If You Want to Make Art into a Career, You Have to Make Art A Habit
Art is work. When I quit my job to become a full time artist, I had to get used to the idea that it won’t always be fun and that I couldn’t wait for inspiration to create. I needed to make art a habit.
I’ve heard so many times over the years that “If you do what you are passionate about, you’ll never work a day in your life,” but that line is kind of bulls*** and gives false expectations. Having passion doesn’t mean what you do won’t feel like work. Passion means you are able to work harder, longer, for less pay and still wake up with energy and desire to do it all over again.
Now, if you just want to make art for fun, then by all means, wait for inspiration. Keep the joy in art and avoid the unpleasantness of making art when it’s the last thing you want to think about. You don’t have to be a professional artist.
Professional Versus Hobby Artist
The difference between a professional artist and a hobby artist has little to do with skill and everything to do with perspective. As a hobby artist, you are likely to create for fun. You enjoy the activity, play around, and maybe even sell something here and there, but you don’t need to sell your work to pay your bills. As opposed to professional artists who often torture themselves to create constantly and stick to a schedule no matter what they are feeling, because a girl’s got to eat!
I used to be a hobby artist. I would create only when inspiration struck or when I had a deadline looming over my head. Maybe this was once a week. Maybe it was a couple of times a year.
Since finally taking the leap into full blown “I am artist, hear me roar,” I’ve learned you must make it a habit to create, no matter what state of mind you are in. You cannot stop when it’s no longer fun or therapeutic. You have to show up, do the work, and realize fear of failure or lack of inspiration is no excuse for inaction.
How to Make Art a Habit
Let’s waste no time. How do you make art into a habit? Same way you make everything into a habit. (I made a worksheet for you if you want it!)
First, create a schedule or plan.
If you want to make a career out of art, you need to make a schedule. Create a schedule that is realistic for you. Do you work best in small bursts? Do you prefer working for long periods of time?
Stick to it, and create as often as you can. I like using a weekly planner to lay out my schedule. I may be biased but I sure do love Bloom Daily Planners. (Not an affiliate link!)
Give yourself goals to accomplish.
I often create a large goal and then break that down into small tasks that I can accomplish each week. For example, I want to generate more sales in my store, so I make a plan to create 7 new social media posts a week to highlight new work in my studio and advertise my store.
Other example goals: Sketch every day for 10 minutes. Paint every Sunday for 4 hours. Draw hands every Tuesday. Do a group gallery show 6 months from now. Grow your Instagram following to 1000 by posting new work twice a day, etc..
Make sure they are SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely).
Learn how to shut off your internal critic.
My internal critic is a dick. “It’s likely that you will fail.” “Do you really think you can do this?” “There are a lot of artists that are better than you, so what’s the point in trying?” (Read: How to Tame Your Inner Critic)
When you aren’t inspired, your critic is probably going to be loudly telling you that everything you touch sucks and it’d be better to just stare at your phone for a while and wait for inspiration. Ignore the critic. The less you pay attention to that voice, the quieter it will become. Power through the frustration and keep creating.
Stockpile Inspiration Catalysts.
Write everything down. Sketch your ideas. When you are inspired, take advantage of those moments and capture every little idea you have.
When I am inspired, I often start multiple pieces of art so that when I come into the studio another day, I have a starting point. It’s easier to build off of previous ideas than to come up with entirely new ones when inspiration is lacking. I also keep a journal or sketch book near me at all times to be ready to write and doodle when I have ideas.
Make time to practice.
You don’t need inspiration to practice. Practice is like lifting weights. Go through the motions. It hurts at times. You’ll feel your weaknesses, but the more you do it, the easier it will be to start creating.
Improving your skills and constantly growing as an artist will help you reach different levels of success. The best part is that ideas can develop from practice. Just showing up and doing the work opens the door to new areas to explore.
Find an art buddy for accountability.
Is it hard for you to stay motivated when you are the only one paying attention to your habits? You may benefit from having someone there that checks in on your progress and keeps you motivated to stick to your schedule. A fellow artist or creative person would be best.
I do this with my coaching clients. I help keep them on schedule and monitor their progress in reaching their goals. It’s no different than having a personal trainer or workout buddy.
Making Art into A Habit Takes Time
Making art a habit is the first step to making a career out of it. A year ago, I was not nearly as productive as I am now. I lacked discipline and had the wrong perspective. Now, I feel guilty and antsy if I am not in the studio or working on something art related.
I have made art a habit, but I am still working on new goals to push myself even further. Passion keeps us from plateauing and seeing how much you’ve grown keeps you motivated to push harder. If you fall out of your routine or habit of creating, it’s never too late to get back into it. It’s actually important to take breaks as a creative person when you truly need it.
Are you ready to make art a habit? What are your goals? What stands in your way?
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P.S. You probably know by now that I am here to help artists with these posts. If you need help with your online branding, Instagram account, or just want a creative accountability coach, then check out my consulting services. You can easily add a session to my online calendar now.