12 Things About Being an Artist – Reality Check


Hayley Roberts shares a list of 12 Things No One Tells You About Being an Artist. Some harsh realities, hard decisions, and personal  trials artists face. Source: Huff Post

  1. We live in frugal times and for most people an art purchase is an excess, not a necessity. These days people prefer to adorn their walls with cheap, wholesale art produced by Ikea or Kmart rather than art that means something to them. For you this means that until you find a market for your work you can add “starving artist” to your resume. It’s certainly not impossible to make a living out of art but, for most artists, finding an audience to invest in their work is astonishingly tough.
  2. To find a market for your art you need as many eyes on your work as possible but to get exposure you need to spend money. It costs money to enter competitions. It costs money to have a website. It costs money to run an online store. It costs money to have an exhibition. You might be lucky enough to (read more)
  3. You will need to spend AT LEAST 50% of your time on marketing. Learning and mastering your craft is not enough if you then want people to see it. You’ll be spending your time setting up your shop, writing blog posts, crafting newsletters, building your social media following, networking, creating YouTube videos, writing grant applications, pitching to magazines, entering competitions and organizing exhibitions. And then, in one of life’s great ironies, you’ll notice that some of your favorite artists barely do any marketing at all and still have great success.
  4. When printing your work it will NEVER look how it did on your screen or on your painting. Firstly, color is such an impossible beast to tame for reasons that are far too technical to explain and secondly if you work on a computer screen it has a luminance that paper doesn’t. The first time I (read more)
  5. Being an artist means being vulnerable and exposed. It is really hard to put your creative expression and months of work on display in the vain hope that it might get a few likes as people scroll past it on social media. Yet to make sales you need to continually spruik your work which is a struggle if you’re self-conscious about it and worried that posting too often will lose fans. Arts Artists Artwork adds: Gaining and losing fans on social media is a reality we must see as normal. It’s not you, it’s human behavior.
  6. People will buy your art only once they’ve formed a connection with it. Sometimes it’s enough just to like a piece, but often they will want to know more about the artwork and the artist. They want to know who you are, why you create, why you (read more)
  7. Pricing. Ugh. People will tell you your work is too expensive. People will tell you your work is too cheap. Your pricing structure will never please everyone. You just have to accept that not everyone is your target market and brave their complaints. The prices the majority of people are prepared to pay wouldn’t even cover my bills, let alone my time.
  8. You need to choose a fine art career or a wholesale career because you cannot, apparently, have both. If you want to be respected as an artist it is very much frowned upon to be printing your products on mugs and cushions because it devalues the collectability of your art. But if you want to make money by selling smaller, cheaper, products at a higher volume, wholesale is the way to go. So do you prefer markets or galleries?
  9. Be aware that galleries charge a commission to sell your work which can be anywhere up to 70%. It is so disheartening to know that they will probably make more from your work than you do, but it’s a catch 22 because without their space, contacts and marketing you may not have sold the work at all. Just make sure (read more)
  10. You are a small fish in a gigantic pond and you’ll constantly compare your work to others. There will always be someone better than you. There will always be someone whose art is less accomplished but who wins all the competitions or makes all the sales. This is dangerous territory and you have to remember that you are all following your own path and creating in the only way you know how. You don’t know what (read more)
  11. Most artists don’t make money from selling art alone. They will have second jobs. They will teach their craft to others. They will write books. They will own galleries. They will benefit from other artists by producing magazines, or competitions, or running artist support websites. They will run courses on marketing for artists or sell artist supplies. They will live off artist grants or crowdfunding campaigns. They will have sponsors who pay them to use and promote their products. Diversifying your offering is keyArts Artists Artwork adds: Check out ThomasAndrew.TV
  12. With all of this in mind it is SO EASY to start doubting yourself based on how many competitions you don’t win, how many sales you don’t make, how successful every other artists seems. But you have to remember always, always, that you got into this because creating is your lifeblood and not because you wanted to be a successful artist. The most successful artists are the ones that (read more)

Are there any other points you’d add to this list?

The Author

Hayley Roberts is a conceptual photographer and blog author who creates illusions using trick photography and Photoshop manipulation at www.hayleyrobertsphoto.com.

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About the Painting

2016 Erin Hanson Cypress Clouds and being featured at Impressions of California Solo Exhibit






2 responses to “12 Things About Being an Artist – Reality Check”

  1. NancyLee Avatar

    13. “No” is only a suggestion, not a cast-in-stone declaration of YOU. As artists, rejection is a reality, and we can allow it to stymie our creativity, inspiration and efforts; it feels really personal, because, as previously pointed out, we are vulnerable and exposed, and our artistic efforts are a representation of our deepest selves. Or we can develop a REALLY thick skin, and a Zen attitude, and move on.

  2. Michael B. McClure Avatar

    Really amazing points. Thanks for sharing this information.

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