4 Ways to Jump Start Your Art Career!

By Lori McNee in Art Business Advice > Motivation

Are you an artistic person who loved to draw as a kid, or took art classes in college, but was discouraged from pursuing art at as a serious profession?

Maybe you’re a struggling artist frustrated with working a “real” job, or a busy parent with no time to create.

Obviously, we all have bills to pay and other obligations in life. So how does someone begin to follow their dream of being an artist? Walt Disney said it well: “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

So here’s a short list of ideas to get you doing, with my own story at the end.

Get the creative juices flowing.

1. Take a painting or craft workshop

2. Carry a sketchbook or journal and make a few small drawings a day.

3. Watch an art demonstration on YouTube or on a DVD & paint along with it (hit the pause button when you need to!)

4. Create a “studio” space. Find a small corner of the living room, kitchen or bedroom to work. I worked at my kitchen table for year. I know a professional artist who paints in her bathroom! Just stay organized.

5. Get up an hour earlier or stay up an hour later—find time!

6. Make creative time a habit. Just like you make time to exercise, make time to create in your studio!

7. Think big, start small. . . start working just twice a week, then add more studio time as you progress.

Develop your own style and artistic voice.

1. Do you prefer oils, acrylics, pen & ink, egg tempera, graphite, digital painting, ceramics, etc, etc? Find the one (or two or three) that you love and stick with it.

2. Look for ways to be consistent, in both style and technique.

3. Work towards producing finished, frame-worthy pieces of art.

Test the waters.

1. Enter a competition. Don’t get discouraged if you fail—we all do at times!

2. Join a local co-op gallery or artists’ group.

3. Enter an arts and crafts fair.

4. Find a venue for your own art show at a coffee shop, bank, restaurant, interior design store, etc. Anywhere can be a gallery—sometimes all you have to do is ask!

5. Set achieveable goals for the week, month, and year.

6. Stay focused—an art career takes a lot of personal motivation!

7. Make visual documentation of all of your artwork as you go. You’ll need it.

Launch yourself into it. It’s go time!

Create a body of strong, consistent work.

Put togeter a great portfolio from all of your documented artwork.

Write an interesting artist’s statement.

Find the right professional gallery for your artwork.

Enter juried shows.

Create a website and/or blog.

Study your market.

Use social media to promote your art.

Never stop learning!!!

My own “jump-start” art story:

Although I took art classes in college, I consider myself self-taught. To my disappointment, I really didn’t learn very much about fine art in college other than rendering.

Later, my art career sprung up between loads of laundry, during the babies’ nap-time and late at night. To keep myself motivated, I would enter various painting contests and I joined a local artists’ cooperative gallery. I read every art book I could find, attended some workshops with master painters, and watched instructional DVD’s.

Kevin McPherson’s book, Fill Your Oil Paintings with Light & Color was particularly motivating for me. In his book, Kevin suggests painting 100 little 6×8 plein air paintings. So I did just that!

I took my pochade box with me in the car each day and when my kids were playing soccer, riding horses or at ice skating lessons. I would whip out a quick 30 minute outdoor sketch. This was a great exercise and really improved my paintings.

Painting and drawing consistently also helped me get into a gallery.

A friend saw my little works and offered to show them in her store. I had my own little “gallery opening” and while my artwork was still hanging, I invited the Kneeland Gallery director over to see my paintings. She loved them and asked me to show with Kneeland—and the rest is history!

Oh, and by the way, it is never too late to begin this process!

I know many successful artists who didn’t start painting until they were retired. As long as we have our faculties, we can improve in art for the remainder of our lives. . . and that’s why I love it!

For more articles from Lori McNee, please visit her blog, Fine Art Tips.


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