Creative Process

20 things I wish I had learned in art school

  1. For the love of God start drawing in frame sizes  Seriously, get your matt, and/or frame, BEFORE you start drawing, and draw your art to fit it.  Buy matts and sleeves wholesale.

  2. Find a local public place hang your art. Even if you feel like your art sucks, and even if the place is humble:  An office building hallway is fine. A bank lobby is awesome. A cafe is less great than you think it is, but good, too.  Hang your six best artworks. As you make better ones, take down the worse ones. That, by the way, is your portfolio.

  3. This hanging system is startlingly important 

  4. Understand that your art is a product so learn salesmanship.  Art teachers don’t know salesmanship, but your uncle at the car dealership does, talk to him.

  5. Have several products, not just one.  Here are six products:
    1) Your own fine art,
    2) Greeting Cards
    3) Tattoos
    4) House Drawings
    5) Pet Portraits
    6) Kid portraits at children's parties
    7) T-Shirt design
    8) Business logo design
    9) fan art
    10) bookmarks
    11) stickers and oh sorry that was too many.

  6. Learn the open-source programs like GIMP, Inkscape and ghostscript. Once you are addicted to Adobe you are theirs for life. Linux Ubuntu is easy and your computer is SO much faster then WIndows

  7. Know your local printers and their print processes:  Work for them. Learn prepress. You will have to create and sell prints of your artwork, it’s very difficult to live off originals alone (although focus on originals, too. because they are high ticket items)

  8. Get an Epson Artisan 1430; it’s a cheap, good printer.  You know the ‘look at your artwork in a mirror’ trick? Printing your artwork is just like that. It can also produce professional films for screen printing.

  9. Learn to photograph or scan your artwork properly:  Get two LED desklamps from Target for $4.99 each, put a poster board as the background and figure it out with your phone camera.  It’s absolutely necessary.

  10. Flea markets, art markets and any point of sale opportunities are your friends:  You’ll learn more selling there than anywhere else, even if you sell nothing.

  11. LEARN FRAMES.  Buy art at flea markets, yard sales, and 2nd hand stores that have nice frames, take those frames apart, put your art in them, and put them back together in a professional way.  Before you know it when you walk through fine art museums and galleries you’ll go through for a second pass to look at frames.

  12. Facebook is for friends and family, Instagram is for strangers.  Selling to each is wildly different, watch the youtube tutorials.  If you can figure out how to sell your art on Pinterest let me know!

  13. Exercise, know keto, intermittent fasting, meditation and focus.  Stay sober most the time, but not all the time. Staying healthy, energetic, optimistic and inspired is hard, hard, hard especially as you get older.  Focus and concentrate habitually.

  14. The world is chock full of artists and the competition is fierce, but it’s less fierce then you think it is.  If you really want to see how those instagram art geniuses are doing, track them for a while. Turns out they only crank out an artwork every two weeks, at most, and they’re spread all over the world- your local market is yours.

  15. The art world opens up when you get away from superhero and fantasy artwork.  Suddenly there’s much, much less competition. Also, drawing sexy women works for a while, but viewers are not there for you or your art, they are there for the sexy women, and there is an ocean of sexy women in media..

  16. Network!  It’s awkward as hell but go to the networking meetings, chamber mixers, rising tide society meetings, toastmaster club, argh.  If you are cooler then me do non-networking activities like sports, disk golf, clubbing, and politics, but network doing it. Keep a list of contacts, plug them into mailchimp, send out infrequest mass emails.

  17. Learn to accept a compliment gracefully.  Practice saying “Thank you, you’re very kind” in the mirror.  Don’t argue or be modest, just say thank you and move past it.

  18. Compliments are great, but criticism actually helps.  Listen to people talk about your artwork when they don’t know you are there.  It’s will destroy your soul but make you better. If criticism makes you quit, then art was never the  thing for you in the first place.

  19. Don’t be humble in interviews, during pitches or while networking.  You don’t have to be a swaggering arrogant ass, but you can say “I’m really good at drawing”.  Practice, if you need to. Don’t point your foibles out to people just to be humble, or even honest:  That’s not what you are there for.

  20. Screenprinting, greeting cards, and art shows are some of the last places you can make money just drawing.  If you want to go beyond those you have to learn layout… and then photography, then web design, and then you aren’t drawing at all any more, and that happens to artists all the time.