How to Make Art A Habit
If You Want to Make Art into a Career- You Can’t Wait to be Inspired to Create.
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. 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.
So if you have passion for art–are you the type of artist that wants to make it a career?
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
- Create a Schedule-
- 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.
- 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 passive income through Patreon and affiliate links, so I create blog posts and YouTube videos each week to attract new patrons and inspire creativity with new products.
- 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?”
- 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.
- It’s also helpful to ask yourself what the harm of dreaming big is. I call it stubborn optimism. Believing I can’t do something just prevents me from trying. Believing I can do something, even if I ultimately can’t or don’t means I spent a lot of time having fun, enjoying the process, and maybe at the end I feel sad for a bit, but then I adjust my goals and go back to enjoying life. Be a stubborn optimist with me! Believe in yourself.
- 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 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.
How about you? Do you want to make a career out of art? Are you ready to make art a habit? What are your goals? Feel free to use my downloadable worksheet to help you get started on your journey. If you are having troubles making or reaching your goals, I am always happy to offer my coaching services.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments below! Thanks for reading!
Free Download: How to Make Art a Habit | Worksheet for Artists