by Beth Samek, Online Education Manager at Artist’s Network University
Working with the instructors at Artist’s Network University, their experience and their expertise not only as artists themselves but as entrepreneurs in business and mentors to other artists is beyond impressive. Every day I get to hear stories of breakthroughs, triumphs and challenges in our courses. It’s inspiring and over the past few weeks I’ve really enjoyed sharing their art business tips with you. I think that if you follow their advice and find your own voice through art then you’ll certainly find an exciting new professional path. I think the hallmark of a great teacher is one that is excited to share and give from their own experience, and that’s absolutely what I’ve seen here.
This week I have few final bits of wisdom to share with you from instructors, and I hope I might be able to add my own. At Artist’s Network University we offer great classes all focused on achieving a differing artistic goal. Trying a new medium, or subject, attempting a new technique or challenging yourself in a medium you’ve worked in for years. We also offer critiquing courses that help you identify the strengths and weaknesses in your work and help you develop a strategy to highlight or overcome them. If you’re looking to create a professional art career, you’ll also be opening your work up to many individuals (all with their own opinions), having your work critiqued by an instructor with us is a great way to get yourself ready for the challenge you have ahead! We have a great session of Pastel Painting Art Critique Seminar coming up with Suzanne Day and you can always set up a one-on-one critique with one of our instructors by visiting this item in the Northlight shop!
One of our longtime instructors, Annie Strack says, “I made the transition to full-time professional artist in January of 1999. By this time, I had been an emerging artist for about 20 years and I had a fairly decent history of sales in a few art shows and co-op galleries. I had built up a large inventory of over a hundred consistent and good paintings, and I had saved money for decades so I could afford to invest in myself financially and start my own business
My previous career was in retail management and before that I managed restaurants and hotels, so I was lucky in that I already had experience in sales and marketing and all the other aspects of running a business. Being a good artist is only part of the equation for being a professional. It also takes business acumen to be successful.
Many artists who are just starting out have a delusional view of success and expect fame and fortune to follow their first exhibits. I remind artists all the time that being successful requires lots of hard work, and the amount of success is relevant to the amount of time and work that is put into the career. Don’t try to measure your success against artists who have been working longer than you, and don’t try to compare yourself against famous artists. Set your own goals and measure your success against your own standards, not someone else’s.
Emerging artists shouldn’t compare their career success to that of established artists. I often hear emerging artists complain about wanting more sales, or more exhibits, more galleries, awards, publications, etc. Yet they usually do not work at their art career full time — like the established artists do. Successful artists usually work at least 60 or more hours a week on their art careers. Emerging artists need to remember that they can’t expect a full-time income form working part-time,” she said.
A new instructor with us, Linda Fisler said, “I teach a number of students who are hobbyists or beginners. I actually get ask this question a lot–why did you turn professional and when did you decide to do it. I always answer to them that turning professional isn’t something you declare and then all the sudden you are professional. It’s not something that you just turn on. It’s about the journey, the improvements, the learning, the growth and networking–all that can be done without dubbing yourself professional. The only difference is income. If you can do all that (the journey, learning, growth etc) as an amateur, then stay an amateur because paying the bills is rather difficult as a professional and you don’t have that worry. It’s just a word–professional, amateur, hobbyist…a label really. Why label yourself when you are striving to live a creative life. It is the exploration–the creation– we crave. Labeling yourself places expectations on that exploration/creation. Just create….the rest will come when the time is right,” said Fisler.