Sep 22, 2011

Simple rules for becoming a Professional Artist

I want to share some things I have learned from being in galleries and owning my own Art Academy for over 30 years.

If you are really serious about being a professional artist you need to get the best education in art that you can. There is no way you can rely on your natural talents and abilities to get ahead.

You have to know the all the basics and fundamentals of art before you can get anyplace
The person who has knowledge will have the power.

When I first started painting in 1970 I took some local classes where we all painted the same thing on our canvas. We just followed along never knowing what we were doing or why we were doing it. Because at the time I could not find an art class that taught the basics and not this way I started to read and teach myself. If you do find a class you want to attend make sure that they will teach you all the basics you will need. You will want to
to learn the fundamentals of the visual arts, tones, values, line drawing, use of color, proportion, and the use of light and shadow. Talk to your instructor and ask them how they go about teaching the basic principals of art.

Take all the art lessons you can, go to seminars and see what other artists are doing. If you have done this then the next step is to find someone who is a great artist and have them tutor you. Just learn and practice all you possibly can!

Once you have reached the stage of getting you’re at out there, don’t let the fear of “rejection” scare you.
The fear of rejection can literally stop you in your tracks if you let it. I have seen my students reach the point where they were ready to take the plunge but thought that their worked was not “perfect” yet. Perfection rarely happens and if you wait until your work is “perfect” you may be dead before that happens.

You need to build a thick skin so insults will just slide off your back. You will have to deal with art critics who care nothing about your feelings; it is all about the art to them and nothing more.
Accept that some people will love your work and some will absolutely hate it! Just remember that every one does not like the same things, you will never win over everyone.
The ones you need to watch out for are negative people that you will encounter and believe me you will meet them! I have found that a lot of these people are miserable and they like to drag others down with them, you know the old saying “Misery loves company” Some of these people will tell you to your face that they think your art stinks! Nothing holds them back. Then we have the ones who are great at giving you back-handed compliments, they think they are subtle but you will know them when you hear what they say, it does not take a genius to know when you have been put down!

I once struggled to capture the irregular edges of some Anasazi pottery I had seen in Mesa Verde, a lady walked up to me at a “one women show” and said, “ I just love your art, the colors are just so beautiful, did you mean to make that bowl so uneven”? There is nothing like the passive-aggressive person!
If I caller her on this she would look surprised and declare innocence and probably say I was over reacting, or she would try to say she was “just kidding”, some people think they can say anything and follow it with “just kidding” and get away with it.

If you find yourself around these people just get away from them as fast as you can, just know that they are lonely unhappy people and let it go at that. If it is a family member just refrain from talking about your art in their presence. Remember you are trying to be a good artist, not impress your family. The most important thing is to learn how to not take it personally.

The only critique you should listen to is your professional painting instructor. If he or she is a good critic they should also be showing you have to improve your work.

Sharon Teal-Coray

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