Artwork Archive proudly serves artists in over 160 countries.
That’s why, to celebrate International Artist Day, we want to take a moment to highlight a few of these artists—while giving you some practical art career insights, of course.
The creative community is thriving, and there's a growing sense of unity among artists. The insights and wisdom shared by those who have experience in their art careers can help you navigate your own art journey with greater confidence.
We’ve gathered ten different lessons these professional artists wish they knew at the start of their own art careers.
Read on to hear their takeaways and get some inside knowledge that can be applied to any art career—regardless of stage.
An outgoing introvert, a seeker of quiet spaces in a busy world, and a self-taught painter, Maryanne Hawes' bold paintings appeal to those who seek meaning amongst the ordinary. She now paints full-time and lives and works between the lower Wye Valley and her family’s homeland, Cornwall, England.
Trust your creative vision as an artist
Your art career will ebb and flow—there might be days when you struggle to find the inspiration to step into your studio. That's perfectly okay! Trust that the creative spark will reignite.
Not everyone will understand what you're trying to express through your art, but the most important audience for your work is you. Embrace your instincts and your unique voice will shine through.
"Trust yourself. If you can’t get into the studio today, then you will tomorrow. If you made horrible work today, then soon this will lead to something beautiful.
You don’t need to listen to all the voices—the ones in your head or the people that don’t get what you’re trying to do—just trust yourself.
Your art has a valuable place in the world. You just need to keep on making it."
—Maryanne Hawes, Cornwall, England
"Don’t worry about what other people think of your work.
If you have a great idea, believe in yourself, stick to it, and follow it through."
—Adi Tait, Nelson Tasman, New Zealand
Adi Tait is a painter interested in approaching our landscape in ways that reference the use of media, spirituality, and the human condition.
Find confidence in your artistic journey
At the start of your art career, it's entirely normal to be riddled with anxiety and insecurity. We've all been there, feeling the weight of uncertainty (especially because there is no linear path as an artist).
But, it's important to find your confidence as an artist. Celebrate your progress and accomplishments no matter how small. Stay open to exploration, and push your creative boundaries. Recognize that each moment you invest in your art career is a step toward making it possible.
"At the beginning of my art career, I wish I told myself 'You can do it.'"
I had a lot of anxiety and insecurity at the start of my art career, but I would love to just go back and tell myself that it IS possible.
—Emily Moores, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
Emily Moores is a visual artist who creates 3D wall works and large-scale installations consisting of intricately hand-cut, rolled, or folded paper. She is based out of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Protect your creative joy to make work that is distinctly yours.
Remember, your creative joy is a precious and essential part of your artistic journey. Your unique life, its personal stories, emotions, journeys, and experiences make your work distinctly yours.
"If I could go back and give myself some advice, I think I would say two things:
One: Always be on a journey of self-discovery. While the techniques of painting are very important, it’s your own experiences and emotions that you bring to bear into your work that's going to make it uniquely yours.
Two: Don’t compare yourself to any other artist and their work. Comparison is a thief of creativity and a thief of joy. While you can use other artists and their work for inspiration, don’t let it impact how you feel about yourself as an artist.
Dive deep, trust your unique voice, and never let comparison dim your creativity and your light."
—Sharon Walker, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Born in the heart of London, England to a resilient Jamaican mother, Sharon Walker’s art is a vivid, textured, and multi-layered expression of the profound insights she's gathered along her life's path. After migrating from England to Jamacia, then Jamacia to the U.S., Walker is currently based in Atlanta, Georgia.
Embrace your potential as an artist
Be open to the idea that your art career is an ongoing journey. You have the capacity to learn, adapt, and grow, transcending your own expectations—there doesn't have to be an "end goal".
"The lesson I wish I knew when I was at the beginning of my career is that there’s so much more possible than I thought there would be."
—Petra Schott, Frankfurt, Germany
Based in Frankfurt Germany, Petra Schott is an abstract painter, known nationally and internationally, whose art revolves around states of mind, longings, and memories.
It's okay to rely on others—it helps build a strong art community
Being an artist can be inherently isolating, but you don't have to go it alone. Seeking support and connecting with others can be a powerful catalyst for your artistic growth.
Embrace your art network. Whether through studio visits, artist talks, or collaborations with like-minded people, these types of connections enrich your art career tenfold.
"Don't hesitate to ask for support.
