When I was in school the question “Can I make a living with my art?” wasn’t something that was up for debate.
If you are planning on being an artist, you either get discovered or you starve. I would fantasize about a Bohemian lifestyle where I would paint large cheeseburgers and sell them just so I could eat one.
Honestly, it’s one of the biggest misconceptions of the art world: You’ve got celebrity artists who could smear feces on a photograph of a smurf and sell it for a million dollars. Then you have people who are dedicated, talented, yet tragically unappreciated until the day after they die.
A lot of wannabe artists feel that the art world is a make or break place where you either make it or you crash and burn into obscurity. But honestly, that’s all bullshit. The advice I would tell myself when I was a young starry eyed wannabe artist would be these five things.
- Artists self-promote. I showcase on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Linked in, as well as my own website. You have to let people know that you exist, and let them see your work.
- Be Confident about your work yet be flexible. Create what you love, but always be willing to grow and expand on your abilities.
- Socialize with people and let them know who you are and what you do. I like to practice an elevator pitch. That is something short and concise that describes who you are and what you do in a couple of sentences. Such as “Hi I’m Rafi, I create emotionally charged fine art pieces meant to inspire for people who are looking to fill their walls with awesomeness.”
- Invest in your business and pay your taxes. As an artist you are a business owner of a brand that is you. Make sure you invest in yourself, buy new materials, equipment and other fun things to create with. Take yourself seriously as an artist, especially when no one else will. Just don’t be all serious and shit, because that’s whack, remember to have fun.
- You cannot fail. Basically, you are running a business and everything that comes with that. Your success is dependent on how dedicated you are to making it work. Sure, things will go wrong and some weeks might be a little tight, but what are you doing about it? If you’re whining and blaming “anything” on why things are not working, then you probably won’t last. If you are looking for or creating solutions and learning from mistakes then you will succeed. It’s impossible to fail, unless you give up.
Be awesome, and don’t forget that you are awesome… I guess that would be number 6.
Written By Rafi Perez