So you've been creating artwork for a while, and your dream is to turn your passion into a business that can one day support you. You may or may not think it's possible, but I am here to tell you that it most definitely is.
It won't happen overnight, and it will take a lot of hard work and dedication, but you will have so many wins along the way and the journey is so exciting. What's that saying? It's all about the journey, not the destination? You get the drift.
When I look back at my art journey and the steps I took to turn my love for art into a business, there are a few simple steps that I would recommend to anyone wanting to do the same... and you can start doing them now!
Create a page for your artwork on a social media platform and get posting
The goal here is to simply get your work out there and most importantly, build an audience. It doesn't have to be perfect. Your photos don't have to be amazing or highly edited. It doesn't even matter if it's just your Mum and best friend who are seeing your posts to begin with. The more you post the more your audience will grow and you are getting your work seen. Audiences can take a long time to grow, especially when there are an increasingly large amount of people trying to do the same thing on social media. The earlier you start, the better.
A simple post that took a minute to photograph of behind the scenes of a new artwork
Don't overthink this step and think you need to create pages or accounts on every platform out there. I used to get overwhelmed and thought I needed my work on every platform, I created a Youtube, Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram account but then found it exhausting to keep up with them all.
I would highly recommend choosing Facebook and/or Instagram as your platforms to start out. To this day I use both and find it super easy to post to Instagram and have my posts automatically share to Facebook so that I can utilize both platforms but only post once.
Start out by creating a post on your personal Facebook or Instagram page if you have one and telling people all about your new page. Let them know you will be sharing your art journey and that you would love for them to follow along. You can even invite people to join your page directly from your new business accounts.
From here you just want to start posting and sharing your journey on a regular basis. Do what you can manage, but the more you post the faster your audience will grow and the more engaged your current followers will be.
Social posts don't always have to be of your actual artwork. You can post images of your materials or workspace too
You may be thinking... but what should I be sharing? The answer, anything and everything! People love to see behind the scenes photos of your work and journey. At the beginning you are likely experimenting with different art styles and materials so take pictures of what your working on, your creative space, the products you use, even selfies! If I could give one piece of advice in this area it would be to show up and be authentically you. People buy from people and one day these people will be your customers and they are more likely to buy from you when they feel like they know you and why you do what you do.
Don't overthink it... just start posting.
Practise Practise Practise
This is the fun part. In the early days of transitioning from hobby artist to professional artist, you want to experiment and practise as much as possible. Fill up sketchbooks, use your artwork to create gifts for friends and loved ones, you may even want to start offering your services to friends and family. Take every opportunity to hone your craft and grow your skills.
A charcoal portrait that I gifted to my Dad of my Nonni who passed away several years ago
I'm a huge believer that you don't need to go to university or tafe to study art in order to learn the skills required to make it professionally. Social media has made it so easy for us to watch tutorials or read articles on almost anything we would want to know.
Over the years I have watched countless Youtube videos or Instagram videos to learn new techniques or to watch reviews on art materials before I buy. Have a specific question? Type it into google and you'll be flooded with articles and videos with answers to your questions.
Find Facebook groups of people who share common interests, you may even have groups of people in your local area where you can meet up and create art together.
Celebrity portraits have always been a source of inspiration for me and a great way for me to practice my painting and drawing skills
As you are experimenting and creating, snap photos of your work and save them in a folder to use later for your newly created social media account. You can even film small videos to use... video content is what people love to see and will build engagement on your page.
The more you create the more you will learn what works and what doesn't and you will soon discover your signature style.
Build a body of work
Once you have started to identify what type of artwork you enjoy creating and you can see a style starting to develop, you can start creating a body of work.
For me this was something I used to stress a lot about, that my work wasn't cohesive being that I used a wide variety of mediums and subject matters. While it's handy if your work is cohesive, it most definitely doesn't have to be.
The idea here is that when you are ready to take your next steps in getting your work out there, whether it be exhibiting your work in a cafe, launching a website or launching a collection on your social channels, you will have a body of work to use.
My Wildflower collection began as a print set that has now expanded into a whole collection of prints and greeting cards
I would say you could start with 8-10 artworks. This is a good amount to fill a few walls in a cafe or to make an online store look less empty.
Having this body of work available then allows you to be ready if an opportunity should arise for you to exhibit or promote your work.
So what's next?
Your next steps in your art journey really depend on your goals.
Do you want to build a website to sell your art to the public?
Would you like to run an exhibition of your artwork?
Would you like to start making prints? Do you want to run a market stall?
I am super passionate about helping other artists achieve their goals and love offering help in any way that I can.
Feel free to let me know in the comments below what your next goal is for your artwork and stay tuned for more blogs aimed at helping artists grow their business. If there is something in particular you would like to read about be sure to let me know in your comment.
Happy creating and I hope you find inspiration in this blog.