Éadaoin Glynn, Capucine Safir, and Arno Masse  (left to right)

A linear career path in the arts is, quite frankly, not a thing.

The idea of a clear and upward moving path in an art career is satisfying, but in reality, it is often more like getting lost in the woods and circling back to your starting point over and over until you finally find yourself on a whole different path than when you started. 

Perhaps there is no such thing as a linear path, and this idea is just us attempting to create a narrative for ourselves, giving a semblance of order and control to our large unknowns. 

When you think about where you are, where you came from, and where you want to go, it’s tempting to play games of “what ifs.” 

What if I had said yes to that one opportunity? 

What if I said no, instead? 

Part of not fully knowing where each path will lead us is the allure of playing out alternate realities. What better way to explore our own paths than by relating to and thinking about the diverse paths of other artists attempting similar goals and confronted with similar life choices? Can other artist’s paths inspire or inform your own?

We were curious about what shapes different career paths for artists and what we could learn from how different artists view their journey in the art field, as well as their perspective on what led them to this point.  We talked to three Artwork Archive artists about their art career paths to get some insights into how different art careers unfold and how different each path truly can be. 

Here is what Arno Masse, Éadaoin Glynn and Capucine Safir said reflecting back on their career so far.

Was your path to an art career linear?

My career path is not really linear. 

Before I became a photographer, I served in the army for 5 years. Then, I started as a freelance newspaper photographer. I knew I wanted to work as a photographer and artist. I am lucky to have walked that path altogether for these years. I am self-taught, learning as I went along. When I was younger I wasn't accepted into art school; but, my career went surprisingly well without formal training. I’m following my passion and talent by combining photography with alternate printing and painting techniques to redefining existing techniques.

Arno Masse, photographer

My path has not been linear. 

I had a very long hiatus of no art at all before returning to it in the last few years. When I was 17, I had to decide between a place in art school and a place in university. I impulsively tossed a coin in my bedroom the night before I had to decide. It came up for university and my 17-year-old self very grandly decided that if I wasn’t going to paint professionally, I would never paint again. I packed away my paintbrushes and I didn’t paint again, for a very long time. 

Éadaoin Glynn, painter

In my opinion, the path of an artist cannot be linear.

It’s always made of ups and downs, moments of pure joy and deep questioning, and inspired phases and blank ones.

Capucine Safir, sculptor
Effervescence by Capucine Safir. Ballons, paper mache, plater, paint.


How do decisions, both big and small, fuel your career?

Every decision I make now is about taking risks, being brave, not being afraid of rejection, of being too old, of looking foolish. 

I have never felt more clear or more certain that this is what I want to do, that this is what I am meant to do. I have no time to lose. I say ‘yes’ to every opportunity the universe throws my way. Part of my decision making is investing in what allows me to be an artist. Last year, I turned a spare bedroom into a studio.  It made such a difference to have a dedicated space to paint in. 

Along with investing time in my painting, giving up weekends and evenings, I have also invested financially in workshops, materials, a website and tools such as Artwork Archive

Éadaoin Glynn, painter

I find many business decisions to be challenging.

Investments, financial planning, following up on leads, and networking altogether are not my talents but crucial to a healthy (art) business. Success in a moment doesn’t mean there will be continued success, so it’s important to plan ahead. Finding your clients and audience and then staying in constant contact with them has been very important for my business. 

When I’m faced with a difficult decision, I collaborate with people who have the talents I lack. I seek out advice and expertise.

Arno Masse, photographer

I decided that I needed to think bigger and challenge myself.

The first big decision I had to make was to become a professional artist, which meant needing to expose the most intimate parts of me to strangers. At the end of 2018, after Art Week Miami, I decided to cancel all the shows planned for 2019. I knew there would be collateral damages to my career and some people would not understand why I needed to do this, but it was necessary. I decided that I needed to think bigger and challenge myself. I was working through a phase of major doubt in my career and needed to make decisions that would propel me forward. It took me 4 months to create “Madame Reve,” a sculpture of 6.5 feet high. I’m so proud of “her." She is a decision that marks the beginning of a new way of thinking and creating. 

