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How To Earn Your Living As An Artist and Creative Person.

Ryn Shell

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October 20th, 2017 - 09:26 AM

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How To Earn Your Living As An Artist and Creative Person.

The above artwork image is of portrait commision by Ryn Shell, in artist's pastels, completed to a clients instructions, showing the combination of artistic talent, PR skills of working with the client and the business ability of marketing commissioned portaiture as a service.

You need to treat art as a business if your business is art.


1. Talent.
We need the talent or skill to have something to sell.
Develop this. Make it a lifetime commitment to be in an ongoing search for knowledge and learn from everything and anything you can, while not contravening the copyright of others, make sure you didn’t have a fool for a teacher, by insisting on being ‘self-taught.'
Yes, one can be self-guided, but expertise is learned from experts.

2. Public Relations skills.
If you are not skilled in public relations, then learn these skills. It might be easier to employ someone to do the PR for you, but the truth of the matter is, that unless you have an income aside from your art, few artists are going to have the funds to pay for a good PR representative. Learn how to do this for yourself.

3. Business skills.
It does not matter how well you create, paint or how good the items you have to sell are, nor how well you can market these, using your PR skills, if the business side of things breaks down and you make unwise choices accounting for and using the income you earn. There needs to be a balance of all skills.

4. Diversify.
Art is a nonessential, item. If you look at how the stock market fluctuates, then realize that art is also going to fluctuate, only the fluctuation will be more extensive.
No one, can tell you in advance what artistic skills might peak nor suffer in the next fluctuation.

Take the example of the need to diversify, from what happened during the last big depression to my own artistic family, who all survived based on the actions of one family member, my mother, the only one who diversified her skills.

My father, the architect, rated at the time as one of the top 6 architects in Australia, had no essential service skills and was unemployed during the last depression.

My uncle, one of Australia’s best musicians at the time, a man who during the peak of his career, left millions to charities due to the success of his career. He had no other developed skill aside from his musicianship, and he could not make enough money to provide a home for or feed his family during that depression as people would not pay for his, non-essential service, skill, or even for him to teach music.

My mother, a dress designer, was able to diversify, from making high-end fashion. She changed to doing alterations to extend the use of clothing. She also diversified, designing apparel to fit people with deformity. Later she placed a tender to the Australian government and was accepted to oversee the manufacture of military uniforms. Due to her ability to diversify, she was able to support three families of six adults and three children through the Great Depression.
Because she was prepared to diversify her artistic skills when the need arose and was not be too proud to take orders or work with heavy-weight, harsh on the hands, military materials.

When I informed my family that I intended to be an artist, they were 100% behind my doing this. They never told me that "I would not be able to earn my living in the arts.". They did, however, insist that I have diverse talents and essential skills.

My suggestion is to develop varied and essential service skills that tie into your art. Your integrity as an artist is protected, if you have an alternative income, and you have the financial stability you need as a base to develop a successful artistic life. If you never need to use those other skills, that's great.

Happy creating.

I travel extensively to draw inspiration for my paintings and writing from life experience.
You will discover my Australian rural-lit novels at www.rural-lit.com

​Ryn Shell.

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