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7 Steps to Becoming an Independent Artist

Steps to become an independant artist

7 Steps to Becoming an Independent Artist

7 Steps to Becoming an Independent Artist

When you’re ready to take the step to make the transition into working for yourself as an independent artist there can be a lot of questions and concerns. Anyone can find some success with their own art as long as they have a solid plan and an audience. 

It may feel daunting to take this step but you may be surprised how following these seven steps is all you need to confidently tackle this venture.  Once you have been inspired you will have the energy to become an independent artist and carve your own path. 

Whether you are a visual artist or you prefer another art form, these seven steps can benefit any artist who is looking to become independent with their work. After spending time in art school and perfecting your craft, you are ready! Believing you’re capable is in fact all you really need to make it work, these tips can help you live your best life in your own studio.

1. Live Below Your Means To Become an Artist

Okay, so this seems pretty obvious, right? But you’d be surprised how few people are able to successfully live below their means. It may not offer you the most glamorous lifestyle, but if you’re looking to make the jump from a day job to a full-time independent artist the first step is to start saving money. 

In anyone’s life, there will be good times and bad times when having adequate savings will be important. Independent artists don’t have a steady paycheck to fall back on so if there are slower seasons without as much opportunity to create work that will be paid for, having savings is crucial. 

There are many ways to save money, whether by putting aside a percentage of your yearly raise or cutting back on unnecessary expenses. If you’re carrying debt, working to eliminate that can be helpful for accruing more savings as well. Start by setting some savings goals and work towards padding your accounts as much as possible. 

2. Create A Compass

No, not like an actual compass, a moral compass! If you’re looking to become a successful independent artist, you are going to need some guidelines to figure out what is important to you and what you aren’t willing to compromise in your life. Once you figure out what your compass looks like you can apply it to every single project and interaction.

For instance, if your family is the most important aspect of your life then you can use them as an anchor. By only taking work that will benefit them and give you the time you would like to spend watching your kids grow up without travels and distractions. 

Everyone will have different areas of concern at the forefront of their mind, but honesty is one of the most important qualities anyone can have, especially for independent artists. Having a moral compass that keeps you honest and an upstanding individual can benefit your career as an artist, you will be hired by people who trust you. 

Social media can expose lies regularly, so fudging deadlines with lame excuses aren’t worth it. Remember that your word is all some people have to go on, so don’t blow it! When you set your own idea of success and work towards that goal you will become more satisfied with your efforts. A little common sense can go a long way to helping you go the distance as an artist. 

3. Be Like An Octopus

What’s the first thing you think of when an octopus comes to mind? Is it the 8 legs? Think of those 8 legs as a metaphor for the independent artist to diversify their work and sources of income. Having 8 possibilities for income is going to help you become more successful than if you only have one. 

There’s nothing wrong with working a studio job, they can be a terrific source of income. However, if a studio were to close for some reason it can be a real challenge to find other jobs and maintain your career without interruptions. (This is another reason living below your means can be so crucial!) 

When you are dependent on only one thing it can cause unnecessary stress as you worry about whether or not that income source is stable. By being an octopus, with many different outlets not only for your creativity but also as reliable sources of income, you have the potential to be an even more successful independent artist. 

4. Create A Routine

how to become an independent artist

It can be tempting to take each day as it comes with no set plan or schedule, but that can lead to a lot of wasted time. Since independent artists don’t have to work at specific times it can be a great career path for people who need some flexibility in their days. But when it gets down to it, if you aren’t spending enough time on work, you aren’t going to accomplish much. 

It can be helpful to craft a routine for yourself to follow. Not only will some structure to your days help you tackle your projects but it can help you save time and get more done every day. A set routine can help you avoid distractions and complete your work during set hours allowing you the chance to use your free time however inspires you. 

With clearly defined time frames for work and leisure, you can figure out exactly how you use your time. Having a clear understanding of how long it takes to complete your tasks is helpful if you are hoping to increase your productivity. Having a set routine can be the first important step in effectively managing your time. 

Don’t settle for the mindset that a routine needs to be restrictive. You set your own routine! If it works best for you to take a nap in the afternoon and work longer into the evenings that’s perfectly fine! Use your independence to craft a routine that energizes and inspires you so that while you are working your art doesn’t seem stifled. 

5. Learning When To Say Yes Or No

Admittedly, this one is a hard skill to learn. Since artists depend on people who appreciate their artistic vision there is a tendency to say yes to anyone who pays them enough compliments. (And money, let’s not forget commission now.) But always saying yes can become exhausting, it’s just not sustainable. 

As you become more successful, it is vital to consider each project request as it comes in. Does this interest you? Will it be creatively satisfying or push you outside your comfort zone? Does this pay particularly well? If you decide a project is worth the effort you can take it on, go for the yes! 

But if a request doesn’t seem all that exciting and it’s not something you feel fits into your wheelhouse of talents, then it’s okay to decline work. You only have 24 hours in a day, don’t waste your precious time on tasks that aren’t going to better you as an artist unless you absolutely have to in order to make ends meet. 

As your reputation precedes you and your popularity as an artist grows, you need to learn how to politely decline jobs that you don’t have time for. It’s okay to charge more for fewer jobs as your time in the industry grows, so limit the pressure you put on yourself for saying yes if it’s not something that will help you in the long run. 

6. Become Your Own PR

Independent artists don’t have the luxury of waiting for people to notice their skills and technique. You need to put in some work and let people know how awesome you are. It doesn’t take a public relations degree to know how to promote your work. When you act as your own best advocate, your reputation will soar. (And it could lead to even bigger and better job opportunities.) 

An easy way to promote yourself is by using social media. Use these free platforms to showcase your talents! By setting a consistent schedule in posting, whether that’s a painting every week or month, your followers and fans will appreciate your effort. Remember your art is your brand, so you will want to find a way to focus your posts to engage your audiences. 

Be sure to credit your work with a watermark of some sort so if someone reposts, it will still be able to be linked back to your and your own profile. Using hashtags can be a great way to have people discover you! 

Social media also has themed months to showcase visual arts, and by participating in some of those creative challenges you can also find a new and larger audience who appreciates your talent. Social media can also offer you a chance to collaborate with other artists who don’t live in your geography in a fun and exciting way. Building up your community can only help your sales! 

7. Stay Organized

While it may seem like another no brainer, staying on top of your work and being organized can absolutely help your transition to an independent artist go smoothly. Without a specific leader, it’s up to you to get everything you need to complete done in a timely manner. If you aren’t capable of that you will only hurt yourself since others may be less inclined to work with you going forward. 

Disorganization can cause you to use more effort and get a lot less done overall since you will waste time searching for materials and inspiration. Having a specific to-do list can help you stay focused and get everything you need to finish done. 

Having a to-do list can be extremely satisfying, as you cross out what you’ve completed. As you get used to your routine and organizational system you will probably be able to speed up your process a little every day so that over time you are accomplishing more and more in the same amount of time. 


becoming an independent artist

Following these seven steps can help you grow as an independent artist. Don’t let a schedule and some organization stand in the way of your creativity, use these techniques to give yourself more time to create so that you never have to worry about working for someone other than yourself again.

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