• Tom Shepherd

Artist Advice - Part 3

The final few bits of advice I came up with when asked by a young artist who was just starting out.

Please do share these posts with anyone you feel may benefit from them or be interested.



Don’t worry about developing a style!



I hear so many talking about wanting a ‘style’. This is totally valid as we all want our own artistic voice.


The one thing I have learnt is that your ‘style’ will come naturally over time.


and it will change and develop a lot (a lot!) to start with.



As you continue you will refine your craft, your medium, your subject matter and your paintings. Out of this your own voice will develop.


If you know what your passionate about and have a direction then follow this, but don’t box yourself in to early.


Your style will evolve continually anyway so don’t worry about jumping to the finish line of a certain style.


Stay open, leave room to let it flow and see what happens!!


When I first started out (and at various points since) I have attempted to emulate other painters style that I have been attracted to, ort at the time thought aha.."that's how I want to paint!!". Whilst I will have learnt something it is not authentic in the long run.


What I learnt to do though, was go back to the fundamentals of painting, be very concise about what it is I wanted to achieve personally and then sit down and paint, over and over again, and see what develops.


I analyse each painting at the end:

  • What do I like?

  • What do I not like?

  • What was in alignment with my focus?

  • Where did I drift off from my core objective? Did it 'work'?

  • Where did my core objective stop me from being brave and taking a risk?


I answer all of these questions and more, and then take what I've learnt into the next painting.


Be conscious and focused about it, but don’t force it. Let go of an outcome and just let it come.




If you decide to take this path then commit to it 100%!


That’s when things really start to happen!


Creating an intention and then giving it your full attention gets things done, gets things happening and gets results!!


So initially on writing this, as an answer to a question, I was talking about committing fully to the path of full time artist. Meaning to the person asking the question, and others to who it is relevant...when the time is right, commit 100% to quitting your job and following that dream, forget about a backup plan or playing it safe, and just go for it.


Don’t be completely reckless but commit whole heartedly to something your passionate about and that’s when things will start to happen!!


This is just as relevant for going part time, or just wanting to take your art to next level, or to wanting to start selling a bit on the side, whatever.


It’s this idea of committing to something wholeheartedly that is the point.


It works on every scale:

  • Commit to building a website

  • Commit to this new series of works

  • Commit to this painting

  • Commit to a lifestyle

  • Commit to making a particular contact

  • Commit to an exhibition etc etc etc

Do this and you will be presented with opportunities, make sure you acknowledge them and act on them, even if that action is to let it pass by.




Be persistent, don’ take any crap and don’t give up!!


You will get there!


You never know how close you are to turning a major corner or levelling up, so just keep going!


Change direction, step back to move forwards, change path completely if you need to, but don’t stop!!



Keep on pushing your boundaries, honing your craft and coming up with new ideas to get yourself out there.


At no point in the last 10 years did I seriously consider giving up my dream of becoming a professional artist.


I’ve definitely had days when I wanted to give up, questioned myself and this choice, couldn't be bothered, felt frustrated etc etc...but this always passes.


I’ve chopped and changed what I do to make it work, and to get in alignment with what I really want to be doing, but never stopped moving forward.


I started off painting guitars using pens in a very bold and poster like art style.

Now less than 10 years later I paint what you might call fine art in more traditional mediums using brushes. My market is completely different.

As I’ve walked this path I’ve got better at feeling my way as I go, and better at making decisions.


I’m also very aware there’s a lot more to come.


Stick at it and make conscious decision, good things will happen!


This is the last post in this series. Thank you so much for all the comments and kind words.


There’s a fantastic new podcast out called "Shifting Perceptions Podcast, by Jay and Chelsea Alders. I highly recommended this for anyone, but especially people in creative fields and self employed folk.


It’s very inspiring and a few of the guests have spoken about exactly this...not giving up!! Amongst many other inspiring topics...check it out!



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Based in Warwickshire, UK

Works globally

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tom@tomshepherdart.com

07980 611 267

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