Being a working artist: 3 things I would do differently

Being a working artist: 3 things I would do differently



hi everybody and welcome back to my channel so today I'm coming to you from my studio I was sitting here just looking at some receipts and going through stuff for the last six months or so and I started counting and realized that in about three weeks I'm gonna be coming up on my seven year anniversary of going full-time as a fine artist and so of course I started taking trips down memory lane and just sort of looking back and reflecting on the last seven years and realized that there were a few things that that I would do differently I would change my wish I knew what I know now that type of thing and I just wanted to share these things with you especially for those of you who are contemplating going full-time and you haven't hopefully this will help you out a little bit so the first thing that I really found surprising things this is the thing that I did not know was going to be an issue when I started my art business and that is that I would not have any time to paint for fun when I first started full-time and by the way I don't know if you've seen my video about why I became a full-time artist but if you haven't I'm going to link that right down in here somewhere for you to see because it will help maybe make sense a little bit this wasn't really an option for me this was something that I pretty much just had to do for myself so it was a little bit different for me but when I first started out I really didn't have any choice I didn't have any other job to fall back on so I knew that this was something that I was going to have to make work but I didn't have an audience nobody really paid any attention to what I was doing I didn't have any demand for my work so I created exactly what I wanted and as my business grew and as my following grew and the more bills I was able to pay time became a commodity for me when I sat down in my studio it was to create in order to pay my bills that is your goal really when you work for yourself is you need to be able to pay your bills so what if your passion is also your job but you start to get a feel as time goes on of the things that you know are going to sell this may be the subject matter the style you know what is probably going to sell if you've been doing this for a while I know what my customers appreciate seeing and and I I take joy in painting those things but as far as creating works of art just strictly for me or to hang in my home or maybe learning a new type of art a new form of art I've always wanted to learn how to do encaustic I don't have time to do that I don't have time to learn that because if I take time out and learn how to do that or oils or you know collage or something like that taking lessons doing things like that that takes away from time that I could be creating in order to sell so that I can continue to pay my bills so this was something that I did not see coming at all that I but you know I I realized that I was doing that to myself so if I had to do it over again I would have set an intention early on and dedicated you know one two or three even three hours a week and create for the sake of creating just for myself not to sell not to show anyone really just to do it for the joy of it because you know when we were kids and we created we did it because we couldn't imagine ourselves doing anything else and when your art becomes a business and it's serious business when you rely on it in order to you know to survive then it it can you can take the joy out of it so what I have done to combat that is I started taking classes outside of my studio the only way for me to create for pure joy is not to be in my studio I can't be here and create and that may seem odd to some people but when you live where you work as I do you can't get away from seeing all of the work that needs to be done and there's always things to do that need to be done and so whenever I come into my studio I I have things from Etsy sitting here that I need to list on Etsy I have I've got bookkeeping than I need to do which I hate doing bookkeeping if it's my least favorite thing to do but I will see receipts piling up there's bookkeeping that I need to do I have unfinished paintings that I need to finish so that I can get them listed on Etsy or put them up for sale you know there's always something that I see that needs to be done so it sucks all of my creative energy to to create for the joy of it just it just drains me dry so I've decided to take classes side of my studio and there I don't have to be distracted by work I can be completely away from it and I can create just for the joy of creating so I'm curious to know if any of you artists who are working artists do this kind of thing also I'd be very curious to know that so that's the first realization that I've had the second realization that I've had over the years is I never knew how much of a business that my art career would be you know you talk to people who are saying I'm going full-time as an artist and if you're doing something else the first thing you think of is well that sounds really cool you know sitting in your studio and painting all day I mean who wouldn't love that let me tell you maybe the first two years were like that because I was struggling but after that I do 50% painting and the other 50% of the time 50 40 to 50% of the time I am doing business stuff I'm not creating I am I am doing marketing I am doing bookkeeping I am doing you know listing things I'm doing social media I am working on ideas for things that will help me to grow as an artist in the future I'm collaborating I'm doing all of these other things that will help me in my career but it's all business related stuff so if I had to do it over again I would have taken a business class early on that would have helped me immensely and I think that I would have struggled a lot less somebody just a couple of weeks ago asked me to do a video on whether or not artists should become LLC's and for those of you who don't know what that is that means limited liability corporation it's a fancy legal term for if your business is getting too big and you need to protect your assets then you you know then you need to designate yourself as a particular business that's all I'm even gonna say about that because if I say anything else you're gonna know that I don't know what I'm talking about I did not even know that this was something that you do I just did this last year 2018 and the only reason why I did it then was because I was talking to somebody who knew their stuff and they said hey the tax laws are changing and did you know that you can't deduct certain things that you used to be able to deduct as an artist and you should be really be protecting your assets that way if you get sued for whatever reason because people do that people you know you consume people over anything these days you know that you your personal assets will be protected if you become an LLC so I looked more into it and did a lot of research I consulted with the tax person and I ultimately became an LLC I had said to wrote to this person who asked me to do a video on that that I would that I would do that but if you're watching I'm sorry I'm not gonna be doing a video on that because I'm not a lawyer and I'm finding that to even explain anything relevant about being an LLC I would be afraid that I would I either get it wrong or that it would be old information within a few months and not relevant anymore so I suggest for those of you who are interested in becoming an LLC to just there is a good site called Inc file I think it's IMC fil EECOM they are the ones that I went with when I became an LLC they'll answer every question Under the Sun that you might have on that subject so but yeah I won't be doing the video on how or why I became an LLC because I don't know enough about it other than the fact that I knew that I needed to do it so the third thing that the third realization that I had looking back over the last seven years that is that if I had to do over again I would have gotten over myself a lot sooner I would have gotten over it and what I mean by that is gotten over the idea that I can't or that I am not good enough to be considered an artist or to be in the same room with artists or comparing myself to other artists or wondering if I'm ever going to make it or just being too shy to talk about my art or anything like that I would have just gotten over it because if you have that kind of an attitude and I have seen this over and over again if you have the attitude that you are not good enough you will not succeed it's it's plain and simple that's just it's kind of the law of attraction you you have to believe that you are good enough you have to believe that you deserve your place here you have to believe in your work enough to talk about it to people to promote yourself to walk into that store in your neighborhood and say I think that my art would be a perfect fit here let me show you some things that I have I know that scary I did that oh my gosh the first time I did it and was told know it about killed me I was just gut-wrenching and I thought you know this just confirms that I don't know what I'm doing and I don't I shouldn't even be doing this and you have to get over that you you've got to push past that because you're going to get that there is no way to stop yourself from failing in this business you will fail and fail and fail and fail over and over and over again you will fail so much that you will want to journal about it so you can write a book on it later about failure I am not kidding it is something that you have to embrace as an artist and I wish that I had learned then that whatever whenever I hear the word no it's just the universe's way of saying that's not your direction you need to be going down a different path so you need to back up and you need to find another way and you need to go down this path if your art doesn't belong in one place then it doesn't belong there you move on and you find somewhere else for it don't be afraid to show your art on social media don't be afraid to set up your Facebook page your art page you know it you have to learn early how to do it in order to be successful and if I had done that I know that I would probably have succeeded a lot sooner than I did I went through a lot of grief the first couple of years and a lot of head trips and a lot of self-doubt and if I had not done that I would have gotten a lot of places a lot faster and and you know I mean it is what it is I'm grateful for the process I know that everything that has happened to me has led to where I am now but you know if you had that magic wand and you could create a wish for yourself that would be one of the things that I would definitely wish for for myself is to just gotten over that and just got on with it so anyway that's it I wish I had like seven things to talk about for the 7 years but I only have three so hopefully those three were somewhat helpful for you if you have any comments or questions you don't always leave them in the comments I will try to get back to each and every one of you who asks me a question as soon as that I am able and I look forward to seeing you guys in the next video so I hope you're having a good day stay creative and I will talk to you soon I

