The Many Challenges an Artist Faces

My father is an artist. For much of my childhood, my father spent part of his time pursuing his art, and the rest working to make ends meet. Eventually, he was able to become a full-time artist and fulfill his dream of focusing all of his time on creating his art. The journey wasn’t easy.

The challenges that face an artist are many. It often takes years of education and practice to hone one’s craft. It can be difficult to find work in the art field, and, as a consequence, many artists are forced to find other work for income. Often friends and family members discourage the full-time pursuit of art.

Even artists who are able to focus on creating work, often find it difficult to market and sell the work. The art market is extremely competitive. Artists vie for display space and collectors. The cost of producing art and presenting it in a marketable way can be prohibitive.

Every artist faces a unique set of challenges.

I’ve been fortunate enough, as the son of an artist and the owner of a gallery, to see artists who have found ways to overcome all of these challenges to pursue their passion and make a successful living while doing it, but I’m very aware that the challenges you face are daunting and very real.

What is your current big challenge?

What do you feel is currently your single greatest challenge? Share your challenge in the comments below, and take a moment to read over other artist’s challenges, perhaps even leave a comment. I think you’ll find that you are not alone. I’m going to keep an eye on this post to plan for upcoming posts, lessons and broadcasts based on the challenges shared here. Thanks for sharing!

About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of, and founder of the Art Business Academy. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business.


  1. Hello, Jason,

    I discovered your blog a few weeks ago and I’ve been enjoying your posts very much. I gave myself the permission to be a full time artist a little over a year ago and I feel so grateful for being able to do what I love. I discover something new each day and I’m really enjoying the process that is unfolding. I knew it would be difficult to create a regular income from my art, at first, but what has been the most difficult for me is to realize how everybody takes a sizeable cut on the artist’s work. Galleries take 50-75% Boutiques can take 30-50% and if I chose to offer giclée prints, often times, the printer will make more money than I do. Even selling online has it’s drawbacks with various shopping cart fees and shipping costs. Although I’ve had a number of sales, I was starting to feel discouraged! Thankfully I recently read The Success Principles by Jack Canfield and it has helped me to change my mindset about everything. According to Jack, when an author writes a book, he can expect to earn about 1$ per book even when the book is sold $20. In my old mindset, I would have focused on the fact that I was losing 19$ per book in various fees. But Jack doesn’t even mention that aspect. He focuses on the 1$, he sets a goal and then he works to achieve it. Now, I know it’s a little different for artists, because we are selling originals, for the most part, and not copies, but it has really helped me to change my point of view. Although I’ve avoided dealing with galleries in the past, I think I’d be interested in finding a great gallery to partner with and I’m definitely going to expand in lots of new directions. I’m going to focus on being dedicated to my art, rather than worrying about not making enough money on each individual piece. Thanks again for sharing your wisdom about the art business! I greatly appreciate it! Cheers and a warm hello from Quebec. – Yanik

    1. Awesome Yanik – thanks for sharing! I think many artists feel a similar frustration when they see all the different ways the money has to go when a sale is made. Great input about Canfield’s book.

      1. Yanik, when you become deeply immersed in the process of marketing your art, which sometimes takes up more of my day than producing it, you will see that those who are doing this job for you deserve to get paid for it! I pay rent on a public studio space (and I have to be physically present there, not necessarily making art), working on my website and online presentations, schlepping work to local shows and often hanging it myself, participating in community galleries in order to network, and constantly mining new commercial galleries and exhibit opportunities.
        I’m so happy to pay 50% to commercial galleries who handle my sales, and I think of it as a part of the art marketing that I don’t have to do myself. Unfortunately, our whole art marketing system is rather clunky and old-fashioned, which is why I find the Xanadu model very interesting. My own frustrations relate to the amount of time and effort that apparently needs to go into individual online marketing by the artist, which is amping up.

        1. I agree with you Kari, bout how Xanadu makes a big difference with their marketing model! I’m lost in sorting out what to do & when. I guess – Jason, I’d say THAT may be my toughest challenge right now! Even though I’ve struggled as an Artist for some 40 yrs, I have not gotten “out there” like I’ve been doing recently and I’m finding I’m gaining a lot of positive attention for what I am doing!
          Albert Handell told me back in 2005 at his workshop in Terre Bonne, Oregon @ Smith Rock ( A great place to paint BTW ! ) that I should focus my work & I realize now that I really didn’t quite get what he was saying at the time! I felt showing that I could do most anything anyone wanted me to ( mostly out of desperation to make a buck! ) was better than being what I then felt was narrow minded , into just one or two genres . Now, I’m focusing on Wildlife Art – which gives me the variety I crave & specializing in Raptor Art, which I’ve been creating a brand / name for myself via Facebook – with the Falconry community! That’s working very nicely! I started a couple of Groups – AERIE Artists , which is an acronym> Artist’s Entrepreneurial Raptor International Archive – A.E.R.I.E. ! An Aerie is the nesting site of Raptors, so I feel it’s catchy and helps build my brand! With a name like Dancing Hawk, the Genre is highly appropriate & I find people remember me! I was rather frustrated for many years with trying to attain the level of detail I want in my work & the quality / polish of my dreams – in Pastel. Nearly a year ago now, I switched to Colored Pencil, and even more recently I’ve been also working in Graphite Pencil. Now I’m reaching my goals more closely & each piece is better than the previous one! I firmly believe I am at a threshold in my life and my career!
          Jason – another challenge I’m frustrated with is being as productive as I need to be to meet the productivity you talk about of around an average of one piece per week – and do the office / marketing, etc. tasks that must be done in order to reach my goals! How does one DO that as a SINGLE person with no onto help ! I live alone & my friends are either not the least bit interested in helping, as much as they may love me, or they’re caught up in their own lives . I’m so busy treading water, I forget I’m intending to go swimming! LOL! I haven’t been thirsty in quite some time, either LOL!
          I swore years ago I never wanted to price by the square inch, but now I am – for lack of a better method. I look forward to learning from you Jason! Among my goals are to have YOU want to represent me! LOL! I am working now on a cohesive portfolio in each media I’m working in! That’s going to take some time! I’m finding, however, that the time I’m spending doing Graphite pencil work ( I just hosted a Workshop with Mike Sibley! It was wonderful! ) is improving my skills else where! I now understand more about how to get the detail I’m after! I’m very excited about my future! At 57 yrs old, It’s been a long haul , but it seems to be coming to fruition ! Thanks to folks like YOU Jason, Cory Huff, Bonnie Glendenning, Alyson B. Stanfield, and Mike Sibley ! I look forward to getting OFF SSDI & living my dreams! ( you heard that right – I want OFF it! I want to provide for myself & not be so broke & limited all the time! ) . I’ll cross Robin Williams with Leonard Nemoy > NAH Nu A Nu! Live long & Prosper! Who’s for joining a DEAD ARTIST’S SOCIETY?

          1. Greetings Justin Dancing Hawk! I do love your name and how perfectly it seems to suit your direction! How about a NEARLY Dead Artists Society? I”m ready for that right now!

          2. I commiserate with you, Justin, also being the only mule around here with chores that do not wait but have to be done. Even though I am retired now, I find I have to fine tune my time to get more out of it . It is frustrating but I need to find a way to deal with it and keep plodding on. I am coming to the conclusion that specializing my work may be a good thing (like you, Justin). I don’t want to specialize too much, which would narrow the market also. OK, now it’s off the computer and on to my chores and hopefully some time left over before I run out of steam to work on my art. See what I mean?

        2. I’ve made my living selling art out of my studio and outside of the traditional gallery world for over twenty years, face-to-face, directly to buyers. I’ve had a handful of shows during that time while teaching classes and workshops in my studio.
          I also did very well in EBay. But it takes a lot of time and gives you big headaches.
          Is good to make your living on your own terms and don’t have to rely on galleries for income. On the other hand, no matter how successful you get, you’ll always lack that so-called “seal of approval” established gallery representation.
          A few years ago I stopped marketing myself, wasting time on Facebook, tweeter, and offering workshops. So I had more time to paint, paint, paint and better myself. The results: I got into some art galleries. My art is selling very well.
          Now my challenge is to get into bigger galleries, since I have more artwork that won’t fit in my two present ones.
          It is very discouraging and you have to build a thick skin to rejections.
          And then self doubt starts. (maybe MY ART IS NO GOOD ENOUGH)
          With all that experience behind me, I still need guidance once in a while.
          And above all have PERSEVERANCE. Don’t give up.
          My advice is always paint from your heart, don’t paint what sells.
          Artists should avoid exploiting themselves based on the art market.
          We should uphold our inner voice as creative artists, even if that means going against the grain of popular directions within the art world

          1. I am glad to hear you say that Cristina del Sol. I feel as you do but keep getting beat over the head for it by both galleries and colleagues.

          2. Sound advice. I sell my own work, I do my own outreach and PR.
            I have a good working class art life. I save cash, I live frugally, I make the art that I am interested in making. I use FB and any other method to stay in view. I paid my home /studio off years ago to get through the lean times.
            I make the art and have a bank of it to sell. I write handwritten career updates to send to my art people. I do what it takes to have the art life I design. So far-So good. Making the art is only half of the job. Hear me on NPR/bobragland, it may be of some help.

        3. One has to do what ever it takes to have an art life. I do enough to get by, I am able to heat and eat as an artist. Effort, labor and 10,000 hours of practice will win.

      2. 33 years ago I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, and after two years of working in retail, I finally got a job remotely related to art as a fashion illustrator. As time went on, I followed a path that slowly led farther from art. Although I worked full-time, I continued to work on art whenever I had the chance. 2 years ago, I decided that if I want to make fine art my life’s work, then I’d have to focus on it whenever possible.

        My biggest challenge is the same as it’s been for the last 30-some years…finding the time and energy to invest in painting. At some point, I’m sure I’ll face some of the same challenges that I read about in everyone else’s posts. But for now, it’s all about spending time painting and creating.

      3. Hi Jason,
        Two of my major challenges are :
        I’m very bad at computers even though I’ve taken classes! I don’t even know how to reply to your blog unfortunately!
        The other two major challenge’s are believing in my ability and my art that’s it’s worthy to be sold especially since I immerse myself in many art techniques and have be told I’m too ADD and should settle doing one or two things instead of jumping all around..
        I was raised being taught art is a hobby.Although my brother and mother were fine artists they never pursed it as a career, nor did the rest of the family.
        I’m not even sure how to get started.I think too much into it which at times doesn’t inspire anyone to do good work. I do seedbead work as well as my original Zentangle drawings, not the typicals ones and do my Encaustic Abstract Prints..
        Any help is greatly appreciated!
        Mary Geest

      4. My greatest challenge is how arbitrary success sometimes seams. I have a painting in the Utah watercolor society fall show the juror was a well known artist and there are many very good paintings. The best in show is an abstract and I really can’t see what makes it the best. One of the paintings that got an award of excellence first struck me as very primitive and before the awards were announce I wondered how it got into the show. It seams that I always get juried into shows but rarely get the prize. The same with plein-air competitions. So then I begin to doubt my abilities and think its just a hobby with me. I belong to a co-op gallery and I see a lot of people wonder past my paintings, and express great interest in artist who work in what I think are gimmicky media like cut paper or aerosol paint, and I wouldn’t mind if it was well don, but it seam that the uniqueness is more important than the quality. So it seam to me I haven’t been able to figure out what grabs people and makes them fall in love with a painting.

