A career in the arts is an appealing option for many individuals. For some, salaried industry positions like graphic design, technical/copywriting, or user experience configuration that provide consistent paychecks are a safer career. However, there remains a majority of artists who are not interested in pursuing a 9-to-5. While having a fruitful art career is a goal for many, not everyone is motivated by the idea of working on a schedule in an office environment. And there are so many options out there for an artist to choose from! (1) Instead, artists with the appetite for consistent creative endeavors will pursue a life-long journey to becoming a “true” artist, such as a musician, a designer, or a visual artist.
As an artist whose pursuits are purely for passion, the ultimate goal is to profit from it hopefully. Pursuing one’s passion and vision takes hard work, determination, and confidence. As an artist, what is most important is to invest in one’s self. (2) Producing new works of art or improving one’s craft is the most critical in an artist’s longevity as an independent artist.
A creative arts career is substantially more sensible and beneficial than what the pessimists perceive as a risk. (1) Here are a few points to keep in mind when pursuing a lifelong career in the arts:
Not every person will understand the end result.
While scorching reviews and negative criticism can be debilitating, any art form is intended to bring up issues, but not necessarily satisfy the audience with an answer. At the end of the day, it’s not one artist’s obligation to have an answer to every question asked. The artists’ visions and perspectives are what matter most, and they should focus on questions such as “What sort of reaction would you like to inspire?” or “Are your ideas communicated clearly?” Raise questions and spark discussions. Never focus on satisfying all the answers. (4)
Budget time wisely.
A clear benefit of pursuing arts outside of an office environment is one’s flexibility with time. As an artist, one must identify the most productive and creative time of the day. This slot varies from one individual to another. As such, budgeting one’s time around this slot is essential. While one’s time is flexible, it is important to consider creating self-imposed deadlines for certain projects if one does not exist already. But also, always a lot for personal time. (3)
An inventive work process runs at its own pace.
Unique craftsmanship will have impediments, misfortunes, rejections, and lean moments. Realistically, for the ten things accomplished, chances are that only one or two will have an impact. Keep in mind that it takes time to build a business or a niche around one’s craft. Doing so requires a proactive mindset, persistence, and adjusting to continually evolving conditions. (5)
Expect to fail, but fail strategically.
Many failures, negative criticism, and rejections are part of being in a public-facing arts career. However, one must learn to channel setbacks. The incredible thing about being innovative is that there’s no correct answer or a correct path to take to success. Indeed, even the best artists persevere through countless negative emotions until they discover the best approach to find their flow and niche. Becoming an artist includes allotment for negativity and learning to apply all criticism to the next iteration of flow. (4)
There is no such thing as work-life balance when starting out.
Maintaining a day job while pursuing a career in the arts can be challenging. Having any occupation when trying to create a business or niche in a specific art can mean earning minimum wage at times. While an artist may not make Wall Street money, what’s most important is choosing a path that gives the most value and freedom to pursue one’s passions. (6)
Pushing through limits may be required.
Once in a while, the creative juices will be at an all-time low. “Creative burnout,” or periods of low desire to be productive, will happen. However, whether it is for a client or for an art convention that’s looming, deadlines will be an unavoidable hurdle, and stepping away from a project may not be possible until its completion. (7)
Pursuing a career in the arts requires a personal commitment to exploring one’s innermost thoughts and imagination. It is a journey filled with both challenges and rewards, and it may take some time to find one’s niche and achieve a consistent income. It is important to remain patient and persistent in the pursuit of success while also maintaining a strong work ethic and dedication to one’s craft. Remember that success in the arts is a personal endeavor, and each individual’s journey is unique. Staying true to oneself and continuing to work hard will lead to one’s goals of becoming a success in the creative industry.
Originally published in the Zealousness e-magazine (issue 16) in 2020. Reviewed in 2023.
Read more education-related articles on our Zealousness blog Education – iN Education Inc. (ineducationonline.org).
- TACP Staff Writers. “Careers in Art.” The Art Career Project. April 10, 2023. https://theartcareerproject.com/careers/
- Castrillon, Caroline. “5 Steps To Turn Passion Into Profit.” Forbes, March 8, 2020. Accessed on February 27, 2023. https://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinecastrillon/2020/03/08/5-steps-to-turn-passion-into-profit/?sh=407d2f30700b
- Garratt, Sheryl. “Time Management For Creatives.” The Creative Life, 20th March 2023, https://thecreativelife.net/time-management-for-creatives/
- Martin, Heather. “Tough Love – 8 Hard Truths for Artists” Heather Ihn Martin Fine Art. 11th March 2023. https://www.heatherihnartstore.com/blogs/news/tough-love-8-hard-truths-for-artists
- King, Jodie. “5 Non-Negotiables When Building a Successful Art Business.” Entrepreneur, 13th September 2022. https://www.entrepreneur.com/starting-a-business/how-to-make-money-from-your-art-and-not-sacrifice-creativity/433635
- Lupu, Ioana and Mayra Ruiz-Castro. “Work-Life Balance Is a Cycle, Not an Achievement.” Harvard Business Review. January 29, 2021. https://hbr.org/2021/01/work-life-balance-is-a-cycle-not-an-achievement.
- Indeed. “18 of the Best Tips To Help You Meet Your Next Deadline.” Last modified February 3, 2023. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/meet-the-deadline.