Artist: How to Become

Artist: How to Become

Becoming a successful artist is not just about having artistic talent. It’s also about developing relationships, both within and outside of the artworld, that can help you thrive. While it’s important to keep honing your skills and improving your artistic creations, it’s also crucial to learn how to deal with the business side of being an artist. This article will provide you with tips and tricks on how to navigate the art market, determine your niche, and earn a living from your works of art.

One of the first things you should do as an aspiring artist is to determine your niche. Are you a graphic artist? A painter? A sculptor? By finding your niche, you can put your focus and energy into developing your skills in that particular area. This will not only help you stand out in the market, but it will also make it more likely for you to find potential buyers who are interested in your specific style or medium.

Once you have developed your skills and are confident in your artistic abilities, you need to focus on the marketing and business side of being an artist. This includes creating a professional-looking portfolio, promoting your work through social media and a personal website, and even dealing with gallery owners or art dealers. Understanding licensing agreements and how to maximize your earnings from your creations can also be helpful in establishing yourself as a professional artist.

Artist: How to Become a Successful Artist

Becoming a successful artist requires a combination of talent, hard work, and dedication. Below are some tips and tricks to help you navigate your way to success in the art industry.

1. Get the right education and training

While formal education is not a requirement to become an artist, it can provide you with valuable knowledge and skills. Consider taking art classes or obtaining a postsecondary degree in fine arts. This will not only provide you with technical skills but also expose you to different art movements and ideas.

2. Develop your artistic skills

Practice is key to improving your artistic skills. Spend time every day creating artwork and experimenting with different materials and techniques. Take inspiration from the works of other artists and use it to fuel your own creativity.

3. Showcase your artwork

Once you have created artworks that you are proud of, find opportunities to showcase them. Participate in local art shows, galleries, and online platforms to gain exposure and build a following. Create a website or use social media to share your works with a wider audience.

4. Network and build relationships

In the art industry, who you know can be just as important as what you know. Attend art events, join art communities, and connect with other artists and art professionals. Building strong relationships can open doors to new opportunities and collaborations.

5. Treat your art career as a business

Being a successful artist requires more than just creating artwork. You need to approach it as a business. Develop a professional portfolio, set goals, create a marketing strategy, and keep track of your finances. Treat your art career with the same level of professionalism as any other business.

6. Stay motivated and take action

Success in any field requires determination and hard work. Stay motivated by surrounding yourself with other creative individuals, seeking inspiration from various sources, and setting achievable goals. Take consistent action towards your goals and don’t be afraid to take risks or try new approaches.

7. Keep learning and evolving

Art is an ever-evolving industry, and it’s important to stay updated on current trends and techniques. Attend workshops, watch educational videos, read books, and continue to expand your artistic skills and knowledge. Embrace change and be open to new opportunities.

Becoming a successful artist is a journey that takes time, dedication, and a strong sense of self. Remember to stay true to your artistic vision and never stop pursuing your passion.

Step 1: Determine if it’s the right job for you

Being an artist is not for everyone. It requires a certain set of skills, the right mindset, and an essential passion for the arts. Before diving into this profession, it’s important to determine if it’s the right fit for you.

First and foremost, ask yourself if you have the necessary artistic abilities. Are you skilled in various types of mediums such as painting, drawing, sculpting, or photography? Do you have a natural talent that can be improved upon? If you find joy and fulfillment in creating different forms of art, then becoming an artist might be the right choice for you.

Another important factor to consider is the amount of time and effort you’re willing to invest. Being an artist is not a typical 9-to-5 job with a fixed salary. It requires dedication, long hours, and the willingness to constantly improve your craft. If you’re willing to spend countless hours in the studio, working tirelessly to complete your projects, then you have the right mindset to become a successful artist.

Furthermore, artists often face challenges in terms of financial stability. It’s important to understand that art might not always bring in a steady income. While there are artists who achieve great financial success, there are also many who struggle to make ends meet. Therefore, it’s crucial to have a realistic expectation of the financial side of being an artist and be prepared to navigate the ups and downs of the art market.

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In addition to the artistic and financial aspects, consider the work environment that artists typically thrive in. Many artists prefer to work independently, in their own studios or creative spaces. If you enjoy solitude and find inspiration in being alone with your thoughts and your art, the artist’s lifestyle could be a perfect fit for you.

Lastly, think about your relationships and the impact they might have on your career as an artist. Often, artists need support from their loved ones, both emotionally and financially, especially in the early stages of their careers. If you have a strong support system and people who believe in your talent and potential, it can make the journey as an artist more manageable and fulfilling.