        1. Blaine, I seriously sympathize with you. However, you’re getting juried in, while I am not. And I have the same feelings you do. I’ve had to get over feeling like that, though, and just continue sloggin on with my own work. Remember, Van Gogh had trouble even giving away a painting in his time. The art market is fickle as hell, and you just have to put your blinders on and keep going.
          That’s why I’m joining Jason’s e-class. I’ve been slogging on, merrily doing my art, NOT getting juried into shows, but trying to understand how the art market works. Being consistantly juried out of shows, not winning non-juried shows, having no idea of what to do or how to do it , makes me wonder about my own ability, sometimes makes me just want to chuck it all.
          Let’s see how Jason can light our fires and enlighten us about the marketing aspect, and not worry so much about the work that’s winning juried awards. WE know we’re good. 🙂

          1. Yes! I feel that my biggest obstacle is in my head: self-doubt and ignorance of the business world. The information I gather just confuses me and has paralyzed me.

          2. Hello,
            May I suggest you get on the committee for a show, you may be offered the opportunity to hear the artist speak to their choices for getting into the show and what makes a painting a winner. There is a lot of politics involved as well. Sign up and learn! (-:)

        2. Hello Blaine…
          I belong to a camera club that is very progressive and has monthly competitions with invited judges. There are scores all over the spectrum from month to month with no consistency. The one that comes to mind was a print that received a luke-warm response from the judge. When the creator spoke about his print he mentioned that it had been accepted in an international exhibition and was currently hanging in the Louvre! He had egg on his face and rightly so.

      5. My greatest challenge is balancing time between creating and marketing. I still work full time and when I get home my first impulse is to paint. I feel that my brain is already “tired” for more “administrative” work or doing the social media tasks. I had a good following in the 90’s when I was living in Texas and even succeeded to paint full time while raising my 2 children on my own for a couple of years. I moved to NYC almost 7 years ago and had to rebuild a new patron’s list. Many exhibitions since but little sales.
        I did lower my prices but I do not want to get to the point where I feel like I am giving my work away. I take myself seriously even if still many people think of art as a hobby.When asked I always say that “I am an artist”, “this is my career”. The 9 to 5 is to pay the bills.
        I am working now on finding new venues, like working with interior designers (I do not have problems with taking directions having done many commissions before)…. Just trying to stay positive and going forward. And the goal is to be again a full time creator, getting up every morning, full of energy and entering the studio

      6. Time is most definitely one of the great challenges I am faced with daily. I work full time in education, run a gallery and exhibit regularly. This is a huge reduction in my work load over the past few years when did all of the above, started another cooperative gallery, taught 3 continuing ed classes at a local college and raised 3 children. While it has taken years to recognize the insanity of that load, it has only been since my children have grown up and set off on their own that I began to want more time for myself. I have never stopped creating work or exhibiting but I have become much more introspective about what I am making and why. Where once just the act of making was enough, and exhibiting was a bonus, now I want my work to resonate more clearly with direction and careful consideration. I went to graduate school fairly late in life but never quite “got” the digging deeper approach touted by my professors. Now that I’m thinking more as I work I’m finding the connection. But in truth, the challenge goes back to time…there never seems to be enough…not enough to create, not enough to market, not enough to network. It all feels a little daunting sometimes.

      7. My challenge is to keep motivated to find more ways to make income from,my art. Currently I just have one great gallery I,have been in 12 years. But sales of my
        Larger pieces are low and the gallery took on 17 new artists this past year. In California where I used to live ten years ago…I was known in my community, won many awards, and here in Portland area I have been unable to interest the high end galleries. I
        Made many sales in California. And I used to make many more sales in Cannon Beach, Oregon. They take 50% and if someone buys a second piece over $300 they give another ten percent off…and split that with me. I was never asked if I approved of this and since they are my only outlet now I would not want to,jeopardize that. I am
        Having a show in February at a high end car dealership and they take no commission. I will be the only artist for,the month and can put in at least a dozen paintings. As to what to price them since they take no commission….??? I would think the cost should be the same as gallery price but I want to make sales. I want to focus on marketing this year.

        1. Hi Nancy,

          keep your retail prices consistent, then in this case you pocket the commission (you did the promo work and mngt work, you found the deal with car dealership and ideally you will promote the show to clients who are appropriate to the venue – the dealership might even agree to a contra deal where they invite their contacts to a wine night exhibtion opening). Also you wouldn’t want to discount in a high end dealership

          Re the gallery offering extra 10% off! can you diplomatically ask them to split the extra 10%? Maybe 1st find another gallery to also represent you

        2. I agree with Janelle, Nancy, in regards to pricing. Keep your retail price consistent with your gallery, your own shows and your website, if you have one and post prices there and sell from your website. You deserve the extra % if you are being your “own gallery”. It also eliminates the potential for stepping on a gallery’s toes if you are pricing lower than they are. I have a minimum retail requirement when working with a gallery and I discourage discounting my work in some mediums. Remember, you are a professional. You don’t ask the doctor for a discount and the doctor buying your art shouldn’t ask you either! :=>

          1. It’s not clear for me how to keep prices the same. If you offering your work without frame – should it be disclosed in public remark? And if they want a frame should I charge extra 7-10% for the potential frame on top of my set price? Or I should include it in the price and if they refused – than give them that percentage back or discount? Thank you

        3. What type of art do you do? I live in Vancouver WA and just moved here from California where I had a large customer list. I’m winning shows here but not getting response I want

      8. Hi Jason,
        I have been reading some of the blogs above and after some thoughtful reflection realize my biggest challenge is reaching out to a larger market. So far I would have to say I have been quite successful in my own small town area of Scugog Ontario selling out of the local gallery and from my 2 or 3 shows a year but would like the tools to approach larger galleries out side the country and in the greater Toronto area. How is the best way to do this. I paint in quite eclectic styles which I believe has been great for personal sales as it appeals to a broader audience but I know there is differing schools of thought on that. I personally usually paint in series in a certain way and then go on to a different style. Whimsical illustrative, impressionistic landscapes and still life to bold abstract are my 3 styles. Is this good or bad so to speak when I am looking to increase my sales on a broader level?

      9. Hi Jason,

        I am a recent follower of your blog and really enjoy reading the comments and challenges of your other followers. There are many who have similar struggles to my own.
        I am a self taught artist who has been working to live my whole life. I was intimidated by the talent of others and felt there was no point in attempting to pursue a career as an artist with so much competition in the market. Although I have been painting for myself for many years, it has been a slow process due to time constraints (full time job, raising a family etc.) and my lack of formal training.
        It is only recently that I feel I have begun to understand my creative process and have seen a real improvement in my work. I am only able to produce 6 or 7 pieces a year, but they are quality pieces and I feel I am growing substantially, as an artist, with each new painting. It is like I am on an adventure and I never really know exactly where the piece will take me until it is complete.
        I am about 10 years from retirement and would love to begin supplimenting my income now in order to build my business for a the day that I can dedicate myself to the craft full time. I have created a website and promote myself on social media, I have considered joining a few local artisan groups but due to time constraints I am not able to participate to any beneficial degree.
        I have to admit that some of the challenges listed by the other artists in this blog are a little discouraging. Because I can only produce a few pieces each year I thought that I might begin to have prints created from my originals however, from some of the comments in the blog, I am not sure the economics of that process makes sense for me. I know there are artists that have purchased their own scanners and laser printers but I am not sure that investment makes sense for me at this point.
        I look forward to your thoughts and any input your followers might have.

    2. Jason,

      The greatest artistic challenge could be in balancing the multitude of challenges: building your brand; establishing appropriate price points; offering work in appropriate sizes (small works collections to large-scale); constant research on business and art; the wholesale blueprint; constant evolution of the art itself — growth, depth, breadth; the gallery challenge; the corporate art and art licensing agent challenge…

      Perhaps the greatest artistic challenge is overcoming approximately 200 sales with raves reviews from happy global clients — yet the question remains: “Why only 200 sales, rather than 2000?” After a lifetime of diverse study — What am I missing?

      1. Yes Mary , those are challenges we all have to deal with. I’m an artist & arts editor for Arts & Opinion mag. Have had many solo & group exhibitions & prizes but am not presently affiliated with a gallery . I feel that most galleries don’t have a clear direction & take on too many artists to give any individual attention or promotion . They are struggling to make their rent. To keep myself motivated between the OCCASIONAL sale I’m a founding member of a group called AXIAL ; 8 artists who meet once a month to critique,share ideas, mount exhibitions and share a meal & a goodly amount of wine 🙂 It’s both energising & helpful to spent time with like minded people who will be honest about my work & I highly recommend it for all artists. I earned my living as an art teacher & I can say that teaching is also a very useful adjunct to making art because it forces one to clarify & verbalise ideas & concepts ; not to mention the feel good effect of passing on knowledge. I’m a multi disciplinary artist , ( drawing, painting,sculpture & printmaking ) which helps me to connect with a larger buying audience than if I were to paint or draw exclusively. I’ve recently read a book that was very helpful,” SHOW YOUR WORK ! 10 ways to share your creativity and get discovered” by Austin Kleon , he makes very good points .In any case , sales, galleries ,or not , I just have to keep making art because that’s who I am & that’s what makes life worth living which is surely the case with most artists.

    3. Hello Jason,
      My greatest challenge in Art is marketing, honestly I do not really focus on the marketing of my works, because I think more of what to paint next than how to sale them. I have also been painting what will give me quick cash and not what I really want to paint due to marketing issues.
      Since 2007 after my graduation I have been making ends means with just portraitures and in 2010 I made some money and painted what I really wanted to paint which cost me some money, sent some pictures to a few galleries abroad and also exhibited them but could not sale them and not even a response from the galleries. Most of those works are now on the walls of my families and friends.
      Because of my inability to market my works I have find it difficult to really paint except on commission and it is like a fish out of water to me, but as a young man I must pay my bills thus reducing my practice time to 30% practice and 70% money making outside Art.
      Lack of good professional criticism has also been a challenge to me, I don’t have and I have never had a mentor in Art outside my study years. Everything is a struggle to get it right the way I feel is best for the piece, but honestly it’s not easy.

