3 Tips for New Artists
Updated: Apr 26
Be cautious taking advice from someone who is not doing what you are doing, or want to be doing.
On your journey, there are going to be plenty of well-meaning people who want to give you advice. They're excited by your journey, most likely inspired, want to see you do well and have a lot of ideas about how you can do so. Some of them will be family, some will be friends, some will be customers or fellow artists, and some will be total strangers. While you may love, admire, and respect these people ... I would be very cautious and selective about which advice you choose to act upon.
I have had plenty of people look at my art and tell me, "You should make this" or "You should make that" or "You should sell at this market." It took me a little while of running around, doing what everyone else saw for my art and my business before I stopped, came to myself realized, "Wait. Do I even want to be doing this?!" Visions for pieces that I had in my heart that I really wanted to create were being put on the back burner because I was diverting energy and time into creations and events that weren't even of my own original leaning.
All of this is to say - you are the artist. You know the visions in your heart, and chances are you became an artist because there was something inside of you that needed to come out be birthed into this world.
There are exceptions to whose advice you should take, like there are exceptions to everything. Your spouse or friend may have a better mind for business than you do, and you need their help. You may want the opinion of a fellow artist who is doing what you want to be doing.
But I suppose my point is this - no one knows the vision you have in your heart better than you. Nurture it, and take the steps that will bring it to life - even if they don't make sense to anyone else. I typically use that as a marker to know I'm on the right path.
2. Write down your values.
What are your values? Why do you do what you do? Is it to create beauty in a dark world? To raise awareness around a particular issue or cause? What do you stand for?
I would urge you to consider these questions as you begin your journey as an artist. Write down your values and your "why." They might change over time, but knowing who you are in art and why you do what you do gives you a solid foundation to return to when things get confusing or, if you're like me, you have moments of doubt and uncertainty about the path you've chosen.
For me, I always return to the moment I decided to make something with resin for the first time ever. I was sitting at my kitchen table during the initial lockdowns of the pandemic in 2020. It was probably March or April. I had bought a bouquet of yellow roses on sale for $5.00 from my local market to cheer myself up and bring some beauty into the house. I figured if we were going to be stuck in here, we might as well have something beautiful to look at.
I was staring at a yellow rose, thinking, "They are just so beautiful. I never want them to die, I wish they could live forever." It was a moment of pure admiration and awe. From there, it hit me that I could preserve them in resin like I had seen other artists doing on Instagram. "Why not?" I thought. "I'm out of work, with nothing but time on my hands." I ordered a little resin kit and a couple of small molds online from Michaels, and the rest is history.
From that moment on, I knew one of my values was moving and creating from a place of admiration and awe for nature. I valued spontaneity, curiosity and play in my art. Every other single thing I had attempted in my life, I had created a plan for. I tried so hard to make perfect, to the point that I never started at all, because it wasn't "perfect enough." I can't tell you how many ideas I had (and still have) that have never seen the light of day because the conditions weren't "right" for me to start or I didn't have the right tools or equipment.
I use that moment to check myself when I am trying too hard to make something perfect or things just don't feel fun anymore. When that's happening, I know I've strayed from my values and my "why." This is why I'd encourage you to write down your values as you are starting and use them as an anchor when life takes you for a ride.
Voltaire once said, "Perfect is the enemy of the good." Which couldn't be more true for art. Nothing will ever be perfect, so waiting for it to be will prevent us from making anything good. Because we will never start. Which brings me to my next tip.... (this paragraph might need to be the start of #3. I think I want to close #2 with less of my story and bring it back around to the reader - how writing down/knowing THEIR values will help THEM. might be too self-based)
3.) Just START.
And don't give up when you mess up. Because you will mess up. You will make stuff you hate, you will create stuff at times that makes you feel embarrassed and unworthy to even call yourself an artist. I can't tell you how many things I've made only to be like - what on earth was I thinking?! I'm not saying this to discourage you, but rather to prepare you. When that moment comes where you're not seeing the vision come to life and you think of giving up, that's exactly the moment you push on. Because for every doubtful moment and weird thing I've made - I have double the amount of moments of pure gratitude and humility when someone falls in love with one of my pieces. When I've made something so beautiful for someone to honor their wedding day and new marriage, or their loved one who has deceased. I wouldn't trade all the weird moments for anything when that happens. Because they all led me right there.