5 Ways To Stay On Track With Your Goals Becoming An Artist
Keep working towards your goals and leave the haters behind choking on your dust.
I've come a long way since I graduated from high school in 2006. Sure people liked my artwork but no one really took me seriously when I said I wanted to do it for a living. I was told my dreams were unrealistic, that I needed a back up in case things didn't work out before I even had the chance to try.
I let all those negative voices in, making me compromise what I wanted out of life. This made me spend money on a college I didn't want to go to, studying subjects I honestly had no interest in.
Well, fuck that.
It took me way longer than I'd like to admit to finally just go after my dreams of being an artist. I built up my skills after a 10-year break and became obsessed with practicing. Then over time, I grew a following on Instagram and began working with clients. Finally I was making a profit from my passion so I could finally quit that day job that sucked my fucking soul right from my body.
It took time, but I did it. I'm sharing this with you because it's never too late to go after your dreams. Just think of how good it will feel going to your high school reunion and prove all those haters wrong. With a few lessons learned over the years, I want to help you reach those goals of yours faster while keeping your sanity along the way.
5 ways to stay on track with your goals becoming an artist
The first 10 years of my career was full of anxiety, regrets, and bad decisions but it doesn’t have to be like that for you. No matter if you are 19 or 49, you still have time left to follow your dreams of being a full time creative. It will take a ton of hustle, but the sooner you start, the faster you will get there. So here are some tips to get you started in the right place so you can have a patience over passion mindset.
Make the things you wished existed and build up a following first
Too many creatives start making art based on what they can steal from others. They need to be “inspired” before starting a new piece taking them that much longer to find their own voice. So instead, think of all the things you wished existed. What kind of art do you want to see every day? What messages and images would be relatable for you and actually help you feel something?
Remember, if a piece of art that came from your own imagination and life experience is relatable for you, it will be relatable to other people too. Whether you want to focus your messaging on themes of mental health and cannabis like me, or simply want to draw all of your favorite foods, there is no wrong answer here as long as the idea comes from you.
The best way to find your audience as an artist to find the pieces of yourself that you want to share. Then the people who either want to be like you or see themselves in your work will start to naturally gravitate towards your content.
Then over time, your follower count will grow on places like Instagram as you experiment with subjects and styles. If you work hard enough, you’ll finally ready to take things to the next level by attracting illustration clients or selling your own products. That way you already have a built in audience excited to pay you for your awesome artwork.
Break up your big goal into small goals and work on them every day.
To get ready to be a professional artist there quite a lot of things you need to have prepared that can feel overwhelming. You need to be consistent on social media, build a content-rich website that sells stuff for you, and the list just goes on and on from there. It’s a lot, but it’s much more manageable if you work on one thing at a time little by little till it’s time to move on to the next thing.
A new way I’ve been able to stay organized is by having dedicated art and marketing days. That way I can keep a steady balance, so I don’t lose myself in one or the other, because you need both. You have to create content to market yourself whether that's a podcast, blog, or videos, but I can't get so caught up in selling stuff that I forget to actually make new personal work.
Then when a new idea for a project or piece of marketing comes into my brain, I just add it to the bottom of my to-do list for that specific day. This not only helps me not get distracted by a new shiny object but it also allows for me to get done what I can instead always feeling like I’m falling behind.
Surround yourself with supportive people that inspire you both in real life and online
I often wonder what would have happened if all my friends and family had supported my dream of being an artist how much faster I would have found my calling. Us humans are social creatures and no matter how old you get peer pressure is a real thing that can help or crush your dreams.
This can be especially hard when you realize you’re stuck in a toxic relationship where you are told no more often than yes. Never surround yourself with people that want you to quit or not even try because who the fuck are they? Are these people you are listening to artists? Probably not, so why the hell are you listening to their non-expert opinion on YOUR future?
An easy way to find your people is with the power of the internet. Find a mentor or coach that represents the kind of person you want to become. These are the people who have been where you are now and can help you get to that next stage quicker.
I offer coaching, so if you are looking for advice on how to get clients, sell products with your art, or build a following of people that will pay you I got your back. Right now it’s $50 for a 30 min session, but since my service has gotten so popular recently, the price goes up to $75 May 1st. So book your spot now, to save some cash.
If you don’t have money for a mentor, that’s okay too. Instead, find solace among your peers. Do some outreach with creatives that are at the same point in their careers as you are. We need each other to be stronger even if it’s just through Instagram DM.
Start cheap and easy. Then just edit and refine as you grow.
You don’t need expensive photography equipment to take a good photo, you could even just skip the middle man and make your own mockups if you really wanted to. That fancy office no matter how alluring isn’t necessary for doing good work. Start small and try not to spend too much money in the beginning, this is your time to be cheap as hell and learn as much as you can in the process.
Think of yourself as a broke college student. You are not interested in all the frills, you just want to feel like you are on the right path. As long as you are doing new work and posting it, congratulations you are a fucking artist. You did it, now just keep doing it until you start to make money from it. Then and only then do I want you to take that money you earned to put back into your business.
even though there are lots of affordable ways to improve your hand lettering on the iPad, doesn’t mean you should drop a couple hundred bucks on equipment before you have even got started. Don’t get into debt and don’t try to be better or fancier then you are ready for. This will only hurt you because we all have bigger eyes than our wallets will allow. Don’t fall for all the ads for another unneeded app and the imposter syndrome you feel when you see artists that are further along than you. Instead, go for the least expensive way possible, just the necessities to get you started.
Take time to pause, look back, and see how you can improve before moving on.
We are always so focused on what we are doing tomorrow that we forget to look back and review everything we have already done. It’s not enough just to be making, you have to find a strategy that works for you because this artist life is not a one size fits all kind of job.
Every month I take pause and look at all my analytics for my social media presence and website. I look back to see what performed well and what didn’t and try to figure out why. If a post tanked on Instagram, I want to know if it was the hashtags, time of day I posted, the caption, or maybe the presentation of the image could have been improved? But I won’t know unless I experiment.
Find the pieces of content that perform well and use them as a template. Investigate the things that went wrong and stop yourself from repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Only after a few months of trial and error, you will have a literal strategy of what kind of art and marketing makes your brand thrive.