Is going to art school a waste of time and money? Can a person even make a stable living with an art degree? What paths can an art major open up for us?
No to the first (depending on the school you go to). Yes to the second (I'm living proof of it!). Whichever path you desire would be my answer to the third, as long as art is truly your passion, and you're willing to step out of your comfort zone consistently and work really hard.
*Most of the time while holding a regular job that will enable you to pay your bills and put food on the table while investing in art supplies, developing your skills and building your name/audience.
In today's guest post, emerging freelance writer Ruby Clarkson who's written for Jackson's Art and is absolutely obsessed with writing, theatre and visual arts, will help shed some light on the many paths an art degree can help open up.
But, before getting into her article, I'd like to share a few things with you.
The myth of the 'starving artist' totally irks me.
So does the myth of the crazy/depressed artist and the myth that artists create their best work from a place of pain and misery.
I create my best work when I'm in a calm, positive state of mind. And, like I shared in this blog post, I believe in taking care of myself mentally and physically because this enables me to consistently make forward progress.
But I digress.
If you want to make a living as an artist in the future, know that it's possible, whether you decide to go to art school or not.
Today more than ever. There are lots of people doing it all around the world.
This said, even artists who do spend years building up those solid bases in art school know that they have to keep learning and improving their skills/knowledge continuously throughout their journeys.
Not only when it comes to cold artistic skills, but also in terms of business, marketing and personal development.
We're incredibly lucky that, with the Internet, we're able to connect with artists who're further ahead in their journeys, join communities of like-minded people looking to share and encourage each other, and get access to valuable courses created by skilled artists that will boost our knowledge at very low costs.
My advice? Take advantage of these tools and opportunities! Because, the reality is, you're only going to get so far holed up in your studio and following free tutorials.
Though the Internet is full of information, it's a vast place full of contradicting advice and lots of people just getting started skip over fundamentals or simply don't know where to start based on their current skill level.
To grow at a professional level, we need to invest in ourselves, connect with others, get feedback from people who are knowledgable in art, step out of our comfort zones, talk about our work, etc.
In past blog posts, I've shared how I was lucky to have had the opportunity to attend art school on scholarship and graduated with a BA in Graphic Design.
I'm thankful to have had that chance, as there's nothing like being surrounded by other artists and creatives consistently, learning about Art Fundamentals through-and-through, getting comfortable talking about art, obtaining useful feedback from professors who have been in the field for years, and getting used to meeting deadlines.
All of these are things that helped me tremendously in all the 9-5 jobs I held after having graduated and have made starting my own business a lot easier. I still had to invest in business courses and complementary creative classes, though.
Let's get into Ruby's article!
What Can You Do With an Art Degree?
by Ruby Clarkson
One of the most persistent myths about a fine arts or design degree is that it’s difficult to find lucrative employment once you graduate. In fact, there are countless opportunities for talented creatives out there, it just takes, funnily enough, a little creativity in exploiting those possibilities!
If you’re considering enrolling for an art degree but are worried about your future prospects, read on for seven career paths you might not have considered before.
If you have a natural eye for color, harmony and proportion, and can work with the latest home décor trends, you might enjoy being an interior designer.
But it’s not all just picking out scatter cushions – several exciting niches exist, including office or educational space design, textile, furniture and product design, and even styling and planning bespoke kitchens for luxury homes.
Illustration and Multimedia Art
Whether it’s children’s cartoons, TV and film animations for advertising, special effects or fashion drawings, a career as an illustrator is bound to be rewarding. You can work independently or as part of an in-house creative team for corporate.
Creating compelling and original images for merchandising like t-shirts, calendars and product packaging is also a field with plenty of potential.
If you possess the right balance of artistic expertise and business savvy, you might do well in the art gallery world. Working with artists, art dealers and the general public, you’ll need to wear many hats to make sure that exhibitions are properly organized and profitable.
You’ll need to know your industry inside and out, but sales, marketing and networking will also be a big part of your daily life.
Graphic design is an exciting and competitive area, but one in which it’s more than possible to distinguish yourself. You’ll work with a range of clients to bring their design briefs to life, using classic fine art media, a host of design software and plenty of marketing acumen.
This line of work offers the possibility of freelancing or remote work, as well as the option to design in-house for big brands – a more niche but likely more profitable line of work.
