When Are You Ready To Call Yourself A Professional Artist?

When Are You Ready To Call Yourself A Professional Artist?

As the old saying goes, anybody can claim to be an artist but it doesn’t make it true.

However, for true budding artists looking to make a professional career and living from their art, they will want to know about when you actually can make this claim to be true. 

The fact is, being a professional artist has multiple meanings. Some may say that being paid once for their art classifies as professional, whereas others only say professional artists are professional when they can make a living from their art. 

Due to such confusion, there’s going to be a lot of questions you have for what you constitute as a professional artist and you’ll want to know when the time is right to call yourself as such.

Luckily, we’ve written this handy guide which should help you understand how you can work out when the time is right for you and why this might be the case.

So, if you’re interested, read on to learn more!

What Makes A Professional Artist?

The fact of the matter is, anybody can create something and call it art and then buy themselves hundreds of business cards with the title of “professional artist”. When it is this simple, the title becomes hollow. 

However, when someone is a true professional artist, they will understand that it takes a lot more than just claiming to be a professional. You’ll have plenty more traits and factors that make the difference. 

Let’s examine the key points for what makes a professional artist below. 

[1] Think Like A Professional Artist 

For lack of a better term, “fake” professional artists will not have the same mindset as a real professional artist. Their psychology will be different from true professional artists. 

What we must understand is that everything starts in your mind. You must first think like a professional artist and have the right mannerisms all of the time.

You’ve got to move away from any potential negativity that detract from your goals.

Those nagging thoughts in the back of your mind that bring you down and make you question whether or not you are a professional artist need to be thrown away. You’ve got to keep the positive process going.

Don’t listen to the outrageous stereotypes of professional artists and certainly don’t allow other people to sway your thinking. People that say things like “get a real job” or “is this just for extra income?” must be ignored.

Indeed, if you want to get anywhere in this industry and make it as a professional – it all starts with the right psychological strength and thought processes.

[2] Understand What It Means To Be Professional 

The one thing that people must take into account is that in order to be a professional artist, you must first understand what it means to be professional. Being a professional artist will mean spinning a lot of plates.

Not only will you have a lot of different responsibilities which must be fulfilled, but you will also need to have consistent quality of work.

While every professional will have one or two pieces of questionable quality, generally speaking – it’s consistent. 

A professional artist has their own identity, their own voice and their own brand. Detracting from this completely derails any idea of professionalism.

So when it comes to this point, there are various things you must bear in mind:

You Have An Inventory Of Work 

You will certainly at this point in your career have a large body of work which is finished, polished, checked and ready to go.

You should think to yourself that if you invited a gallery owner into your home – what would they see?

When Are You Ready To Call Yourself A Professional Artist?

You Have A Variety Of Diverse Feedback 

While art is subjective, it’s important that you have received plenty of feedback from a variety of different people, not just those who have a vested interest in you or are potentially biased.

It’s also important under this point to know that you should already have a history of solid sales of your art and your exposure is large. 

You Know The Market 

Every professional should understand their market like the back of their hand. When it comes to being a professional artist, this is no exception. The market of art is huge and varied, so knowing how it works is critical to professionalism.

You Have Contacts 

Professional artists will have a large contact list of people who not only buy and sell art, but also media connections and other business connections. Being a professional in any industry relies on contacts.

Media contacts are actually more important for professional artists than many people understand. They can allow you to showcase your work for free and provide huge exposure which can generate more clients. 

You Have Realistic And Consistent Pricing 

One area that non professional artists might struggle with is understanding how much they can and should sell their art for. The fact is, there’s a lot of research and factors to how much you will sell your work for. 

As a result, professional artists understand what they can sell their work for, and this will be shown through a portfolio of previous sales. 

See: Advanced Pricing Strategies for Artists and Photographers that are already selling

[3] Understand The Nature Of Failure 

In any profession, failure is going to be inevitable. We don’t mean in the sense of no art sales ever, but perhaps you tried a marketing strategy that didn’t quite work out, or some other campaign that fell flat. 

Professional artists will know that some of their work might not be as successful as others, some clients might fire you and you might even go through a period of artistic block. 

However, it’s the understanding of this nature of failure that makes all the difference. Not only accepting that failure will likely happen from time to time, but how you respond to it and get back to success.

During times of negativity and potential decline, you should already have a fail safe financially. All professional artists will know that this is essential, in case things like this occur. 

So, once you’ve come to terms with the nature of failure and then the nature of rebounding success, you will finally be able to amalgamate the rest of these points. 

So When Is The Right Time?

Once you have looked at these points above and you are able to check them off and claim you have all of these – then you might be ready to classify yourself as a professional artist. 

All you need to do at this point is make that final plunge and leave your full time job elsewhere (if applicable) and put all of your effort, thought, time and money into this as a real, serious profession. 

Final Thoughts 

Becoming a professional artist might sound like it’s full of confusion going from amateur to professional, but in reality it’s all down to your own knowledge, experience and confidence. 

If you can honestly say to yourself that you’re ready, then make that plunge! 


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