Im just starting out in my art career and am looking for advice.On the business side - What is the most important activity/task, as an artist, to do? and what struggles are there with that task?Is it finding a gallery or dealer, generating and maintaining a buyers list... what do you guys think?
Hey Shaun, My guess is that you will get lots of different advice. Here is advice I wish I had gotten early on... and followed. Just for clarification I work as a designer, but I think my advice works for anyone in any creative field.
1. Just keep doing your work. If you find that life takes you down a road that steers you away from your work (kids, illness, creative block, depression, doubt...) find ways to get back on track even if it is for an hour a day. It's best to keep at your craft as much as possible. Remember learning never stops. Some people use this as an excuse to not change and sit on their laurels, but learning something new each day is exciting and keeps you on your toes! Your art and skills develop over time, but time will slip by quickly. If you keep at it, you will be amazed how much better you are in twenty years. If twenty years have passed you by and you find that you stopped, brush yourself off, avoid comparing yourself to other people's lives, and keep going.
2. Embrace a professional attitude. If being social is easy for you, you will be one step ahead. If your shy and a bit awkward dealing with people, just keep at it, skills will develop over time. If someone likes you for whatever reason, you will find that people will help foster your growth. By asking this question at this site, my guess is that you are willing to learn and grow and find information. Keep doing this. When it comes to business, it is about fostering relationships and handling yourself in a responsible business like manner. If you are someone who has follow through, keeps their word, is diplomatic, tactful, organized, this will stand out. Also be someone who is great to work with. No one likes a prima donna, complainer, whiner, or depressive. I have met several mediocre artists who have excelled far beyond artists that are highly skilled because they were able foster relationships and have a positive, professional attitude.Be positive and enthusiastic about your work if this is in your nature.
(Also as time goes by, make wise choices. Keep expanding and align yourself with people and establishments that are in alignment with your new and continuously evolving goals.)
I find that tasks can be learned and their importance changes depending on what else is going on in life. But if you could master the two comments above, learn the details of business, and if you have quality marketable work, you will be successful.
I would suggest listening to the podcast Artists Helping Artists on Itunes. You could also check out Maria Brophy and Allison Stanfield, Art Biz Blog.
I actually think that a true artist is absolutely very creative person. I would say that there must be something innovative or creative things in them art. So, this could be most important activity for an artist.
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I congratulate you on your career choice. Being an artist requires lots of creativity and hard work.
I have no association with any artist that I may help you but there are plenty of websites that discusses about art and career in photography.