On TikTok, there’s a trend of professionals getting up and saying the 5 things they wouldn’t do because of their profession. I realise, of course, that there are five things I would never do as a professional artist.
Let’s dig in, ok?
- Sell my art cheaply or at a discount. This is one I see all the time and while a sale or promo can be a good thing, it shouldn’t be a regular thing. If you are competing for sales on price alone, you will come out losing in the end.
- Go to craft shows. Notice I didn’t say art shows or juried shows. There’s nothing wrong with crafts but selling fine art at a show where people are expecting to buy blankets and usable or decorative art means your audience won’t be there. When you go to shows, you want to stack the odds in your favour and make sure that the people who will enjoy your art will actually be there.
- Work with galleries that charge for wall space. I know this seems a bit strange in 2022 where every place is charging for wall space but listen, if you pay for wall space YOU are their client. They don’t need to sell your art if you’re already funding them. You want to work with commission galleries only.
- Donate art to charities. Can I just say that it’s shit that they even ask? You won’t get commissions for your art or new fans and followers doing so. There are ways to make this work but it has to be done right.
- Work for exposure or work on spec. Fucking no. If a plumber doesn’t work for exposure, an artist sure as hell shouldn’t. The only way to get this practice to stop is to get the word out to every serious artist that this isn’t cool. Graphic designers did it twenty years ago – running an international movement against working on spec. Artists should do this too.
If you’re serious about having a solid art career, you need to make sure that everything you put your effort into will pan out. That means ruthlessly saying no to the wrong opportunities, turning away clients who want you to make things that aren’t your speciality, and staying focused.
You tell your audience that your serious about your art making when you show up consistently, create works in serious (where applicable) and have a high quality body of work that isn’t just a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
As with every rule, there are exceptions but the minute your audience thinks you’re playing around or they can snag your work for free, you’ve stopped your career in its tracks.
So, the question I leave you with today is: how much do you want your success and what are you going to do about it?