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AIBU to think I can be an artist? Are any of you are artists? If so, do you do it full time? Do you make money from it or is it a hobby?

(56 Posts)
user1474217141 Thu 20-Oct-16 19:49:24

I am not new to being an artist as such, I used to sell my work for £££s a pop (for a few days work) but it was a VERY small market and deemed a little "weird". I never had any passion for it, So I can say I was happy to see the back of it and the certain type of customers.
I since then I gave that up and got a boring and stressful job in insurance. Now Ive given that up and Ive realised art really is all I want to do with my life. If I dont properly try I will never know. This time I want to be working with canvas and paintings, doing what I love.
Ive been winning art awards since I was 7 but my family were extremely against art. "waist of time - pathetic - childish..." normal abusive narc crap.
So here I am. My partner is very supportive and is encouraging me/pushing me to push for my dream.
I told my closest and oldest friend about it and she couldnt even bring herself to comment she thought it was so stupid. That was very off putting.

So I am asking any of you out there who are in the same boat or are considering it, AIBU for thinking I can do this?
Does anyone else make a living? How did you start? Do you advertise? Would it be unreasonable for me to ask you these ins and outs?

* All feedback welcome, I am familiar with AIBU and expect some people to have claws out. But any actual advice would be very much appriciated my end. Thank you for taking the time x

HermioneWeasley Thu 20-Oct-16 19:51:13

I know a couple of artists who scrape a living from their art, but it's barely min wage

myownprivateidaho Thu 20-Oct-16 19:52:31

Is it possible to produce stuff on the weekend at first? It's hard to know -- what market are you looking at? What is £££ (three, four, five, six figures?). How much do you want to make pa? I think you'd be better talking to industry people in the area you want to specialise in. Maybe find out who the agents are of comparable artists?

deeedeee Thu 20-Oct-16 19:52:55

I'm an artist, have been for 20 years.

I make a living at it!

You need to be tenacious, flexible, confident, genuine and able to enjoy your lucky times and not so lucky times equally.

Dozer Thu 20-Oct-16 19:53:53

Can you afford to not earn much?

myownprivateidaho Thu 20-Oct-16 19:53:58

Also what are awards for your art? Village show or best in year at major art school? Why did your best friend think it was such a bad idea?

Laiste Thu 20-Oct-16 20:02:38


I'm just starting out in the world of selling my art again (made some money years ago, but needed a 'proper' job to get a mortgage.)

Hard to put my thoughts into a nut shell, but my opinions are:
- expect not to make a living out of it and you wont be disappointed.
- it's A LOT to do with who you know and where you are at the time.
- there's a vast amount of snobbery around the subject of art and the price you ask is weirdly related to how good people feel about spending the money. (therefore hard to pitch it right)
- it can be all very ''emperors new clothes'', IYKWIM? If you can get someone with a bit of influence to say you're the next big thing then everyone will love your work.
- without going into the outlay of getting prints of your work distributed for sale it's unlikely you're going to make more than a nice bit of pocket money every time one of your originals sells.

The term Starving Artist sums it up! grin I wish you all the best.

deeedeee Thu 20-Oct-16 20:06:55

Yeah, I'd never advise to do it with the hope of being rich from it.

But it is possible to make a doable living and be happy and satisfied by living a life you want to live.

user1474217141 Thu 20-Oct-16 20:17:43

Honestly, Im looking to make enough to top up our income to live off. I dont expect to be swimming in cash. Just enough to contribute.

My first art I ever sold was just under £500 and it was a practice piece. I never ever toot my own horn but I am not half bad, but ive been doing it for as long as I can remember. When I was little mum couldnt afford (pissed it up the wall) toys for us so I used to draw on scrap paper and even unused wallpaper rolls. Its litterally all I did as a child so I became very very good very fast.
My grandad used to have me painting with him (he taught art school at night) so I learned a lot from very very young. Its all ive ever wanted to do.

Can you afford to not earn much? Thats a question! I can afford to bring in a little or nothing for a while if im honest.

As for awards, I dont want to say too much on that score, but from aged 7 Ive had a lot of local attention, I come from a very artistic cultural town.

Ive never really gone for it, most recognision has happened by accident and even last year, I never expected people to commission my work like they did.
I dont claim to be "going to the big leagues" or anything special. But im good enough for it not to be a complete joke, if you want to see pieces I can show them.

user1474217141 Thu 20-Oct-16 20:21:53

Laiste, wonderful advice thank you. All of that is very honest. I know what you mean about having someone well known vouch for you, I had that and it really picked up last year and my commission waiting list was stupidly long (turning people away). It didnt go stale, I just bloody hated the type of art it was haha. I will take all of the advice along with me.
Best of luck to you and thank you again! x

user1474217141 Thu 20-Oct-16 20:24:29

Thank you very much for the kind comments.
I know its a weird subject to see here so thank you for all being so gracious.