42 thoughts on “Being a working artist: 3 things I would do differently

  1. Thanks for such a helpful video. You have a wonderful aura and I can tell that you have a good heart ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Heck, I walked into a small gallery a couple years ago and showed several pieces of my art to the lady who was working in the gallery that day. She said she loved my work and said she'd have to put it before a board of people who were judges for what would be allowed in the gallery or not. So I left a few pieces with her and was told to come back after a certain time (I think it was about 2 weeks) and when I came back, she said that the board said that they didn't think I was ready to be in a gallery yet. I got my art and left without saying hardly a word. So yes, I definitely know about rejection and how hard it is in the art business. I have a taste of the negative side of things anyhow. It's not all "Apple pie and chocolate cake." You might say…ha!

  3. Thank you for sharing your experience and for making it easier for us, who are not there yet. Thank you and congratulations for your hard earned wisdom and for sticking it out!

  4. I'm forming an LLC which only costs $10 a month and $135 filing fee ๐Ÿ™‚ – It's been too hard to form a Board of Directors – This is a great structure. I can change my theatre company (I've owned my company for 30 years) and can make it a Non-Profit LLC in a year. My art work business is appropriate as an indie LLC ๐Ÿ™‚ Very helpful video and ideas ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I do business stuff too ๐Ÿ™‚ I spend entire afternoons asking art gallery owners to exhibit my work ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Great idea ๐Ÿ™‚ I just got a mailer from a Community College with figure drawing – portrait drawing and oil painting classes in the Fall – I am registering for two classes to improve my artistic techniques ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Hi Ellen
    I'm really enjoying your videos. I have a similar history, lots of health problems……for me it looks like I'm never really going to be really healthy. I have not started a business yet, at the moment I'm trying to create artworks to sell and also to improve. Have you any advice about how to manage a business whilst having to deal with frequent illness? I was thinking that restricting myself to one online store and maybe a local gallery. I have also thought that perhaps doing artworks that could be done in chunks or relatively quickly to compensate for the times life sends a curve ball. I'd really appreciate your opinion. Many thanks for your generosity, Jane

  8. So very relatable story!! Thanks for making this, at least helps me to feel Iโ€™m not alone in this full time artist journey.

