How To Become an Artist

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: September 14, 2021  •  8 min read  •  Creative
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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.

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.

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:

These are just some of the many ways you can market your services as an artist.

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:

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, 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.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path.