Career Artist

Simple pivots to help you become a career artist

As a career artist, listening to your audience, collectors, and yourself can impact your art business for the better.

Many times a week I get questions from artists, “Can you take a look at my artist website and let me know who my audience is?

Or they’ll explain their situation with their art business and ask for specific advice.

And I totally understand the questions. But my advice is always the same 100% of the time. If you want to sell art online, you need to think about these five things:

1. Audience

Five artists can make the same kind of art in a similar style, but they will have different audiences. If you’re making honest work, then your audience will depend on who you are as a person based AND which of your unique experiences and interests you're including in your work.

2. Perseverance

The starving artist mindset is detrimental to your art business. Almost anyone can set-up a website and list their art for sale. What people don't realize, everything else is tough. Getting traffic to your site. Finding and sending out introductory emails to get featured or interviewed. If you crumble at not getting the results you want the first time you try, your art business will suffer. And, if you fold over at the second, third, fourth or 1000th thing that doesn’t go the way you want…you’ll crumble.

3. Marketing

There are obviously lots of skills you will need to develop over time. The most important one is marketing and selling art. Yes, you have to spend time on both “making” and “marketing”. There’s nothing else to say about this. You have to dedicate time to marketing.

4. Get your hands dirty

Doing and messing it up is much better than talking to everyone about what you are planning on doing. For artist marketing, you have to write those launch emails, build your art website, introduce yourself to people who have a larger audience than you.

Don’t get any responses?

Find more people to connect with, alter your writing, and do it again. You will get responses, and you will get results.

5. Pivoting

Probably the hardest to deal with is learning how and when to make a strategic pivot in your art business. There’s a big difference between overcoming a hurdle in your art business and trying to push something that just isn’t working.

You can't be scared to pivot.

So how do you know when to pivot or change up your art business? Is there a magical formula that determines a certain direction useless and if you should move on?


It comes from the experience of spending time making mistakes, experimenting with pricing paintings, listening to your audience, and putting yourself out there.

Often times the art business you end up in is not the one you first start with. Some artists who initially wanted to earn 100% of their living from selling their originals ended up making 100% of their earnings from high-end limited edition prints of book collections of their work.

There are artists who’ve struggled their entire lives trying to sell massive 12-foot oil paintings, but they finally made a pivot to sell smaller originals. Now they confidently call themselves a career artist because they can finally make a living from their work.

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