and scoop up a sweet piece of original art to hang on their walls.
6. Establish Value
The more your original art begins to make its way into homes and businesses, the
more valuable your work becomes. Constantly re-assess your “value” and try to keep logs of everyone that buys your work. This isn’t always possible, especially if third parties are selling your work but always make yourself
available to your buyers. There is nothing better than receiving a photo of your work proudly hung in their house, or a short text about how happy your art piece made someone; those moments mean more than the money (to me, at least) because they’re when I get to remember why I started: For the passion and love of the craft. Although money is necessary and definitely nice to have, remember that it really isn’t everything and what is really important is that you LOVE what you do.
Stay tuned for my next article: Making Art a Business
Grab a pencil or paintbrush and let it fly across your canvas of choice, seems simple enough right?! For some its that easy but for most of us, developing a signature artistic style takes years and years of practice. Here are some tips to get you going towards jamming to your own beat
KNOW YOURSELF: This is by far the Hardest in my opinion because life is ever changing. We as humans are always evolving, from our style to our knowledge of life in general. I’m not saying you have to 100 percent know yourself, but take a step back and look at who you are as a whole. look at old picture if you need to remember where you come from, think about what makes you tick, what your interests are and what do you tend to find yourself doing on a day to day basis. Knowing this will help you develop a sense of style that is tailored to you and will help that pencil or paintbrush sweep across your canvas effortlessly.
Look at art from past and present. What is it that draws you in about them? Is it the way the paint swirls together, the perfect lifelike flesh tones, or the simplicity? Figure out what you like and begin to slowly implement that into your works. All artists have been influenced by their surroundings, whether it be other artists, their surroundings, or people that inspire them. Use what you like by dissecting this visual information for a while. Look at the brush strokes, paint colors, paint consistency, etc. Just really look at it. You’ll be surprised how much you will learn and how the information your brain has registered will play out in your future works.
Keep it original. Its OK to learn techniques from other artists work but the whole point of being an artist is having a style that is unique to you. You are the artist and without you, well the art just wouldn’t exist. Give your piece life, emotion and complexity but do it with a technique that is natural to you and you alone. There is no wrong way to do art and that is what makes it so special.
Do what comes naturally. That eye isn’t perfect? Your cat looks like a unicorn? It really doesn’t matter. If you paint from the heart someone out there will love it even if you may not. Its just about connecting the right collector to the right artist.
Questions? Comments? I would love to hear them! Please subscribe for future updates as well as instructional videos.
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!
This is where I’d like to provide you with fun, energetic, and quality content and updates about art, coffee, and some other special surprises! Hm? Hmm? Now, doesn’t that sound pretty great? I would really like for this to become a community of sorts, and for us to all grow together; so don’t hesitate to comment or leave feedback!
Now, let’s get down to the real welcome, but first, a statement of who I am and what I do: My name is Coco Miller. I’m a Coffee addict, a passionate artist, and a beach-bu—*ahem* — I like the beach.
This blog will be primarily oriented toward art, paintings, and artistry. However I’ll also spend a lot of time talking about coffee and cafes; so this might be anything along the lines of “The Best Coffee Places In…”, my thoughts on specific types of coffee (i.e. espresso vs. regular, or specific beans and roasts), or even cafe reviews.
As for the art side of things, I’ll often post updates regarding my work as an artist; I’ll be putting some of my paintings up for sale, as well as regular updates and interactions live from my studio. I’ll put up pieces with advice on marketing yourself as an artist (“How to sell your art”, “How to get your art in galleries”, etc.) as well as critiques, collaborations, and discussions about art in a broader sense. I’m open to any and all ideas, so comment anything that comes to your mind! I typically work with oil paint, acrylic paint, and canvas; however I often work with clay, pencil, metal, wood, charcoal, and photography. So expect to see a bit of everything here.
If you’d like to order a commission, have any questions, or simply want to get in touch, don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Thank you, and I look forward to the flourishing of our artistic and coffee-loving community!