Starting a career as a professional artist can be both daunting and exhilarating. I have summarized a few tips below for artists starting out.

1. Look at as much art as you can

Look at art in person at commercial galleries, public galleries, regional museums. See how paint is applied to the canvas, or how photographic presentation styles differ. See which ones resonate with you. Look at art online, and follow 100 new artist instagram accounts for daily inspiration. Read good magazines, and keep a record of favourite artworks and techniques.

2. Learn from the best, without imitating

If an artist's work inspires you, try making a painting or photograph just like theirs. Be a copyist as a learning exercise, and be sure to keep it to yourself. Use the information that you learned from the copy to define how your work will be different. See the inherent differences that evolve in your own creative processes, and expand on those areas.

Image detail of a Dani Cooperman artwork

Image detail of a Dani Cooperman artwork

3. Start a website or instagram account dedicated to your work

Your public artist persona starts from day 1. Define a mandate for your public profile, and stick with it. This refers to the look and style of your page, and the type of information that you want to share. Some artists feel comfortable showing parts of their process and studio, others simply post finished pieces. In any case, ensure the photos are bright, clear, true-to-life. Presenting high quality photos is the most important part of instagram. Get advice from a respected friend or professional artist advisor as you build the look of your profile or website.

4. Create a portfolio

Your portfolio should be representative of your recent work (not everything you've ever done). It should show a refined and highly curated selection. Once you've perfected your portfolio, (more tips to come in future posts), you will be better prepared to start introducing yourself to collectors and galleries. Artist consultants are integral to creating a polished portfolio  

5. Meet other working artists

Learn about other artists' experiences, where they are showing, what type of work they enjoy doing most vs. what work is selling, etc. A great place to meet artists is at gallery openings. Don't forget to keep your meetings concise if the artist is at their own opening - don't take their time away from waiting collectors.

Detail of a Vicki Smith painting 'Float'

Detail of a Vicki Smith painting 'Float'

Stay tuned for future posts in the "How To" series for artists:

- How to: Create a Portfolio

- How to: Approach galleries to request representation

- How to: Host your own art show

- How to: Create an amazing art instagram account

- How to: Create an online store for your artwork