Becoming a Professional artist

LuigiIt all seemed so simple at art school. You were led to believe that as long as you kept creating great art then success would follow naturally. So perhaps after embarking on your career as an artist you have become a little disillusioned to discover that buyers and dealers are not beating a path to your door.

Whatever your story, you’re now on the right track. The fact that you’re reading this shows that you want to know more about the business side of the art world, and that’s a huge start. Over the coming months you’re going to learn what so many artists never do: the basics of how to successfully market and promote yourself and your art.

As an introduction this month we’re going to debunk a few myths that commonly hold artists back:

Myth 1: Artists should stick to art and leave business to the “suits”

The idea of the artist as a creative genius, free from the constraints of the real world, is a romantic dream. The reality is that in addition to creating great art, the artist also has to be his own promoter, agent and manager. You must therefore dedicate yourself to spending time learning each of these skills if you want to be successful.

This may sound daunting, but that’s why Art eXposed exists. The tools and resources available on our website are designed to increase your visibility and help you market yourself more effectively without having to start from scratch.

Myth 2: People expect artists to be unprofessional

The people who make money buying and selling art are professionals and they expect to deal with professionals. If your eccentricities and artistic temperament cause them hassle, your value to them goes down accordingly. Having a professional manner and being easy to work with are essential to success, but especially so if you have yet to make a name for yourself.

Myth 3: Artists must be solitary

The solitary genius slaving away at his creation is another false legacy of romanticism. Successful artists constantly interact with others in the art world. The ability to create and maintain friendships and working relationships is one of the biggest factors in getting your work out there. Art eXposed works to forge links with your local arts community, as well as allowing artists to interact with each other via the website.

Myth 4: Art dealers and buyers don’t understand art

This is a common mistake and often leads artists to treat dealers with disdain. They forget that these people got into this business because they love art. Perhaps their tastes differ from yours, and certainly they may seem too interested in current trends and market value, but they do love art and most are willing to take a chance on newcomers.

Myth 5: If the work is good enough it will sell itself

If your studio is currently full of unsold work, then you should know that this isn’t true. The art world has always run on the same principle as everything else, you are selling a product. The difference is that in art the value of your product is based upon your reputation and skill, rather than raw materials and cost of production. With this in mind you must learn to maximize the value of your work using techniques we will be discussing over the coming months.

Myth 6: My art is unique and most people don’t understand it

While your art may be different, it is not unique. There are other artists doing similar things and you ignore their success at your peril. You must not stand aloof from the people who can make you a success, and that includes other artists. If you can talk easily about your art without being either shy or boastful, you will not only make new friends but you will sell more art.

Finally, don’t get disheartened

None of this should disillusion you about your dream of expressing yourself through your work. The art itself is still the most important thing. Understanding the business side of art is an addition to your talents, not a substitute for them. Hopefully it is another skill that you want to cultivate, and over the coming months we will be walking you through how to go about doing this.