It can be frustrating as a visual artist to be put in the same box as other artists. When you ask people who their favorite artist is often you’ll hear the same six artists that children learn about in elementary school. Not very many people can name artists who are working currently.
Establishing yourself as a visual artist isn’t always the easiest task. There are a lot of challenges that artists struggle with throughout their careers. Maybe for you, it was explaining to your parents that you were going to study art. Maybe they were scared you would end up as a “starving artist” and live in a cardboard box for the rest of your life.
Well, the joke is on them, because there are lots of ways to have a successful career as an artist. But even those artists who have found moderate levels of success have challenges, and certainly, those who are just getting started can find the art world challenging as well. If you find yourself at a point in your art career where you can’t seem to break free, you might need a little help.
Take a look at these biggest challenges that artists face and some of the suggestions to overcome them. You may find yourself ready to create the next great masterpiece, or maybe these ideas will just give you something to think about for a while while you draw. Either way, it’s a win-win!
Overcoming the Challenge of Finding Your Artistic Voice
All art has meaning, whether or not others can interpret your goals is up to you, and depends on your particular medium and style. But figuring out what you want your art to represent and finding your own voice within your vision can be a challenge that isn’t easy to overcome.
When you are in art school surrounded by other visual artists and learning the same skills and techniques, it can be easy to emulate other artists. Sometimes that’s okay, especially if you’re working together to accomplish a piece, or if you’re on a team. It can even be okay to channel other artists if you’ve been assigned a specific style in which to work.
The real problem comes from whether or not you ever learn to stand on your own two feet and embrace your own talent and artistic vision. Art school and classes can give you an arsenal of tools and techniques to call upon, but if you are having difficulty finding your own artistic voice, it’s time to take matters into your own hands.
When you’re first starting out with a career in art, or even for amateurs, it can be a struggle to know what you want to create before you get started. Even if you’ve roughed out a sketch ahead of time, sometimes, as you probably know, the art takes on a life of its own and can surprise everyone.
The secret to freeing yourself and to creating your vision without copying someone else’s specific style is to take a risk and try it! It can be a challenge not to copy someone you admire, so remember – the world doesn’t need another Picasso, but the world could absolutely benefit from what YOU bring to the table with your own unique artistic vision!
Use the talents you’ve honed to create something completely unique and see where your creativity leads you. Don’t be afraid of failure with your art! You can always start over, and if something you create is completely unsalvageable, just keep moving forward. You’ll keep learning and figure out your own voice and niche in the art world.
Finding influences from other artists can be easy, but cutting through the noise and developing your own voice can be exhilarating! As you hone your skills and figure out your own artistic voice, you will impress even yourself with your visions. Creativity may not always flow easily, but you can certainly find yourself creating art that feels more like you.
All artists will evolve with both their own personal style and techniques, and this usually comes from sheer experience and isn’t something that can necessarily be taught. However, even professional artists take classes from time to time to keep their skills sharp and to make sure that they can spark creativity when they need to. Lifelong learning is possible!
There is a right time and a wrong time to connect with other artists such as yourself. As you’re carving out your own vision, taking some time away can be helpful, but surrounding yourself with artists who understand the struggle of creating new and unique work on a regular basis could be just the thing you need to kick you into high gear. A boost of energy is great!
How To Get Over the Hurdle of Concentration as an Artist
In a world with countless video games, movies, YouTube, and an endless variety of streaming entertainment, it can be difficult to stay on task, even when what you’re working on is something you’re passionate about like your art. No one is completely immune to distractions.
Concentrating on art may not seem difficult when you’re first starting out, but when the fun wears off and work seems to feel like, well, work you may need to figure out how to refocus your passion. Perhaps trying a new medium could be the first step. Start drawing again, or painting again. Try revisiting what you had given up long ago!
Sometimes, it’s just a matter of having too many options. When you find yourself getting away from your work, you need to find the self-discipline to keep on task. You need to find the pace that works for you.
