How to Become an Artist

Have you ever wondered how to become an artist but didn’t know where to start? Have you always had the dream of being an artist, but weren’t sure how to fit it into your already busy life? I have thought of myself as an artist for as long as I can remember, but only in the last few years have I actually taken steps to make that dream an everyday reality. I’ve gathered a few tips for new artists who would like to take the next steps and learn how to become a professional artist.

How do you become an artist?

Let's start with the basics. Do you have a creative hobby that you enjoy or would like to learn, such as ceramics, painting, sewing, etc.? If you have a passion for creativity, and interest in a particular art medium, then you're already off to a good start! Everyone has their own idea of what an "artist" is, but I believe that everyone has the innate desire to create. If you already have an interest or a passion in a certain subject, then you can start there. Next, determine what supplies you already have and what you'll need. When you're starting off, you don't necessarily need the top-of-the-line tools and supplies. Just a few of the basics are great, especially if you are still learning and honing your craft. Not sure what materials you need? Sign up for an art class at your local community center or enroll in an online art workshop. This will give you an idea of what art supplies you'll need as well as help you learn a few of the basics.

Create space and time for your art

Once you've decided on what kind of art you'd like to make, then you'll want to make sure you have a dedicated space to create that art. This can be as simple as having a small space on your dining room table or as elaborate as turning a guest room into a full fledged studio! It's not the size of the space that matters as much as the fact that you have created that space just for you and your art. What's also just as important as creating space for your art is scheduling time to create each week. If you are working a full time job, then try to find time in the evenings or weekends to dedicate time to creating art.

It takes time to improve your skills and to grow as an artist as well as find your own artistic voice and style. It also takes time to transition from a hobby artist to a full time professional artist, so patience and persistence is key! Nothing happens overnight, but having the courage to just begin where you are and to keep at it over time will guarantee progress toward completing your goals. And the more time you dedicate to your art--this includes making LOTS of "bad" art--the faster you will reach those goals. The art you make on day 100 will be so much better than the art you made on day 1. And don't spend too much time beating yourself up for not starting 10 years ago--begin today and just know that 10 years from now, you'll be happy you did.

Create a list of goals and celebrate your wins

Every artist has their own set of goals and their own creative path. It's nice to look up to other artists you admire and aspire to be like them, but don't compare your day 100 to their day 1,000. So just begin where you are and keep track of what you'd like to accomplish in a week, a month, a year, etc. And don't be afraid to change your goals as you go. Maybe becoming the next Frida Kahlo in three months isn't as realistic as when you first set out on that goal--and that's ok! Start with small, realistic goals: set up an art space, work on your art every day for an hour, sign up for an online art class, submit your art to a magazine for publication, etc. And with larger goals, break them down into smaller tasks. For example, if you've never submitted art for publication, it would help to start with a few simple tasks such as: find three magazines you'd like to be featured in by the end of the week, apply to each magazine by the end of the month, etc. And just keep going like that with each of your larger tasks.

And most important, expect a lot of "no" when you first start out (and when you're along your path). It might come in the form of a rejection from that magazine you submitted to, or it might come in the form of family or friends telling you you're being "unrealistic" or that you should stick to something more practical. It could even come from you! Be aware of negative self-talk: "who do you think you are?" and "you're not a real artist" are quite common. Keep a journal as a way to write those negative thoughts down and then counter them with more positive thoughts.

Build community and connections

Once you've decided that you're on your way to becoming an artist, you'll want to reach out to other artists in your community. This could be as simple as going to local art shows, or craft fairs, or even finding people with similar interests online. You can easily connect with other artists on social media like Instagram or Facebook. Instagram is great for admiring other artists, posting your own artwork and viewing and creating short, how-to videos or "behind the scenes" to see how other artists go about their own art routine. There are also a great amount of groups on Facebook created specifically for certain types of art and artists and you can easily find a sense of community among other like-hearted creatives. Or create your own group online or in-person. You can post on Meetup and create or join the exact kind of group you're looking for based on similar interests. You will also want to create an online presence and a place to display your art. You can build a very simple website on a site like Squarespace where you can upload photos of your work to display.

These are just a few tips for new artists or for those interested in how to become a professional artist. The best way to become an artist is start where you're at and just keep going! You'll be surprised how far you've come after just a few months and in the future you will be so glad that you started when you did! I hope you've found these tips helpful and that you are encouraged to begin your own creative journey!