      Best Regards,
      Ojemekele Ighodalo

    4. By biggest challenge is staying confident. It is overwhelming to see the amount and level of quality from so many artists. It seems as though every thing I do has been done better by other people. So I remember the lessons from my years in advertising. Who decided that the world needed a new coffee shop like Starbucks, or a new line of shoes. People do it all the time. I get up every morning and tell myself what a great artist I am. I must admit however I am painting a lot, full time. Like 20 paintings in my first year, this year and planning on 40 next year. But the canvases are stacking up in my garage. And I think my wife is beginning to wonder what we will do with all these very large canvases.

    5. Just read your post. I find that even if an artist is in a gallery, they still have to do a certain amount of personal outreach. Some galleries have a big roster of artists.
      If one is not in the top 10 they will get lost in the shuffle. Real artists do a lot of self promotion. Making the art is only half of the job. Good business tactics work.
      See my Tools For Artists on Lori McNee’s Fine Art Tips website. This may be of some help.
      Labor,effort and 10,000 hours of practice is required to have a working class art life.

  2. For me the greatest challenge to creating art is distraction. It’s not the every day type of distractions like walking the dog or Facebook, but the distraction of too much talent. I have observed that many—if not most—visual artists are multi-talented with capabilities as musicians, writers, actors and even entrepreneurs. We may start down the road focusing on 2D art, but the opportunity (and desire) to write a book or play in a band can send us off on a tangent that dilutes our focus on our art.

    1. Not that walking the dog and Facebook aren’t big enough challenges for many of us to overcome. You make a great point though, and even within the visual arts there are so many different directions and opportunities.

      1. Jason,
        I feel that Steven Hall is so right. I don’t feel it is necessarily that I have too much talent, I am merely distracted. Often, also, I am too motivated by how I “feel”. If I am emotionally in a sound place, then I can find focus enough to move forward with my art. Today is a great example of being just off-kilter enough to allow time to sift through my life, rather than taking advantage of the moments and making some stuff. I need to get into the studio! I choose to willfully do what I need to do right now and stop putting it off. Maybe if I visualize myself in process I will make myself walk up the stairs to complete SOMETHING!

        1. Financially I am struggling, I have a son who is ill and difficult to deal with sometimes, and I am anxious to write and paint. When I am at home and not working, and my son is sleeping, I think I will paint. I feel rushed because my time is limited. I am not happy with the results of my painting, so I start over again the next time. I need to feel relaxed and connect to my work or it doesn’t turn out like it’s a part of me, and I am disappointed with it. This is a big part of the reason I enjoy painting, because it is part of who I am inside. There is much frustration when I cannot get to that place.

          1. I feel your pain Diana. That’s a struggle I have too. I worked 30 years in fortune 500 companies and spent most of my time in a cube. Now that I’m home, it feels like a fairy tale and not a job. I am most productive shooting photos. Because I totally love being able to go outside now : ) I have a garden and need to take care of my flowers. They are gorgeous. Getting to my painting is a challenge. I need to be inside because New Jersey is really hot in the summer months. So acrylic is the best type of paint for me. No toxic fumes. My photos are also a reference for paintings. So it’s a good loop to be in. But I do need to learn the business side.

          2. Diana ~ I also had a child with difficulties that swallowed my free time and energy. It was years before I could fall deeply into my creative spells. He is now 32 and successfully living his life and I am 66 flexing my painting muscles. Life as a mother and artist is a colorful juggle requiring an amazing mix of humor, persistence and faith.

        2. I’m with you Jenna! Plenty of talent, but I’m right now trying to learn more about my marketing, as I sit right at my drawing table with my current project right at my side! When EVERYTHING feels like it’s paramount in importance , trying to prioritize my time is mind boggling! I don’t feel my Facebook time is frivolous! In fact, for me it’s quite the opposite! It’s been very productive in spreading the word about my work & building my brand! Neglecting that for even a few days does seem to have it’s consequences . People move on quickly to other things! It’s tough to hold their interest! The confounding aspect of that is that the ver thing that will bring their interest is the new Art I’m working on! LOL! OOFDA !. . .and now I need a couple new pencils from out at Michael’s – 8 miles away! There goes an hour or more! Jason, how do you DO it?

        3. Talking to myself too now. Jenna, I often tell people to treat art like it was a job. If you dont show up to work at 8:00AM you get fired. If you quit before 5PM, you get fired. If a friend calls and wants you to do something with them (I mean you dont have a job), the we must say things like, “After work I can help you”. If you have a “real job” then you dont do laundry during 8AM-5PM… are not at home, you are at work. All this is easier said than done, I know. But with that mind set more art could be produced. Likewise, you do FB after work, you plan your art promotion, after work, and on and on. Painting is work………a labor of love perhaps…..but still you need to focus on work. (Roena………..did you pay attention to what you just said? LOL)

      2. Yes, I agree that the many different directions and opportunities for an artist to concentrate on can make it difficult to decide what to focus on at any given time.

        1. Hello!

          I think this is my challenge thread 🙂 I get distracted by the many mediums I can do and would love to try! In the process, it is easy to lose focus of your audience and their “artistic need”…… Emotions play a huge role too: if I am down I don’t want to do it… I have to feel it, need it and then I am off to a creative spree. Another part is the ‘business’ side of it, the numbers, the calculation of costs and the pricing: it gets complicated for me to calculate costs and then add the profit to it (which most suggest should be 4 times your cost- on top of the gallery commissions, which I think sometimes are outrageous!) And the fear of not being able to make a living with this talent…. soo many challenges 🙁

          1. i’m right there with ya….distractions!!! whew….i can talk myself right out of painting when i start dwelling on thoughts like: 1. “do i really have a style?” 2. “how should i price my work?” ( what work?!!? ..ha..i’m not creating a collection…i’m just thinking about creating a collection ) 3. do i create what i really want to create or should i pander?…and on and on…i have read Art and Fear , Turning Pro, The War of Art , etc and they have helped…but it’s a constant battle to fight the distractions and GO CREATE.

          2. I agree with Galmaris, specially when we have the art calling from the heart, it is a feeling stronger than us. Yes emotions are a big part of our success and crative process but when we are not in a mood….no way to crate or make art, and it can be a negative point that put us back causing frustration and lack of work….

      3. Yes, the day to day distractions of wearing many different hats can sometimes result in my not spending quality time in the studio. As a professional puppet performer, I am often tied up in preparation for a show and my paintings fall by the wayside.

        Now, that I have been able to at least partially retire, I am still letting family commitments eat up the bulk of my time.

        I think I need to establish a routine of regular studio time so that I work more consistently on the projects that make me feel the best.

        So, distraction is one of my main difficulties and the other, perhaps even bigger problem is my age. I have spent the last 30 years refining my performance skills and only started making “art” in the last few. I have done absolutely no marketing of my visual work, no shows, nothing.

      4. Hi Jason: I’ve read through many, many replies sent by many, many people and find that I can relate to many of their challenges (lots of manys). In fact, I have many challenges that I need to overcome. These are my challenges, in no particular order: distraction – too many “want-to-do” projects; marketing – is nil; need to get more exposure; lack of motivation at this time; where can I show my work. I must say that as far as where to show my work and marketing, I have not put out any effort in those areas. Right now my biggest challenge is motivation – I’ve had nothing on my easel for a couple of months and that is not good.

      5. In the Gifted Education world, we even have a name for that- multi-potentiality. Often bright people have a very hard time focusing on career goals because the choices are totally open to them. One thing I have noticed, in my hobby of reading artist’s biographies, many of the artists, including very well known and highly regarded international museum stars, had used a wide variety of mediums in their careers and love to explore freely creatively. The primary example would be Picasso, but lots of impressionist painters also worked with clay in their lives and so did some of the Ab Ex guys, like Pollock for example. Degas was a fine painter, but also a great sculptor, etc. Highly creative people seem to crave and need diversity no matter they are doing.

        1. What is interesting to me is that I have engaged in art all my life but it was never validated in my family beyond a hobby that I was good at. So now. as a retired person giving breath to the art within me, I find there is genuine talent there and looking back at my products over the years in all types of media, it has always been there. So in my own self-talk, I tell myself and the world that I have just been just dabbling in art all along and have finally found the vehicle for my talent: painting. I am beginning to see that the multi-faceted interests were actually the talent trying its best to come out and capture my attention. That didn’t happen until I retired and was free of child-rearing needs…all of which were, in retrospect, distractions to my real talent. It seems that, for me, the biggest challenge is accepting that the talent is there and giving it maximum opportunity to be expressed. The greatest obstacle has been my own brain. I am having regret over the years lost to denial.

          1. Sidni,
            Your post brings many thoughts to mind of my life and artist’s journey. I wish to offer my perspective about a couple of your comments. A quick bio on my experience: I sold my first oil painting at 15, and I was recognized as ‘exceptional’ in art through all of my school years. All my birthday presents, after age 12 were art supplies. I find that it doesn’t matter whether we were supported or mentored, or not, because our desire to create needs must be intrinsic. Dabbling in creative processes NEVER is a waste of time and years to regret! I raised 8 kids, ran a mid-sized business and, at age 64, I still work in a public school where I teach job skills in landscaping and greenhouse science. I have, like you, found many outlets over the years for my creative passion….quilting, banner making, teaching after-school crafts and pottery, occasionally painting or teaching painting classes, but time? I took myself out of the 3 galleries that I was a member of because my priorities were on the creative need of running a business and family. But those choices, though at times frustrating to my inner dreams, were never to be regretted, nor were they, necessarily, distractions. All of our passions, our creativity that we invest our lives in have value, not just painting. Painting is, perhaps, the next great journey for you and me to apply our hearts to… But I wish you to know that you have not denied your talents, you have chosen to support different aspects of them.

    2. I’m an artist (who also works outside the home) and I understand this completely. I’m reading a book by John Maxwell right now, and he offered a great insight to this. He pointed out that it’s important to make good decisions, but even more important to manage the decisions we’ve already made. If we’ve made a decision to pursue art, we really have to work on staying focused in order to do it well, even if we feel the urges to dip into our other areas of talent. We can do many things and do them relatively well, or we can focus on doing one thing and be amazing!

    3. I agree with Stephen, as an artist and a classic overachiever, I writer and paint professionally as well as do design work and am a recognized public relations professional in my community. It’s easy to get pulled from project to project but that’s also, in part, the joy of being a creative individual. My challenges like most are time, money, and resources. My job is to ensure they all line up in my favour. The reality is that the project that is brining money in, not sending it out, often takes the priority between 9-5. However, as an artist, there is never any ‘down’ time so when work is slow, or I just don’t feel like it (a luxury artist have who are willing to sacrifice some income) I can spend time in my studio. The social perception of the bohemian starving artist is so wrong in todays cultural environment and something that we must work daily against. We’re professionals, entrepreneurs, and have been given many opportunities because of our talents and I for one feel fortunate to be ‘torn’ in so many different directions!

