Jump!   How that one word changed my career as an artist.

Artists love to create. It’s what drives us to express ourselves in one form or another. It’s rewarding. It’s fun. It’s challenging. So why do so few artists succeed at being …. an “Artist?”

When I started painting again it was for fun. I enjoyed the process of choosing what to paint, and the challenge of trying to turn a 2-dimensional collection of canvas and colored pigment into something that expressed feeling, captured a moment, or was just satisfying to look at. But being an “Artist”? You know, actually pursuing art as a way to support myself?  Let’s get real.

Like many, I had grown up to believe art was something you did if you didn’t want to eat regularly. Or if you could live off of your relatives. Being an artist, a musician, a writer, a poet, these are things people living on the fringe did. It just wasn’t a realistic career path. I was afraid of taking it seriously. I kept listening to all those voices that said being an artist wasn’t a real option.

Once I started to entertain that idea, the idea that it could someday be more than just a weekend hobby, I realized there was a lot more to achieving that goal than just learning to paint better. So here is some of what I went through and learned on my path to being able to call myself an Artist.

Being an artist, and supporting yourself as an artist, is hard work. Plain and simple. Be prepared to work harder than you ever have before.

Now I am not about to reveal the 5-step secret process to making millions as an artist. Nor is this the “one-thing-you-should-buy” to create new wealth from your art. No. Being an artist, and supporting yourself as an artist, is hard work. Plain and simple. Be prepared to work harder than you ever have before.

To be a professional artist I believe you need four things: skill at your craft, tools to help you market and manage yourself, confidence to pursue it as a career, and the vision to see it through.

Skill at your craft is the easiest one of the four to find help with. Classes, videos, mentors, workshops, books, there are endless resources at the end of your keyboard that will enable you to learn to be better at your craft.

Perhaps the single biggest thing holding artists, professional or wanna-be, back from fulfilling their potential is the business side of being an artist. I have been told that for every hour you spend honing your craft and creating your art, you need at least an hour spent marketing, promoting, and managing your career.

This stops a great many from becoming artists, and holds back many successful and talented artists from realizing their true potential. Artists don’t like this side of things. Not only is it not fun, its hard. Its intimidating. And it can be difficult to know where or how to get the skills needed to do all the things necessary to minimize the time spent on the business side of things so you can spend more time creating.

So here is the good news. There are ways to get the materials and skills you need to manage your career and promote your art.

At this point I want to warn you that I will do some shameless promotion of the course and person that greatly helped me on my path to being an artist. So now is the time to bail if you don’t like this sort of thing.

You can try searching for and finding lots of websites with tips and advice. There are lots of youtube videos from artists and gallery managers giving advice on what you need to do and how to go about it. There are books written on the subject, and there are guides/coaches/gurus you can hire to help you. Any one of these methods, or a combination of these methods might provide you with the tools you need to minimize your effort in marketing and managing your career. If that works for you that’s great. Most of it’s free. And you can do it on your own time.

But it might take a long time, a lot of looking, reading, listening and figuring out what does and does not work. I know. I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure it out. And when I had it figured out, I lacked the motivation to do it. I wasn’t confident I knew what was the right thing to do. I wasn’t pushed, there wasn’t any discipline.

In one of the videos I ran across there was a coach that I found engaging. She had an interesting story, as an artist and as a person, and I found her compelling. She offered a course on becoming a professional artist, called The Working Artist.

I’m a skeptic.

I was concerned that The Working Artist would be another course short on actual constructive content and focused on upselling or using pressure to buy more courses or instruction. Would it really focus me on making the transition to “professional artist”? Too often there is the offer of solving your problems only to find you have to keep taking more and more courses, pay more money, to unlock the next secret.

This was 18 months ago. I bit the bullet, signed up for the course and followed it through. Its the best thing I ever did to move my career forward. As I stated earlier:

To be a professional artist you need four things: skill at your craft, tools to help you market and manage yourself, confidence to pursue it as a career, and the vision to see it through.

Crista supplies 3 of these four ingredients. While she can’t help you perfect your craft, she delivers the knowledge, skills and tools you need to organize and do the marketing and management of your practice. She provides encouragement and helps you define who you are, and want to be, as an artist. She gives you the confidence you need to move forward. Most significantly Crista helps you find the vision to set your goals, and to see yourself as a professional artist, and the path to act on that vision.

By taking The Working Artist course I was able to recognize my strengths and weaknesses and put together a plan to overcome the obstacles, both real and contrived, to make the following changes in the year after taking the course:

  • Identified a teacher and mentor to strengthen my craft, and committed to a long-term working relationship with this celebrated artist
  • Crafted a 10-year business plan for my new career
  • Put together my Artist Working Kit and began actively marketing myself
  • Moved from practicing art as a hobby to pursuing it as a full-time profession
  • Began working part-time in a gallery
  • Then became “Gallery Manager” at this prestigious gallery in Vermont
  • Entered a number of juried and group shows
  • Won numerous awards for my work
  • I doubled the number of works sold in the year after taking her course from the year prior to taking her course
  • I have a commitment for my first solo Gallery show next year

Crista gave me the confidence to reach out, show my work, and establish a network of artist and art professionals that will help further my career and grow me as an artist. I went from being someone who was never “ready” to someone who now can “Jump” every time there is an opportunity.

Finding a coach isn’t right for everyone, nor is taking a course. But if you do pursue this path what I liked about The Working Artist course is that, regardless of which way you learn, Crista has anticipated and included all modes of assimilating knowledge into the course. Its interactive, professionally produced, supports learning through various methods, has assignments, and deadlines. It also has a 100% satisfaction guarantee policy, and you can retake the course free for as many times as you want afterward. There is video, audio, calls, and community discussion boards. The videos are interactive, you stop and do things as they are being discussed and explained.

Best of all, Crista knows her stuff. She’s lived it. She answers your questions. She truly wants you to find your way to success.

So how is “Jump” the one word that has changed my career as an artist? This is the call to action Crista leaves you with in her course. She challenges you, and gives you the confidence to “Jump”. To take that leap of faith in yourself and become a Working Artist. First she gives you the tools, and she gives you the confidence.

Literally, every time I am faced with what would normally be an obstacle to moving forward as an artist, I hear Crista’s voice, in that confident, reassuring manner, telling me to “Jump.” It is the most tangible example of how taking her course continues to propel me forward.

Comment and let me know how you made the transition. What worked for you, or what tip would you give to someone just starting out? And if you haven’t, I encourage you to Jump!

If you want help, one place to start is here: The Working Artist