The Life of an Artist

I’m a fairly happy and optimistic person, but for this blog post, I’m going to tell it like it is. It ain’t easy being an artist.


ABOVE: Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1893, oil, tempura and pastel on cardboard, 36 x 28.9 inches, The National Gallery, Oslo

Let’s be honest: being an artist really sucks sometimes.

When you’re starting out – especially if you’re self-taught – there are plenty of naysayers. To them, your art is ‘just a hobby’ and you are not an artist.

When you start applying to juried shows, you will get rejected A LOT!!! In fact, you will get rejected so much that you will seriously consider giving up.

When you do finally get past a jury and into a show, you will spend countless hours, and loads of cash getting ready. You will not make your money back. Not. Even. Close.

You will constantly beat yourself up for focusing on your art instead of a ‘proper’ career. You will struggle with your confidence daily, and you will be prone to fits of bitterness and depression.

I’m not making any of this up. My experiences are not unique. If you are an artist, or know one, you know this to be true.

Why do we put ourselves through it all? Because we don’t have a choice. We were born artists.

3 responses to “The Life of an Artist

  1. It’s possible to make a living at art, but not necessarily the way most artists imagine. It’s running a business, and/or working in an art related job. There is a lot of bad marketing advice out there, trendy or outdated stuff, or coming from people who just copied it from the net but can’t sell their own work. I personally found that aiming my marketing efforts at the right audience, and personal interaction go a long way. (Online or off, personal contact and networking.) Also, one of my artist friends quoted a teacher he had, and this is so true: “It’s better to be in no gallery than the wrong one!” So many shows and galleries are just pay to play. They do nothing to advance an artist’s career and since they get paid up front, they don’t work to make sales or attract buyers. Artists are throwing in the towel and paying these galleries, which creates a vicious cycle and then there are more of them, and fewer true commission based galleries that are motivated to promote artists and sell work.

  2. I agree with Cindy. At the beginning, I had some contact with some vanity galleries and went into juried shows, but I realized quite quickly that going on like that, I would be paying all my life without getting anything… I am now trying find the right audience doing some more marketing work.

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