how to become a professional full time artist When do you know that you are really ready to quit your “day job” and become a full time professional artist? I jumped in with both feet but I do NOT recommend this. I do recommend that you first examine the following seven factors.
  1. Do the math. It never lies.
  1. What does your support network look like?
Don’t underestimate this factor. We all need encouragement when we are taking a new path in life. It’s so much easier to take on a big challenge when you have friends and family who really have your back.
  1. Do you have talent that is affirmed by sales?
Do have talent and that it has been recognized by experts other than your friends and family? Creative talent is very subjective but one reliable measure is your sales history.
  1. What is your motivation?
Do you just want to get away from a job you hate? Better to get another job that you can deal with and that doesn’t drain you while building your artistic enterprise part-time. Move towards a clear goal that inspires you rather than run away from your dissatisfaction. Hint: Having a clear written exit plan makes a dissatisfying day job a means to an end rather than an on-going burden.
  1. Do you have a Making MONEY Plan?
A plan to do business without a plan, is a plan to do no business. In The MAKING Art Making MONEY Semester students create their Making MONEY Plan. Although it is a simple one-page outline, creating it is not. So I can’t give you a quick lesson on how to do this in the space of this blog post.
  1. Are you willing to do what it takes?
A day job is easy and breezy compared to a start up. Why? You receive a consistent paycheck. That goes away when you start your own business and so you need to be prepared financially and mentally to hustle.
  1. Are you self disciplined?
You’ll be the boss of you and your employee. That employee would be you. Honestly, I did not have each of these seven factors in place and it worked out. But I would much rather that you stack as many odds in your favor as possible before you take the plunge into life as a full-time artist.
  1. My art sales record did not justify a full-time venture.
  2. I did not know anyone in San Francisco, my new home and I had no family support, partner, or Sugar Daddy.
  3. I felt that I had talent because my mentors Wayne Thiebaud and Gregory Kondos assured me that I did. But what really mattered is what the market thought. They were not going to pay my bills.
  4. I hated my job; my last boss earned the nickname Snotty Scotty from his colleagues.
If being a “full-time” artist is your goal ask yourself why? If it’s just to affirm your identity as a serious artist, I’ve got news for you. That is not a good enough reason. Are you a full-time artist, who is not receiving any financial subsidies? Are you a part-time artist who wants to become a full-time professional artist? Why? I’d LOVE to know. Please leave a comment below.

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