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5 Dos and Don’ts of Making a Living As An Artist That Brock University Students Should Know

5 Dos and Don'ts of Making a Living As An Artist That Brock University Students Should Know

Here are some dos and don’ts for becoming a professional artist, both while you’re a Brock University student and beyond.

Being an artist isn’t easy. On the one hand, you have a genuine craft that people need. All someone has to do is look around their daily life to see art. From logos and mascots, to mural paintings and billboards, art is literally everywhere, and being created every day. On the other hand, it is hard to get people to take you seriously as a creative professional. It’s partially because art is seen by many people as an indulgence, or as a hobby, and it’s partially because there’s a culture of “paying your dues” in order to get in the door so you can finally start earning money for all that sweat you’re putting into your projects. However, as the Joker said, if you’re good at something you should never do it for free. Here are a few other tips for Brock University students to keep in mind.

#1: Do Put Together A Great Portfolio

Your portfolio is the opening salvo of any business conversation you’re going to have as an artist. Ideally it should show the breadth of your work, as well as your skill. When you’re starting out your portfolio may be a little thin, but as you complete more projects you’ll want to be more selective with what you include. Never be afraid to highlight what you’ve done in the past to show how you’re an ideal pick for the next job.

#2: Don’t Be Afraid To Reach Outside Your Artistic Comfort Zone

One of the biggest obstacles to making cheeseburger money as an artist is pushing yourself into a corner. There is a colossal amount of work out there, but many artists will arbitrarily limit themselves to a single type. And while it’s fair to say that someone who is a good painter might not be a very good sculptor, someone who paints still life portraits could probably paint a caricature, or a landscape, in a pinch.

Never limit yourself when it comes to work. Diversify, and you’ll never be without a sandwich.

#3: Do Be Reliable

An artist who is workmanlike, but reliable, will always be more successful than artists who are brilliant, but flaky. When art is a business, it needs to be done on time, and within the client’s budget. If you can deliver the product by the deadline, and that product is consistently good, that is going to give you more return business than all the genius in the world.

#4: Don’t Work For Free

If a client ever offers to pay you in “exposure” you should run the other way as fast as your legs will carry you. You are under no obligation to “get experience” by working for free. You are doing a job, and providing a service, and for that you should be paid.

With that said, you should feel free to negotiate what you will do a job for. If a client can’t offer you money, an exchange of services is another option. If you’re creating a mascot for a convention, for example, then you could negotiate for a badge to the event, as well as staff privileges and treatment.

#5: Do Work In As Many Different Industries As You Can

Even if you specialize in a single art style, you should see how many different industries want that kind of art. Work in advertising, design book covers, submit art to roleplaying game books, fantasy magazines, and others. Any opening you can find, give it a try. While not every job will turn out well for you, it’s possible you’ll find a niche you didn’t even know was out there.


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