Being an artist is a fantastic way of life. Whatever your style or taste, you are adding to the world in a positive way and helping to define what it is to be human. That’s a big deal, and the more of us that are doing it, the better the world is.
But how can you shape your artist practice to give you the best chance of success - in terms of making a living and allowing you to pursue your art full-time?
Making yourself attractive to collectors
This article outlines a few ideas and tips that I find useful for artists thinking about getting into NFTs. They are not meant to hard and fast rules - simply ideas that you can chew over and decide whether they fit with your style.
Debating is great, so please feel free to share your own thoughts about managing an artist’s practice in the comments. Whether you agree or disagree with my ideas, or have suggestions that I haven’t covered, I’d love to hear.
Working on your craft
Always aim to be pushing yourself as an artist. Work at your technique, challenge yourself, take risks, and produce work that is emotionally and intellectually stimulating. You’ll find that you have way more fun, and will probably create work that is intrinsically more interesting to collectors.
It isn’t enough to chase a style that’s both massively popular and easy to churn out. There are certainly some out there who are making a fortune using this kind of model (including some celebrities), but you will probably find that their online profile is so well established that it can counteract any questions as to the intrinsic quality of their work. In other words, people may be buying such pieces for their social cache, rather than their artistic merits.
We see this same effect when people buy a pair of designer trainers for hundreds or even thousands of dollars - mostly for the logo, but don’t underestimate the effort it took to establish that logo in the first place. That in itself represents a lot of hard graft.
You may one day find yourself to be hot property in the art world, and can sell a thumbnail sketch for thousands - but until then, if you want to be an artist, why not be the best one that you possibly can? We all want to be fulfilled in life, and one of the most straight forward ways is to produce work that we are really pleased with.
Focusing on a style that really resonates with you
It’s good to experiment. It’s good to try things out and explore different avenues; and absolutely, let your style develop and evolve over time. But if you fall into a scattergun approach, flipping regularly between vastly different styles, then it may be harder for you to build up a following, and your unpredictability may put some collectors off.
I always try to listen to my heart and develop a style that really gives me joy. Over the years, I have sometimes felt the pull of chasing the money - I have adjusted my style to suit what is fashionable or popular. But this has always robbed me of my originality and ultimately the joy in making art.
So stick to your guns. The world is huge, and if you can cultivate a unique voice and hone it to the best of your ability, then there will be people out there who want to listen.
Encouraging good work habits
It cannot be underestimated how crucial it is to forge good working habits - though what constitutes this will be unique to each artist. Whether that means working a certain number of hours per week, or regularly putting up new work, or just a healthy balance between productivity, research, or hours spent building up your social media profile, you need to find the balance that suits you and leaves you feeling energized and positive.
Good work habits show a commitment to your craft, and will help you make consistent progress. They don’t have to stifle your creativity. If anything, they encourage it to flourish. Think of your routine - whatever shape it takes - as being an engine that is finely balanced.
You don’t want your artistic engine to burn out, nor do you want to put it under too much strain, in terms of unrealistic targets and expectations. What you want from it is to tune it so that you can see visible progress, creative output, and results from your effort.
If you can see that your artistic engine is getting you from A to B in a consistent way, then your ideas, inspiration and motivation are likely to flow more readily.
When asked about the secret to his success, the author Philip Pullman once said “I only write when I am inspired, and I make sure I am inspired by nine o’clock every morning.”
Nine in the morning may be asking a little too much of the average artist(!) - however the point remains. If you cultivate good work habits, your mind will often feel creative at the appropriate time, rather coming and going unpredictably.
As I write this, I’m at a point where I can’t dedicate all my hours to making art. I have to balance it with bringing up my daughters. But I’ve found a rhythm that let’s me produce work in a way that is consistent if not full time, and leaves me feeling really positive about myself as an artist.
Building your online profile
It doesn’t matter how amazing your art is, unless you have an effective online profile, then most people will never see your work. Having a strong online presence is critical to an NFT artist. It is the single most powerful tool for owning your career.
Put effort into your social network profiles. Dedicate a portion of your time to building a following. Choose one or two platforms to really focus on. Twitter and Hive are good examples (at least, that what works for me).
If you are patient and determined, you can build a large enough following in the medium term, especially if you connect with other artists. Collectors follow artists. They don’t want to be contacted directly by people shilling their work, but they interact with the ones they like and follow. And if other artists start retweeting your work, then you will eventually start to appear on a collector’s radar.
Which leads to the final tip:
Being an artist is not about being in competition. The more people that decide to spend their time making art, the better this world will be. So bear in mind when you’re online, that the more sociable you are, the more gracious and helpful and positive, the better it is for everyone.
Not only does it reflect well on your professional reputation, but it makes being an artist a constant joy. Have fun connecting with other artists, share their work and they will share yours in return. Undoubtedly, interacting with other artists will make you a better artist. It’s a beautiful virtuous feedback loop.
Eventually, you will be conversing with potential collectors too, whether you know it or not. Interact with your audience. Let them feel they are a part of your career - because in truth, they really are. Give them the emotional stake in your journey that they deserve and they may come along for the ride as friends and as collectors.
Overall, try to stay positive, and your journey as an artist will be a fulfilling one. There’s never any need to beat yourself up about failing to meet unrealistic targets. Just do your best with what life throws at you and enjoy the ride.
With NFTs and the internet, artists have all the tools at their disposal to make their journey a fulfilling and successful one. Just keep plugging away, and don’t forget to pop in to this community and chat, or ask questions. We’re all in this together!
I’m a Manx artist, living on the Isle of Man – a beautiful island in the Irish Sea.
I’ve been creating art for many years. My work can be found hanging on walls in Manhattan, Tokyo, London, Abu Dhabi, Madrid and even at sea on a US Navy warship!
You can see my current work at: NFT Showroom
Start a conversation
Art is all about communication and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post or art in general – leave a comment below or head over to Twitter and drop my a line 😃