We tend to classify artists as special, creative, sometimes a little crazy or quite unique. True enough, many artists help make these notions reality by how they live their lives.
When you look at the art business more closely, you find most successful artists are hardworking people who take their craft seriously and their business just as seriously. Being an artist does provide some liberties to wear outlandish clothing, act in some affected manner, or live a bohemian lifestyle. Those artists help create the romantic notion that all artists live free and by their own rules. That said it is not an accurate description of most artists I know.
You cannot separate the sexy art creation part from the tedious business aspects of operating a successful art business. You have to have a creative engine that supplies the work to eager buyers. However, if you lack the talent, desire and skill to find and market to those buyers effectively, and then convince them to buy and then service their accounts, you have a hobby.
There is no shame in accepting that you have chosen to make art as a hobby. You have freedom full-time artists lack. You can take all the time you want to finish a piece. You can paint daisies today, pets tomorrow and tackle some sculpture next week. Do whatever pleases you.
At one time, about 20 years ago, I worked hard about becoming a master woodworker. I designed and made some beautiful work. Although I was earning around $150k annually as an advertising account executive, I yearned to quit my day job and go to full-time woodworking. As I started to put together a plan for how to make such a change, I became increasingly aware of these two things:
When the cold hard reality set in, it depressed me for some time. My bubble burst and I had no choice but to continue working for the man. I had to come to grips that my ambitions for turning my very serious hobby into a career were not going to happen. I would not make the sacrifice.
Eventually, it all turned out okay. Because I hung in there for almost 20 years, I became so knowledgeable about the art print market and marketing art that it led me to profitable, rewarding second career, which included writing 4 books and more than 500 blog posts, including this one, about the art business.
Now, if you are determined to make a full-time or a serious part-time career as an artist, you have to accept that part of making that happen is to become proficient at running an art business. There are exceptions where you find artists who have help in building their art careers, and that makes a difference allowing the artist to focus on creating art fully.
The most likely case is you, the artist, are a solo entrepreneur who needs to do everything, which is okay, too. You just have to be as adept at business as you are at making art. I believe artists who work at developing art buyers who collect their work through direct relationships are the ones who are most immune to failures or disruptions in their third-party distribution systems such as galleries and social media. Get 100 collectors is my motto for you.
There are many, many artists who handle all the aspects and who are succeeding at their careers. Most I find have a vision for art they want to make, and an equally keen vision for how they want their career to unfold. In other words, they have taken the time to set solid career goals and then gotten organized around plans to take the right steps to make those goals become a reality.
Given that art is always a discretionary spending decision, it never hurts to add some allure to why your patrons should want your art. Blend you creativity, your art sexiness and astute business practices and you have a successful career.