Lecturing or Teaching
Of course, you could teach art and design as a subject at any level, which is a great option for those who enjoy working with people and might appreciate the more predictable schedule. Bring your love for the arts to secondary schools or sixth form colleges, or consider applying to teach a course at university.
Another option is to offer more informal painting, drawing, decorating or design courses at your local community college or privately.
You don’t necessarily have to use your art skills directly.
Art therapists use visual arts media to help people communicate or work through their issues non-verbally. Artistic expression can be incredibly healing – if you’re artistic but also have a lot of empathy, patience and a desire to use art for good, this role could prove extremely gratifying.
After further training, you can specialize more in psychotherapy, work with children, social work or even nursing contexts.
Fine Artist, Sculpting or Mixed-Media Art
If you have a knack for creating beautiful items that people want to own, consider doing it independently via local art fairs, galleries or online stores, and selling your hand-crafted wares directly to art collectors.
Many people are happy to buy and gift art objects that are unique, custom made, locally produced or simply beautiful to look at.
But what if I can’t get into art school?
For many, earning a degree in art and design is a far-off dream they can’t imagine actually achieving for themselves. But even if you think that certain options may not be open to you, bear in mind that art education is more accessible now than ever.
Consider an apprenticeship, or a bridging or foundation course to prepare you for higher education. Thankfully, there are many options for those who want to work up to a higher degree in art and design, and plenty of ways to finance your choice.
Chat to your chosen university to discuss funding options and possible scholarships, or directly contact funding bodies who seek out and reward upcoming talent.
While it’s true that careers in art and design are not as “cut-and-paste” as other more conventional occupations, there is still enormous scope for a talented creative to make a rewarding living doing what they love.
It might take a little planning and thinking ahead, but the world always needs people with strong aesthetics, no matter how they apply their talents.
I'd like to thank Ruby for sharing all of this helpful information with us and inspiring us to work towards building a fulfilling life around our passions.
To get in touch with her, you can email her here.
I hope you found this post helpful and thanks so much for reading!
Why is Instagram such a great online platform for artists? What are some essential tips for working artists starting on Instagram? Why is it important to build up a following if we're intending to make a consistent income from our work and how does one even go about starting to grow one from scratch?
I sincerely believe that there's never been a better time to be an artist.
With the Internet and so many online platforms/tools available to us, it's easy to both connect with other artists and start getting our work known by possible collectors all over the world.
We can literally set up our own website or online shop in a matter of minutes and start making our work or services available for visitors.
This said, something I quickly came to realize after having left my last 'normal' full-time position and starting my own online business is that, it's one thing to have and use all of these amazing tools and it's quite another to actually make them work for your career as a professional artist.
As I shared in this past blog post, there's a lot to learn and start implementing in your online efforts. There's a strategy involved, and it's not just about mindlessly posting your work.
While we're building up our artistic skills and finding our voice, we need to be learning about marketing and actually putting to use these strategies we learn about.
It's only through actually experimenting for ourselves over a certain period of time, that we can conclude whether strategies are working for our specific artistic goals or not.
For most of us, it can not only take time to see sales coming in, but the process can be frustrating and quite overwhelming, as there's so much to learn about and so many options.
This is especially the case when we're just getting started.
Over at my YouTube channel, I've shared videos in which I'm very honest about what it has taken for me to get to the point I'm at, and have provided lots of practical advice for aspiring artists.
With my innermost group over on Patreon, I'm even more candid about my life as an artist and share the inside tips that have worked for me as I continue building my income online.
As I've mentioned in past blog posts and videos, as artists we are creative entrepreneurs. We're business owners.
It's important to understand that we're looking to sell products. Meaningful, unique products. But products nonetheless.
And just like any other business out there, it's essential to build up our brand and work on a message that is meaningful and unique to us.
To succeed as an artist, we must build up an audience (whether it's online, offline or both is completely up to you and your goals). We want to create connections with people who resonate with our work, our story and our message.
You may be able to sell a piece or two here and there out of luck, but it's these people who resonate with us deeply, who'll be not only cheering us on, but will also be coming back for more when we release new artwork.
I really believe that, the sooner we ease into marketing and sales, and actually see them as a fun, creative part of our work, the more successful we'll be.
Katherine Belle, who works as special contributor for Enjoy Canvas, will be sharing several essential tips that will help us make our Instagram account a success.
Katherine is obsessed with interior design, and is a pro at creating and sharing content online that is valuable for readers.
Let's get into her article!
