I love asking other artists for advice and the perspective they offer. It’s like they’re seeing into my head and know exactly what I need to hear! I hope you’ll feel the same:
One of my favorite question of all time:
“Do you have any advice for artists just starting their art career?”
Understand that only you get to define success for yourself. No one else can do this. You get to decide how big or small a goal for your art/career.
If your aspiration is to be a full time artist though, and you aren’t independently wealthy, I would say first to understand how difficult it is.
Also, I would mention the fact that as a professional artist, you are signing up to be a business owner. I certainly wish I had been more prepared starting out to deal with this side of things. Administrative work, dealing with taxes, marketing, shipping art, providing customer service, documenting your work, etc.- all very different from creating art! Having a support system in place is a huge asset.
In the end, art has to be your passion and you have to be in it for the long haul. If this is you, then all of the hard work is completely worth it, when you are creating the life you want to live.
I don’t think young artists need advice, especially if they are good artists – rather emerging and established ones do.
In my case, during college and right after you are driven by such an enthusiasm which is an amazing energy, nothing can stand in your way. A few years into it and you might loose some steam, that’s when you need a strategy.
And the strategy is: find things that will inspire and keep the enthusiasm at high levels!
Just create whatever you find interesting, and create a lot of it.
I think whatever you are interested in and have passion for will be the most authentic thing you can make, and it doesn’t matter if it follows current trends or is like what ‘does well’ out there already.
The more you create, the more your craft will improve and your style will be refined.
This has been so great. Thank you for reading through these bits of advice along with me!
I hope you caught the goodness that went down yesterday (read it here). I’ve been asking artists questions for years and they are all so full of wisdom and ready advice.
So let’s keep talking! I’ve asked several artists this question: “Do you have any advice for artists just starting their art career?”
Their answers are gold. Not just for the new artists, but for each and every artist who is truing new things, making a go out of this crazy creative life, or just needs a fresh perspective.
Read on, dear makers!
The best advice is to stay true to subject matters that are close to your heart.
In the beginning (especially if you are a self-taught artist, like I am) it is also important to try out all of the different media that you can get your hands on. I have spent countless money over the years on buying new supplies. I still buy new spins on materials just to give it a shot and see if it’s something that I can incorporate into my work. By trying new materials and new combinations of materials it can help you identify a unique style.
And lastly, do not ever give up on the big picture. Every single artist out there has failures. I have them once or twice a week. You work so hard on something and you stick it to the end and it might end up not being a strong piece at all, something you might even decide to box up or throw away.
Those missteps do not define you as an artist. Each one of them is a tool and in the end they all do offer bits of information that you will take along with you to the next piece of work.
Can you give a tip to an aspiring artist that they won’t learn in art school but need to know?
I got good advice from someone once a long time ago that seems really simple and annoying:
‘Keep making things.’
That’s it. Make stuff all the time. Even if what you make is awful you will inevitably learn something and get better at what you are making.
Oh, and don’t compare yourself constantly to others and their work. It will keep you from moving forward. I am still working on that one myself.
Work every day and put your work out there.
I know people will steal your ideas but so far I think that the value of having your work widely seen exceeds the downside of being copied. In my experience lasting professional relationships and a career come from your ability to keep generating ideas and — above all — executing them well, which is something no one can steal from you.
Again. Such goodness! Thank you all for your beautiful advice. And guys, check back tomorrow for the last artist-to-artist advice post in this little series. It’s a full one!
Over the past three years I’ve had the awesome opportunity to interview some of my favorite artists. One thing I love asking artists (because I’m always aching to know myself) is what piece of advice they wish they had received when they started their creative career.
Of course there is a whole lot of value in learning things the hard way – allowing the lessons to become etched into who you are as an artist and a person, but good heavens, wouldn’t it be nice to just learn and to be encouraged by these things from the onset?
That’s why I ask. Because, so often the creative life can feel open and lonely and even scary. It’s nice to know that others have walked in your path and have succeeded!
Because there are so many insightful answers, I collected a bundle of responses and will share them over the next three days.
So, let’s do this!
“Do you have any advice for artists just starting their art career?”
I think staying busy and always working even if it’s for an hour is helpful. I have a 4 year old a full time job, so it’s hard to find time. If I can steal away for an hour in the evening I always feel so much better than if I didn’t.
One more thing…If you don’t “have it” one day and the paint just isn’t flowing the way you want it to. Don’t be afraid to put the brush down and comeback to it later.
Its good to be hard on yourself and have very high expectations of your work.
Look at a lot of great art, know why it is great and aim for those qualities in your own work. Learn to recognize your strengths, don’t try to force yourself into a style of art that doesn’t fit your skills or style even if its work you admire.
Eventually you will come into yourself as an artist and it will be fun to trace back life events (like motherhood) to see how life effects the charcoal you just danced all over a page.
In the mean time, network and become friends with supportive, wise people who also want you to succeed. I am very thankful I have a lot of them in my life.
Passion, dedication and belief in what you are doing are the key ingredients to success.