  9. Great advice, Ellen. I just today said to myself, "am I good enough." This was so helpful for me. Thank you for the pep talk. I have to stop "watching" artists paint and just get out my stuff and do something. It's the old block of being afraid to begin. How silly is that? I know I can do it……Just Do It…LOL Happy 7th anniversary. By the way, I already know about LLC's. We did that with our art gallery. It's just a smart idea as a business.

  10. Congratulations and thank you so much for the reality check. So many artists showcase only their successes. There nothing wrong with that per se, but it's not an accurate portrayal of the day to day struggle that even crazy talented artists experience. Also, "Get over yourself and get on with it." is excellent advice.

  11. I always enjoy your videos and the wisdom you share with other artists. Ellen you and my fellow artist should never question your ability because there is room for all forms of art. Just visit any modern art museum, gallery or just search artwork on the world wide web ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Business…zaps….drains….all the energy from artist….but it's a big must! Yes…ART business course is mandatory

  13. If it isn't something you want to do then pay someone else to do it. LLC doesn't really protect you that much, the only way to truly protect yourself you need to be a corporation.

  14. Sound advice, from someone who has real world experience. This is why I like your channel, because you live this and know what you are talking about! ๐Ÿ’—

  15. One of the things I think is so valuable .. is the collaboration between artists .. by sharing information, ideas, etc. as it greatly increases all our potential. Artists are also teachers, magicians with a wand brush, leaders who speak through their work to the eye/mind of the public. It's about Art awareness. Great video!

  16. This is why I have an office at home – book keeping and listing, businessy stuff etc.. and I have a studio just for creating.
    Also why don't you increase your prices, and therefore block out time for creating for joy?

  17. Thank you for sharing! Congrats on your 7 year anniversary! I've been following you for over a year on YouTube and I always look forward to watching your videos. Really enjoy your take on making it as an artist. Take care and always wishing you the best ๐Ÿฅฐ

  18. Mam please replay ,which is the great platform to sell artworks online anywhere in wrld .which is better,Amazon,esty,Fine ArtAmerica…?which is more trustable.

  19. I had my prints nice and neat in plastic sleeves, cards. It was a few months ago that a woman scoffed at me and just laughed at me when I asked if she sold my type of art in her friend's store. She said, "oh cards, ha." I said I have other prints if you want to see them. She went to talk to someone else. It made me sick to my stomach, after I poured myself into those pieces. I still have them in the same bin even though people say they love my work. She was just so rude. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ

  20. Thanks for the words of wisdom! Tangential question: who does your hair? It always looks fabulous. (Iโ€™m also in South Bend.)

  21. Hi Ellen<3 Congratulations on your hard earned, well deserved success for your 7 year Artiversary:-) Another excellent video! You are so down to earth and express things so clearly–such a pleasure to follow you.

  22. This honest advice is really helpful as always. 7 years is something to be really proud of. Can't imagine it myself, even though it's something I do aspire to.

  23. I hav e found from knowing you threw your art that itโ€™s more than work for you. The way you share and how very caring you are to others including me you are going to have to admit itโ€™s not just for work or business. Your skill is without question. Your. Compassion reaches us all. I think you need to do exactly what you said in this video and talk to yourself that itโ€™s all art. Not everyone can accomplish all the facets you have. So my friend itโ€™s not work itโ€™s a blessing

  24. Glad to see you succeeding but agree with previous statement that nothing takes the joy out of a passtime faster than making it into a business. The best setting is if you have a partne spouse etc r who handles the business side. I don't see that LLC would be necessary for a fine artist. It's not like you're selling anything that is consumed, could be used in a potentially dangerous way etc, unless possibly you have customers in your home, and even then a business insurance policy might be enough.

  25. Dear Ellen, Thank you for your honesty. I feel so well understood through your video. Happy 7th anniversary!!! Stay as you are! Love and hugs Maike

  26. Well done on your accomplishment! Here's to 7 more! ๐Ÿ™‚ Wise to take that class, burn out is not fun and that will help avoid it.

    Best,
    Justin M.

  27. I don't know how I found your channel Ellen…..I wish I could remember… because it might be helpful for you to know how people are finding you, I just want to say I'm glad I did. Love your honesty and the help you provide. Appreciate you

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