To determine if being an artist is the right job for you, ask yourself the following:

Are you passionate about the arts? Do you have artistic abilities that can be developed?
Are you willing to invest time and effort in improving your craft? Are you prepared for the financial challenges that artists often face?
Do you thrive in a work environment that involves working alone? Do you have a support system that believes in your artistic potential?

By honestly answering these questions, you’ll gain a better understanding of whether pursuing a career in the arts is the right path for you. Remember, being an artist takes dedication, hard work, and a genuine love for the creative process.

Step 2: Develop your artistic skills

Once you have made the decision to pursue a professional career as an artist, it is important to focus on developing your artistic skills. There are several ways you can do this, depending on your personal preferences and circumstances.

1. Education and Certification: Commonly, artists choose to obtain formal education and certification in art and design. This can be through attending art schools, taking college courses, or participating in workshops and training programs. By gaining formal education, you can learn the fundamental techniques, artistic theories, and historical context that will enhance your artistic abilities.

2. Learn from others: Another way to develop your skills is by learning from other artists. You can attend workshops, join art communities, or engage in mentorship programs. By surrounding yourself with talented individuals, you can learn different perspectives, techniques, and approaches to artmaking.

3. Practice regularly: It is important to consistently practice your art. The more you create, the more you will hone your skills and develop your unique style. Set aside dedicated time each day or week to paint, draw, or engage in any other artistic activities.

4. Experiment and take risks: Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and try new techniques, mediums, or subjects. Pushing the boundaries of your creativity will help you grow as an artist and expand your artistic abilities.

5. Seek inspiration: Inspiration can come from various sources, such as nature, other artists’ work, or everyday life. Surround yourself with inspiration by visiting art galleries, reading art books, or exploring different art styles and movements. Letting inspiration guide you can lead to remarkable artistic breakthroughs.

6. Deal with criticism: As an artist, you will receive feedback and critique on your work. Use this feedback constructively and be willing to accept both positive and negative criticism. Learning how to handle criticism will help you grow and improve your skills.

7. Build an online presence: In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence can greatly benefit artists. Create a website or use social media platforms to showcase your artwork, engage with your audience, and attract potential buyers or collaborators. Having an online presence makes it easier for people to discover your work and connect with you directly.

8. Find opportunities to exhibit and sell your work: Look for galleries, art fairs, or other venues that exhibit and sell artwork. This will not only provide a chance to showcase your work but also give you the opportunity to network with other artists and potential buyers. Selling your artwork can be a rewarding experience and a way to make money from your passion.

Overall, developing your artistic skills is a continuous process that requires dedication, practice, and a willingness to learn and grow. By focusing on honing your abilities, you will become a better artist and increase your chances of success in the competitive art world.

Step 3: Build a Portfolio

In order to become a successful artist, it’s important to have a strong and well-developed portfolio. A portfolio showcases your skills and abilities, and can be a critical factor in getting noticed by galleries, dealers, and the artworld. Here are some steps to consider when building your portfolio:

  1. Do your research: Take the time to study and understand the requirements and expectations of the art industry. This includes knowing what types of works galleries and dealers are looking for, as well as familiarizing yourself with current trends and styles.
  2. Make a plan: Decide what type of artwork you want to focus on and how you can showcase your unique perspective. Consider the materials you’ll need and how you can incorporate them into your works.
  3. Develop your skills: Spend time developing your artistic skills and improving your overall technique. Take courses, attend workshops, and practice regularly to hone your craft.
  4. Build a body of work: Create a collection of artworks that best represent your style and interests. This can include a variety of subjects and mediums.
  5. Create a professional-looking website: Having an online presence is critical in today’s digital age. Create a website that showcases your portfolio, provides information about your artistic background and training, and offers a way for potential clients to contact you.
  6. Consider educational opportunities: While not necessary, pursuing an art degree or taking additional courses can provide you with valuable knowledge and clarity in your artistic pursuits. It’s also an opportunity to network with other artists and industry professionals.
  7. Overcoming challenges: The art industry can be challenging, both creatively and financially. Be prepared to face rejection and learn from it. Find ways to balance your art career with part-time or side jobs to support yourself financially.
  8. Take advantage of public exhibitions: Participate in local art shows, galleries, and exhibitions to showcase your work to a wider audience. This can help you gain exposure and potentially make sales.
  9. Ask for feedback: Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from fellow artists, professionals, and art enthusiasts. Constructive criticism can help you improve and grow as an artist.
  10. Live your passion: Pursuing a career as an artist requires dedication and a genuine passion for your craft. Despite the challenges, the satisfaction of doing what you love can make it all worthwhile.
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Remember, building a successful career as an artist takes time and effort. By following these steps and staying committed to your artistic journey, you can increase your chances of achieving your goals and becoming a recognized artist in the industry.

