Three secrets to success I learned from a professional artist

By Clint Reecer | July 20, 2018

Recently, I had the pleasure of working with internationally renowned artist Sean Wells on the “Artist Jumpstart Workshop” series at WESST in Albuquerque. Designed specifically for 2-D artists, this series was created to start them on the journey from having a creative hobby to having a creative business in a meaningful, tangible way. Not being an artist myself, there were several things I learned about what it takes to be a professional artist, and how anyone can be successful in selling their artwork by using the right tools.

After devastating setbacks, Sean Wells reinvented herself as a full-time, successful professional artist in just 5 years. Sean’s artwork has been featured on internationally distributed beer labels (Cerveza de los Muertos), nationally distributed wine labels (La Catrina Vino) and New Mexico Lottery Scratchers for which she received a national award for top scratcher design. She is an award-winning 5th generation Spanish Colonial artist and juried member of the Spanish Colonial Arts Society in the retablo category, promoting the traditional arts through her television show, New Mexican Santera. Sean received “Best Visual Artist 2016” by the readers of Albuquerque the Magazine.
Although all of the artists in the workshop had different styles, backgrounds and goals, there were several key themes in the training that all artists could use to be more successful in turning their art into a career:

Sean Wells

1) Diversify Your Income Streams
Artists often think that the only way to make money is to sell originals in galleries, markets or other venues to fine art buyers – what they may not realize is that there are lots of opportunities to diversify their income streams. Artist can sell reproductions, teach classes, open Etsy shops online, coach others and do so much more to add different lines of revenue to their artistic business. It’s all about finding the many different ways that your skills apply to different kinds of customers – art may be your favorite thing, but it’s not the only thing an artist can do!

Artist Jumpstart Workshop @ WESST featuring Sean Wells

2) Maximize Each Image
Did you know that an artist has license over any image they create for their entire life +70 years? By presenting reproductions of images in different formats, an artist can maximize the amount of revenue there their able to make over the lifetime of a single image. Every artist loves to sell an original, but what they may not realize is that you can only do that once-if you take the time to create a reproducible image, however, you maintain your ability to continue earning income on that image for a very long time. As Sean said in her presentation, “you might sell your original to one buyer, but you will sell many, many reproductions over the life of the image”.

Prints from the artist in the workshop

3) Reframe Your Art as an Asset
It’s really easy for artists to be very attached to their images – it’s your original work, and it represents a powerful expression of your personal thoughts, feelings, and creativity. A good professional artist, however, will reframe their art as an asset that can be bought and sold in many different ways. It’s always good to feel attached to your art, but by treating it as an asset that is designed to generate income, you change your perspective on the process of “selling” your work. If you can do that, sales of your work aren’t sensitive to the buyer-you’re more able to position your art as available for an entire community of people who may be interested in purchasing it in different ways, at different prices.

Do you dream of starting your business or need support helping your small business grow?
WESST can help you with business know-how and a supportive community of peers and experts. For more information about WESST, and the services we provide creative entrepreneurs, you can check out our website or upcoming Etsy Craft Entrepreneurship trainings.
To learn more about Sean Wells, please visit: http://seanwells.me/

About the Author

Clint Reecer

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