View Full Version : When to "turn pro"?
02-24-2005, 09:54 AM
Here's a question for all of you professional artists. At what point do you decide to quit your day job and focus on art full time? Do you reach a skill level that is comparable to other pros, or do you build up a clientel and a backlog of commissions? I'm nowhere near ready to do this, but it is my ultimate goal at some point in the distant future.
02-24-2005, 10:29 AM
I think one important considereation is how much you need. and/or want a steady income.
A youngun with nobody to support other than themselves... can go for it much easier than someone with 3 teenagers who are college shopping.
02-24-2005, 10:55 AM
Good point. Obviously paying the bills is a major consideration. I suppose it's like someone deciding to quit their job and start a business. Not having that paycheck every week is rather scary. But I guess my question is more in regards to the quality of one's work, not so much the income it could provide (although that is important, too.)
02-24-2005, 11:13 AM
i`ve taken a slightly different tack to others, paprika.....i have a full-time day job but have also just started my own art business....really for tax reasons to be honest.....not everyone`s cup of tea, i`m not married so i have the time.....also means that i`m not under pressure financially...but it also gives me the chance to learn the ropes and build the structure for a full-time business in the future....
I've been a "hired gun" for 10 years. Now I'm painting my own work fulltime. Like any business you wont make much money in the begining. But ask yourself these questions first:
Can you survive a year without making any money?
Are you willing to sell, promote, advertise, market you and your art?
Are you willing to put money into all of the above?
Are you willing to do your art even if nobody buys it?
Are you willing to take risks?
Do you have anybody who will support you and your dreams?
Is this somthing you are never willing to quit?
Is this somthing you HAVE to do?
Some advice: You will never fail at anything, as long as you never give up and quit.
02-24-2005, 01:41 PM
Also: You can't fail at something if you don't try!
Some good advice already. You can do both a 'real' job and run an art business at the same time. Here in the UK you just have your regular tax forms as an employee and you register self-employed and do that extra form too. It's pretty easy. That's a way to build up some experience and sales too before diving in to the deep end.
Do be sure to think of it as running a small business. That's what it is. Most banks have small business start up kits, have a look through one and see what areas you'll have to manage. (Painting, marketing, delivering, accounting, advertising, networking and finding outlets...)
Also think about your financial backup. Do you have savings? A way of funding your own business? remember that small businesses don't tend to turn a profit until after a few years. I personally quit my job, took the bonuses and sold my flat all to fund my business for a couple years. Decide if you're happy to change your lifestyle, live on less? Or if you need a certain amount or are supporting other people.
My answer would be "whenever you want to!"
02-24-2005, 02:52 PM
I had been doing my glass work on the side for 5 years before I went full-time. I was working as a production artist and helping run the adjacent gallery, so my feet were well-planted. I finally had gotton to a point where I was very frustrated with my day job keeping me from having enough time to get more artwork out. AND my level of ability had gotton to a point where I knew it was very marketable.
Another major component:
In my never ending quest to be an anti-hypocrite, I knew I had to jump off the cliff and fly. Life is too short to not be able to be truly yourself all day long. But working for oneself does require an awful lot of hats. It's not art all the time!
02-24-2005, 03:00 PM
So true. Today I'm a copy editor for my upcoming, new & improved website. :D
02-24-2005, 03:04 PM
ancient child: talking about different hats i noticed that you sold art on ebay.....that`s something i haven`t thought about....
was that a good business idea for you?
i will say that one downside to having a 'part-time' business is that sometimes you`re not as motivated as you should be....i have found that, to be honest...sometimes i have to make an effort to push myself....
02-25-2005, 06:56 AM
Most of the advice on this thread has been about motivation and the financial and marketing side of the issue. All excellent advice. In terms of the art quality issue. Does your work stand up to others in your medium and genre? Do you have an exhibition history? Have you been accepted into juried exhibitions? Do you show in commercial galleries? What is your sales record? If you are a proven and consistant seller it might be time to go pro. Can you produce paintings of a consistant quality or do you have a good painting now and then with many mediocre in between? One way to know this would be to ask a professional artist you know and admire to critique your work and give you an honest opinion about whether they think you are ready to go pro. Pros are expected to produce good work consistantly. Galleries depend on your work to be of a quaility that will sell. Do you have a collector base? A mailing list of potential buyers? Do you have a resume/statement/bio/ professional slides, a portfolio of work?
These are all things that will affect your success as a professional artist.
There are other routes of course, Ebay, coffee shops, book shops, restaurants, studio open houses, commissions, that all sell work for you, but you will need to honestly think about the above questions.
02-25-2005, 10:26 AM
And the alternative routes Linda mentioned are a great way to build those customer bases, mailing lists, consistent production, etc. in order to be able to work fulltime.
02-26-2005, 01:22 PM
For me it was as soon as I'd paid off my student loan, 4 years after leaving college. Before I had responsibilities....otherwise I never would have been able to until retirement age. :eek:
The only problem is after 20 years of working as a Full-time artist....I have no pension......no income when unwell (7 months last year due to thorraccic surgery).......and no Idea where next months rent on my studio is coming from.....
...........at least my wife knows where the housekeeping is coming from....she has a nine to five...
hey Timelady, I just realized I bid on two of your paintings on ebay :D .
(as Dubhart.....the wife's alter-ego....not mine, but she needs feedback)
02-27-2005, 11:13 AM
A lot of EXCELLENT advice has been given by everyone who responded to this thread. Bravo to all of you!
Just remember that to be a full time artist is a business and you do have to multitask as both artist and business person.
Someone once said you can emerge as a full time artist at anytime. Just be sure you can keep up with the demand!
I wish you the best in your full time art career!
Be happy! Sell art!
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