July 13, 2024


Sublime Arts Bar None

Launching a Successful Career As an Artist

Launching a Successful Career As an Artist


It is important for anyone launching an art career to have a direction toward their development and to keep that development alive. The very act of creativity can be dulled or detoured by an artist presupposing future works. The dialog an artist has with your work changes with each new piece. Each successive work causes an adjustment in direction: a revelation, an inspiration that alters the creative path. It seems that creative work has a life of its own which grows and is nourished by communication with its creator.


It is possible to work successfully, heedless of the changes inspiration and innovation bring on. This often happens when an artist finds a successful and profitable “niche” and repeats over and over the same subject matter, style and techniques of working over a period of years. The market will always want the same or similar product, to guarantee a reliable value. It is regrettable, however, that many artists in this creative stasis, refuse to develop their full capabilities and are forever tied to the intrinsic values of their work.


The “art scene” is competitive only to those that want it that way. As a artist develops a body of work, having a perspective of other artists’ work is not only a good way to share creative energy, but a relationship that keeps individual work vital. Being aware of what is happening in galleries and events locally, nationally and globally can inspire an emerging artist to move their creative work in a different direction, address different subject matter and change an attitude towards personal artwork relative to the work of other artists.


There are many resources that can be useful for artistic development, including: art magazines, local and national galleries and online art newsletters and forums. This information should not be intimidating. Frequently, an emerging artist is in a fragile tier of development. Being defensive or put off by investigating the art world restricts personal perspectives. One should look at these resources as a buffet and choose the lovely morsels that will nourish personal creative growth. There is also, a strength and great camaraderie in having relationships with other artists, showing in group shows, becoming a member of a local coop gallery, and participating in art auctions and fairs. Each artist finds their own degree of involvement, whether it is commitment to a highly social scene or minimum input from a local gallery or several friends.


Being able to see your work objectively at a distance and up on a wall is a good way to start examining your artistic direction. Choose an area where you can step back at least fifteen feet from your work. Try to arrange your work in some kind of order, for example, earliest work to later work, groups of similar subject matter or stylistic changes, etc. Put everything up–all sketch and studies on paper, all canvases completed or partially finished. All notations and drawing concerning your work. In addition, other artists and friends can offer valuable perspectives regarding your work.


Below is a check list of questions to ask yourself about your work. Do this periodically to keep in touch with your development.

What time period does this body of work represent? (Was all of it completed in a period of five months, a year?)

What did I learn between the earliest work and my last painting?

Which works do I consider successful and why?

Which works do I consider not very successful and why?

What direction am I taking?

What do I want to accomplish in the next three months?

Would I consider submitting my work for exhibition?

What can I do to make my work stronger and more effective?

Is there anyone I would like to contact to look at my work?

I recommend printing out the questions and writing your answers after each question. Date the paper and keep it in a folder. Decide how often you are going to review your work and periodically ask and answer the questions (I think that a review every month is appropriate.)


Traditionally, paintings have been judged by certain criteria, however, today, the criteria is not so standardized. You may have found out that galleries have their own criteria for accepting the work of artists based on saleability within the gallery’s market. Large exhibits and juried art shows often follow the guidelines of whoever is judging and depending upon who that is, the guidelines can represent many differing preferences and interpretations. Most galleries have their own guidelines for accepting or rejecting an artist’s work. For example, a gallery that shows contemporary work may not want to consider the work of an artist doing traditional paintings. Also, a small, local gallery will be more receptive to a broad range of work by local artists, whereas a prestigious city gallery will want well-known artists on their roster.


In retrospect, today’s artists are relatively unencumbered by the rules and regulations of the past with regard to how a painting should look and how long it should last. The contemporary artist may be involved with multi-media or conceptual expression. Many creative venues today don’t even have a category and as artists research new frontiers of creativity, judging criteria becomes more specific and, in many cases, applicable to just one unique artwork.


If you are an experienced artist with many well developed skills, working in your own studio in complete creative freedom is a dream come true. The learning boundaries break away and a vista of personal growth and progress is now open before you. Do you revel in the fresh wind of freedom sweeping past you on this vast plain, or does the open space look a bit daunting? Stand still, for a moment. Listen to the silence and let it speak to you. Listen to the distant wind across the vast fertile plain of your creative mind, take in the fresh air and be nourished by it!