Step 4: Networking and promoting your work

Networking and promoting your work are essential steps to becoming a successful artist. In order to get your art noticed and gain recognition, you need to connect with others in the art world and showcase your creations effectively. Here are some tips and tricks to help you with this process:

1. Build relationships within the art community: Attend art events, join art clubs or organizations, and participate in art workshops. Meeting other artists and professionals in the field can provide you with valuable connections and opportunities for collaboration.

2. Create a portfolio: A well-designed portfolio is a powerful marketing tool. It showcases your best work and gives potential clients or buyers a clear understanding of your artistic style and capabilities. Include a variety of mediums and styles to demonstrate your versatility as an artist.

3. Promote yourself: Utilize social media platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, to showcase your work and engage with your audience. Regularly post updates about your art and engage with other artists and art enthusiasts. This allows you to establish an online presence and attract potential buyers or gallery owners.

4. Attend art exhibitions and fairs: Participating in art exhibitions and fairs is a great way to get your work seen by a larger audience. It also provides the opportunity to network with other artists, collectors, and gallery owners.

5. Take advantage of educational resources: Continuously learn and improve your artistic skills by taking art classes, workshops, or courses. These educational resources can enhance your knowledge of art techniques, mediums, and art history. The more you learn, the more confidence and clarity you’ll have in your work.

6. Stay true to yourself and your artistic vision: Although it’s important to be open to new styles and mediums, it’s equally important to stay true to your unique artistic style and intent. Develop your own niche within the art world and focus on subjects that inspire you. This will give your work a distinct voice and make it stand out.

7. Accept rejection and keep creating: Rejection is a common part of the art profession. Don’t let it discourage you. Use rejection as a learning opportunity and motivation to keep improving. Stay dedicated to your passion and continue creating art.

8. Keep up with marketing and promotional techniques: Stay updated on the latest marketing and promotional strategies for artists. This includes familiarizing yourself with online marketing, utilizing SEO techniques, and exploring different ways to sell your art, such as online galleries or art fairs.

Remember, becoming a successful artist takes time, effort, and perseverance. By networking, promoting your work, and continuously developing your artistic abilities, you’ll be on the right path to achieving success in the art world.


What subjects in school should I focus on to become a successful artist?

To become a successful artist, it is important to focus on a variety of subjects in school. First and foremost, you should focus on art classes, such as drawing, painting, and sculpture. These classes will help you develop your artistic skills and techniques. Additionally, it is important to focus on subjects that will provide you with a well-rounded education, such as English, history, and science. These subjects will not only expand your knowledge and broaden your perspective, but they will also provide you with inspiration and ideas for your artwork.

Are there any specific subjects in school that can help me become a successful artist?

Yes, there are several subjects in school that can greatly contribute to your success as an artist. First and foremost, you should focus on art classes, such as drawing, painting, and sculpture. These classes will help you develop your artistic skills and techniques. Additionally, subjects such as color theory and art history can provide you with a deeper understanding of the art world and help you develop your own unique style. Finally, subjects such as English, history, and science can provide you with inspiration and ideas for your artwork.

Do I need to focus on art classes only to become a successful artist?

No, focusing solely on art classes is not enough to become a successful artist. While art classes are important for developing your artistic skills and techniques, it is also crucial to focus on other subjects in school. English, history, and science are just a few examples of subjects that can broaden your knowledge and provide you with inspiration and ideas for your artwork. A well-rounded education will not only make you a better artist, but it will also give you a wider perspective and help you connect with different audiences.

Can I become a successful artist even if I don’t focus on art classes in school?

While focusing on art classes in school can greatly contribute to your success as an artist, it is still possible to become a successful artist without solely relying on these classes. Some artists have found success by pursuing their passion outside of the traditional school curriculum. By seeking out alternative resources, such as art workshops, online courses, and community programs, you can still develop your artistic skills and techniques. Additionally, focusing on subjects like English, history, and science can provide you with a well-rounded education and inspiration for your artwork.

Dave Pennells

By Dave Pennells

Dave Pennells, MS, has contributed his expertise as a career consultant and training specialist across various fields for over 15 years. At City University of Seattle, he offers personal career counseling and conducts workshops focused on practical job search techniques, resume creation, and interview skills. With a Master of Science in Counseling, Pennells specializes in career consulting, conducting career assessments, guiding career transitions, and providing outplacement services. Her professional experience spans multiple sectors, including banking, retail, airlines, non-profit organizations, and the aerospace industry. Additionally, since 2001, he has been actively involved with the Career Development Association of Australia.