Cathleen Lengyel > Scribbles > Artist Life > What Makes You An Artist?

What Makes You An Artist?

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When you think of an artist what comes to mind?  Do you think about the masters of the past?  Do you think of modern, well known artists?  Do you imagine a quirky, paint covered person?  Perhaps you imagine someone with a huge studio filled with easels, supplies and an amazing income from gallery showings? True those things can describe an artist.  In my opinion, an artist can be summed up in a single statement.
An Artist is someone who needs to create, just as they need to breathe.
You don’t need to be famous, have a studio full of supplies, a gallery full of work or a long wait list for your artwork.  Artists are born with a need to create.  It comes from deep down inside their soul.  Artists see the world differently than other people.  We see beauty where most do not, we see emotions in everything around us and we create our works to translate what we see.  

Art is life to an artist.

That being said, what separates an artist from a successful/professional artist?
A great deal of hard work, and I’m not talking about creating art! It was quite a shock to me when I started this endeavor, that creating the art was only a small part of being a professional artist.  When you’re starting out you tend to think, “all I need to do is create wonderful artwork and customers will beat down my door.”  Sounds good, but no, it does not work that way.  Not even close. A huge part of being an artist is marketing.  You have to get your name out there, you need to be seen and you need to start networking.  Along with those things you will find you have to become a good researcher.  You need to research resources, who your target customers are, and all the “how to’s” that come along with growing your art into a business. You need to establish a presence.  Learn how to use social media.  Create a Facebook page for your art, create an Instagram account for your art, find other social outlets for your art.  Make sure you set these social media sites up for only your art business, don’t use your personal social media and make sure you only post art related subjects on your art business social media! OK, you’ve created social media accounts, you’ve joined some online art groups, you set up a website, now you get rich right?  WRONG. Building your name and reputation takes time and hard work.  Nothing happens over night.  An example:  you set up a Facebook page for your art business and shared the page on your profile.  You can’t wait to see how many of your friends/family will “like & share” your new page!  Don’t hold your breath.  You will be very surprised how few people will “like” your new page, let alone “share” it. Take heart!  I repeat, “Nothing happens over night!” Don’t get frustrated, don’t give up.  Keep your chin up and keep pushing ahead.  Roll up your sleeves and continue to look for ways to interact with your target customers.  Keep doing your art!  Post WIP’s (works in progress) on your social media. A lot of artists, like me, are introverts.  It’s not our nature to put ourselves out there for the world to see.  This is something we have to overcome in order to become more successful.   People aren’t just interested in what you are creating, they are interested in you.  They need to be able to make a connection with the artist.  Don’t try to be something you’re not, just be yourself.  Put your picture on your website or Facebook page.  Talk about the process you go through when creating art.  Give your potential clients a glimpse of your personality.  If your target audience can connect with you they will be more apt to being interested in purchasing your art. Develop a thick skin!  Remember, you love your work because you’ve put a lot of time and effort into their creation.  Others don’t have the same investment.  There will be many people who will not love what you’ve created.  That’s ok.  Art is very personal.  What one person likes another will hate.  Try to focus on the people who like your style of art.  Don’t be downhearted or discouraged when someone comments negatively on your work.  They are entitled to their own opinions.  Art is subjective.   I repeat, art is subjective!  Repeat that, over and over. Lastly, continue to learn and grow as an artist.  Push yourself.  Try new techniques, new media even.  Never stop growing, never be satisfied with where you’re at as an artist.  Don’t put yourself down by comparing yourself to an artist doing the same thing as you, but better.  Instead look at what you like about their work and strive to improve your own.  There will always be someone not as good as you and someone much better than you.  Don’t stop growing and learning! Until next time, Keep Creating!  
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