I dont expect to make a hit of myself, paintings in galleries left, right and center at ££££ a piece. Just enough to keep me in canvas and a bit extra to help with bills would be all I could ever ask for. I am starting to believe that may be somewhat realistic.

mycatstares Thu 20-Oct-16 20:30:35

If you want to be an artist then go for it! Life is too short to not give it ago.

Would love to see some of your work, I love artgrin.

Laiste Thu 20-Oct-16 20:30:47

my commission waiting list was stupidly long (turning people away). It didnt go stale, I just bloody hated the type of art it was haha.

Oh god this resonates with me! I had the same situation a few years ago. It used to literally annoy me when the phone went with a job! I sold a 'job lot' to John Lewis art department once. 50 bloody pictures of more or less the same thing. Nearly drove me mad doing it. That's when i knew it was time to stop.

If you can make money out of producing art which you actually enjoy producing then you're on to a winner smile Many people's idea of doing art for a living is floating around in an attractive studio rubbing your chin and being all expressive over a massive canvas every day. Or sitting on a windswept hill with an easel immersed in your own thoughts. However, as in all jobs - much of it can get pretty tedious: you have to do what makes the money and sometimes you're really not in the mood grin

pinkyredrose Thu 20-Oct-16 20:33:18

OP it all sounds very exciting! I hope it works out! Do you have any examples of your work we could see please?

Hassled Thu 20-Oct-16 20:41:15

I have a friend who's an artist - reasonably successful in as much as some big sales, showings in London galleries etc. But it's a bloody hard slog for her and the pressure is immense. The income is so irregular, too.

ShotgunNotDoingThePans Thu 20-Oct-16 20:41:53

You say you've won awards; a lot of artists start out by entering competitions. Think there's various websites listing them. Or some of the artists'/painters' magazine list them. Might be a way of starting to make a name in your new field. Do you have a preferred medium?

TeenAndTween Thu 20-Oct-16 20:51:30

Can you give yourself a time limit to have a real go?
What I mean is say you are going to focus on art full time for e.g. 1 year but if by then you aren't making £500 per month (or whatever) you will drop it back to being a hobby and get a full/part time job?

Electrolens Thu 20-Oct-16 20:54:26

Honestly, from what you've did you sound as if you are talented. But it also sounds as if you were making a living from it and resented the commissions that you didn't want to do.

I think you can - and should - do it. But most artistic folks make their money from work they put effort and talent into, that then allows them to pursue the art they love even if it's for small beans. Look at John Lloyd - producer for Blackadder etc that were projects he loved but he spent a lot of time also directing and producing adverts. I don't think he would say it was his calling but did bring money in and hone his talents.

So no, YADNBU to follow your passion and go for it. But don't resent connected work you do to bring in extra ££ - try and look at it as still doing what you enjoy (rather than being something totally different such as a solicitor or primary school teacher for example) and also all the time developing and honing your skills - cos we can all do that.

fudgefeet Thu 20-Oct-16 20:55:07

My husband is an artist. He works for a company doing concepts and character designs. He also exhibits his work from time to time and illustrates books. I have a small online shop selling prints of his work which are bought worldwide. He has only ever worked as an artist and we are really lucky that he has been able to support the family doing that. I have been dabbling for the past 20 years with illustration and toy making but apart from craft fayres I have never tried to branch out. Next year I'm planning to take it much more seriously.
Having a niche market is a great advantage especially when promoting on platforms like Instagram and tumblr. It's good to build up a fan base and share your progress with people so you have a ready audience to promote your work to when your ready to sell.

Temporaryname137 Thu 20-Oct-16 20:56:54

Not me, I can barely draw a straight line, but a good friend makes a healthy living from her art. However she works bloody hard, including running her own gallery and selling other people's stuff too.

user1474217141 Thu 20-Oct-16 21:12:26

Like I said, it was alternative art haha.

user1474217141 Thu 20-Oct-16 21:15:31

Not the clearest pictures. As you can tell I want to go into a total different field

tudorgirl Thu 20-Oct-16 21:17:47

Go for it! As long as you have enough to get by, money isn't everything. I plan on doing the same, I am giving myself a time limit to make it successful (enough for me) before I will look st going back to a 'sensible' job and hope to supplement my income with running workshops.
Good luck!

ArtyBat Thu 20-Oct-16 21:20:57

I'm an artist. Pretty successful too.

Try diversifying. As well as creating art, run workshops, take on commissions, give talks on your subject.

Pm me if you want to know more as to how to go about it.

Itsseweasy Thu 20-Oct-16 21:24:53

Oh aren't they called reborn dolls or something? Not necessarily something I'd want to own myself, but can appreciate the skill & patience involved in creating them. What would you like to see yourself creating going forward?

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