Art is a business:
Separate the
personal from
the brand

- by Always Art Staff

You may have talent and a unique style, but that is not enough to guarantee a successful career in today’s art world. There are many amazing artists that go entirely unheard of, which can be primarily linked to the unsuccessful management of their career. An art career is a business, and in order to succeed, you will need to know how to run, scale, and maintain it. First and foremost, believe that you are capable of growing as an artist and that your passion for art can give you financial freedom.

Follow these tips to build a prominent art career:

Identify your career goals

Begin by crafting your artist statement to articulate a clear vision of your work and purpose. From there, knowing where you are headed and what you aspire to be is going to add meaning to anything you do. You should outline:

  • What motivates you?
  • What does success as an artist mean to you?

Use the SMART method as a framework for setting up your goals. This framework is an acronym for goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-based

Using this practice will remove the chances for laying out vague and unrealistic goals. An example of a goal that follows this framework is “My goal is to be represented by one gallery within the next two years.” An example of a goal that doesn’t follow this framework is “My goal is to be a famous artist.”

Furthermore, it is helpful to break down your goals into short, mid, and long-term. This allows you to continue strategizing and create a business plan where you add your financial, marketing, and sales plans to help you reach those targets.

Make good work

Your artwork is at the core of your art career, and you cannot be a successful artist without making great work. Be attentive to the quality of your work and be sure to create something you are proud of. Bring creative ideas to art industry, as it will distinguish you from the other artists. It is totally normal to have your work improve throughout your journey. Consistently polishing your existing skills and learning new ones is valuable to your career. For many artists, because of how much they change throughout the course of their career, they do not like to look back on old work. But there is no shame in that; growth is a good sign.

Be professional

It is critical to handle your art business professionally, which requires you to be committed and serious. Have a high-quality website, improve your email etiquette, and meet the deadlines you promise to others. Part of having a professional appearance is having high quality images of your work. You can use your phone to document your work early on, but investing in a professional camera eventually necessary.

Moreover, make sure to present yourself as a professional artist and have confidence in your work. Balance this with being open and easy to work with; respect your peers, learn how to react to critique, and do not believe you are superior to others. You should focus on making friends not enemies, as you can support each other in the industry.

Overall, have good energy and be nice to work with—interpersonal skills are one of the main factors galleries consider when working with artists.

Build your network

Networking can help you grow your art career, which is we have dedicated an article just for it. Begin focusing on this from day one. Leverage art events, diversify your network from collectors, fellow artists, galleries, art professionals, etc. You never know what doors people will open for you.

Word-of-mouth is key; if people like you, they will talk positively about you and that will raise interest about you and your work, in addition to the opportunities that your network might help you land. For instance, you can get referred for commercial projects by your network. But ultimately, with a strong network you will have a base of individuals that will always support you and your work in any way they can.


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