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Artist advice - Part 2

I was asked by a young artist if I had any advice for them. I started typing a short answer but it quickly turned into quite a long list of points.

Some points are more geared towards people making a living from art, either full or part time. However most of them would be of some help to any artists, and hopefully if nothing else, interesting.

Simply think of marketing as sharing...

...and good marketing as sharing with the right people for your work.

Paint what you love, workout who would like what you've painted and go where they are!

Call them ideal buyers or clients, whatever...decide who they are and go find them!

There's more great info on ideal buyers at


Live by the brush, to start with at least

By this I mean take on all the jobs you get offered, commissions, projects...small big, whatever!!

Ok so this approach may not be for everyone, and it’s with in reason, especially if you know what direction you want to go in and can get focus and direction straight way.

I started out at the age of 22 with no art or business training and no experience what so ever going and getting work or selling paintings….

...this had pros and cons. With no clear direction at that point I said yes to almost all commissions, requests and projects and I worked out how to do it afterwards! It was mostly commission work, and mostly working on guitars with the odd canvas painting, plus a few painting sales.

I was learning on the hoof and was quite the baptism of fire. I made a lot of mistakes, often didn’t get paid a particularly good amount A) because I head no idea where to start with pricing and B) I was having to work out a lot of problems as I went so this took a lot of extra time.

Based on the above it probably doesn't sound like good advice...but here was the flip-side:

Firstly It got me earning straight away so I could immerse my self in the creative business world in fairly full one way. I was running a small gardening business at the same time but because I was earning from my art instantly I didn't need to work too many hours gardening.

Secondly I learnt a huge amount doing this.

It taught to get out there and hustle a bit, a very useful skill as an artist. It taught me to work to deadlines and to work with people in the creative field, how to act professionally, how to talk to people about art and design, how to give people what they wanted etc etc…

It pushed me way out of my comfort zone and made me explore mediums, approaches and subjects I may not have ever done. It also provided me with at least a basic living back then and gave me a lot of confidence moving forward.

It also taught me the value of my own work and skill. I was excited to turn my hand to anything and it did me very well. Most importantly I learnt to deliver a project on time. To the same point though, don’t be afraid to say no to work if you don't think you can get passionate about it and ‘into it’, at least for the duration of the project/commission.

Nowadays I’m more selective about saying yes to work and will happily suggest that someones goes to another artist who is more accomplished at tackling that particular subject, or works in a style more suitable to what they are after.