      1. I agree Ben ,I was a human resource professional and have been on disability for several years now . So I finally get to delve into my creative nature ,my art has improved and my productivity is up and getting better ,but I also sing ,and am finding from input from others that I am quite good . I also act and am auditioning soon for a part that will allow me to sing and act . In some ways I know I spread myself too thin at times ,but am compelled to use as many and much talent as God has seen fit to give me. That said I also agree that if I could focus on just one talent and commit completely to it ,I might gain ground faster , so I have decided I am an artist ,and I work in several mediums ,acrylics , voice ,and theatre ,it is all art and I am completely driven to achieve my best in all 3

        1. I like what you said, Tim. I mean, dancing in the rain, touching the leaves and walking in cool green grass, makes the soul sing…. I want to paint. To me, any art medium we engage in inspires the other. Something I write may inspire a painting. Some line you speak in theater, or words you sing in a song may inspire an image you want to get on canvas.

      2. My challenges too, are time, money, and resources. I am a painter who has worked as an interior designer to not only provide a potential sales opportunity for my artwork, but to provide supplemental income when art sales are slow or while I’m creating. But finding time and energy to create is more than a struggle as I work full-time as a resident artist and director’s assistant at a childcare facility and take on several part time jobs to cover living expenses until I can cash flow more regularly with my art sales. I feel guilty and neglectful to the profession I want to exceed in most…art! I’m doing my best to consolidate my efforts so that I can paint more and sale more. I’m open to how to go about this best.

    4. I had to ruefully laugh at your comment, as it hits home. My mantra is art by day and music by night. I am a painter by day ( I also work in a clothing store two days a week to pay medical bills) and a musician at night, playing cello in a world folk fusion band. The two occasionally overlap. I recently painted the CD cover for our new CD while recording. I have found there just isn’t enough time in the day to do all the creative things I would love to do. I picked two. I am taking a day off to rest today, and make a dent in my email reading, after several long nights of recording and playing gigs, and painting too.

      1. Try 3 creative aspects! I write novels, paint, and draw comics in addition to working a full time job and being a single mom. “Focus,” I use to tell myself. But then I’d spend days or weeks bemoaning the things I wasn’t doing. I eventually decided that I had to listen to all my creative aspects, that I wasn’t following 3 seperate creative careers, but rather I was a storyteller with different mediums. Once I realized this, it became easier to balance all I want to do with all I have to do. I would love to expand this into full time, but fears of supporting my family are holding me back. On the other hand, I know working hourly is making me broke while 3 aspects do open me up to 3 streams on income. My biggest challenge is in making up my mind to do this and letting go of all the unfounded fears.

        1. Thanks for writing this Dawn. I have the same struggle. I’m a painter, writer and photographer. Plus I’m learning about Manga art and cartooning. My best days are when I sit down and listen to my heart, asking myself what do I want to do today. My business experience helps me figure out action plans.

        2. Thanks Dawn and Renee. It’s such a challenge to wear all the hats for just one business, not to mention 3 or more and work a full time job as well. Although my “paying job” as a flight attendant gives me lots of flexibility, I still feel like a starling in a roomful of bright shiny objects sometimes and have trouble focusing, eliminating distractions and managing my time well.

    5. Greetings, Sounded as if you were describing me ! Long history of playing in bands on and off, steady artwork even when working full time. I really had to restrict myself timewise. No more pottery, leathercraft or serious music. I am focusing on art and spending my money on supplies. FOCUS is the word. Being multi-talented and creative can be a curse in a way. Then when you retire, you have more time but less money ! The best part is being able to paint or draw whatever I like. That’s what it is all about.

    6. I agree with Stephen about distractions. I want to paint, but I become involved in writing, in being involved in the community, and of even being in charge of different things. After being in art school for the last few years and being very disciplined, I am enjoying the freedom too much of not having a deadline. I need to return to the mindset of a deadline.

      1. I err on the multi disciplinary direction too and I know it, however in favor of it I do find the different disciplines do feed each other. New ideas for painting comes from a bit of clay work done and a fabric pattern inspires a landscape in watercolor. While doing the one my mind works on the problems of another medium.

      2. No deadlines please, Frances. Do only what you do best and love to do with the most passion and with the most chance in improving at. the better you get, the more work you will do. you will have to drag yourself away from it. The more work you do, the better it will become. If it doesn’t, move on to something else. But give it plenty of time!

    7. I understand what Stephen is saying. I also have a hard time staying focused on one art form. So many ideas to try and so little time. Running my art business competes with my production time, and selling and taking care of clients competes with art that I would like to do.

    8. I see that quite a few of us here have the same situation of not enough hours in the day and too many different artistic endeavors to pursue. I realize I need to focus more on a particular style of artwork but at the same time I find that there are times the skills I learn from one type of art will lead me to a new way of looking/experimenting with a different media – one can feed the other.

      1. I agree Christine, not enought hours in the day and too many artistic endeavors. I like to work on more than one project at a time and all the time my mind is working on new ideas. Many days it challenges my focus and slows down my process.

        1. BOY! I’m with you there, BJ ! I’ve tried to discipline myself into working on one piece at a time, but right now I have one graphite / charcoal piece on the drawing table & one in the “bull pen” as it were , plus two colored pencil paintings in progress. The thing IS, what I’m learning through my pursuit of the graphite work is having a great positive influence on the other work! I can hardly wait to try another Pastel work now! LOL!
          The trick is to find time for the marketing, etc. when I’m in a drawing mode & visa versa! I’ve just pretty much decided – thanks to Jason – to just pretty much kick the drawing into gear & leave off with a lot else for at least a few days! I see no other way to do it! The goal is 20 graphite works total by Christmas / new note card work in print by Thanks giving for our local “Ink & Print” show through “Volume One” magazine – a great show for me! Prints & note cards sell great !

      2. I guess that is one of my biggest struggles too…finding and pursuing my art passion in more than one medium. I agree with Christine that more than one media can feed another and can open up new possibilities. One of my other biggest struggles is art marketing which is essential but takes time and energy away from making my best art.

    9. I have been through all of the other art forms – dance, theatre, music, writing – and decided that in retirement I would finally get to paint. Now that I am so totally consumed by painting and running into some big questions regarding the point of it all – I find myself daydreaming about directing a play, or writing a novel. I think maybe it is just a distraction. What I have observed is that the creative process – my creative process – is the same no matter what I am working on. I always get to the point where I feel like it is not going to work – the play is obviously going to be a disaster and the painting, well I might as well just tear it up and throw it under the table. It happens so often that I recognize it as the thing I absolutely must push through because so often it is simply the wall I have to break through to complete the work. I think that when I day dream about writing a novel I am just wanting to escape the hard questions I’m in right now about where my art is going and what I am to do with it as it piles up in my studio, and wondering if I am going to continue to grow in my work. I just have to remind myself that if I were to write a novel I’d eventually face the same questions and obstacles. On the other hand… it is always possible that by painting I am ignoring my true calling to be a writer. We do make choices. Even choosing to wonder if we made the right choice is a choice to wonder about. Ha!

      1. Jim~
        Absolutely perfect description of life, and of creativity. If we settle for one thing, we wonder what we could do with another, or others! It really is about expression, isn’t it. About the process of creativity…it seems that almost always we start out with excitement for our new idea, work passionately until a third or half-way through and then have a huge muddle. Where do I go from here, how do I get to there, whether writing or painting, or even learning a new musical piece. It’s the recognition that this stumbling block is part of the process that prompts us to keep picking at it the project until it reaches a point of resolution and we can finish with a flair. What we are going to do with the work stacking up is another story.

    10. Distractions can be your largest adversary. I read Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art”. An amazing short read but it revolutionized my thought processes about what I do. Leo Kottke said that if it were not for the six string guitar he would not be involved in music at all…

    11. I agree with all of it… as a creative person, I am pulled in a thousand directions at once. Should I paint – if I paint, which medium ~ Watercolor, Oil, Acrylics, Mixed Media? If I sew, do I work on the Italian masks or a newly designed quilt? If I work in metals, do I work on jewelry or something that I can incorporate into a painting? There are just not enough hours, days, weeks or years to accomplish everything that my mind and hands are itching to do. I pulled A friend’s getting married and needs invitations, RSVPs and don’t forget the wedding cake. I non-profit needs a website. So far, I have decided that I do not want to carve or sculpt (one down!). Thank God I have an amazing husband that supports my habits and lets me have a studio full of supplies and the freedom to do whatever pleases me each day.

      1. Geez, Jim, your first sentence is ME! I figured I’d spend my “sunset years” painting on my porch–and just recently decided it was that time now!–after years of dance, music, performing, designing costumes (belly dance and otherwise), etc. etc. After almost 14 years of belly dancing (performing, teaching, designing costumes) I realized that (1) I’m now too old (67) for anyone to take me seriously as a performer, and (2) I enjoyed the DESIGN process far more than the EXECUTION process of belly dance costumes–and it takes me about a month or longer to make a belly dance costume, but only a day or two (sometimes less) to make a piece of art, and I’m much happier making art! BUT, and it’s a big BUT, I’m not good at marketing or the business of selling myself/my artistic products, and still struggling greatly with the “Am I good enough/Am I a “real” artist?” question! Not making any money from art at present (haven’t really put my work out there yet, but have gotten the “Wow” responses from non-artists who have seen my work), living on a Social Security check + a really draining (physically & emotionally), very low pay part-time job in retail (JoAnn Fabric & Crafts)–but putting every spare minute into art!

    12. I can really relate to what Stephen is saying above. I retired just a year ago and thought I would have all the time in the world to make art. Even with the distractions of a move to a new home and many family obligations, I did manage to finish two new works in recent months, but am torn between painting more often and the writing projects that I have been putting off, as well as continuing to develop my photography skills. Not to mention domestic projects, family and social life, recreational activities and the other things that fill our lives. However, when I don’t work on my art for any length of time, I can feel my need for it to balance my life. Another challenge for me is the cost of framing art and entering competitions, which can add up. I belonged to a cooperative art gallery when I lived in another city several years ago, but the local cooperative gallery here is beyond my financial ability at this time, unless I were able to sell at a much higher level than I was able to do at the previous gallery.

    13. Stephen, I also find that just many different avenues of visual art is distraction enough. Can I do this in glass? Or should I just paint it. What about the photograph I took? Is it art as well? Should I manipulate it to make it “better”?Maybe I need to make a carving of this thing here and then I can paint it. Etc, etc, etc.

