Updated: Jan 16
As a young adult I dreamed of being a full-time artist. Maybe you can relate to that dream? Small problem, I had never met anyone who had ever done that. Not to mention the phrase "starving artist" being tossed around like bouncy ball all my life.
I of course took any small job that came my way because of my artistic talents and enjoyed every moment it. But I had no idea what a creative person like myself could do to actually earn a living being creative.
It wasn't untill I was almost 50 when I began to think it could be possible and make my move toward becoming a full time artist. I really don't want you to wait until there is a crisis in your life or you hit retirement age to persue your artistic dreams. So, I’m going to share my story with you and then explain how I know for certain that you could do it too!
I went to college and learned about illustration, painting, and graphic design. My first job after college was at a television station creating on-air graphics. Mostly because I didn’t believe you could earn a living being a painter. (Does that sound familiar?)
I worked as a graphic designer for about 10 years until becoming a single parent with two young children made the crazy deadlines more challenging than I cared for. Still not believing that painting was a viable income source I began teaching art and craft classes along with odd jobs like the occasional logo design, gardening, or household chores if that’s what it took.
When my children became adults and moved away from home, I was struck by the fact that I could no longer continue doing these odd jobs to get by. I had to start looking for something that would bring in enough income to carry me through those impending “retirement years”.
I tried opening a store front with my sister to pedal my creations and teach classes. It went well enough that there was a steady stream of traffic that took us away from the creation of product. But not well enough to hire someone to mind the store while we created.
Three years later we closed the doors, and I was back wondering how I was going to pay the bills much less save for retirement. That’s when I things got dicey!
A friend encouraged me to go to some events with her and do psychometry readings. If you have never heard of that it is essentially a psychic reading of the energy of objects or people. You see, I had been doing this for nearly twenty-five years as practice only. To help close friends and have some fun.
After a few fairs I had a young man come by and ask if I could draw his spirit guide because I had been taking a few paintings with me everywhere I went. I said I didn’t know but if he sat down with me, I would give it a try. It was one of the most interesting experiences of my life but that is for a different article.
I went home after that event and made a post on my Facebook page asking for volunteers to come to my studio as guinea pigs and promised a free work of art to anyone who accepted. Those first few artworks were done on colored paper with colored pencils. Everyone of them surprised and delighted me and those who sat with me.
From that point forward I offered these little drawings at every fair, show, or expo I attended. I figured out how to use my acrylics at events with little to no water access and how to overcome the fear of painting live in front of people without reference materials. When I did, I began selling hundreds of paintings a year.
I have managed to make this my largest income stream and added online sessions in 2019 which carried me through the pandemic with grace and ease.
Now I understand what makes the difference between being in a state fear of failure and being able to do what you love for a living. I know that I could have made the leap to fine art painter at any time if I had a known just a little of what I know now. I know you could too.
Here are some of the things I learned that could help you make a difference as you move toward an art career.
Instead of seeing yourself as not having the knowledge or resources begin seeing yourself as resourceful. Hold the thought in your mind that everything is “figureoutable” This is my new word and I repeat it to myself whenever I think I don’t know what to do.
If google isn’t enough then find someone willing to coach you through what you need to know. You’ll go further faster, and life is short so take short cuts.
Never try anything, as failure is always the result. Jump in with both feet and be willing to do what it takes to create your desired result. The attitude that comes with saying “I’m doing it no matter what” is the magic ingredient in every success story.
Bring your whole self to the table. What I mean is that you are special and unique in the way you do things, the way you paint, and what you like as a person. Don’t be shy or hide aspects of who you are when creating a business with your art. Your uniqueness is your superpower!
Build an email list. Make your followers your family. Love them, give them the family discount, and call on them when you need – well anything. You would be surprised how people you love will help you when you need it.
Don’t get me wrong, you need a great strategy to make it in any kind of business, including a creative business, but without a steadfast commitment to yourself first, you just won’t get far.
So be committed to yourself, your dream, and your art making. Know going in that it won't happen overnight just because you became committed. It's a work in progress from this point on. It's never done, but it does get better and better along the way.
Remember not to get discouraged after only a few weeks, it takes time to build. Everyone goes at their own pace based on how much time they have to dedicate to it. If you want to see what is possible in less than a year check out my blog post about Melissa. She is trully inspiring!
I loved coaching Melissa because she was committed to her dream, because she listened to what I said, and because she didn't let any grass grow under her feet when it came to implimenting the advice I offered.
Be Brave is my motto and get a coach to go further, faster!
If you are ready for a little coaching book a free call to discuss your needs here.