Melanie recommends the following next steps:
Selling art through online platforms or galleries is a difficult and challenging path because of competition, politics, and many other factors. But the decision to pursue art as a primary career or a side job depends on several factors, including your personal circumstances, financial stability, and goals. Art can be an unstable field, with income often fluctuating depending on the demand for your work or the success of your projects. For some, this uncertainty can be challenging to manage, while others may find it exciting and motivating.
Many artists choose a side job or a more stable primary job while pursuing their art. On the other hand, some artists decide to fully commit to their artistic careers, dedicating all their time and energy to developing their craft, building their portfolios, and promoting their work. It depends on our circumstances, environment, and desire. With any career decision, it's important to weigh the risks and check-in to evaluate your progress over time in case you need to adjust your trajectory.
I will say, we need artists. We need to see the world through different prisms and mediums. It's imperative to see, hear, and listen to art because it reflects our culture and is inseparable from our humanity.
I work for the training department within a software company. We have so many artists just within our group! We have visual artists - some create the background "scenery" for the training, some create the characters within the training, some create the animations that supplement the training materials. We have voice talent (still artists) that record voice overs for those animations. There are also instructors who have to stand up in front of a classroom of people and train them - there is definitely a little song and dance talent that goes into being a good instructor (I've found people who have a background in theater tend to be the best)!
Within my company, there are artists who make the marketing materials and create the websites.
I won't lie, a life in the traditional arts, is one that is lower paid than a typical office job. If art is your passion though, then it's just a matter of deciding how hard you're willing to work to find your level of happiness.
What kind of art are you thinking of pursuing? There are many different kinds, and there are a lot of ways that art is integrated into different professions that may not seem obvious at first.
I would take a look at websites like this: https://www.bestcolleges.com/careers/art-and-design/. You can see there’s a bunch of different directions you can take art that are profitable! Some ways to pursue art even include fields that are in STEM careers, such as game design and user interface design. Historically, you can absolutely make a decent (or even above decent) living in STEM fields.
I would think about what all of your interests are that you can see yourself pursuing professionally, and see if there's any industry out there that incorporates art with it. For example, if you're interested in both history and art, maybe being a gallerist would be fun for you. If you're interested in art and technology, maybe something like graphic design, UI or UX design would be a good choice. If you're interested in art and the social sciences, maybe something like art therapy could be a cool branch off. If you're interested in business, maybe you could delve into entrepreneurship and make a small business selling art. There's a lot of great options out there, you just have to do some research :)
Real life examples of how my friends use their love of and talent for art everyday:
- Lisa C. is a full-time artist who has copyrighted her work, selling prints, puzzles, games, etc. She also creates original paintings, showing and selling them in art galleries around the world. And, she has written books about art, teaches classes about art, and has a podcast about art.
- Diana F. is a full-time artist who has a small studio near her home where she designs and creates beautiful pottery, then paints on to the pottery before putting it back into the kiln. She sells her art through gallery shows and online, and also teaches weekend workshops to those who want to learn ceramics.
- Rachel F. is a full-time brand designer, which means she uses art everyday at her job at a tech company. She works with color theory, typography, web design, and animation to help her company create an attractive look and feel in their marketing and design assets. On the side, she and her husband write, play, and sing beautiful songs in their band, and they're releasing their third album this year. Also, she wrote and illustrated a fantastic book about women musicians, which wasn't her full-time job, but something she spent a lot of time doing on the side.
- Amy R. is the full-time head of retail and design at Lisa C.'s business and studio. She uses art to make the shop beautiful, and gives creative design ideas to Lisa when she's starting something new. Amy also runs a small art gallery, showing, celebrating, and selling her friends' art.
There are many ways to incorporate art into your everyday job, and lots of fulfilling ways to focus on art outside of your full-time job. Try new things along the way and don't get frustrated if you can only do art on the side at first. You can build the life you want over time - everyone mentioned above did.