    14. Distractions are a good point. I think many artists get bored easy . . .that is what drives us to try different mediums and/or incorporate a new vision or subject matter in to our art. My biggest challenge is that I find that I get so caught up in what I am doing that I forget to market consistently. I will be painting away and suddenly realize I have not shown anyone what I have been working on for months. Or I forget to post online regularly and go silent for a week or two. When I do post regularly the response from clients really builds. In today’s world with the importance of social media . . . . How can I both work on something meaningful to me and at the same time have subjects to talk/blog about that keep potential clients interested. It is a balancing act.

    15. Wow, you have hit the nail on the head. We all get distracted from our “day job” – especially when it something that we and others may see as more fun than work. Talent or even the simple urge to create something distracts us from our real goal: make a living doing what we love. It is very hard to come to terms with the fact that this is also work. And I find that I have so many ideas chasing around in the my head that it is seemingly impossible to just pick one and focus on doing it. Finishing something is not the same as dreaming about creating it.
      But I find these distractions pop up even more when I plan to set studio hours and all of a sudden someone emails me (joy) about a piece, or the images I took last week need to be cropped in Photoshop, and then they need to be added to the inventory software, and then it needs to be added to the website, and then I should really write a blog post about the piece, but then I remember the piece I just finished last night needs to photographed, but it’s cloudy, so why not clean the house…

    16. Similar: distractions. From now on I think I will write the 1 thing Im focusing in now & stick it up. And keep a timer.

      Even within painting alone, through experimenting I arrived at 2 distinct styles both of which had a popular response, and portraits on top too. Ive decided to focus on the one that occupies my mind the most and which also succeeds the most, so I’m not stopping the others, just putting them on hold for the time being. Writing and music you can possibly fold into your promo efforts

  3. I find my challenge maybe a cliche but it’s my biggest challenge just now. I want to be a full time artist and to juggle a job family and creating art all take time. I get obsessed with whatever is before me, my sense of being responsible, so I am quite aware that I have not progressed in my skill level or the size and quantity of work that I know I could produce if I didn’t have a ft job. This year, I am considering quitting, and giving myself a year to see what I could accomplish if I were un distracted. Ideally, I suppose a sponsor would be the best goal, so finding enough collectors to sponsor me while I create is the catch 22 I face.

    1. Have been in the unfortunate postion in the last 3 years or so of being without full time work; the vocation that supports the advocation as Mom drilled into my head. Suddenly the time was there but, the distractions were too [See Stephen Hall’s post above]. Distractions like paying the bills, elder care, youngster care, volunteer work to network back into the workforce, re-training, etc. I discovered it was easier to pursue art when I’m tightly scheduled and when there is too much unscheduled time it disappears into other people’s project and less art work is accomplished. So, if you are thinking of cutting out work to focus on art, get a studio outside of the home, keep a schedule and go there like it were a job each and every day.

      1. This is an important goal for every one of us who are retired. Suddenly, the whole family wants to see me (all in different areas and states.) In my devotion to my family, I lost my time. Nana knows how to fix my computer, Sue would be perfect to give me advice on my new drapes, my daughter is overworked, and my mother is 99. Way too much of my time since Sept 2013 when we retired has gone to friends, the family or traveling to get there.

        I need to get away from all the ones I love in order to create. We have an RV and I have decided to encourage my husband to travel with me to some parks out of our family’s area. The problem I have is that my husband likes to play golf. He likes little else. I can paint anywhere, but he wants to play golf with family or friends. A solution presented itself in my portable studio. I can paint small works anywhere. Then, when we are in one place, I will seek a studio.

        1. I set up a screened cabana at our RV site and painted in it. Worked fine except for rainy days when my paper absorbed too much moisture. I did learn to use that damp paper for a different technique. I found painting in the RV difficult as there isn’t room to leave things out and come back to them.

        2. Sue – it sounds to me like you just need to do what Jason tells us, and that is essentially to tell friends & family that you are starting a new job! Your hours at this new job will be from such & so to so & such! During that time, you are simply not available . Then go into your Studio & got to work at your “New Job” ! Even your husband is not allowed to disturb you , unless it’s a matter of urgent health or some such! Set boundaries & stick by them!
          Personally, I don’t have those “Excuses” in my life! LOL! I just have to work on my self discipline & time management!

    2. I’m not sure what you do, but before I completely quit my day job, I stepped down to 4 days a week there. It may not sound like much different, 3 days off vs 2, but man is it ever. Sometimes you need a full day just to decompress.

      Anyway, my productivity went way up and it bridged working for someone else full time to bring a full time artist quite nicely.

      Unfortunately for most this is not possible, but if your employer knows your passion and believes in you, maybe you could set up a timeline goal with them to ease into it. Worked for me.

      1. After retiring and having all the time in the world, I found I had too much time, and procrastination crept in. I finally sat down and had a “self” talk to come up with a solution. When I worked I was very goal oriented and my time was busy with meetings, tasks….and on and on. How did I get all my work done? I scheduled my time. That was it! I had a schedule! I now plan the days and hours I devote to planning and creating my art and stick to the schedule. I even schedule down time, gallery time, tasks, etc. I now find my studio time more enjoyable, relaxed, and more productive. Even if you have a job and family, time management will give you time to create.

    3. Dawn, can you start by taking 1 or 2 days off per week and seeing what you can get done? I think there’s a lot to be said for the saying that if you want something done give it to a busy person, A lot of FT artists waste a lot of Time

  4. Another great post Jason. For me the biggest challenge is believing in myself. I am getting better and after reading your blog and watching some of your video’s and doing more research, I am slowly getting more faith in the value of my work. I just read the comment above by Yanik and am also interested in reading the book that she mentioned – The Success Principles by Jack Canfield.. if anyone else has read it, I would love to hear their opinions. Or in fact if you can recommend any other business books relevant for creatives, that would also be fantastic. Thank you

    1. Natalie, the first book I got when starting my art career many years ago was “The Success Principles”. I still consider it one of of the most important books I have read. Then came Jason’s two wonderful books which are artist specific…. and tell it “like it is”. I do not loan them out, for fear of loss! I would try to get all three books if you can.

    2. You could try to read “Talent is never enough” by John C. Maxwell. It was quite helpful when I was preparing for my first solo exhibition last year. It is a good read.

    3. Natalie,
      A really great book is “Kick-Ass Creativity” by Mary Beth Maziaraz it really gives lots ideas and suggestions. It definitely gives you a kick in the butt to get going!

  5. The challenges change depending on ones’ stage of life. It used to be challenging to find my voice as an artist–what I wanted to say. Now I think the biggest challenge is managing my time, especially balancing being a full time parent with the need to find large blocks of time to produce work. Parenting and art can occasionally feed each other, but more often than not, they are not that compatible. I find it odd that I haven’t seen much written about this.

    1. Clare,

      I don’t have an answer for you, but I have been there too and now after raising 2 sets of children am trying to play catch up with my painting. I think that not all artists struggle with this, but I do think a lot of women find it hard to really immerse themselves in their art without almost feeling almost guilty. There is this feeling that all our creative energy should be going to our children. One thing I would do different now if I were young with children, would be to keep current with art shows and competitions and join an art guild. Both of these help keep you in touch with your artist side and motivated to at least keep producing some work. Getting together with other artists is also energizing even if just once a month. I think it would be interesting to hear how other women have dealt with the conflict of being a mom too.

      1. Kim,
        I completely relate to the guilt feeling that many women experience when it comes to choosing between making art or tending to family members. I am caught in the age where children, grandchildren, g-grandchildren and an elderly mother with dementia all need my attention & time. I never had the time, confidence or courage to go for making a career of my art. A few months ago I nearly made the decision to just quit painting & sell all of my equipment. After much prayer I have a renewed spirit to keep going despite all of the distractions in my life. I can’t quit! I realized that I really want to see what I can accomplish with the skill God gave me. I believe that when God gives you a talent, He expects you to use it.

      2. I can relate. I had to work full time many years just to pay the bills while we raised 2 children with special needs. I was lucky if I got one painting done a year! I am older now, kids are grown and moved out. I lost both parents in 7 months, broke my foot in a work related accident then lost my job (which I hated anyway). I couldn’t find any other job and realized, life is too short NOT to follow my dreams. God gave me a talent and drive to create and I decided I would do it. It has been about 4 years now that I decided to become a full time artist. 2013 was my best year yet! So all my efforts are working, I hope! We all need to keep creating! There are no “do overs”. We can’t get back those years, but we can go forward! Good luck to all.

      3. Kim, I am retired and now have the time to devote as much time as I choose to my art…which has become for me a full time job. Having my own studio finally (out of my home) is really fantastic – a place to go every day (schedule, that I miss from working in a job) and a real boost to my production, but I miss the interaction and energy that is found in classes or just working with other artists. I am lucky to have stumbled upon a group that spends one whole day painting together. I have found that this energy and interaction is necessary to “feed my muse”! Art requires solitude, but there comes a time that interaction with other artists is necessary…at least for me. If I didn’t have this outlet, I would probably be taking more classes…not so much for the content, but for the collective energy…though I do take classes periodically to learn something new, to stretch. That is necessary too.

      4. As a wife, mother, and grandmother it is ways to let other peoples needs and schedules trump my own. But as a former accountant I am used to keeping my butt in the chair to do the work. My greatest challenge right now is settling back into my art. We have moved three times in the last two years with space getting smaller with each move. Some things like my dye studio had to go. My solution is to scale my work to fit the space. I am a fiber artist and am concentrating on beading. I love the meditative quality of it, but it is extremely time consuming and pricing is always a challenge.

      5. I am just now with empty nest syndrome after 24 years with one daughter and 18 with another. So I have lots of free time now. This is great but do miss having my girls around. When they were younger it was a challenge. I gave them art supplies to play with and continued on with mine. I think this helped them see it is an ongoing process. That you continually do. I use to give my girls small notebooks in the car and ask them to draw for me. They then drew in sketch books. We as a family and with friends on a trips would pass the sketch back and forth and each would draw something on it. This was a good way to see that you could collaborate with someone else and not have energy on the outcome.

    2. Clare –
      You really hit on the one element that kept me from making art for many years. I feared that I would be painting, my children would be tugging at my sleeve — and I’d be saying “go make yourself Cheerios and milk — I’ll make dinner tomorrow when this painting is done.” The reality – raising three children, being married and divorced, working full-time (sometimes multiple jobs – or all-consuming start-up company jobs) meant that I just set art aside for many years. A choice I made.

      Now I feel the pull of making art more than ever – now that my children are grown, my parents deceased, I hope to dedicate more time to art. I see retirement within reach … so that becomes an incentive … retire and make art. Also, it occurred to me that it is now or never – if I put it off more, I die without ever letting the art that is inside me out.

      While I’d love to make money from my art — and there is a certain freedom connected with that, there also is sort of a lack of freedom. Having worked in marketing for many years, doing creative things for other people can take a lot of the fun out of the work.

      Now, selling the art I happen to love making is very appealing. I see lots and lots of talented artists but few if any living very well off the sales of their art. Nice to hear that it is possible to do that, but perhaps that is secondary to just letting the art out.