5 Tips for Marketing and Selling Your Art on Instagram Like a Pro
by Katherine Bell
Instagram has completely changed the way people buy and sell products (and services).
Literally, anyone can start selling via the Internet now-a-days. This is awesome because this means we don't have to sit through endless days wondering how we can grow our art business and sell more work.
It's all about how you market yourself and your art, which requires you actually interact with people and grow an engaged online community (your audience).
As long as you focus on sharing valuable (inspiring, educational, entertaining) content for your audience, stay consistent, and apply a few key tips, your account will grow.
And though this may take time, the opportunities that can come from your efforts are definitely worth it.
Instagram is one of the best social media platforms for artists due to its highly visual nature and it's ability to display a curated portfolio of your work to your visitors.
Over the years, it has become the ideal social media platform for artists, right next to Pinterest.
4. Get found
Like with any search engine, you should make time to learn about SEO and use keywords that will help you get found. Strong keywords will help your products show up in the shopper’s queries listing.
Make sure you're using them in your title, description and filling up all available tags. Brainstorm these keywords first, try to make similar searches and check results.
- Title –Be specific and detailed in your title and use words that shoppers are actually typing into the search field (oftentimes these are very different from words we would use). Focus on using the strongest keywords here and stick to the 140 characters limit.
- Description – Describe everything you can about your product. Think about possible questions shoppers would have and reply to them into this section. Don’t forget to mention your artwork size, medium, supplies used, care instructions, and any other relevant information.
- Tags – Tags are a word or combination of words used to describe your product briefly. You can add up to 13 tags per item listing (use all of them!). Etsy suggests a few keywords to your tags, which you shouldn’t ignore! They are based on the audience’s searches to related products and are extremely useful. Without these tags, chances are your work will be hidden from potential customers.
If you need some extra help into deciding which keywords are best, you could try EtsyRank and/or Marmalead.
5. Get noticed
Every time you publish a new product, it will be displayed on the top of its category for some time. Use this in your favor and don’t upload all your products at once. Choose the best time, when most of your target audience will probably be scrolling on Etsy, and upload your products then.
Another way to get noticed is by driving traffic to your store through social media. Make good use of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and so on. Learn about what works best with each platform and select the ones that are right for you. These tools are the best solution to create awareness and engage with your potential customers.
Remember, social media is all about engagement, not only posting. Use them to create connections with potential customers and stay away from only promoting work you want to sell. Reply to questions, ask your own, and always think of what your possible clients would like to see.
Finally, start to learn about paid promotion to amplify your reach. Think of investing a small amount in targeted campaigns via Facebook and Etsy's own promoted listings and testing out different strategies.
Etsy might not be the perfect platform, but it's probably the easiest for beginners. You will have to learn about technicalities and selling strategies, but this is applicable to any other e-commerce platform.
Put some effort into understanding the algorithms, using keywords appropriately, having great photos, managing finances, and driving traffic through your social media. When you feel more confident, you could even open your own website and sell your products directly.
Annabelle Carter Short is a freelance writer and seamstress of more than 7 years. She’s passionate about selling on Etsy and starting a handmade business. In her free time, she likes to make DIY projects with her two kids. Annabelle also works with few organizations to provide the best resources for raising and educating a special needs child.
Follow Annabelle on Facebook here.
I'd like to send out a huge thanks to Annabelle for sharing her expert advice with us.
And I want to encourage you, fellow artist, to make time to establish your own artistic goals. Set a plan for yourself and get to it. Do whatever research you feel you need to do, but don't allow yourself to get stuck or overwhelmed with contradicting or confusing advice.
Take action and implement what you learn because otherwise, you'll never really know if that path will work for your specific situation.
Inform yourself, make a decision based on your gut feeling, and get to it.
As one of my business coaches always says:
"Clarity comes through engagement, not thought."
And even if a platform doesn't turn out to be the best for your own goals, you'll have learned a whole ton from taking action.
Finally, if you're passionate about your art and it's your dream to one day make a living from selling, step one is to get your skills up to a level at which you're able to offer original, quality work with confidence.
Helping aspiring artists progress their skills and find their voice is one of my passions, and I'm here to help you.
Become a member of the Becoming Artists community on Patreon to gain immediate access to a library of classes on Art Fundamentals, exclusive drawing and watercolor painting tutorials that I don't share anywhere else, as well as live Q&A's in which I answer all your questions.
Links To Useful Sites
My Artwork For Sale
Painting With Oils
Student Art Shows
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