What You Need to Know About Being a Self-Supporting Artist or Designer
What is it like to be a freelance artist, and what exactly do you study to
become one? I will tell you what courses I took in college that were useful to
me later as a professional, and what I needed to know beyond my college
education. There are many facets to being a successful artist, many of which
aren't taught in art school.
First of all, become well skilled in color theory, or, how to use color
effectively. Using color is important especially to painters, interior designers
and anyone who needs to choose colors for clients. There are many books on the
subject, but make sure to learn about the Color Wheel, and buy the expensive
colored paper packs called Pantone, to experiment with color usage. With color
you can create moods, illusions and strongly influence advertisements. It is
powerful to know color well so don't underestimate it.
Take figure drawing seriously. It teaches you the discipline and confidence of
drawing live models quickly and accurately. Whether you go for minute detail
like I do, or suggestion of a figure, drawing the nude is a wonderful way to
know the human body and how to express it well.
Learn how to use lines and textures. One two-dimensional design teacher I had,
assigned us to do pages and pages of just different lines and others of different
textures. Then, we did a major drawing using those textures and lines altogether.
It was a good way to learn how to add interest to your artwork, and to create
different effects. I use these techniques in my illustrations to this day.
Try different mediums, just to get experience in them, such as metalsmithing,
textiles, glassmaking, and others. This will give you an appreciation for other
crafts and teach you different angles of the art world. It also gives you
practice in design, color and other disciplines, in a different realm.
When I look at a blown glass vase, I know how it's constructed. I also know how
glass is made, from silica powder in batches similar to cooking a recipe.
Creating a bowl from a flat piece of brass is something I found relaxing and
satisfying. Try new things. When you visit galleries in the future, you will be
more aware of how the items in them are created, by skilled artisans.
Learn business. I cannot stress this enough. My school didn't allow me to double
major in business and in art, though I wanted to. So, after art school, I
enrolled in business courses on my own, and have been building upon that
knowledge ever since. Learn how to market yourself, customer service, how to do
accounting and how to be skilled on the computer.
These are skills that will help you to work the promotional end of your
business, until you find someone else to do it for you. As it stands now, I let
my agent handle the selling of my original work, but still manage my own
business dealings for my online gallery. Make sure to keep up with the latest
trends on computer marketing, and software. It pays to market your business
well, so arm yourself with as much practical business knowledge as possible.