Below, I've paraphrased Roberts' main ideas about what an artist should consider before making the leap to full-time status:
- Are you prepared to handle the business of being an artist in addition to the demands of creating works of art?
- Will you be able to produce enough paintings that are sellable to generate sufficient income for your needs?
- Will you be able to find joy in your work without succumbing to the stresses associated with running the business side of art, creating a sufficient amount of work under a deadline, and producing an adequate income?
- Can you maintain and even improve your creativity and the quality of your work as you strive to meet all these goals?
- Would you be willing to teach art in order to supplement your income if necessary?
These are all good questions, and ones that I had to consider before making the leap. I'd like to elaborate on the first question about the business of art. You should be brutally honest with yourself when answering this question. Being a full-time artist IS a business, and this means that you should be comfortable marketing your work and yourself. In order to do this, you must develop a very tough skin to deflect the rejection and indifference that you'll frequently encounter as you persevere to find opportunities in every possible nook and cranny. And, don't get caught up in the romantic notion that you'll be "discovered" by some gallery dealer who'll do everything for you so you can simply stay home and paint. It almost never happens. And, if it does, you still need to know enough about business to understand how to manage a contractual relationship. I spend a lot of time promoting my work through galleries, the internet, personal connections, national and international juried exhibitions, brochures, and so on. It takes a lot of time and can be expensive, but it's worth it.
And, because this is a business, you must keep a complete and accurate financial account for both tax and personal reasons. You need to know if you're meeting your financial goals so you can make adjustments if necessary.
The second, third, and fourth points are also critically important. Are you the sort of person who can handle the stress created by deadlines and financial concerns and still find joy in your work? Will you be able to continually improve the quality of your work in this type of environment? Personally, I like deadlines and the challenges of running the business. It motivates me to stay in the studio, get the job done, and to do it well. These deadlines enhance my level of creativity as I try new techniques on newly formulated concepts. The rewards make it all worthwhile.
One last thing ... whether or not you're a full-time artist isn't important to the creation of unique and meaningful work that's technically masterful. You can become a successful artist without assuming full-time status. How many museums display works of art by "Masters" who worked at jobs outside of art while they were creating? Plenty! Just because you've chosen to be a part-time artist doesn't mean that you aren't serious or that your work doesn't deserve serious consideration.
There's so much more that I could say, but I've learned that this blog has many astute readers who can add gems to this golden nugget. Please add your thoughts ...