Capucine Safir, sculptor
Into the trees by Arno Massee. Cyanotype, 33 x 42 cm


What have been some turning points in your career?

Claiming my identity as an artist 

Although I was a successful photographer in my career and enjoyed making images for my clients, at a certain point I really wanted to make the images I believed in and produce work that gave me fulfillment. I am now claiming my identity as an artist and putting myself and my work out there.

Arno Masse, photographer


Taking risks creatively and professionally

In 2018 I completed Julia Cameron’s ‘The Artist’s Way’ book, which was a huge turning point.  After decades of being blocked, I was wide open to creativity again. It accelerated my path back to art and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who is feeling blocked.

Another turning point was when I entered my first open call for an exhibition in the Lavit Gallery, Cork, Ireland. It was a huge confidence boost when one of my paintings was accepted and exhibited alongside the work of “real,” “proper,” “established” artists. My painting was mentioned in an art review in a national newspaper and later sold!  My risk paid off. I remember thinking to myself ‘this art business is easy’. Of course, I was wrong. However, that first ‘yes’ had shored up my confidence so that I could keep going in the face of rejection. 

My first solo show last November was another turning point for me and the scariest thing I have ever done. There is something incredibly personal about creating paintings. I felt very vulnerable and exposed, showing my work to people, many who didn’t know that I painted. I was declaring myself as an artist. It was my biggest risk to date. 

Éadaoin Glynn, painter


Deciding to become an artist

My major turning points were deciding to become an artist and then rethinking my artistic direction in 2018. What I’ve learned since the beginning of this career as an artist is even if the “down" periods feel endless, frustrating and stressful, then comes the “up.” You never know when a turning point will appear. It’s a whole new phase, full of excitement, ideas and you feel unstoppable. It’s hard to admit but the downs are really necessary. You just have to hold on tight and be patient. 

Capucine Safir, sculptor
Containers (Triptych) by Éadaoin Glynn. Oil / cold wax / oil bar on cradled panel  60 x 150 x 3 cm (23.62 x 59.06 x 1.18 in)

Looking back, can you make sense of your path to becoming a career artist?

My mindset had to shift to embrace being an artist

Age 50, soon to be 51, I feel like one of the world’s oldest emerging artists. My art career only started properly just one year ago. However, my path although short has been very intense. I have no time to lose. I have worked incredibly hard at making up for lost time. Having now returned to art after decades of no art, my biggest decision has been a shift in mindset, of saying that I am an artist, both to myself and to others. 

Éadaoin Glynn, painter

Redirecting my focus has let art lead the way now

I first started as a photographer 25 years ago, working for newspapers and commercial clients. I got married, bought a house, and was blessed with four lovely sons. My art career wasn’t a priority. I focused primarily on my business to earn a living. For years I worked "in assignment” and didn’t make the time or effort to produce my own imagery. In the past few years, I redirected the focus on my artwork and I’ve been letting that lead my way.

Arno Masse, photographer

Being a professional artist was not planned at all

Life brought me to it. I’m surprised to be where I am today and have absolutely no idea where I’m going to be tomorrow. This makes the whole journey exciting (yet stressful sometimes). As a self-taught artist and looking back at the last 6 years, I am amazed to see the evolution of my work and my techniques. 

There are pros and cons when starting a career in your 30’s: you have to reinvent your life, convince yourself and others that you are legitimate, which is not easy without any academic background. But, you have the advantage of life experience so you know yourself better and have other priorities than you did in your 20’s.

Capucine Safir, sculptor


Reflecting on Your Own Fine Art Career Path

When looking back on the past we are able to understand and see situations more clearly than when we first experienced them—it’s why we often hear the proverb  “Hindsight is 20/20”. 

While the school of thought on how we remember and the accuracy of our recall is more complicated than just having fully clear insight on the past, this saying is still useful.

What we can gather from these three artists' reflections are that taking risks, owning your identity, and creating habits and systems that will help you succeed on this path. 

Being an artist is rooted in core decisions that allow you to create better habits and systems to manage both your art and art career. 

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