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What should you be prepared for as a freelance artist fresh out of college?

This could apply to architecture, fine arts, graphic design, or anything similar. I know at this point in my life that I wish to do something with art. What originally discouraged me from making this decision was the "starving artist" trope. Many people assume that artists can't make a living when they obviously can. However, I do understand that, along with any other profession, there may be some initial difficulty actually finding a job. As an artist, what other kinds of situations should one prepare themselves for? #art #artist #fine-art #graphic-designer #preparation

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Kim’s Answer

Hi Chrisanthi,

This is a very good question, and being prepared for the types of freelance art you list is different for each case and individual.

While you are in school for your chosen focus, your courses should give you plenty of ideas and knowledge about where you could use the skills you're learning. As you explore different assignments practicing and learning about new skills, you will discover certain things about your own natural tendencies and talents or gifts. There will be things that you enjoy doing more than others, things that you want to explore more, things that inspire you, and things that you hate or never want to do again! Formatting in InDesign or any other program is one of mine. You will discover things that you're very good at, and realize that there is a need in the market for it. Some of these skills will be more mundane, and there will be lots of opportunities for work. Some might be jobs that only the top percentage of artists get to do, and some will be available in between.

For freelancing, you will seek to fill up a portion of your hours with "bread and butter" work that pays the bills, while you continue to look for opportunities to do your favorite things. This is how the game is played, and the object is to fill more and more of your paid hours with the work you truly want to do. I hope this helps!

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Ellen’s Answer

At this point in your career, I think you should investigate real art jobs; usually people are more successful "freelancing", in any of the areas you mentioned in your question, after they have some experience. So, for example, if you are interested in graphic design, take some courses, do an internship, and get a job working for a company or a design studio, or an advertising agency for a while before you strike out on your own. Same with architecture, fashion design, and any other area in art. Working for other artists/designers is a great way to continue your education and improve your skills and abilities. Yes, artists can make a decent living, but you will have lots of competition and you'll have to be persistent and patient.

As for freelancing in fine art or photography, be prepared to take a "day job" while you work and refine your art. The starving artist scenario is real. Decide for yourself what kind of lifestyle you want.

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Fay’s Answer

The last statement by Ellen Rosenthal, " be prepared to take a day job" pretty much summarizes life as an artist. I work in NYC and chose the path of a photographer. Along the way, I had to change my direction by applying my photographic skills to that of a Digital Retoucher, Scanner Operator, Color Specialist. I had to adapt to the Computer Graphics Field because that was where the money was. I retouched, skin, hair, cosmetics, perfume bottles during they day and at night I would experiment with my photography. I'd have access to high-end scanning and printing equipment, plus a paycheck so that was a perfect match for me. At the same time, my career has been unstable, erratic and heavily affected by the whims of economic fluctuations. This kind of instability is usually too much for people to deal with and they leave the creative field. It's a way of life you have to learn to live with. A similar industry is acting. Work nights and a waiter, audition during the day and quit your job when your score a movie or Broadway Show until that ends then go back being a waiter again. If being an artist is what you really want to do. All I can tell you is I've lived that life for 30 years and I have never regretted it. Of course, my resolve is always being tested. As a final suggestion Look into reading: The Power of Myth Joseph Campbell
“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” His work is pretty deep so you have to keep an open mind. He answers a lot of question for individuals who are pursuing a creative life.