    3. Yes! I currently work 3 days a week in an office and had been using the rest of my time for art until my daughter was born. She is now 9 months old and I think I’ve been in the studio twice in that time. While it is frustrating that I don’t have time for my art, I know that I will get back to it when I can and enjoy the time I’m spending with my daughter, watching her grow and learn new things daily. If only she would nap, I might be able to sneak a little time here and there!

  6. Ironically, I find that, because few people understand the visual language of contemporary art, the better my serious work gets, the smaller my audience. To generate income, I end up making “pretty pictures” of flowers and other subject matter that requires no specialized knowledge. Better art education in the public schools (especially regarding contemporary art) is part of the answer, but good luck with that, given the emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). A movement called STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) is slowly gathering momentum. Give it support whenever you can.

    1. Dennis!

      Thank you so much for the hope! STEAM. That’s easy to remember and I intend to find out as much as I can about it because at this point I’m barely breathing a sigh of relief when I hear that they are at least still teaching art as funds are being cut right and left for both it and music… and we are the idea bringers, the trouble makers, the people who are open to new concepts. Even engineers need to think creatively, IT people certainly do. Art and music feed the imagination… and the soul!

    2. STEAM — what a fantastic concept! I live in a very technology based area of the country, so there is a strong focus on STEM. It might be surprising, but many mathematicians/engineers have an impressive artistic ability if they choose to try it. It would be wonderful to see that creative ability fostered and encouraged in the educational environment.

  7. Hi Jason, I worked with galleries and did outdoor shows in the late 90s and early 2000s. As some of my galleries closed and I began writing articles for American Artist Magazine, I dropped outnofnthe gallery system.

    I began selling on my own as an artist in residence at a luxury B&B in Tucson after my gallery in Tucson closed, plus selling directly from my website and through invitational shows here and there.

    Here’s my biggest challenge: outside of the gallery system, I don’t seem able to sell my work for the prices I did while in galleries. In fact, I’ve sold more artwork in 2013 than in previous years, but my net income after all expenses, including rent at an antique gallery booth (where I sold 15 works) well…. My net income was pitiful!!! I painted full time and made far less than I would have if I worked at a fast food counter.

    It was fun to make all those sales; however, it was difficult to sell a framed 9×12 for more than $300. When in a gallery, in the early 2000s, my 9x12s sold for $1200. Even with the 50% commission! my net income was much higher.

    Because there are fewer galleries now, and many more good artists vying for space in them, I’m finding it difficult to re-gain gallery representation. Some of those I contacted last year have since closed. Well, I don’t want to do a repeat of last year’s income, so I’m moving toward passive income and saving my originals for a time when i can increase their value with a different group of collectors. That passive income will be in the form of self-published art education books and unframed reproductions.

    In the meantime, I am working on building a new body of larger works, but I’m hanging onto them for now instead of selling them to a market that doesn’t want to lay more than $500. Been there done that, and it feels pretty bad to fall backwards in my income just to ‘make a sale’.

    Because I was selling for lower prices, no gallerist would seriously look at my work because it was priced too low to handle their commission. So I am not selling for lowball prices (nor rediculouslt high prices), and pulling out of the original market for awhile until I see a clear path. In the meantime, I have raised prices on my website for original works.

    Sorry so long…. I just want to be transparent. In business, I’ve been taught not to let anyone know you’re having a hard time, but if I’m in this situation, I’d be willing to bet there are others out there like me.

    1. Lori, wow, yes, you have described my circumstance.
      In the early 1970’s I supported my self as an artist, and sales have steadily declined. I refuse to lower my prices! At my age I have decided the most important thing I can do is to continue to create the best art I can, with hopes that my descendants will benefit. I also enjoy creating prints, cards, booklets from originals. That’s what seems to sell in my low income area of Kentucky. So the challenge is to make better sales, and keep my confidence.

      1. Kathleen,
        Thanks for your reply. I do know many gallery artists who did lower their originals by a percentage during the recession. Everyone is more careful these days about not raising prices too high. I didn’t mind lowering my prices a bit, but not so much that when I do sell (and I sold well the last couple of years) that I make a decent profit.

        I didn’t realize how little my net income was until I did my taxes. Right now, I’m concentrating getting my original work to a higher level, while reducing my expenses.

        BTW: I purchased access to Jason’s mentorship video hangouts with Carolee Clark. So far, I’m through video #4, and listening is truly helping me solidify some decisions for my career. I know about some of what Jason teaches here because I worked with Calvin Goodman as my coach for a few years, but I got so wrapped up in selling work for low prices… Lost my vision about profitability. I’d recommend buying access. Excellent and encouraging information.

    2. Thank you for addressing the issue of pricing and general economics. I’m very new to the art world but have been painting and drawing for many years. Many people have purchased my paintings but I am very squeamish about pricing. Scared to approach a gallery because I don’t know what to say and am delighted to see someone speak so candidly about pricing their artwork. I’m looking forward to learning more and more as I interact within the blog. I know I have talent and have been an executive in large corporations but this is a business model I’m just beginning to understand. Thank you for your transparency!

    3. My greatest challenge today as an artist is to have bricks & mortar gallery representation in cities outside of Maine where I do most of my business. When people see my work they like it and I have had success selling directly to them and in a few small galleries locally. My clients tend to collect and repeat sales have been good. However, the 2007-8 economic downturn has greatly affected sales, too, and several galleries in our area have not been able to remain open. I think we artists need to do whatever we can to stand out, attract buyers, and think-outside-the-box. That’s why I am here, Jason. Thanks for providing your knowledge and expertise and offering this course as well as your Xanadu Studio portfolio pages for free.

      1. Katy, Have you tried talking to other artists about pitching in and opening a co-op gallery? I don’t have one, but I understand that this cost sharing can make your much more visible and doubles as a studio where you can all work and support each other.

  8. Hi Jason.
    I am so grateful that you have seen so much about the state of the arts today. It is a very complicated issue and one that I have trouble understanding. I have been in the arts now for almost 40 years and have never been able to make a living. Much of the time, this has lead to despair in my personal life and loss. I’m trying to understand that this is part of my vision….since I am still able to paint. (I use art history for my emotional support much of the time)
    I believe my “box” has within it opposing forces that will be resolved only by combining my own personal growth within the growth of my community. For some reason, I have had to develop strength without the reinforcement of money. So, my “success” is simply my own determination to continue along my path while clarifying my thoughts on the truth of what it is like to love, feel, and be honest with integrity. It is my own little rock. STILL,
    I hope that I will be “allowed” to become a part of my community zoo! That is much more fun!

  9. Thanks, so much, Jason, for this excellent post.
    I have to echo Stephen Hall’s discussion about the distraction/focus problem.
    I was trained to be a public school art teacher, so was trained in multiple media (ceramics, oils, watercolor, design, fibers, etc.) and subject matter (landscapes, still life, figurative, etc.).
    I loved teaching, and spent most years enjoying teaching at the high school level. The kids were awesome and their talent was exciting. So, after years of teaching them, I decided to dedicate my life to my own art work. Because of the influence of teaching multiple media for so many years, I slowly evolved from 3 areas of concentration: weaving, watercolors, and oil painting into solely painting. I have tried the last 3-4 years to emphasize oils, but the money is primarily coming from teaching watercolors. I am extremely frustrated! Galleries for the most part, prefer oils. I understand and appreciate that. If I were running a gallery, I would prefer to sell oils also. No glass to worry about, etc. Help, Jason! I need help. Say something to help me, please. Be direct and to the point. Be harsh. I need that. Tell me how to just paint in oils. Tell me how to focus.

    1. Donna,

      There are galleries out there that take works under glass, but they are harder to find. If watercolor is what you really love, and you love teaching it you don’t have to force yourself to do oils. Maybe searching more for those galleries is the answer.That is just my opinion as someone who has done both in the past.

    2. Donna, I have seen watercolor work offered for sale without glass. The artist had used multiple layers of UV protective varnish. Not sure how archival this would be. I have used liquin glazes over watercolor work and when that was completely dry, I finished with a clear gloss varnish and bonded the watercolor piece to a 1.5 wood cradle with sides painted in black acrylic.

    3. Dear Donna,
      You don’t need Jason or anyone to tell you what you need to do because you have already just written what you need to hear. That is : “just paint in oils and focus.” You were a teacher so just imagine that you have deadlines for you progress, such as, Day 1 design sketches of what you are going to paint. Day 2 base coat colour and sketch on the canvas. Day 3,4,5 and 6 Paint to your heart’s content. Be happy and go for it <3

  10. My greatest challenges are time and money — what artist has never said that? I have always had to make my own way, and had to work to be able to pay for life’s necessities, but I quickly realized I could not continue to do art work if I had a job that consumed too much of my time and creative energies. I also have not had the space to work the size I would like to…nor would I have the space to store work either! So for the last 45 years, I have continued to do my art work, look for opportunities to show my work in galleries and shows, and find the time and peace of mind of continue to do more work. I have a small but loyal following, but it is not enough to sustain a living from the occasional sale of work. Do I see myself as a serious artist? Yes. Always. But financially I could not manage without working at a salaried position. So it becomes a vicious circle — not enough time to spend on art work swirling in your head, not enough money to either produce the work you want or frame it or market it properly, etc. Will I stop working? Not as long as I still have to pay rent and food. Will I stop creating art? Not as long as my creativity holds out.

  11. Hello Jason Horejs,

    I have been moving my painting space in hopes of augmenting the daily challenge of getting back into painting as soon as breakfast is gulped down and a few moments of entertainment with public digital media until bedtime and starting the process over again. The challenge in entirety is keeping up the workflow. Keeping that creative spark flowing does get bumpy. As an artist we think in rich shades and textures depending on the piece at the time that we are working on. Feeding that habitual process sometimes goes dry. Per say our favorite show about artists isn’t on for the week and the same musicians we listen to just aren’t cutting through the creative smoke that fogs the studio space. We run out of art that pops up in our faces on facebook or google image searches on artists. In my mind the daily challenge is versatile. When getting caught up in the challenge of making the space filled with creative juices becomes the challenge there is almost no escape but to sleep it off and letting the palette reset so to speak. Gazing at the canvas that was promised 12 hours would only get 8 hours and the guilt of being defeated by the challenge sets in.

    Do you think that enveloping in a social artist scene is crucial to the steady flow and growth of the artists works or that the artist keeps strong long enough for the body of works to speak for themselves in the end?

    When we are around other artist even silence is golden, but in the starving/struggling artists’ world sometimes finding other artists are hard to come by.

    My personal response to that would first be to stick with the artistic phase of drowning everything out besides the piece of work. It more or less means that instead of walking into a gallery and and feeling empowered by seeing other works other than my own, it would be best to quote ” have my cake and eat it too”. Hence creating the minds eye of a starving artist.

