When you’re starting out as a young artist, there are a lot of choices to be made. One of the biggest decisions is whether or not you would like to eventually become connected with a studio, or continue on your career as an independent artist. There is no one right or wrong answer here, you need to decide what works best for you! Every artist is different, and what works for one person may not work for another.
As you’re getting ready to leave the safety of art school or re-establishing yourself after a career change, you may have reasons to choose one over another. A studio may offer a stable steady income and that might be important to you. It might seem like going on your own is the biggest risk, but sometimes big risks carry big rewards.
As you’re trying to figure out if you have what it takes to not rely on a studio and how to best manage yourself as an artist, there are some key things to keep in mind and consider. Not everyone will thrive on their own, but if you think that you would prefer to see yourself on your own as an artist, then keep reading!
Are You Disciplined Enough to Work Independently?
It’s time to dig deep and ask yourself some hard questions. Even if working as a freelance and independent artist is your dream scenario, if you aren’t up to the task it will become a nightmare really fast. Without a studio, you will not only have to find clients and customers on your own, but you’ll also be in charge of everything.
That might sound ideal at first, but think – are you prepared for that? Are you the kind of person who snoozes their alarm 6 times before dashing in late to class? If you can’t find the discipline to wake up on time, is it likely you’ll find the discipline to work independently? That’s a question only YOU can answer, but it’s worth it to consider before you make any career decisions.
When you work with a studio, someone is overseeing that you arrive on time, stay on task, and then give you a paycheck at the end of the week. If you’re not used to that, then self-employment taxes can be a big shock to the system if you’re not anticipating them and that’s just one part of being on your own. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done or that you shouldn’t do it.
As you’re trying to build up your self-discipline, a great place to start is by making a schedule. Does that seem a little basic? Well, maybe. But as a visual artist, you’re likely to be a visual learner, and seeing your daily tasks on a time table can help you make good choices, use your time more wisely, and stay on task.
There are only 24 hours in the day. Unfortunately, no one has found a way to create extra time yet. This means you need to account for every hour and plot the things you need to accomplish in a day. What is the most important thing to you? How much time will it take?
Once you’ve established the most important aspects of your day, protect the time. If you’re invited for a cup of coffee or out to lunch and it conflicts with the parts of your day that are the most important, say no! You control your own destiny, and when you prioritize your time for what is most important to you, your self-discipline will flourish.
Do you need meditation time to become inspired? Put it on your schedule. Creating a consistent schedule is a key step to freelancing and staying on top of your tasks. The predictability from day to day will help you feel more in control of your career. When you don’t have to worry about where you need to be at what time, you can focus on the creative aspects of your art.
Don’t forget to add educational time to your schedule! Great artists continue to learn throughout their lifetime, whether that’s embracing new techniques or just brushing up on the fundamentals. Whether you take a class in person, work side by side with a mentor, or utilize one of the many excellent online art classes available, taking every opportunity to learn more can only benefit you as an artist.
The good news about an art class is it will help you keep connected to a community of artists. Having trusted professional artists whose opinions you value for feedback can ensure that you continue to grow as an artist to become as talented and driven as you aim to be. Working good things into your schedule is imperative to success as an independent artist.
What Are Your Independent Working Goals?
Whenever you’re considering a major life change, you should really take a step back and consider what your goals might be. This is another situation where there is no right or wrong answer. Everyone is going to have different goals as human beings and artists. Setting some goals can be scary initially because you might feel added stress or pressure to achieve those goals, but it is likely going to be well worth it, but don’t rush into a goal just to have one.
Take some time, and then write your goals down. Once you know what you’re working for and what your goals are, it will become easier to know how to achieve them. They might not be goals that can be accomplished in a week or even a year, but everyone has to start somewhere.
If you’re the kind of person who thrives on being able to cross items off your list, go ahead and set some easily achievable goals, but don’t be afraid to dream big! If you focus on your goals and work diligently, you just may surprise yourself with what you can accomplish.
As you discovered the clear path to achieving your goals, you will see where in your schedule you need to add more time to accomplish them. (Or you’ll see where you’re wasting time that could be better spent being productive.) Then adjust your schedule accordingly.
It’s important to remember that flexibility is key no matter what your goals are or how dedicated you are to following your schedule. Let’s be honest, sometimes life just happens. When things get in the way of what you’d rather be doing, you can choose your attitude and reaction.
Use distractions for good. Jot down any ideas you might have because you never know how they could become useful in your art going forward. It’s okay to plan, but it’s also good to keep one eye on where you are headed to make sure that you are focused and still able to be flexible.
It’s also okay to take time to reflect. Perhaps you should consider setting a goal to reflect on monthly. As you grow as a self-employed artist, your goals may change, but if you don’t take the time to reflect on those goals, you may not realize the potential you have to try something new and different. Goals should be ever-expanding and changing, don’t become stagnant.
It may seem like you will know intuitively if a plan is no longer in your best interests. That may be true, but if you’re trying to stick to your disciplined schedule you may not always realize that your circumstances have changed until you’re well past a good stopping point.
It’s okay to change the goals and the plan as needed. Be gentle with yourself as you journey through a career as an artist. It might not always be easy, but if you truly love what you do, it will be worth it in the long run. You’re growing as an individual and an artist, and being independent can be quite freeing once you’ve established yourself!
Are You Willing to Keep Learning as You Work On Your Own?
Every day is an opportunity for learning something more, but you need to be willing to put in the effort to grow as an artist. If you are dedicated to learning a new technique, it could be a really great step forward for your career. You’ll likely never figure that out and reap the rewards if you don’t seek out an education and carve out time to make it happen.
At the end of the day, is an extra half hour of drawing or a half-hour of video games going to serve you better? You don’t want to learn something and then forget it a few days later. The secret to learning something that can propel your career and knowledge base is to practice so frequently that it just becomes a part of you and your skill set that you can refer to for the rest of your career.
Learning new skills can help you break into different parts of the art industry. So wherever your goals lead you, you will be more prepared and fully engaged to say yes to new opportunities. Not everyone wants to design greeting cards, illustrate books, or animate, but those skills can crossover into many exciting projects in the future that you might not have even considered yet.
When you’ve gotten so good at a technique that it becomes subconscious knowledge, that’s when you know that you’ve succeeded in learning. And when you have gotten so good on your own as an independent artist away from the confines of a studio, that’s when you’ll know you’ve made the right choice.
Successfully Working Independently
It’s not always going to be easy to go at it alone. It takes a lot of hard work, discipline, and perseverance as a person and artist. You’ll likely have naysayers who might fear that you’ll end up living in a cardboard box. (If you’re working hard and staying disciplined, you should be able to avoid that.) Stay true to yourself and your goals so you can find success.
Whether you’ve been working as a studio artist for many years, or you’re just getting started in your career as an artist, setting goals and continuously learning is the best way to move forward. Stay focused and keep going, concentrate on what you want and go get it!