Photo-realistic image of an artist at work in their studio, facing away from the viewer. The scene should show the artist surrounded by art supplies

How to Become a Professional Artist: Guide to Start a Career in Art

Becoming a professional artist is a journey that combines honing your craft, understanding the art business, and continually evolving in your artistic expression. This guide compiles wisdom and advice from seasoned artists to help aspiring artists navigate this path.

Explore our curated selection of contemporary artists from around the globe.

Naturalist Gallery offers artist representation internationally. Apply your art.

artist talking about his work to other artists

Understanding the Artist’s Path

The transition from an aspiring artist to a professional is often marked by significant milestones, such as the first sale of an artwork. However, becoming a professional artist involves much more than making sales. It's a continuous process of skill development, personal discovery, and professional growth.

artist working in studio

Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Professional Artist

  1. Hone Your Skills: Fundamental to becoming a professional artist is the development of your artistic skills. Engage in regular practice, take classes, and learn from experts. Your aim should be to reach a skill level comparable to other professionals in the field.

  2. Test Your Work: Gauge the readiness of your work by participating in local art shows. Pay attention to audience reactions and seek constructive feedback from various sources.

  3. Discover Your Niche: Identify your strengths and focus on them. Experiment with different mediums and styles to find what resonates with you and aligns with your thinking.

  4. Develop a Body of Work: Create a cohesive collection of 10-14 pieces that showcase your skill and style. This body of work should reflect a consistent theme or artistic approach.

  5. Learn to Photograph Your Artwork: High-quality images of your work are crucial. Learn to take clear, well-lit photographs that accurately represent your art.

  6. Create a Basic Website: In today’s digital age, an online presence is essential. Start with a simple website showcasing your work, artist’s statement, biography, and contact information.

  7. Start an Artwork Database: Keep track of your artworks, exhibitions, and sales. This helps in staying organized and professional.

  8. Build Your Resume: Participate in local art groups, shows, and collaborate with small venues to gain exposure and experience.

  9. Expand Your Marketing Efforts: Upgrade your website with a professional domain. Develop a strong artist statement and biography. Be consistent with your pricing and start using business cards.

  10. Increase the Quality of Venue and Group: As you grow in experience, aim for higher-end exhibits, national shows, or solo exhibits at reputable venues.

  11. Present Yourself Professionally: Your demeanor, appearance, and how you present your work reflect your professionalism.

  12. Decide Your Focus: Determine which paths (gallery representation, art markets, teaching, etc.) align with your goals and focus on them.

artist preparing to start on a new canvas

FAQs on Becoming a Professional Artist

  • Earnings: Artist incomes vary widely based on skill, employment types, and geographic location.
  • Time to Become an Artist: The journey is ongoing, and the timeframe varies greatly depending on your chosen art form and training.
  • Education: While formal art education can be beneficial, many successful artists are self-taught.
  • Career Paths: Opportunities are vast, including commissions, teaching, gallery representation, and more.

View limited edition prints by contemporary artists at Naturalist Gallery.

Every artist's journey is unique, filled with learning, experimentation, and personal growth. Embrace both successes and challenges, and stay true to your artistic vision. Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all path in art – your journey is as individual as your art.

Understanding the Artist’s Path

You may also find the following articles helpful:

Top Online Art Galleries

How to Become an Art Collector

Corporate Takeover of the Art World

Art Criticism: Evaluating Contemporary Art

Art Consultants in the Contemporary Art World

The Art Advisor's Guide: Navigating the Art Market

How Art Agents Work with Contemporary Artists

The Art Dealer's Role: Driving Art Sales

The Role of Interior Designers

Back to Journal

Leave a comment