    So the challenge in the end for me is like a diet. Starving for a dream like success and turning a blind eye to what a starving artist really is. As humans if we tend to think we have made it from starving to overstuffed then there’s the irony.

  12. My challenge is about geographical space – I veer toward abstract landscapes – rather than a particular place – I like travel – but there is the conflict – both in terms of expense and in time. Going out to look at galleries – and potential painting spots makes me want to return to the studio – but more time in the studio makes, I think for stronger work.
    Yes. I agree about the cross-pollination of the arts – I write too – and love music and resist returning to play piano, etc., so listening to music aids the painting rather than detracts from it. Thanks Jason for introducing all these subjects. Great

  13. Jason, the first sentence of the post I just sent doesn’t read well. Let’s try this:
    Because few people understand the visual language of contemporary art, I find that, ironically, the better my serious work gets, the smaller my audience.

  14. I think Jason, being validated by enough sales to at the very least cover expenses and then having a small amount to buffer the times without sales. I believe artist need validation from people without an invested interest by them wanting to own our art. So I guess I’m saying having enough patrons to cover these two mentioned aspects of our journey in the art world would make our other challenges easier.
    Thank you so much for your generosity in spirit and knowledge. May all your giving come back to you a thousand fold.


  15. Great blog post. For me it’s one word, balance. Everyone struggles with balance but I feel artists have a special struggle. When you are a working artist and not represented by a gallery, you have to work to stay relevant. Meaning, networking, making connections, advertising, event planning, etc. I find my painting time to be compromised by all this, yet without it, who is going to see and buy it? Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t be doing anything else. 🙂

    1. April – balance is so important, and it’s always a struggle to find it. I think we all struggle with this to some degree or another. I’ve found that for me, it helps if I have the big picture in mind and a plan to achieve what I’m aiming for. By looking at the big picture I know that it’s long-term balance I’m aiming for, and even though day-to-day, things may not be in balance, I know that I’m moving toward that long-term goal.

    2. April, re. finding balance…there are times when all my creativity seems to dry up. I try to use those times to put more effort into promotion, looking for shows to enter, writing statements/bios, etc…switch it up. Just changing the mode of creating facilitates getting the promo work done without feeling the pull of the studio. This down time gives me permission(?) to leave the studio and do the drudge stuff!

    3. April,
      I also struggle with balance as well as perfectionism. I am trying to understand the multi-dimensions of the art world (marketing, budgeting, planning, and creation) and sometimes I feel it is in an alien language. I also struggle with the balance of being a mother and a wife, working in a job to sustain my family and to allow me to afford supplies and entry fees to shows, and creating art. I have experienced an ebb and flow with balance. When I find that I have become less focused on my art than I desire, I remind myself that I would not drive my car on a flat tire. I NEED to create art to be aligned with my core values, it’s then I notice, I am a better mother, wife, and have more ability to problem solve the areas that are so challenging to me like promoting myself. I found what many artists have said on this blog helpful , like scheduling studio time and maintaining that boundary and envisioning the long term goals.

      Thank you,

  16. I too love this blog and look forward to reading the newest post. Jason, Your information and advice is always right on. Being a full time professional artist for many years now…I truly know how difficult it all can be. It can also be extremely rewarding! Being a full time artist requires you be creative in so many ways. I have created my life around being an artist, not my home or possessions. We’ve heard it said but is rings so true that being an artist is not a job… is a life. For me…galleries play an important part by adding credibility and income. I have never minded giving the gallery 50% and I think it is very important to establish a professional working relationship with them. This means you do not undermine the gallery. Too many artists do this and it hurts the whole business. If a gallery has a particular piece that a client is interested in, I send them to that gallery to purchase it. If it happens to be in my studio, I sell it for the same price the gallery would. In the studio I can work a deal if I want of course, but the price tag everyone sees is the same and I try to always get that price. This creates a certain respect all the way around. I also create studio shows, sometimes with other artist that I admire. You have to be very active in the selling part or it just won’t work! I have found that most “art fairs” especially outdoor shows are not a good way to sell original art. There are exceptions of course but as a rule I would rather create my own event. Being creative in the selling process could make the difference between getting what some family members might call a “real” job and not.

    1. Mary Jo,
      This is a great post, Galleries are a very important part of the artists’ life and sales, I love the fact that you price things in your studio as a gallery would, such a good point to make! I also like the idea of studio sales with other artists, that makes so much sense, as Art Fairs get a lot of lookers only out for the day’s entertainment. Studio sales on the other hand would get people specifically out for the art they are looking for!

  17. Hi Jason

    I’ve been following your excellent blog for a year now and find your posts very much worth the read.

    My biggest challenge is the number of hats I need to wear as a solo businessperson running an art business, as well as being the art creator.

    In my experience as a watercolour painter, and from talking to other serious artists who run a sole proprietorship with no hired help, only one quarter of our arts-related labour is actually spent creating finished paintings. That means, given a theoretical 40-hour workweek, only ten hours are spent drawing or painting. The remaining thirty hours are devoted to marketing and administration.

    I think of marketing as any effort expended to present my art to the world. I have paintings framed and deliver them to art shows or galleries. Sometimes I meet with clients to discuss commissioned artwork or with printing companies to have reproductions or brochures produced. I take photos of my paintings and keep documentation scrapbooks and photo albums of current work for sale. Digital photos are uploaded onto my web site and used to enter my art into juried competitions around the world. My address database is updated regularly and I publish a studio newsletter two or three times a year to about 800 clients and contacts. I read books and magazines about art and marketing and write press releases announcing my art news. Networking with a wide circle of contacts via email takes place each week. Then there are the frequent meetings to plan studio tours and art shows and to promote local culture and tourism.

    Administrative duties can accumulate into surprising amounts of time. They include keeping detailed records of sales, expenses, taxes, inventory, consignments, schedules and deadlines. I sort my reference photos and try to keep my office and studio organized (some weeks more successfully than others!) so I can find things when I need them. Then there are all the errands: picking up materials from suppliers, banking, mailing, delivering; it never ends…

    Are there any artists out there who do all of the above and make a decent living just from their art? I went down this road for a few decades before I started teaching watercolour classes. Now I find conducting these workshops to be the most lucrative of my art activities. I limit my teaching to about three months of the year, so I still have time to travel and paint.

    Last year I self-published a watercolour instruction book, which was a hugely educational and fulfilling experience, but marketing the book takes up a lot of time and effort, and I don’t foresee a significant income stream coming from this aspect of my creativity.

    1. Karen – I think you’ve nailed another big one. In my survey at the beginning of the year I found that a lot of successful artists are indeed spending as much or more time on the business than on creating, or they have a spouse or partner who is helping. I would also say that most of these artists, and anyone who is in business for themselves would say “40 hour work week? What’s that?” To a certain extent the marketing and business side of things tends to be doable in the 20-30 hours per week you mention, which means that if you are only working at it 40 hours you are only going to have 10-20 hours of creation time. Every minute you can push beyond the 40 hours though is time added directly to creation (at least theoretically).

      Of course, those who have another 40 hour per week job face an even bigger challenge.

      I’m really interested to hear what others have to say about your comments. Thanks for sharing!

      1. Hi All….thanks Jason for your blog and commitment to artists thriving. I’m in the boat with Karen on this one. This is my biggest challenge as a professional full time artist. Balancing the time in my 80 hour week between taking care of the “business of life” PLUS what needs to be done while wearing my Art Hat of business administration , marketing, networking, submissions, scheduling, data entry, office and studio managing and on and on…WITH what’s under my Creative Hat which is the actual making of my art, my creative expression. It’s what I’m most passionate about and the reason for my effort in the first place. Yet it can be really demotivating when after all of that discipline and effort a 60 hour work week goes by, I’ve been so diligently acting towards my art success yet still have only carved out maybe 5-10 hours for creating. AND that’s if I’m lucky!!

        So my focus for this year is to find creative ways to get help, get support… rather than doing it all alone. I’m intent on finding creative ways to get 1-2 studio assistants on board- maybe barter with younger artists from college or high school to help make it more affordable. And yes …it involves one more thing on the to do list. However there is a benefit of trading time for coaching, to share skills, professional methods etc with them in exchange for help on the production side of framing, fulfillment, errand running, pickups drop offs at printers, web updates, data entry, mailing, social media promotion etc. It can be an easy 5-10 hours a week time gain once it gets rolling. I hope to add that time to my art creation. I just finished writing the job description and I’m ready to put down my old story and try on something new. I ask myself what would support in the studio look like and how will the impact of getting help affect my art production and success?

        1. Like everyone else, I find that I stretch myself pretty thin trying to satisfy my creative activities. I am retired (or was) from nursing and enjoyed filling my time with an artist studio, painting and doing clay and trying to learn more, increase my skills. I have spent time using different mediums and venturing into stretching my creative abilities. I am also a published author of a children’s book that I did the illustrations in as well as writing the story. I found that I had to go back to work to pay medical bills and living expenses since a disability retirement unfortunately doesn’t quite meet the cost of living. I work part time in a clerical job.
          Because there are some things that I have trouble doing around the studio physically and time wise as well, I needed a little help. I have two students who are young teens that home school and would not otherwise be able to get art. I teach and mentor them once a week mostly for free but they help me when its time to change things around in the studio-gallery and get ready for shows. I think they have learned a lot and we have had a good time and we get a lot done. They have learned a lot about framing and display and good care of tools as well as the business and creative part of art.

      2. Yep, Karen has nailed the problem.
        I separate my time during the week into chunks:
        6a.m.-7:45a.m. get breakfasts and lunches made for everyone and shower.
        7:45 a.m. – 10a.m. pick up and reply to emails or blogs, walk the dog and exercise.
        10a.m – 5p.m. studio or framing time
        5-6p.m. cook dinner
        6-7p.m. house chores,
        7-8 p.m.pick up and reply to more emails and social media,
        8-9p.m. watch TV.
        9-10p.m. read a book.
        Lights at at 10p.m.
        Weekends involve working at my other business Girlie Girl Bead or doing marketing and follow up with my art business. I try to also clean and do laundry on the weekends. I’m tired all the time and never feel as if I’m getting any down time, except for days like today when my remaining son (the others off at college) is home on Spring Break and I have too many interruptions to be able to settle into my studio work. So I’m goofing off running errands and playing catch up. It actually feels good.

      3. Hi Karen and Jason,
        My situation is very similar – I am a watercolorist and teach classes and workshops, and I am just about at the point where I can actually live of my income from these passions of mine. But it’s tough to find enough hours in the day to accomplish everything, and have time (and energy left) to paint. Certainly not a 40-hour week – more like 80, especially this time of year where I participate in art shows, open studio tours, etc. However, whenever I get discouraged I remind myself that I chose this path, and there is really nothing else I would rather do. (Well, except for the framing, which is my least favorite job, so I carry on, dreaming of the day where I can afford to pay somebody to do that for me!)
        Thanks Jason for all your great blogs and advice to us artists!

