Many times over the years I have been asked by younger students to provide them with advice on becoming a professional artist. I believe they are somewhat taken back when I give my advice. I can firmly state that it’s not quite what they wanted to hear.
The idea of the romantic artist in a loft, drinking wine with naked models…I’m sorry to say, it is not the norm and quite an exaggeration (to say the least). I would love to give into that notion myself but 60 years of trying to make a living in painting taught me otherwise.
My advice to the young students is rather simple. I strongly suggest that they go to business school and study marketing. Learn serious Internet and tech-related skills. Learn how to use the Internet to your advantage and network with as many people as possible while doing so. Next, get with a teacher who you like and study painting. The artist’s that seem to make it in this world today are 90% marketing and business people and 10% artist.
I realize I am tipping over golden calf with this advice. However, an artist with a good business sense can be a terribly mediocre artist and make a fantastic living. Truth be told, the quality of work is never in direct relationship with how successful the artist is.
The Internet has changed the gallery business, and in this political climate, the artist must take their business dealings and place it in the hands of someone that knows what they’re doing.
I am fortunate enough to have a best buddy/nephew that runs my website and is constantly schooling me on what I need to know in today’s market. Just looking at the market in a different way can open many new doors.
My nephew graduated from Northeastern University with honors (he’s got an MBA too) and I only wish he had this talk with me 30 years ago.
While I’m not as computer and marketing savvy as I wish, us old men still have some great stuff and wisdom to share with the world. You simply need to have a cup of coffee with me or catch me in front of an easel to find out (not that difficult to do either). That said, here is a brand new wise old man painting that I just finished. It’s an original, signed and is available for purchase (click the piece for details).
There is a beautiful landscape I would like to complete this morning with a blank canvas on my easel. However, I need to take my own advice and I will spend a good portion of the day touching base with several galleries and having lunch with the private collector. I hope this is been helpful and have a great day!