5 New Skills Every Artist Should Learn

By Steff Metal in Art Business Advice > General Art Advice

As an artist, you’ve spent hours honing your craft, learning the latest techniques and practicing your skills to get to the level you’re at today.

But there are many other skills that will also help to make you a successful artist—and no, these aren’t skills related to your craft.

Here are five skills that I believe every artist should think about studying and improving:

1. Photography

Photography is perhaps one of the most useful skills an artist could have. Being able to take decent photographs while out-and-about can help you record details about a scene or object that you might want to use in a work later. You’ll also save yourself a lot of money by photographing your own work for catalogs and your website.

How to improve at photography: Find some books at the library, take a course at your local community college, and get outside with your camera and practice!

2. Networking

Artists can sometimes be very introverted, insular people, preferring the company of a cat in their studio to a loud group of people at a party. But an artist who wants to sell his/her work has to be relatable to the public, and that means getting out in the world and selling yourself.

Forming a network of other artists, collectors and support people in your local community is vital for raising your profile and improving your sales. Networking can be hard work if you’re not used to it, but like anything in life, practice makes perfect!

How to improve at networking: Read Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi, and then get out and start talking to people. It gets easier the more you do, trust me!

3. Social media / blogging

More and more artists are using the Internet to sell their work and build a loyal following of collectors. The most successful online artists have spent years honing their social media and blogging techniques, and you can learn a lot by following them and using some of the same techniques.

Going online doesn’t work for all artists, but for many it offers a new way to connect directly with fans, bypassing the gallery scene and earning more in the meantime.

How to improve at social media: Read Blogs Like Empty Easel and The Abundant Artist, create a profile on Facebook, and start adding people!

4. Writing

Any artist who can write well about his or her work will have a much easier time finding buyers.

Why? First of all, an artist who can write will be able to create their own marketing material—sending out press releases and creating the pages for a websites. Secondly, an artist who writes will be able to create a blog that other people will want to read, further increasing their exposure.

Thirdly, an artist who writes will have another creative outlet, another tool in the creative toolbox to utilize for future projects.

How to improve at writing: Take a creative writing class, read great writing books (I love Stephen King’s On Writing) and then put pen to paper and practice your words!

5. Organization

Artists can be spontaneous creatures, and it often goes against our nature to stick to a schedule and work to a timeframe. But a bit of organization will not only help you become more productive in the studio; it will also demonstrate that you are a professional, serious artist.

The best organization system is one that you don’t even notice exists. I use a combination of a paper diary to keep track of appointments, and a series of colored plastic drawers for important papers, collecting project inspiration, and storing receipts.

By creating a schedule and planning your time wisely, you’ll spend more time on the things you enjoy and less time worrying about everything you’ve got to get done.

How to get organized: Check out productivity blogs like Dumb Little Man and Your Life: Organized, buy a Filofax (and use it!) and find ways to clear away the clutter in your life.

Luckily, many of these skills are easy and fun to dive into. . . OK, maybe not getting organized, but with that skill, the pay-off is worth it! So why wait? Get started today, and good luck!


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