So you have finally decided to embrace your creative side and become a painter. Good choice! But you are probably wondering “how do I become a professional painter”? That’s a pretty logical question, given that there are 1.4 million working artists.
Finding a space and building your market may seem daunting, but with the skills and passion, the journey gets easier. However, there is no one-way-fits-all roadmap on how to become a painter, but we have simplified the process by listing the most practical steps used by seasoned artists to build a career for themselves in the domain.
Let’s gloss over the 11 step-by-step processes.
Step 1 - Give room for your skills to blossom
If you have decided to turn towards art as a career change or build on your existing artistic skills, the primary thing to do is to hone your skills. Sharpen your knowledge of painting, get acquainted with the latest techniques, trends and designs to get abreast with the industry. Take workshops, classes, seminars, meet-ups with fellow artists and network. Although it’s your art skills that matter overall, getting familiar with others in the industry is indispensable.
This is crucial as it helps you build your signature style and gain constructive feedback. Raise your skill level with regular practice and discipline. There’s no denying the feats you can achieve with consistency and belief in yourself.
Step 2 - Find your signature style
There’s a reason why you remember the works of Picasso, Van Gogh, Raphael, and Michelangelo. These master painters developed their skills in painting respectively and gave a new definition to cubism, impressionism, and murals.
The lesson here is to decide what you have to convey and how you want to portray it. The next would be deciding on the type of medium you would use. You need to dabble with a lot of different mediums like acrylic, gouache, watercolour or pastel and then come to a conclusion about the one that would suit you the best. Experimentalism lies at the heart of building your signature style.
Step 3 - Build on your skill sets
Now that you have developed a signature style, start building and improving on it. Your ultimate aim at this stage should be to practice and produce variations of your signature style. A professional class or guidance from a mentor would be optimum to guide you further in your career as a painter. As a habit, successful painters keep working on newer concepts but also work on their strengths. Look for something that would come naturally to you.
Step 4 - Create a masterpiece
When you are at that stage where you believe in your powers to become a painter, how about you paint your first masterpiece? Start with whatever you have learnt so far and put it on your canvas. Although inspiration and implementation may take a couple of days, try creating the highest level of art, to the best of your capabilities. Think of it as painting your first masterpiece.
Step 5 - Test the waters
After creating your masterpiece, enter your artwork into a local art store and actually test the waters. See how your art fares with real audiences and hear what they have to say about your masterpiece. If it sells, that’s a feather in your hat. If it doesn't, there's something you can take back from the experience and improve.
Step 6 - Get your artwork clicked
In showbiz, the one that glitters makes the most sales. So, even if your painting is the best among your peers, not getting it clicked will negatively impact your standing in the market. Learn the basics of photography and produce photographs that will represent your work.
Step 7 - Build your resume
With the number of artists and those aspiring to become one, visibility is a growing concern among them all. You ought to get yourself seen. The optimal way to do so is by building a resume, a portfolio of your best works and a well-built website. A painter’s resume would include an overview of your educational background, awards, art shows displays and exhibitions attended.
In the digital age, a website is the best way to get your art seen and build a rapport with your audience. A well-written bio along with bits and pieces of your artistic journey is a bonus point and greatly helps sales.
Step 8 - Make yourself seen
Social media plays a pivotal role in building your online presence. But despite the regular posting, you can gain a lot of edge when you study the basics of marketing and implement them. A little paid advertising every now and then will work wonders to draw an audience to your website. Do some research as it will help you know what others in your industry are doing and how you can leverage that to your advantage. More importantly, it will help you gain an idea of the pricing. If you wish to become an influencer, here’s a cheat sheet on how to become one on Instagram.
Step 9 - Focus on networking
What differentiates a professional painter from an amateur artist? The former knows how to convert his skill into a business while the latter simply does art for the sake of doing it. If you wish to make money as an artist, develop an entrepreneurial mindset. Build your way around the art industry by getting to know people who are crucial to your sales. For instance, suppliers, art show hosts, collectors and potential clients. There’s a lot that goes into transforming your art into a business. To make the process simpler, online platforms like Etsy, and Patron are here to help.
Step 10 - Present yourself professionally
A professional painter is one who is exceptionally skilled in the art and also sells himself as a professional. One is able to become so by coming across as a professional in all his dealings and interactions. Dress amicably and present yourself in a manner that’s appealing to spectators so that they enjoy purchasing your art and dealers look forward to being associated with you.
Step 11 - Shape your career trajectory
After reaching a certain point in your career as a professional painter, there may come a time when you may want to decide on future career paths. There are plenty of options to choose from. Would you like to become an art teacher, share your skills within the art community, do commission work, be involved in art fairs or gallery representation; the choice lies with you. Deciding on a career path is highly subjective and you may want to pick one based on your current situation.
However, one thing will remain constant in your journey to become a painter and that will be sharing your knowledge. In the early phase of your career where you need constant guidance and mentorship, finding good mentors will be crucial. To straighten it out for you, our audio-video social learning app - Kool Stories - is here to provide you with seasoned professionals from across the globe. If you have some wisdom to share, the stage is open for micro-content sharing through audio and video. Sign up for our newsletter and be among the early beta users if you are an art enthusiast. We are taking skills to a whole new level. Let’s join hands in a skilful endeavour.
Frequently Asked Queries
Q1. Is being a painter a good career?
Yes, painting is a good career option if you have a real passion for the art, are ready to build and improve your skillset and have a knack to sell your creation.
Q2. What skills do painters need?
If you wish to become a successful painter, you need to pay attention to details, aesthetic instincts, a constant source of inspiration and motivation, dedication, good soft skills to deal with contractors and clients and time management.
Q3. How do I start a career in painting?
To build a career in painting, you need to get yourself enrolled in an art school, university or a diploma college. From there you can opt if you want to study further or get into the field.
Q4. Can I be an artist without a degree?
You can become an artist without a formal degree but for that, you may need to do a crash course in the domain or be a prodigy with an inborn talent for the art. But you may surely need a client base, testimonials and a sound portfolio to sell your skills despite an educational background in arts.
Q5. Can I be a self-taught artist?
One can easily be a self-taught artist in today’s digital world. Follow some inspiring people in the industry and never resist the urge to draw, doodle or illustrate.