Some artists like to set timers. They work intensely until the timer goes off and they take a break for a set period of time and then they get back to work. (They also typically set a timer to let them know when to go back to work.) This technique can work well because it uses distractions as a reward for working.
If a reward system isn’t quite your style, perhaps you need to completely isolate yourself from distractions during your periods of work. If you find yourself distracted by your phone, put your phone somewhere where you can’t see it or hear it. By consciously putting on the blinders necessary to complete your task, you can force yourself to concentrate.
This might be challenging as cell phone addiction is a real problem in today’s society, even if you don’t consider yourself addicted. But unless you’re waiting for feedback from fellow artists, your cell phone is likely not helping you accomplish your tasks, furthering your creativity, or helping you get paid.
For some, it’s not enough to put your phone somewhere where you can’t reach it. Did you know that even having your smartphone within sight can be enough of a distraction to prevent you from reaching your full potential? Don’t allow yourself to ruin your chances of having a career in visual art because your phone is distracting you! Build up your ability to concentrate over time, and put it away.
Once you figure out how to concentrate, using all the resources at your disposal becomes easier than ever. As artists’ careers grow, they can be choosier about what commissions and jobs they take because they’ve learned what they’re good at and how to focus their talents towards what they’re passionate about.
Finding your passion as an artist might seem really clear as you’re coming out of art school. However, keep in mind that what you love now may change and grow over time. The artistic world is ever-changing and growing and so too will your skillset. With the desire to keep learning, taking classes, and improving your skills, your passions could shift as well, and that’s okay!
What About a Challenging Lack of Artistic Inspiration?
Sure, you can put your phone in a completely different room down the hall, but how does that help you get inspired to create? What can you do when inspiration just won’t come to you? Though the task may feel insurmountable when you’re in the moment, rest assured every artist has been in that exact same place whether they can admit it or not.
The first thing to do is NOT to go check your phone for ideas. That could leave you distracted and without inspiration. Instead, plan for these moments when you don’t feel like you have any ideas. Whether it’s an artist block, or a week without an idea, inspiration is probably not going to jump out and surprise you without a little effort on your part.
Obviously, you’re going to figure out what works best for you, but some artists like to have a vision board, others prefer a sketchbook with roughed out ideas that they haven’t fully realized yet. One great way to stay on top of inspiration is by taking a class. If you’re always learning, you’re likely always inspired to try something new!
Plus, another benefit to a class is that they typically come with some kind of an assignment. Sometimes class work can be just a means to an end, but other times it could be the jump start of inspiration that you need! If you can get feedback on your work as well, that can help guide your mindset to one that is more likely to feel inspired as you carry on.
If you think you don’t have time for a class, you might be right. But with so many online art classes available that are even pre-recorded to be viewed whenever it fits into your schedule, it’s also likely you have more time than you think! And if you’re wondering what to work on next, the class may very help you to figure that out. There’s ALWAYS more to learn!
Artists have to figure out their schedule and it might not look like a typical nine-to-five day. If you’re a morning person and you feel energized at 5:00 in the morning, that’s absolutely when you should get to work. The same goes for those who prefer to stay up late. When you allow yourself the chance to work at a time when you’re at your best, likely you’ll feel more inspired.
Inspiration doesn’t always just happen, sometimes you have to work for it! That’s okay, every artist has been there, finding a solution that works well for you to become more inspired might take time. It will take work to become a well-rounded visual artist, but don’t fear those moments that lack inspiration.
A Final Thought on Overcoming Challenges as An Artist
The visual arts are tough. Not only do you have to be up to date with the best skills and a great eye, but you also have to be inspired, have the ability to concentrate under pressure, and know what you want to say with your art. Overcoming these challenges as an artist might seem easy and straightforward, or they might seem impossible.
No matter where you fall in the spectrum of an artistic mindset, know that you can overcome your challenges and become the artist you are capable of being. Take some of these ideas and use them well. Take that class you’ve been eyeing, build that vision board, or just hide your cell phone and see what you can create in time. That blank canvas isn’t going to paint itself after all!