Contributed by Info Guru Aurora LaJambre
The life of the artist is glamorized in movies, feared by parents and a subject of intense curiosity for those drawn to create.
The question of how to be an artist is not an easy one to answer in specifics. It takes a thick skin, determination and persistence to be an artist, but most importantly it takes an unfaltering dedication to your craft.
Today, there isn’t one clear path toward paving your way as an artist. With the internet and affordable technology, you can blaze your own.
Here’s the best of tips and tools to help you on your way.
“How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”
Practice, practice, practice
The media loves to profile prodigies who pick up a paint brush one day and show a collection of masterpieces the next week. These people are extremely rare. In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell reports that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to master a craft. Are you willing to commit years of your life to learning and practicing techniques? Art supply stores have quality canvasses, brushes and paints to stock up on so you can paint your way to mastery one hour at a time.
To BFA or not to BFA
Load yourself up with the latest image design and manipulation software from Howard Computers, and buy all the tools you need to succeed in your craft.
Then, learn how to use them. Aspiring artists are faced with a tough decision early on. Some choose to go to college to have a fall back profession if their art doesn’t work out. Others take a leap and earn a Bachelors of Fine Arts (BFA). The former is a safer choice by far. In exchange for the risk of a BFA, you get a few years to learn from professional artists, to explore your craft and experiment with different art materials and styles. If you go the BFA route avoid debt by choosing an affordable school and pursuing grants and scholarships tirelessly.
Every little piece of you
You can learn a lot about how to be an artist from those who are already doing it. Your peers, whether they’re sitting in class beside you, chatting on a art-related blog and Facebook page like those for glass artists, or already performing at the local theatre, can be a valuable support network. Indulging in jealousy over another person’s success will make you miserable. Gore Vidal once said: “Any time a friend of mine succeeds a little something in me dies.” Don’t be this way. Ask them over for a cup of coffee and pick their brains instead.
Feed your creativity
No navel gazing necessary
You can only work in a vacuum for so long. In between those 10,000 hours of practice, take a breather. Go on a hike, read the paper, wander through a museum or flip through a great museum catalog online like The Met Store, or catch an afternoon matinee. You never know when or where inspiration will strike so don’t play hard to get. Be curious about the world and your muse will find you.
The other side of artistry
You are your brand
Artists have to wear many hats, including hawking their own work. There’s no way around it for most. To collect the photography gear you covet from a store like Adorama, you may have to put your “arty side” on hold and take photos at kids parties and sports games. Your true job will be a series of slashes as in artist/marketer/publicist/finances/admin. Interning at a gallery, theatre or other arts organization is a great way to learn the business side of your industry. These entry level positions pay little if at all, but it’s still a valid way to get your foot in the door and make contacts. You’ll also learn to work with new gadgets and electronics that could help you in your creative work.
Make it a habit
Use it or lose it
You already know how to be an artist. You may not know how to make a living at it, but you know how to do what you love. Writers write, dancers dance and painters paint every day. Being an artist often takes sacrifice. Schedule a time to work on your craft and make it a daily habit. This is where you need to find balance between feeding your creativity and discipline. Reading biographies and other non-fiction books from Dover Publications is a good way to read how those before you have managed.
Believe in yourself
Have a little faith
There’s no guarantee that your art will buy you a home or even pay the bills. New websites like kickstarter.com open up the possibility for artists with an entrepreneurial spirit to fund projects, but the days of big benefactors are past. The key is to make your life conducive to your art. Live someplace equally affordable and stimulating. Ask someone you admire to mentor you. Most importantly, keep at it. Always have an artist’s sketchbook, pen and pencils in your backpack or messenger bag from Jerry’s Artarama on hand. If you are a photographer, don’t leave home without your camera. A writer? Keep your journal in your pocket.