If you are not extremely passionate about making art, it’s probably not the best career option for you. It’s certainly not an easy way to make a living, but if you have to create art to feel like yourself, that is a very good place to start!
I’ve noticed lately, that a lot of people are anxious to create a business out of their art before they have really developed themselves as an artist.
When you feel authentically ready to show and promote your work, I suggest putting together a really simple and beautiful website that highlights your work in a non-distracting way. Blogging is also a great way to share your story and keep things fresh for people who are interested in what you are doing. There are so many ways to connect online now through social media, etc.
It’s an amazing and powerful time to be an artist as the world is literally at your fingertips! But again, doing the work in the studio should be taking up more time than doing the promotional work on your computer. At least that’s my opinion.
Ahh… see what I mean? A bundle of wise words and sage ideas. I need these voices in my head every day! Check back tomorrow for another dose of advice.
I started a new painting today. This happens a lot, so I don’t know why I haven’t gotten use to it by now, but that moment of starting is at once exciting, hopeful, and daunting.
I have a hard time working out ( I blame the kids + schedule, but it’s totally just me) but I often think that starting a painting is like starting a race. You’ve signed up for it. All eyes are on you. But what if you freak out half way through and it’s super embarrassing? Or what if you get confused and take the path that goes to the woods when the person commissioning the painting wanted you to go to the beach? But the love of the race is enough to make you start. It get’s me every time. …and I do love, love, love this race.
Today’s painting is teal (as many of my paintings are) so I washed the canvas in shades of green and blue and cream, spoiling the perfect minimalistic white canvas that had been there. I keep making marks, shaping and forming clouds and land and, honestly, it keeps looking worse and worse.
But I press on. Fighting. Loving. It’s nearly a game: my hands vs. my ideas.
By the end of the day this painting will be completed and it will be up on my mantle (where all the paintings go when they are “done”) and then I’ll get that sweet feeling of pride and accomplishment that makes the race totally with it.
It’s on a good course. But at this moment, while is sits on my easel, flaunting it’s flaws and unfinished spaces, it needs more love, more fight, more passion.
I love that phrase “follow your passion” so much these days. When you’re in the thick of it; excited, tired, drained, and yet loving every moment, it is passion that strengthens you. It is not some illusive idea or an ethereal feeling. Passion is love, heart, grit, and determination. If you are passionate about something, you are willing to suffer for it. Long hours, sore fingers, hours of thought, sacrifice… totally par for the course.
Sometimes it’s less about what you do and more about how you do it. Loving what you do or what you create, having that passion and fire within, spills over into how you do it.
Quality comes of love.
This post was originally written for the beautiful blog Sarah In Pursuit which you should totally check out because Sarah is lovely and so is her blog!
Until next time!
In this fast, exciting, image-lovin’, creative world, there is a special and valuable opportunity for artists to really shine.
I am excited to let you know that I am offering creative consultations to artist, makers, and creatives! These consultations are perfect for people who are interested in growing their online business through organic storytelling and lifestyle branding.
Your audience wants to get to know you – to share in your passion and to catch your vision. While we talk, we’ll discuss several ways to do this clearly, naturally, and elegantly. I’ll share past successes and failures as well as ways you can refine your brand to share your story more clearly.
- Social Media (Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook)
- Storytelling and engaging your audience
- Marketing (holidays, online events, pop-up shops, email…)
I would LOVE to work with you to strengthen your creative brand.
Consultations start at $45 for a small group chat or $75 for a one-on-one consultation. Usually held over video chat, these talks usually last 50-60 minutes. After we talk I will send you a PDF full of goodness and info for you to review at your leisure.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll set up a time to chat!
Hey everyone! It’s me, Emily, alive and typing.
I’m popping in real quick to update you on my life for the next little bit.
FIRST UP giant commission, drowning me in paint and shades of golden gray (which doesn’t sound like a bad way to go and I’m rather enjoying it.)
NEXT: THIS WEEKEND is the Indie Craft Parade and it is always a CRAZY party full of handmade goods for a well curated life. If you’re in the region you really need to visit. (Plus I’ll be there, giving things away, selling original artwork and other goodness. If that doesn’t convince you, come for the food.)
THEN: I’ll be jetting off to Texas for the Circles Conference which should prove to be an insightful and inspiring time. (I’ll report back later on this.)
FINALLY: My shop will be reopening (cheers) October 1st with a few new things and a couple exciting changes. Get on the email list for the goodness.
AND ALSO: Minted + Domino Magazine are hosting an art contest, so of course I through my hat in the ring. Really, how could I say no to these two? Please vote for my painting, “Leave Behind the Shadows” if you’re so inclined! I would be SO grateful!! <3
“Count your blessings”…. that phrase has always bugged me because it assumes that this “task” (eww) is actually possible (which is, of course, totally ridiculous). Life is full to the brim with blessings – regardless of your current situation, health, mood, whatever… (trust me, I’ve had many, many down days. I know them well and we are not friends.) But the act of thinking about your blessings is incredibly healthy. It re-orients your perspective & adds some gratitude to your mentality.
