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!
Matt Tommey is an artist, author and mentor who is passionate about empowering artists to thrive spiritually, artistically and in business.