By Scott

Only a small percentage of artists become world-famous and rich. A good number of artists achieve respectable levels of success within their lifetimes and support themselves entirely by creating and selling their art. The great majority of artists, however, supplement their art incomes by either teaching art or by working full or part time at jobs not even related to art in order to make ends meet. If you're one of those artists who falls into the "great majority" category, you would probably like to increase your art income to the point where you can eventually create and sell your work full-time. The good news is that no matter how little money you make from your art now, you can start to lay the foundation for your future art career self-sufficiency.


The most important first step towards becoming a full-time artist is to keep making art. Being an artist is never easy and the urge to put your art career on the back burner and apply yourself instead to other endeavors can sometimes be depressing and overwhelming. You might be thinking about givving up art until the kids are grown or, focusing on that non-art related job for a few years. Even closing down the studio for a while because sales have hit a rut. LISTEN UP! Don't do it!

I recall hearing of a pretty well-known artist who decided to throw in the towel and quit painting at a high point in his early career and began to ease off the "making of art" for a bunch of years. When this fellow decided to take up the brush again his new work looked like the rehashes of what he was doing years earlier. Totally out of practice and had lost the creative edge. He'd managed to re-establish himself as a respectable artist, but at this point, he'll never again be the creative force that he was.

From a money standpoint, he can't charge the prices he had been able to had he kept working. Collectors tend to approach his work with trepidation and buy conservatively because they're not quite sure if he'll stop again. They understand that if he does stop, he'll nose-dive the market for his art. Even though he's now supporting himself as an artist, he has and will continue to have credibility issues with both dealers and collectors. "Once bitten, twice shy," as they say.

So continue to create art no matter how depressed, how overwhelmed, or how frustrated the process becomes. Continue even if you are NOT selling anything. Continue even if the work seems like crap. In other words, "persevere." Head down and work through the tough times and I assure you, you WILL come through and be glad you did.

Once you're in the habit of regularly making art, you've got to get it in front of the art buying public. Your art is your billboard, your business card, your brand. It works for you 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It's your single best form of advertising and it's not doing anyone any good gathering dust in your studio, backroom, or garage. The more art you have on display at outside locations and the more locations that you show it, the more people see it and the greater your chances are of making sales. Even when you're not generating sales, you're still sharing your art with others and maintaining a public presence. Remember; you never know who might see it and be impressed enough to spread the word.

Part II next week. Stay tuned