Being an artist is a lot more than making art, and sometimes the realities of making and selling art discourage the starry-eyed. Verifying this fact is this hilarious comment by a fellow artist on one of my Instagram posts:
“I refuse to accept your reality and replace it w/my pipe dreams.” 😆😂🤣
I laughed out loud and then realized many struggling, emerging or just-getting-started artists continue to struggle because they share that mindset.
Until you’ve made it to the big-time and can hire-out everything but creating, being an artist involves a lot more than making art. You also must be a savvy business woman, a social media maven, a marketer, a copywriter, and an accountant, as well as a packer and a shipper. If any of these roles goes unfulfilled, your art business will founder.
Heather Miller is a fellow southern California artist (follow her on Instagram @heatherjoymillerart) who quit her corporate job to devote her full energies to art. She quickly discovered that only about 30% of her time was available for actual art-making. The other 70% was devoted to the business of making and selling art. And she’s doing it. Quite successfully. Because she budgets her time and devotes herself to her enterprise just like she did when she worked for a large corporation. One’s level of success is dependent upon one’s level of commitment much of the time.
Within the burgeoning Instagram and social media driven marketplace, displaying one’s art is easier than ever; but actually gaining an audience takes dedicated time and effort. You have to be present, engaging and interacting to earn engagement and interaction from others. You have to devote time every day to making your presence and your work known.
I like working the social media circuit, although I’m careful to budget my time and set firm limits. Because it’s fun and entertaining to interact with other makers and see all the amazing work in the world; an hour a day can turn into many, many hours. Discipline is vital! You gotta do it, but you also have to leave time to create!
So I budget my time
First priority is my connection to other people. My relationships are the most important components of my very happy life. Nothing takes precedence. Beyond that, I’ve defined what success means to me. This is personal and unique to each of us. I don’t want to sell so much art that I have to work 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. I want to sell the art that I have time to make. I want to love my life in and out of the studio. In order to do that, I have to really understand my goals.
Key to a successful “artist life” is knowing what you want to achieve, creating the goal, identifying the steps to get there, and doing the work to achieve it.
Have you identified your idea of success? What does it look like for you?