A while ago the art materials shop Jackson’s asked a few artists what advice they would give to emerging artists. I thought it was a great question and they got some wonderful replies. I want to share what I wrote with you here.
What do you think emerging artists (of all ages) need to know? What troubles have you run into and what went really well?
What advice would you give to an emerging artist?
An emerging artist can be of any age and so it depends whether you are young and just starting out, or whether you are coming out of another career, or have responsibilities like a mortgage, a family etc. But for both groups I would be quite realistic and suggest they have alternative sources of income. Making a living as an artist is extremely hard and even rare. It can be done but I think it would be foolish to assume it will happen just like that. So first and foremost I would advice them to make sure they are secure, have a roof over their heads and food to eat! Very often that means getting another job; sometimes you can stay within the arts and teach or coach, at other times artists work in all sorts of sectors ranging from law to health care!
An emerging artist has already made the decision to be an artist so I suppose it is too late for really sensible advice, like ‘go and get a proper job”. I am only joking. There isn’t a more beautiful job in the world! We already know we chose a hard profession but want to go for it anyway. I think each artist is different and each artist has their own goals and will develop their own goals. Some want to work on finding their voice, following their own path of discovery and creation. Others already know what they are all about and want to sell their work and break into the gallery world. Others want to make a living and need to work slightly more commercially. It is different for all of us. Yes, I want to sell my work, but not at any cost. Yes, I want to explore my own creative path but yet this is not a totally personal exploration as I would like to take my fans along. These things are so individual.
So how can I advise an emerging artist? I feel an emerging artist myself. I have had my successes but they come and go and most artists are forever trying to get their work ‘out there’. An emerging artist is just joining the ranks and as we are all in the same boat, they are welcomed with open arms.
Follow your gut, work on your own creative development, get better, and then get better still. Learn art and business skills you might not have, ask what you don’t know, never stop, and be resilient. But always remain sensible. Make sure you have food on the table first. Artists are self starters, self motivators and solo-preneurs. Grit and perseverance! And rewards will come and they are beautiful and exciting. Get your work out there as much as you can (but be choosy), find the right audience for it, be generous with your skills, knowledge and experience and make the world a more beautiful place.