How do you get started as a full time artist? Just start.
It doesn’t matter what age you are or what jobs you’ve held in the past. You just have to hold your breath, jump off the cliff and start.
I’ve read lots of articles, many conflicting with each other, and most of them containing no helpful information at all. You can start selling your art on the internet, at art fairs, in galleries, in gift shops or furniture stores. You can set up your art in a mall or on the sidewalk. You can open your own gallery online or brick and mortar. You have to have a website. You can license your designs to other companies and be paid royalties. I’ve tried them all, and the truth is probably you need to do them all to actually make a living.
I’ve gotten lots of offers, too. “Just pay $ ??? and you can put your artwork online with us and have great sales!” These “offers” are scams – you never hear from them again if you reply, “How many artists sold how many paintings on your website last month?” I don’t pay these people for my artwork; people pay me for my artwork.
The most immediate way I know to support yourself as an artist is to do weekend art fairs. Get a little bit of money saved up, so you can pay the booth fee and support yourself until you get to the show. Don’t apply to just one show, apply to 3 or 4, to make sure you get accepted at at least one.
Enter some contests. Set up a website for your art. Try getting an artist’s agent or licensing agent – maybe there are some in your town. Put your artwork in online galleries that are free such as FineArtAmerica or Saatchi Art or Vango Art. You might think of some other ways to sell your art.
It is doubtful that any one thing will make you enough money to support yourself – you have to do a variety.
And you may find other venues that will work for you. One artist I know worked for 20 years making a living selling his art at weekend art fairs. He travelled all over the country. Then the price of gas went up, the booth fees for the shows tripled as show promoters became greedy, and the economy went in the toilet. Doing weekend art shows became unprofitable for everyone except show promoters. So he looked for another venue. At the time he was living near a Marine Base, so he made an agreement with the people who ran the base exchange. He set up in the lobby of the base exchange as a portrait painter. People would bring him photographs and he did watercolor paintings of the pictures and this is his business now. He did a few pets, a few girlfriends, but he has become awfully good at painting Marines in full battle dress.
I, too, did weekend art shows for 15 years. I now have paintings in galleries, a furniture store, a couple of gift shops (one gift shop just sold a piece for $850) and I enter contests once in a while and win sometimes. I occasionally sell paintings at online galleries, and I now teach private art lessons to both children and adults.
The bottom line is if you want to quit your day job and become a full time artist, just do it. It’s helpful to have a spouse who will support you meanwhile, or a savings you can live on until you get going, but I had none of these things. You can do it. Believe in yourself.
Wild Spirit Artworks