As artists, we spend a lot of time in the studio working on our practice. It can get lonely sometimes—we're stuck in our minds, our own research, and we can forget that there can be great supporters outside.
There are people out there who are super interested in helping and supporting you.
One of my favorite things to do is open my studio. I can present my work, discuss it with supporters, and open up ideas with them.
It’s a wonderful way to grow as an artist."
—Fleur Spolidor, Rye, New York, U.S.
Born and raised in Paris, France, Fleur Spolidor currently lives and works in Rye, New York. She’s an eco-conscious visual artist, whose subject matter raises awareness about worrisome issues like women’s rights and climate change.
Be bold and push your boundaries — both artistically and in your art business
Find the courage to be unapologetically yourself, and don't worry about being perfect. At the root of perfectionism is fear—fear of failure, fear of rejection, and fear of not measuring up to other's expectations.
Being bold is about shedding those inhibitions and embracing your true self. Embody your creativity wholeheartedly, and take risks in your art business. The art community values those who aren't afraid to push boundaries.
"The lesson I would have appreciated is 'be bold.'
Just be bold. I think if I found a way to just be me and be bold about who I am, that would have been helpful."
—Susan Detroy, Eugene, Oregon, U.S.
Susan Detroy is an artist who has spent the last 45 years creating and producing six art series in photography, transfer prints, ink drawings, mixed media, digital media, and video. She is currently based in Eugene, Oregon.
Maintain your professional connections to build a rewarding art career
The network you build can have a profound impact on your art career. Maintaining these relationships can open doors to collaborations, exhibitions, and support that can significantly benefit your art career.
"I wish I knew how important connections are and how to nurture and maintain those relationships.
I've made relationships with other artists, gallerists, and people in the community—all of the professional relationships that you can have.
These are people I’ve connected to but have lost touch with as I’ve moved over the years.
Staying connected with these relationships would be the one thing I would redo or pay more attention to. I wish I had a way to maintain those connections early in my career."
—Heather Pieters, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Artwork Archive Pro Tip:
To ensure that you don't lose touch with important contacts, consider leveraging tools like Artwork Archive's CRM. This powerful feature can help you keep track of all your connections, whether they are fellow artists, gallerists, or community members.
Organize your contacts, set reminders for follow-ups, and keep detailed notes about your interactions. This way, you'll always be in the loop and never miss an opportunity to reconnect with these valuable connections.
Heather Pieters is a contemporary artist born and raised in upstate New York and now living in Los Angeles, California. Her work explores her fascination with “place” and her convictions regarding equality, community, ecology, and interconnectedness.
Art doesn’t have to be your full-time career to make you an artist
You may have thought that being a full-time artist was the only path to pursue your passion, but it's absolutely possible to have a fulfilling art career while balancing other aspects of your life.
In fact, having a steady income, especially at the start of your art career, will actually help keep you creative and prevent burnout when you don't have to worry about supporting yourself through your art. Learn how you can effectively balance a full-time job with an art career here.
"I wish I knew that I didn’t have to be a full-time artist to pursue an art career"
—Nikki Braun, Manitoba, Canada
Nikki Braun is a self-taught artist who explores the contrast between the softness of watercolor washes and the precision of mark-making, which she weaves together skillfully to create captivating mixed media abstract paintings. Braun is based in Manitoba, Canada.
There’s a balance between the creative side of being an artist and the business side:
Ah, the business side of being an artist—the realm of inventory management, marketing, selling, managing finances, and every other facet that goes into building a sustainable art career.
Balancing your creativity with being an entrepreneur can seem overwhelming, but it's also where your potential for success lies.
This is where Artwork Archive can be an invaluable tool. It's designed to help artists streamline the business side of their art careers.
Jenny Nordstrom is based in Washington DC. She’s a fine art photographer who looks for the beauty in everything—whether it’s a special door, an old car, or things that are typically thought of as “ugly”.
"It's essential to be a good businessperson in addition to being a good artist."
—Jenny Nordstrom, Washington D.C., U.S.
One of the things that’s hardest about being an artist is that I have to do everything.
—Sheryl Ball, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Based in Los Angeles, California, Sheryl Ball specializes in fine-art nature photography, sharing her perspective of our natural environment through her own virtual garden.
With features for inventory management, sales tracking, and organization, it allows you to focus more on your art and less on administrative tasks. By utilizing Artwork Archive, you can free up time and mental space to create without worrying about the details.