Hi and how are you? So, it’s been about 2 years now to the month when I decided to pick up my paint brushes and decided I was going to be an artist. I feel inspired to write a little blog about what I’ve learned along the way and what went right.
What was the push to be an artist at the time? I remember just feeling so dissatisfied working my fulltime career in the NHS and having to working a lot of extra hours to pay off some debts. I loved painting and drawing all through my childhood and it’s the place I find joy .
I was dating an artist at the time, and I guess I had a glimpse into what that ‘work-from-home-doing-what-you-love’ life looked like. I just had a moment one day when I decided “I’m going to make this happen ! ”
2 years now and the biggest lessons I have learned are not about how to be a skilful artist or how to produce the best pieces of art. I’ve learned that whatever you want to do – just do it! You will learn along the way. To get ahead in any venture, you just have to be fearless, out yourself out there and knock on a lot of doors! Don’t take rejection personally, but be open to criticism and advice. Success doesn’t come from a lucky streak, it comes from hard work and a lot it! Keep moving towards your goal. Even when times are tough.
Practice in public. My go-to online community is Instagram and a bit of Facebook. I am so thankful for the community of people who follow me online and other inspiring creatives who I follow. I really value their feedback. I can say I’ve made some creative friends online – some from other countries – and I’d love to meet them in person. Practicing in public is great. Don’t wait until you’re perfect. Don’t be scared to just put your artwork out there and gauge the reaction. Not everyone will like your work, but the internet can be very forgiving and people generally only focus on what your currently working on. I cringe when I look back at some shoddy pieces I used to upload to Instagram. Ive kept them up there however. I like to think of the ‘Gram as my daily diary and I look back from time to time and can remember where I was at a certain time and what was happening.
Don’t get too caught up online. By this, I mean “don’t look at other people’s artwork too much”. Really. It will make you depressed and miserable and want to set your own art on fire. Or else, it will turn you into a copycat creative. Nobody wants other artists ideas in their head. That art wont flow with your personality and style.
Although, I do like to see how other artists work. A great way to success is to choose someone who is already successful in your field and observe their path they took. Hang out with them even! You can only be really great if you surround yourself with others who can inspire you and help you to be great.
Have a regular outlet. I am also very thankful for my regular monthly stall in the Grassmarket in Edinburgh, as well as other craft fairs I’ve attended over the past 2 years. I must say that I haven’t signed up to too many this year as I spent a small fortune on stall fees in 2016. Nonetheless, from my little stall, my art has sold to customers from all over the World. I always ask where they are taking my art to.
I love market day and meeting the people. I’ve discovered that my favourite feeling is when children walk past my stall and see the colourful funny paintings and their little faces light up. I do think children should be in charge of the money at all times. Trading at the markets is also a great way to test the market and experiment with new styles to discover what people want to buy.
I love my Etsy shop too. Etsy is a great easy to use platform to sell art across the World.
You can be one of 2 types of artist; An artist who just paints what they want and puts it out there. Or, you can paint what people want to buy. Hmm, I would say I’m a bit of both. With my greetings cards, I just paint what I want and it’s objective. Someone somewhere will appreciate it. I also provide an art service by taking custom orders for portraits. This really generates a lot of work. And its still fun.
`Decide your style. This is my biggest bugbear! I have a few different styles on the go. No set colour scheme. No set medium. I wish some days that I was a more organised artist with a set colour pallete and style. This way I would have a ‘brand’. Right now however, I’m still playing around with different styles and techniques. Acrylic on canvas, watercolours, painting animals, painting retro images. I have found though that acrylic paintings are a nightmare to manage when you live in a tiny house. You make a mess and clutter all over the studio area. You have to varnish them. They are heavy to ship off. They get ripped sometimes when you’re transporting them.
I don’t have a studio -yet -There is only so much space out there in my shed to store all these oversized paintings I love to create.
Working with watercolours at a desk is so much more practical and can be stored away in drawers.
This leads me to my next section – What’s next? Well, I really love creating illustrations. I love creating little characters and quirky designs. I have decided to make this my focus for the foreseeable future and concentrate on creating greetings cards, children’s book illustrations and other paper goods that can be sold online.
I keep telling people that if you go to any of these run down towns and high streets across the UK now, there are always 2 shops that stand strong : The COOP, and the Card Shop! Because in the UK, people LOVE cards. FACT. We love sending cards. We don’t write letter anymore, but a birthday text is too impersonal. What a great business to be in – the business of helping people send love in the form an art card.
There’s a whole paper world out there to be explored.
Be prepared for hard graft. I work very hard.Some days I am up at 5 am painting and researching. My brain goes like a fair most of the time. Like most people who are trying to run a small creative business, I also have another job to earn my living. Fortunatly I also love my other job,and I am gratfeful that I get to work in a team and do life in the hospital.
It does suck up a lot of my energy however and my goal this year is to work part time and make art the rest of the time.
It’s important to have some down time for relaxation. For me, this is my regular walks up the woods or the beach with Obi the dog or catching up with friends. Sometimes the best inspiration comes from the peace and silence.
Hard work isn’t all that bad when your doing what you love though. In fact, its rather enjoyable.
Lastly, I’ve learned that you don’t just get ‘discovered’ one day – that only happens in the movies. You make things happen by knocking, asking, seeking. Making changes when you find what works and what doesn’t. Asking for help when you need help.
Just be you. In your most organic creative form. And love the people you make art for.
My goals for 2018 are:
- To be accepted for ‘Not On The High Street’ online store
- To get really confident at Marketing to local businesses and knock on a few doors
- Illustrate some picture books
- Trade weekly at my stall and other craft events throughout Scotland…and maybe beyond
- Learn how to blog
I hope this has inspired you. Please leave me a comment.
Love Cheryl x