There are many creatives around the world looking to take their passion for art to the next level. A big question I get a lot is how to transition from being a hobbyist into a full-time working artist, one that will pay the bills.
It’s simple when you think about it. How do we get from any one place to another? We build a bridge, of course. And like with any bridge we must start with a good foundation. I find that the Lord will begin to make a bridge for us as we're faithful with what He has already given us.
Let’s consider a Kingdom principle: Be fruitful and multiply. Unfortunately, many people are looking for multiplication in their life before they have demonstrated fruitfulness, and it just doesn’t work that way. They may have temporary growth but it will never be lasting. Because of that, I want to give you five things today that really help you be fruitful in this season so that you can start to lay the foundation for your “bridge”.
Body of Work
One of the most important and primary stepping stones on your bridge is developing your artistic skills or what I call artistic mastery. Let’s face it, to be recognized, celebrated and purchased in the marketplace, you have to have great work. It’s the foundation and there’s simply no way around it. It took me 15 years of honing my skills, developing my artistic voice and building a substantial body of work. Trust me, this is not a part of the journey that can be skipped. Each piece you create is one more step to mastering your skill.
Once you have that recognizable and masterfully produced body of work, the next step is to, well, get noticed. There are many ways to get clients, as well as keep them. Some of these include social media, a well-designed website, and email marketing, not to mention powerful strategic partnerships you can develop with industry professionals that will refer you to their clients. All the artistic mastery and skill in the world will be for naught if no one knows you’re out there.
Time and Space
Next, you must dedicate the time and space to give to your work. You need a dedicated place you can go to and create. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate, massive art studio. It can be the corner of your office, tucked away from distractions, where you just allow yourself to do your thing. Once you’ve chosen your space, now you must schedule the time to be there and then stick to it. If you don’t do this, your art will tend to simply fade into the background where it is forgotten. Creating space and honoring your time to create enlarges your capacity to steward the gifting God has invested in you.
Now that you’ve put in your time, created awesome art work and started to master your chosen medium, the next thing you need to do is to make it make money. After all, if you aren’t making money, you can’t do this full time, can you (unless you have another income stream that provides for you outside of your artwork and doesn’t require your time)? This looks different for everyone. For me it was doing shows, showing in galleries, and creating wholesale accounts. After those started to gain momentum, I was able to get a studio and for me that really kickstarted both the mastery of my craft while I greatly expanded my body of work. For you, it may look different, but a consistent revenue stream is a must. Without consistent (or at least somewhat consistent) cashflow, it’s hard to make decisions and move forward with doing your art as a business.
Maybe the most important part is really having a grasp on your vision. Where are you now and where do you want to go? For me, I started my art very part time, making extra spending money or money for Christmas. At the time, that was all I expected of it and for that point in my life, it was great.
However, once God called me to really begin to transition into art full time, my vision changed. I realized that I really needed to do things differently. I needed to do more marketing, more shows and definitely create more art.
My vision may not be the same as yours. You can’t compare your journey to another’s because no one is on the same path. You could be wanting to supplement your retirement income or making your art as gifts for a mission project or even doing it as a part-time hobby because you already love your full-time job. You get to define that. You decide with the Lord and with your loved ones what is it that you want your art business to look like. And then before you know it, you’ll start to see that bridge intentionally appearing in order to take you from where you are now to where you dreamed!
Lastly, as always, remember that God is with you the whole way on this journey! He definitely has a plan for you! If you trust in Him (and the vision He’s given you) and follow the journey faithfully, you will be fruitful and multiply with great success. That’s God’s promise! What more could we ask for as sons and daughters of God?
I hope this has been a big encouragement to you. If this article has been a blessing to you, take a moment to share it with a friend.
Thanks for reading!
5/5/2021 07:40:17 pm
Thank you for this very valuable article. I believe this one needs to be printed out and reviewed constantly as a guide to myself and others on our creative journey.
5/6/2021 08:04:42 am
Heather, I'm so glad that this was inspiring for you! You might want to also check out podcast episode #2 on the same subject. Blessings!
7/12/2021 09:03:16 pm
This will be my "go to" everytime I loose sight of where I'm meant to be on my artistic journey! I've been a member of CTT since January 2021 and am learning all of the time! Thank you so much Matt and team for helping me to grow!
7/14/2021 10:04:05 am
I’ve since retired and know that Lord has called me to paint. I’m still stuck on number 1 - which is to develop an excellent portfolio. Some painters make it seem so easy and quick. Now resources are available everywhere! Anyway, I’m comforted by knowing that the Lord has us in perfect step with where He wants us to be. Learning to be a great artist takes time! I’m constantly learning and am so grateful! I feel like I’ve enrolled in the Lord’s Summer School for Arts!
8/10/2021 06:37:32 pm
Thanks, for making everything available to artist like me who always have to catch up! I'm 80 & still in charge of myself & all that entails, but at a slower pace. I also am in a group of 5 artist & we each have a studio & share a gallery which I keep open 3 days a week.
8/11/2021 09:35:48 am
WOW! You are a trailblazer! When you're inside the mentoring program, just use the search bar and look up "website" - you'll see the trainings. If you need help, reach out to email@example.com
12/4/2021 09:01:56 am
Thank you for this direction. I have a record of the first paycheque that i recieved with regards to art and have been looking back in order to not get discouraged and keep moving forward.
12/4/2021 09:07:00 am
What a great reminder!
Lee Ann Garrett
2/17/2022 03:16:34 pm
Thank you so much for this post and tips! It really has given me encouragement in my stuck place with my art. It’s such a temptation to just search and read what as an artist you should do, and then still stay stuck with not putting action to it. Your guideline tips are so helpful. Right away after reading this I realized one of the things that is keeping me stuck that I must commit to changing. I’m starting there!
1/11/2023 09:31:55 am
Thanks for this article. I am 68, and always promised myself that I would do this full time once I retired. Here it is, and I grasped your invitation in Sept. 2021. I am back with a seasonal that I like, but my passion has always been and will always will be portraits...
Pamela Louise Quarles
1/15/2023 07:25:24 pm
I really need to keep this in reach where I can constantly read it. It seems I start but find myself getting stuck. Thank you for this.
2/1/2023 03:01:03 pm
This is such great info Matt. Clear and succinct. I can't read this enough, now I need to get to work!
4/17/2023 10:13:14 am
based on the article, it provides valuable insights on how to make a living as an artist. It emphasizes the importance of building a solid foundation, developing artistic mastery, gaining exposure, dedicating time and space, ensuring profitability, and having a clear vision. These tips can help creatives take their passion to the next level and turn it into a successful career.
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Matt Tommey is an artist, author and mentor who is passionate about empowering artists to thrive spiritually, artistically and in business.