Opera Theatre

Making a Living as an Artist: Considerations for Going Full-Time

Lori Sokoluk in a black dress stands in the middle of a gallery with black and white work on wall

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Many artists bristle at the thought of being confined by a clock or calendar. After all, freedom is, presumably, one reason you have chosen the artist’s life. 

You can be as free as you want in your studio, but once you decide you want to be part of the art game … once you decide that you want to make a living as an artist … you and you alone are responsible for your success. 

People depend on you to follow through and meet your deadlines.

As an artist, you’re blessed with an abundance of ideas. But that blessing can sometimes feel like a burden. 

How do you know which ideas are right for you at this time? And which are the best use of your time?

Kristin Link artist seated working at large easel | Art Biz Success
Kristin Link working in her yurt studio. Photo courtesy of Greg Runyan.

You must enact boundaries around your time and energy. Even more importantly, you must adhere to those boundaries. If you don’t respect them, nobody else will. More demands will come as your success increases. You might as well put these limitations in place from the get-go. 

In addition to setting boundaries with your time and with other people, you need to learn to manage yourself. I know I encouraged you to polish your time-management skills, but, in truth, you can’t manage time. You can only manage yourself, so let’s call it what it is and hone your self-management skills.

As you become more successful, you’ll be offered more opportunities. Some of these will be a perfect fit and others not so much. 

You’ll also be asked to serve in leadership roles. Again, some may be like Little Red Riding Hood’s third attempts, Just right!, and others more like time sucks. 

You can’t say Yes to everything and have a successful art career. You have to learn to say No without feeling guilty about it. This is some tough self-love, and absolutely necessary when you are the CEO of a profitable art business. (Or when you want to be the CEO of a profitable art business.)

When you say Yes to everything, you end up saying No to your most important goals. Productivity isn’t about doing more. It’s about prioritizing the opportunities and working on your highest value tasks and projects. Focusing on what’s most important sends the message to others to take you seriously.

Remember, you are depending on you to make a living. Don’t let yourself down.

A wise use of your time is to ..

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