Awesome, Famous, and Get to Do What You Want

Over the weekend, a friend of mine joked that an artist’s ultimate goal should be something like 1) making work that is awesome, 2) being famous or having people appreciate your work so you can make a living doing it, and 3) doing what you want–meaning you are your own master and no one else is driving your creative bus or pigeon holing you. And then we both laughed…a little hysterically…because that three-pronged goal is one that only a handful of artists are able to achieve. The rest of us, if we are lucky, will secure one or two of those aims, and it is compromise after compromise along the way.

John Singer Sargent definitely "made it" with his portraiture. Spanish Dancer, oil painting, 1880-81.
John Singer Sargent definitely “made it” with his portraiture.
Spanish Dancer
, oil painting, 1880-81.

But one way that an artist has the best shot at “making it” is for him or her to be in control of their part in the art business. In this day and age that can mean learning how to sell art online so that you are networking with your collectors directly and establishing yourself almost like a standalone gallery of one.

Melissa Wolcott adapts her painting skills to a miniature scale.
Melissa Wolcott adapts her painting skills to a miniature scale.

It might also mean specializing in a particular genre. Maybe you are going to focus on becoming the portrait painting artist for your region, and even within that you can specialize in corporate portraits or children’s portraits. Or you could apply your skills and sell your art by working in a noteworthy way–you could develop a clientele interested in large scale drawings or miniatures.

The point is making the compromises about where to sell art or what kind of art you will be making for yourself–don’t let outside influences lead you along a path you didn’t choose but merely settled for. And that means staying informed about what exactly you can do with the art you hold so dear. The newest magazine from the editors of American Artist is Workshop for Professional Practices digital download, a deluxe special issue exploring the aspects of art-making and painting that can help us all put a professional finish on the work we do.

You’ll find practical tips and techniques, information about how to strategize selling artwork, and advice on marketing art for exhibitions and gallery shows. Workshop for Professional Practices digital download made me realize that there are so many avenues to explore and that the more we do the better chance we have of reaching that pie in the sky dream of being awesome and famous while doing what you want. And it is a definitely a dream worth reaching for!

What’s your criteria for “making it?” And are you there yet? Leave a comment and let us know.

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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

3 thoughts on “Awesome, Famous, and Get to Do What You Want

  1. I’d say those are worthy goals for all of us….

    However… we should all keep in mind that our goals usually change over time and over changing circumstances. Sargent despite his achievements tired of painting portraits of the upper classes and yearned to make more art that was what HE wanted to do.

    Another goal might be to not “settle” but to be happy with where ever we are along our way to achieving those goals…

  2. I am most definitely not famous, YET!!!! But I am AWESOME, and I choose my art, whatever it may be. Am I selling? Successful? None of that matters …to me. I do have to do the ocassional (job) . But as long as I enjoy the journey of our artistic path and most all my time is creating, wbat better life could anyone ask for. I give thanks daily to being able to do what I do, and for my wife, Jodi for allowing me to do so.

  3. I have just sold my first painting. I submitted 3 paintings to a juried midyear exhibition. One was accepted and it SOLD. I was shocked.
    I am a retired ecologisty who has returned to painting water colours after 30 years. I am exited by my environment. My aim? I would like to be able to at least cover my costs by selling my paintig, but the question is how? I live in South Africa where the majority of people are very poor, and even the economically active people do not have spare cash to spend on art, so competition is fierce. Painting WATERCOLOUR is challenging and mysterious. I love it. Lil Haigh