What it Takes to Thrive as an Emerging Artist: Advice From 7 Successful Artists

Paige Simianer | March 10, 2023

Artwork Archive artist Mel Reese cleaning up the edges of a freshly peeled layer of “What’s Been Decided For Us”. Image courtesy of the artist, Mel Reese.

Are you an artist looking for advice on how to take your art to the next level?

Whether you’re just starting out on your art career journey or you’ve been creating for a while, it’s always good to seek advice from those who have been there before. 

The art world is a challenging and competitive place, and we know it can be hard to know where to turn for guidance. But, fear not! At Artwork Archive, we believe in artists supporting artists and know plenty of those finding success right now who are more than willing to share their knowledge and experience. 

Seven established Artwork Archive artists recently shared their advice for emerging artists looking to succeed in their art careers. From maintaining authenticity to staying on top of the admin side, these artists have navigated (and are still navigating) the challenges and obstacles of the art world.

To all the emerging artists out there, take heart—success is attainable! Keep honing your skills, pursuing your passions, and creating art that resonates with you and the world.

These artists' advice will serve as a guide to help you along the way:


Take Heart; Embrace the Entire Job

You’re doing great. Take a moment to breathe. Take time to listen. 

Then, embrace the entire job of being a professional artist, both in and out of the studio. Art-making and creative work are, of course, core components of the job—but they are not the whole job, any more than doctors’ work is limited to administering medicine or teachers’ work is done entirely in the classroom.  

The work of a professional artist begins in the studio but extends beyond our creative practices.

Our job includes illuminating the path for others to connect with our work, using whatever tools are at our disposal.

Whether we’re writing helpful artist statements, providing service to clients and collectors, presenting or work in person or online, or marketing our work so that others have the opportunity to connect with what we’re doing—my advice to emerging artists would be to embrace the whole job, and to commit to doing their studio work justice by sharing it with the conviction and intention it deserves. 

—Advice from artist Ruth Becker

Ruth Becker, 'Magic (Warm Tone)', 19 x 19 x 0.5 in


Remember: You Are Uniquely Designed 

There is no other person on this planet that can do what you can do.

You have a gift and it's your responsibility to use this artistic gift to impact the world.

I dare you to use it. I dare you to create your life. And, I dare you to use your gift!

—Advice from artist Demarcus McGaughey

Demarcus McGaughey, 'Thanks for my Child', 10 x 8 x 0.75 in, 2022


Be As Efficient and Professional As Possible as an Artist

It is certainly helpful and advisable to use an integrative inventory program as early as possible and to continuously collect all the necessary data.

In order to be successful in the art world, the demands on an artist are high. Therefore, it's crucial to run the administrative side as efficiently and professionally as possible.

As an artist, you're in charge of your own marketing and sales. This means developing sound professionalism through social media and the web is key.

It's important to give yourself time to develop your own style—to listen to your inner voice. Keep the joy in the creative process and stay curious, experimental, and daring.

As an artist, you'll need to grow some thick skin and keep a positive mindset; it helps to put away frustrations and failures and start over again and again. 

—Advice from artist Simone Christen

Simone Christen, 'Winter Blossom', 45 x 45 in, 2022

Study. (And don’t just study art).

If you post on social media, watch videos about how to use social media.

Revisit your art statement at least once a year, and think about if you still create the same things or have the same message.

Read other people’s artist statements. Go to galleries and museums, and look closely at the artists who have work you love and work that is similar to yours. Study the artists while you are there! Who and what are they going to show? Where are they showing? And, who is buying their work?

Place yourself in the right places. I spend two hours a day watching and listening to instructional videos about business.

Don’t forget that business is also an art.

—Advice from artist, Zsudayka Nzinga

Zsudayka Nzinga, 'All the Pieces We Leave Behind', 39 x 25 in, 2021


Always Be Ready for an Art Opportunity When it Arises

Build your network all the time, and make sure you have a professional presence on the web so that you can take advantage of those connections when the opportunity arises.

Even if you only have a handful of pieces you are currently proud of, get them photographed professionally and present them as well as you can on your website or your Instagram.

Post images of your work or your process regularly. That could be once a day, once a week, or once a month, as long as it’s consistent. You never know when the opportunity will knock and you want to be ready!

—Advice from artist Natale Adgnot

Natale Adgnot, The Duck Test 2, 11 x 14 x 1.75 in


Dedication is Key for Artists

Keep creating and do not be discouraged by the "no's". 

Sometimes, a no is the best answer, as there is a better path waiting for you. 

Hard work always pays off. Put in the hours and you will find your lane and eventually find success.

—Advice from artist Miles Regis


Miles Regis, 'Let's Keep The Love Going', 37 x 52 in


Be true to yourself, network, and use Artwork Archive!

- Be true to yourself.

Create work that reflects your perspective and experiences. If you are genuine, you’ll be able to amass an audience that truly connects to your work. Being true to yourself can also help you to stay motivated. When you create work that is meaningful to you, you are more likely to stay engaged as you face the challenges of an art career.

Authenticity can be a potent tool in developing an art career. 

- Network and don’t be ashamed to market yourself.

Attend events, join professional organizations, reach out to people you admire, and use social media. Cultivate relationships with other artists, vendors, galleries, and collectors, but don’t discount those who don’t appear to be part of the art world. You never know where your next introduction, opportunity, or sale will come from.

- Use Artwork Archive!

Art production is only a fraction of what professional artists do. A reliable platform that manages and tracks your art business will allow you to direct more energy to artmaking.

Start using Artwork Archive sooner rather than later. It’s easier to set up and get all your work and records into the platform while your body of work is smaller.

—Advice from artist Bao-Khang Luu

Bao-Khang Luu, 'Une Reconfiguration 25', pine cone scales, wood, acrylic, 12 x 28.75 x 2.75 in

As an artist, seeking advice and guidance from those who have been successful is crucial to taking your career to the next level. 

With these tips, determination, and a supportive community of fellow artists, you can achieve your goals and thrive in the art world. So take this advice to heart and keep pushing forward, you've got this!

Want more tips, tricks, and advice for your art career? Sign up for our free newsletter to get them right in your inbox! 

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