How-To, Successful Actions

Make it go Right as an Artist

What does it take to make it go right as an artist? It takes using every opportunity to achieve your goals, no matter what, no matter how many extra hours you have to put in, no matter what obstacles are thrown in your way.

My goal was to earn my living as an artist. I’ve done that two ways. I spent 15 years doing weekend art shows traveling from city to city. After I no longer traveled, I have made a living selling my art through galleries, or any sort of retail outlet that will sell them.

If you want to make your goals as an artist you will have to attract attention to yourself and your art. People who think “shy” is a commendable virtue are not successful artists. Attracting attention online is a good thing, but only a minor part of what you need to do to be a successful artist.

You will have to make some choices when you are selling your art to the public that might constrain your artistic impulses. In other words, you have to paint what the public likes in order to get them to buy it. Different people like different kinds of art (thank heavens!) but there may come a time when you will have to choose creating saleable art over a creative idea you just have to try. You can come back to your new idea, but if you want to eat next week you will do that commission of someone’s pet Yorkie. Or whatever it is you paint, sculpt, create.

My brother did weekend art shows for more than 20 years. He raised a family. He quit when the price of gas and travel skyrocketed and promoters got greedy charging huge booth fees. He promoted himself, made arrangements and set himself up in a kiosk in the Exchange of a Military Base and he paints portraits from photographs people bring to him. In between he paints what he wants. But he sure has become a good portrait painter!

I recently saw a niche where people who could not afford my large original paintings, yet loved my work, ought to be able to have their own piece of art. So I started painting miniatures and selling them framed for $30. I’ve sold almost a hundred of them in a month. They add up. I paint the same things I paint in my larger paintings; new people think they are cute, former patrons like to buy them as gifts, galleries sell them to people who want an original but cannot afford my big paintings. And one gallery refused them, even though I told them the little paintings were selling like hotcakes.

Let me end with a few words about refusals and rejections. I’ve gotten 100’s of them from art contests, from art fairs and from galleries. Never spend a second worrying about rejections. Move on to the next thing. I used to take my rejection letters and put them in the blender with some water and coffee, and blend them all up and press them flat into little squares. Let them dry and voila! Handmade paper price tags for your work.

Rejection is just somebody’s opinion. Persist until you find people who like you work as much as you do, or more. As an example, this year, on the same day, I entered two art contests and shows out of state. One show rejected my work. The other show accepted both paintings I had entered. Not only that, but they sold both paintings and I won first place.

That’s my advice. If you’re “shy,” get over it. Then find some places to sell art and PERSIST!

Elizabeth Sullivan
Wild Spirit Artworks

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