As my series on “how to get an art education for free” draws to a close, it seems appropriate to include an article on business and career resources for artists.
The following paragraphs will provide some pointers and—hopefully—help to answer two important questions that lots of artists face. I’ve provided links wherever I could, but where there isn’t a link you should feel free to google the keywords and get busy!
First question: How do I keep growing as an artist?
1. Keep learning
The most prolific and successful artists throughout history have been the ones who constantly sought to learn and try new things.
Applying what you already know to new situations is the best way to build your knowledge (i.e., try something new). As Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.”
2. Stay motivated to create
The blogosphere has opened up the artist community like nothing else in our day. It is now possible to be an active participant in the global art community without ever leaving your home.
If this isn’t motivating enough, you can gain a lot more from just from reading art blogs. Start at Staying Motivated from A List Apart and move on from there.
3. Fight discouragement and negativity
Just like motivation, overcoming discouragement is is written about multiple times a day, every day, somewhere on the internet. One of my favorites is How to Juggle and Other Parlour Tricks by Maggie Stiefvater.
4. Decide on a direction to pursue
Listed below are several artistic avenues or goals that jump to my mind. You can specialize in the one that intrigues you the most, you could list them in priority order (your priority) and pursue them one-by-one, you could try to work on two at time, or you could come up with your own direction and change the face of the art world!
Honestly, I think the most important thing to realize is that your art is a business, and that you must commit yourself to running it like one. That means investing time in your business activities, not just making art.
If you were a manager in a office, what would you expect of your employees? Things like professional behaviour, honesty, a good work ethic, smart decisions, concentration, concern for the customer and concern for the business, right?
Writing up a business plan had immense benefits for me, and I’ve talked with several other artists who have made the same comment as well.
4. Organize your supplies and inventory
Start by just looking at what you have, how much you are willing to spend on future supplies, and how you use your supplies and inventory. The best organization system for you is one that fits your life, art, and style.
There’s plenty of advice on how to get your life organized all over the web. 43folders is one popular resource for all types of people, not just artists.
5. Keep good records and accounts
Just like you’d expect your accounting office to keep you legal, you must do the work necessary to insure that you remain on the legal side of selling your own artwork.
A simple spreadsheet works, or search for “open source accounting software” or “open source small business software” in Google and find a program that will work for you.
6. Find new markets and always be looking forward
In any business it is always important to keep an eye on the direction of the industry. Keeping your eye on where things are going is a good way to plan for tomorrow.