I often fall into the trap of not noticing these good gifts – and certainly not actually celebrating the awesome things that happen in life. I often let them roll past me with a hasty nod while I press on, working towards the next thing – which I will then nod to and continue rushing past life like the little engine who could(n’t). This is so unhealthy, ungrateful, and totally un-fun.
So today, I’m counting & celebrating. Cheers!
1: Let me first say that I am SO SOOO honored to be the Artist of the Month for Minted and Domino Magazine! DOMINO!!. These two are partnering to introduce you to new artists/designers and this month you got meeee!!! –You guys already know me, of course, but if you’re interested in learning a little extra you are welcome to check out this feature on Domino Magazine‘s website! Thank you for all the stunning photos Paige French! You made these features shine.
2: West Elm may be looking a little extra artsy these days! They’re currently carrying one of my paintings exclusively in their art collection! I nearly burst with pride when I saw that live and with my own eyes, BTW. I’m a huge fan of West Elm, so it’s was a dance-party-in-the-middle-of-the-day kind of moment for me. ;)
3: Minted now has an ever-expanding collection of my art available for your visual pleasure… I’m honored to be on their front page and to have a storefront in the Art Market! They have several prints exclusively in their art collection (like one of my favorite paintings, “Summerwinds” ).
4: There is a super sale happening on Instagram this afternoon (beginning at 3:00 est)!!! Follow my shop account: @Emily_Jeffords_Shop for the goodness. The new collection of botanical prints will be on sale! Gotta get these beauties out into the word pronto!!! I’m in love…
5: …I’m so in love, in fact, that I just created two iPhone cases (and a pile of other rad products – but the phone cases are my fave) each featuring a botanical painting! I cannot WAIT to flash mine around town. Maybe this is a little vain? Oh well.
6: Oh yes, the Huffington Post feature….. well, here’s that little sweet thing.
7: My 4 year old makes lunch now – All by herself!!! I’ve always loved hugging her, but now I really, REALLY mean it. I love you, kid. xox ; )
There we have it. 7 things that are totally worth celebrating.
I think I’ll gather my fancy husband and go out with some friends tonight! Join me, wherever you are in the world, in finding the things in your life worth celebrating!
Oh! One more (see, I told you you can never count them all…)! Minted was so sweet and featured me and my bebe in their “Kids Art” catalogue! (Once again, photo by the crazy skilled Paige French)
Well, you asked for botanical prints (no really, I get asked literally every day), and now, all is well and good again in the world. There is a collection of fine art reproductions that are live, lovely, and thriving in my print shop!
These prints are so fancy – printed on canvas with a giant printer – they totally look like originals. Each one features a sweet botanical study, joyful colors, warm sophistication, and textures you could stare at for hours. (I know, because I have and these bebe’s do not disappoint.)
Originally, these paintings are 4×4 inch oil paintings on canvas with reproduction sizes ranging from 4×4 to 12×12.
So, hop over to the shop if these lovely things have caught your eye and be sure to use the code “BotanicalArt10″ to take $10 off your order!
Today is a totally lovely day.
This is the last in the short painting-a-day collection and my goodness, this painting “Evensong”, totally has my heart.
When have humans not been romanced by the expanse of open space?
As much of a city girl as I am (or have become) the liberty of space refreshes something deep inside of me and seems to fill up my soul with quiet. Do you feel the same?
An “Evensong” is sung as a prayer; a celebration of the evening, thankfulness for the day, and praise for of the goodness and grace of God.
The notes drift smoothly through the open windows of an English chapel, drenching the landscape with peace, serenading the sheep, calming minds of people nearby. Totally serene, am I right?
This landscape is also full of those calming, live-giving notes: cool and warm jewel tones made even more alluring by the soft, feathery sky and the deepness in the ground. So poetic and yet so simple.
18×24 inches, oil on gallery wrapped canvas (has extra thick sides and does not need to be framed). Evensong will be added to my shop in one hour (noon, EST) and will be $200 (instead of $400) www.EmilyJeffords.com
I came to the studio yesterday feeling pressure. A dead car battery, issues getting the dumb thing fixed, a busted lip on my little girl, visual clutter in my home, emotional and physical tiredness… not the way I want to come to the easel in the least.
But I got there in the afternoon. Late. Too late to finish a painting? I might as well try, I told myself. They’ll understand it if doesn’t work out today…
The girls were happy to be in their space and went right to work creating little watercolor pieces. I turned up the music, let the peacefulness of that space wash over me, and set to work mixing shades of gray and peach, thinking about how uplifting the creative process is.
I think these little life events – nothing memorable, just every-day stress – allowed me to feel this painting. It is more abstract and focuses on movement and shape more than some of my pieces – and I loooove that.
Abstract art seems to depict emotions rather than reality more than most art, and it feels like to me like this painting dips into that a bit. Dancing brushstrokes, muted colors, contrasted by vibrant jewel tones, and movement full of joy.
There is one last painting in this short series coming tomorrow & more exciting things happening next week! Thank you ALL for an amazingly wonderful year! #EmilyJeffordsArtCelebration