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Don’t Make These Artist Mistakes

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

So many times I see artists eager to take that step from hobbyists into professional artists but they are often unfamiliar with how to make that transition, and without knowing it, they end up making some simple mistakes that actually make it harder to gain traction.

I myself have been guilty of a few of these on more than one occasion, and I can testify to the repercussions it can have on your brand and business as a creative entrepreneur if not checked.


So many of us get discouraged before we even get started because we begin to play the comparison game. Comparing our style, execution, presentation, subject matter, etc… against the current market. Inevitably a little voice in the back of our mind begins telling us that our work isn’t good enough to be considered a professional artist or the market is already oversaturated, or any number of limiting beliefs that will lead to self-sabotage.

Let’s get one thing clear...

Your art is first meant to bring you joy, then others. Additionally your outlook, interpretation, and aesthetic are unique to you. So stop comparing those aspects and let your uniqueness shine. If everyone chose not to do something because they felt others could do a better job, then nothing would get done and no one would improve. Remember it’s better to try and fail, than not try at all.


So to piggyback off of some of the limiting beliefs I mentioned earlier, the market is not over-saturated just over-marketed. Let me explain… If you were in the market for a Porsche, would you go to Car Max? My guess is no. You see, the person looking for the Porsche already knows what they like, what it’s worth, and where to find it. They’ll search for a specific dealership that caters to that type of customer.

Most people know what kind of art they like as well and tend to find artists that specialize in that genre. So instead of over marketing to anyone and everyone (and reaching no one), try niching down and finding your target audience. Find out where they are and market to them and them alone. This may require some market research, but trust me once you find your tribe they’ll be very loyal till the end.


One of the biggest mistakes you can make when starting a business is not knowing where you would like your business to go. Now I’m not saying you have to know every step your creative business is going to make for the next five years, but having a general goal to aim towards helps you identify what steps you need to be taking.

For example: What if you were an artist that wants to one-day offer life drawing classes in your studio, but… you don’t happen to have a studio. You’ll need to reverse engineer your goal to find your roadmap. Otherwise, you’ll roam around aimlessly, and if you even get to your destination it will take much longer. You’ll need to determine where you want your studio, how much it will cost when you will want to start classes, line up your models, advertise your class, enroll your class, and get your record keeping/accounting set up, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Once you know most of the steps needed for your goal you can put them in a timeline that will keep you from getting sidetracked.


So you’ve made the decision to be an artist, and you don’t want to be a “starving artist”, so naturally, the instinct to make art that is going to sell is instinctual. Many artists start making art that is trending and then wonders why it isn’t selling or sells for a while and then nothing at all. First off, everyone does this, so your art will more than likely get lost in the abyss. If it does sell, the trend will inevitably shift to something else and you will be left with pieces that no longer appeal. On top of that, you are constantly chasing the next trend so you can have work ready before it blows up big. It’s exhausting, and for me, making art that doesn’t speak to me personally is very unfulfilling.


As creatives, we fall into this scenario almost willingly, and typically by default. When starting out it might be necessary to wear all the hats: artist, marketer, accountant, web designer, project manager, social media manager, etc… are just a few of the jobs needed to run your business. However, I cannot stress how much time these entail, time that you could be spending creating more art. Remember, you can’t sell art if you haven’t produced any, and just because you can do it all, doesn’t mean you should. As soon as you can afford it, start investing in the help that will reduce the amount of time you spend outside the studio.

These days with everyone going online, set yourself up for success by avoiding these roadblocks. There are more that will inevitably pop up in your business journey, but when getting started don’t be the one standing in your own way. Stay focused on your niche, make a plan, and outsource when possible so you can free up time to do the parts of the business you truly love... creating your art.

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