As an artist, you can work in many environments and with several mediums. If you want to know how to become an artist, it will take a bit of research. This is not as straightforward as many other careers.
Most artists will become freelance artists, so those are the steps they will follow. Before you decide to go down this career path, you should understand what an artist does, exactly. Let’s look at what artists do and how to become an artist.
What Artists Do
If you become an artist, chances are, you will work for yourself as a freelancer. As a self-employed artist, you will likely work for more than one client at a time. You will have the flexibility to choose who you work for and the pieces you create.
Artists may work in one medium or multiple mediums. You might paint, draw, sculpt, create films, create music, or even provide performance art. As an artist, if you choose to become a freelancer, you will have flexibility. Here are some of the common job duties you will have.
- Creating artwork, this will be your main job
- Meeting with clients and figuring out the type of piece they prefer or the partnership they are looking for
- Keeping clients updated on project progress
- Completing your assigned projects on a deadline
- Researching anything necessary for the project
- Advertising your services online and offline
- Handling the administrative duties of a freelance, such as taxes, invoicing, and keeping your books organized
A freelance artist will likely handle these duties and more. If you’re an artist and employed by a company, your job duties will be similar but may vary a bit.
How To Become an Artist in 6 Steps
Step #1 – Get the Necessary Education
There are no specific education requirements for artists. You may need a degree to provide credibility or you may need the right education to ensure you use the right techniques when creating artwork. It will depend on the type of art you want to create.
Getting a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, art design, or another artistic field might be very beneficial for your care. You can even specialize in something unique, such as medical illustration. College will take up time and money, so you may decide to go directly into creating art as a freelancer.
While a college education isn’t required, it may help. Look into the art career path you prefer and make sure you get the necessary education.
Step #2 – Create a Portfolio
Anybody looking to hire you will want to see your past work. You want to create a portfolio of your work. This can include a biography about you, along with a headshot.
It’s important to list out your skills, education, certifications, and anything else relevant. Your portfolio will be much like your resume. It will help you land clients and jobs as an artist.
Step #3 – Get the Necessary Equipment
Depending on the type of artist you decide to become, you may need specialized equipment. With so much art being created on computers, the right software programs may be necessary, as well.
Those planning to go into performance art, film, or anything including video or photography will need the right cameras and camera equipment. Even if you plan to become a painter, you will need paintbrushes, canvasses, and other items.
Make sure you get high-quality items as you don’t want to have to replace your equipment too often. Remember, if you’re a freelance artist, you can write off all the purchases of equipment when you do your taxes.
Step #4 – Create a Business Plan
You don’t necessarily need to create a formal business plan, but you should have a plan for your business. When you become an artist, you will likely become a freelance artist. This means you need to have a plan to find clients and handle the work that comes in.
Set some short-term and long-term goals for your artistic business. Make sure you register your business if required. Sometimes, you can work as a freelancer and simply be an independent contractor.
Step #5 – Start Finding Client/Work
If you go into a specific industry, you might be looking for a job. However, if you want to become an artist, chances are, you will need to find clients. There are several ways you can find work, including:
- Social Media – Building up your following and advertising on social media is a great way to find clients. You can show off the art you’re working on and have also finished. Social media is one of the best ways for artists to find clients online.
- Create a Website – Your portfolio can be shown off online with a website. This gives you a place to send potential clients to find out more about you and your art.
- Use Freelance Job Sites – Some job sites will provide clients that are looking for artists. They may cater to those creating digital art, but some may also feature other types of art projects.
- Build a Network – Any way you can network and let people know what you do can help. You never know who might know someone looking for an artist.
- Offer some Free Work – Sometimes, if you offer to do a piece for a company for free, they will end up providing you with long-term work. This is a great way to gain clients.
- Reach Out to Businesses – If you realize a business could gain benefits from your services, reach out to them. Offer a proposal to help them with their art needs.
These are just some of the many ways you can market your services as an artist.
Step #6 – Stay Up to Date with the Trends
As an artist, you may need to stay up with the trends. It will depend on what type of art you provide. You can use trade magazines and websites to figure out what’s trendy and where the art world is headed.
A Few Tips for Becoming an Artist
When you want to become an artist, the path you take might be rather unique. There isn’t just one way to become an artist. You can go into many different types of art, too.
If you want to become an artist, keep the following tips in mind:
- Build a Savings – You’ve heard of the term starving artist. It might take some time to build up your income as an artist. It’s smart to either have a job outside of your art or a good savings to support you when you first get started.
- Keep an Open-Mind – You may need to take on clients and projects you might not want to work with, at first. It might also be necessary to charge a lower rate than you’d like. When you’re new as an artist, keep an open mind to new projects and lower rates than you’d like.
- Build Relationships – One of the biggest mistakes artists make is not building relationships with their clients. Some clients might provide lots of work for you if you have a good relationship with them. They may also refer others to you.
These tips will help you succeed as an artist, especially if you become a freelance artist.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming an Artist
How much can I make as an artist?
The average salary of a freelance artist, according to Indeed.com, is about $50K per year. Some companies will pay higher and you can earn more if you’re in the right location. California, Washington, Texas, and New York tend to pay higher than average salaries for artists.
The type of artist you become will determine how much you’re paid. For example, a graphic artist will earn around $17 per hour, while a concept artist will earn around $69K per year. If you become a production artist, you will likely make around $17 per hour, as well.
Are artists in high demand?
The demand for an artist depends on the type of artist you become. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) does predict many new job opportunities for artists over the next ten years. While there will be very little chance for fine artists, other areas of art are expected to grow.
What type of work environment will I have as an artist?
The type of artist you become will help to determine your work environment. Some artists will work in a studio, a shared space, or may also spend time exhibiting their work in a gallery. Other artists will spend time behind a camera or in front of a computer.
It’s common for artists to work long hours, especially as a new freelance artist. If you work for an employer, you might work a regular 40-hour week. However, if you have a tight deadline, overtime may be necessary.
Learning how to become an artist requires some research. There are many different types of artists. Depending on the type of art you want to provide, you may need a college degree. Look further into the type of artist you want to become and find out what’s required.