Making Mixed Media Your Life: Tips from ANU Instructors

Perhaps you’ve heard the story of the mixed media artist that became a huge success overnight. Seemingly coming out of nowhere to become the next big thing, but the truth is that a successful and sustainable art career comes from planning and work! It can be a slow process that requires love and attention! Learn how some of the great instructors at Artist’s Network University became professionals, taking that first step from loving art to making art your life!

For instructor Sharon Weaver, having a support system allowed her to make the transition, “I am so lucky to have a supportive family and the exposure to wonderful local artists. I found direction and inspiration when I took my first plein air classes,” she said. “The encouragement given me by that teacher helped me take the steps to pursue my art full time and become a professional artist.”

Annie Strack says, “I made the transition to full-time professional artist in January of 1999. By this time, I had been an emerging artist for about 20 years and I had a fairly decent history of sales in a few art shows and co-op galleries. I had built up a large inventory of over a hundred consistent and good paintings, and I had saved money for decades so I could afford to invest in myself financially and start my own business

My previous career was in retail management and before that I managed restaurants and hotels, so I was lucky in that I already had experience in sales and marketing and all the other aspects of running a business. Being a good artist is only part of the equation for being a professional. It also takes business acumen to be successful.

Many artists who are just starting out have a delusional view of success and expect fame and fortune to follow their first exhibits. I remind artists all the time that being successful requires lots of hard work, and the amount of success is relevant to the amount of time and work that is put into the career. Don’t try to measure your success against artists who have been working longer than you, and don’t try to compare yourself against famous artists. Set your own goals and measure your success against your own standards, not someone else’s.

Emerging artists shouldn’t compare their career success to that of established artists. I often hear emerging artists complain about wanting more sales, or more exhibits, more galleries, awards, publications, etc. Yet they usually do not work at their art career full time — like the established artists do. Successful artists usually work at least 60 or more hours a week on their art careers. Emerging artists need to remember that they can’t expect a full-time income form working part-time,” she said.

Lynn Hosegood, created this checklist for a career in art:

  • Treat it as a business and tend to those administrative duties
  • Plan short and long term goals
  • Acquire time management skills
  • Learn to find the positive with failures
  • Enter shows
  • Diversify with prints, illustration, teaching, workshops
  • Share and be kind with colleagues
  • Get your name out there and blow your own horn

Whatever your approach to art, Paul Dorrell’s course Developing an Active, Viable and Successful Art Career (starting now) is a great place to start. Get guidance from author & successful artist Paul Dorrell while beginning your own journey to starting an art business.

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