    2. Karen I just checked out your website and your work is beautiful. However, I can’t see how you are making a living as an artist your prices are so low. If you sell a painting in a gallery for $900, you get $450, your framing cost is at least $150, which leaves you with $300. Which hardly covers your time to make the painting yet alone your marketing time.
      Last year I was in a gallery that had two other artist that were selling 24 x 20 inch pieces of water color and soft pastel artwork for $400. I removed my artwork because it was not selling. This gallery no longer has any good art on display, but they are selling loads of the $400 mediocre paintings. The art business is a conundrum to me.

    3. The idea of spending more time on the business of art than art hurts. Who has found a good balance and how have they done that?

      1. Karen Richardson’s comment sums up a big part of our main challenge. My dad runs our own art studio with help from my mom (mostly administration, record-keeping, supply contacts, etc.) and myself (framing, labeling, photography, e-newsletter.) We spread ourselves pretty thin and have experienced pretty small returns so far.

        Our other, related, problem is that we just aren’t reaching enough people. Our studio is on the highway, but it’s small, and few people stop. We have a website, but it doesn’t get much traffic. We have an e-newsletter, but the subscription list doesn’t grow very fast. We need some newer, better ideas on how to reach more prospective clients.

        1. Aurora,

          I suggest holding events and here are some ideas:

          -A monthly theme show
          -A weekend a month where one of the artists (I’m not sure how many of you provide art at your studio) are actively working on their art. People love to watch artists work. “Open Studio Weekend – Artist in Residence 1-4m”
          -Classes (maybe 4- 8 weeks long) with a free introductory lesson. Offer during one of your slower periods (maybe evenings).
          -Charity tie-ins (example: local animal shelter and you display animal portraits). You can offer them space to do their thing or you can donate 10% of the day’s sales or something similar. The key here is that the charity promotes the event through their mailing lists and social media.
          -Connect with other artists and offer (and publicize) open studio weekends twice a year. They do that in our county with good results. A map is published, artists each kick in money to promote etc. It is a big deal and attracts a lot of traffic.
          -A sidewalk sale during nice weather with art outside on easels.
          -I’m sure once you get rolling, you can dream up other events to add to this list.

          If you have space issues for some of these things, use one or more of those “pop-up” tents. People driving by will wonder what is going on. Signage (which you can create artistically yourself), large and bold, will help. If you have a parking lot, make sure it has a bunch of cars in it during the times you want to attract people, even if they are your cars.

          Then you promote your events (multiple throughout the year) on your social media, through your email newsletter/mailing list, and press releases to local newspapers, magazines, radio, and tv. This will work really well as all media has space they need to fill. Your news releases will link back to a hidden page on your website (hidden = no links to it from your other website pages) with photographs of the artwork for the media to use. I did this and one monthly newspaper ended up with a blank page right before press deadline. They called me in a panic and asked if they could use photographs from my website. I said sure, but I would send them unwatermarked versions for them to use. They said no time, so they used photos that had my copyright across them and used my press release exactly as I wrote it. I was really surprised when the paper came out and they had used a few of my artistic figure studies (I am a photographer). Plus it was an entire page with the story, the photographs, and a few small ads. If you know how newspapers are put together, they can’t pull a page at the last minute. They are blocks of 2-4 pages and probably already have ads on them. They are going to put something on them and it might as well be you. 🙂

          Writing a good press release takes practice. You have to pretend you are the media writer and writing about an artist for their readers. It is a story, not a PR fluff piece, and definitely not an ad. If you learn to do this, the media outlets will welcome your PR (sent by email in a specific format) and will use them, as written, a lot. Send one out every time you have new artwork, win an award, have an event, or do anything at all newsworthy.

          Having your studio right on a highway is a big plus for you to take advantage of. Good luck with it!

    4. Karen has nailed it, big time! My life is much the same. Besides painting artwork to exhibit and sell, I teach 2 pastel classes per week year round, and custom frame for self, students and commission clients, simply because it supports my art interests. I spend most of my time doing something art related in order to do all that needs to be done, feeling that I don’t really accomplish anything well. I drag my work around from one place to another and wonder why I torture myself so! I rarely sell! I do best with pet commissions, but still don’t even make a descent profit at the end of the year because my total art expenses are so great. My husband has been patient and supportive but resents the time it takes to make this business a success (I should say trying to make it a success!) Balance is a major problem.
      Marketing is another major challenge for me. Portrait painting is my hearts desire, but have not found a way to bring in the commissions, other than the few pet portraits I receive each year from advertising in magazines. After 20 years I am still trying to find my way! It’s frustrating but I’ll die trying to make it work because I love what I do!

  18. Thanks for another great blog post Jason, I’m very much enjoying your insights. Although I struggle with most of the same challenges many artists face, finding an audience, selling work, dealing with marketing, etc., the fact that I’m living an expat life brings some unique challenges to the table. Because I live outside of my own country and have to move every 3-5 years I have to start over everywhere I go, which is challenging but also fun because you get to meet new people and explore a new place.

    The most challenging thing to deal with is the fact that I’m not a citizen or permanent resident in the countries that I live in, which means I can’t apply to any grants, I often cannot enter competitions or calls for artists and I can’t become a member of the high profile artist associations.

    Although these things are frustrating I wouldn’t trade my expat life for anything! I feel very blessed that I have the freedom to pursue my art and my travels offer constant source of inspiration.

  19. I re-entered the art world 4 years ago and my greatest challenge is to get into more juried art shows and to get my name and work better known. I set a goal to create 3 or 4 paintings a month and that has helped to improve my artwork. For me painting is a side-business at this time but I hope it provides retirement income in the future. I am in a local gallery and display in 2 art festivals and several art association shows. Your “Starving To Successful” book provided a lot of inspiration and guidance.

    To help other “growing” artists I have created which is a social networking website for artists where they can receive constructive criticism from other artists. To encourage our young artists, High School and College students may post their artwork for free.

  20. Interesting comments, all. Thank you all for sharing. I’m wondering if all of these are not part of the “artist way”. We share many if not all of the same issues and they seem to keep repeating in my artistic life, 50 years now. I came across an interesting post this week,
    I’m attempting to figure out what is it that I do or don’t do that helps create some of the issues we all face as artists. I used to spend a great deal of my energy in “ain’t it awful” and blaming “them” or the “system”. Now I’m attempting to look at my role in all of this.
    I’m not in any way attempting to diminish our struggles. They are real and depressing. I’m searching for a way to do my art, live my life and be able to eat. Which I’ve grown very fond of (the eating part).

  21. Just getting started is the hardest thing of all. I recently spent four years setting up a studio that would make production very efficient and put me very close to a very strong art market. Unfortunately, I’ve spent ALL that time paying for the expenses I hadn’t anticipated. Business class insurance, utilities, internet, phone systems, alarm and alert systems, and plumbing and electric upgrades take the price from $300/mo. for 1600 sq. ft (which sounds like a dream to all my colleagues) to a much higher recurring expense. I’ve given notice to my landlord and starting over at my parents (I’m single).

    I’ve spent 29 years trying to get started and I find it really, really hard to produce and market art when I’m constantly scrambling for cash. And in all this time, I’ve NEVER found a full-time, permanent day job that pays a living wage (forget about benefits). I’ve the mistake of constantly taking art-related side work and now I don’t have any other qualifications (so employers think). No one (even art organizations) seems to want to hire an artist. And if they do, it’s because they believe we are professional volunteers. I recently saw a job in Manhattan at an art organization offering three-something an hour (they called it an internship).

    I couldn’t be in a more miserable situation. I’m always a finger’s reach away from getting somewhere, it seems. Often, I feel old and feel like my life is over. Still, I am angry enough to want to fight on, somehow. I have finished my third and terminal (feels terminal) art degree and I’m ready start working a different angle.

    1. Brian, sorry to hear about your troubles. There are ways to cut your expenses. The first way is to find another artist or two to share all of your expenses. That would cut it in half or more. Use your cell phone for the phone system. Raise the deductible on your insurance. Rough it on some of the upgrades etc. I have seen it frequently with new business owners. They fix their new place to be the perfect place they have always dreamed of. And who wouldn’t want to do that? If you go slow and do things as you can afford them, cut expenses, and take on others, you might still be able to make that setup work.

  22. Jason, it seems my biggest challenge is a huge learning curve when it comes to marketing and sales, which have never been easy. I was the kid who sold the fewest candy bars for the class trip. It just doesn’t flow naturally for me. I seem to attract these three: pats on the back, yard sale clients, or those looking for a gift. I’ve worked many different jobs over the years to pay the bills while I did art, but this past year I’ve finally allowed myself to remove the safety net and devote more time to art and the marketing of it. I got Barney Davey’s book “Guerrilla Marketing for Artists” for Christmas and devoured it. I’ve tried to apply at least some of the wealth of knowledge and experience he shares. I try not to focus on the fact that to even be heard, especially on the noisy internet, it costs time and money. There is a cost to everything, but instead of focusing on what I don’t have (money), I try to utilize what I have a little more of (time), and so I’m trying some different online venues. I made the move from a cheesy website design to a more professional one, which costs more money. However, I’ve also been trying blogs, the print market, as well as social media and a “handmade” originals site. I also have a few pieces in a physical gallery in our smaller town. We’ll see what happens. I’m always open for suggestions.

    1. Brad – I know you are not alone in this challenge. I would guess that most of the artists who read your comment nodded in sympathy. I think you are on the right track though – learn all you can, and then practice, practice, practice. Nothing helps overcome a deficiency in your skillset like knowledge and practice.

  23. Challenges for 2014: Better photography of my work (glass) and finding better gallery representation. I’ve been to one of your workshops and have read your book. I understand how to approach a gallery. The tough job has been actually finding appropriate galleries. This year, that’s the big focus.

  24. I am a full time artist since December 2012 after teaching for 21 years but i was still practising my art and had lots of major group exhibitions internationally and locally but at times, i was a little worried but i new then before,i had made my decision that its sacrifice and it will payed off in the future.nb. What i did was i pre-prepared myself,i sat at the feet of my former professors whom had done same,asking them various questions to prepare. By having a paid website, while teaching,where i paid for my ‘domain name’/(johnpowellpaintings) for eleven years, every time its due to keep my name current so, that when i left for full time artist, i am not a stranger in the art world.If an artist is GOOD/SERIOUS about his/her art/career, the rest is HISTORY;I do giclees of varied sizes to off set my expenses.nb.I am single not married so,thats an advantage but other artists whom are married are doing same.nb.I just came back from USA where i had my art in two major International group exhibitions in NY 2013 and while in NY i had received a letter from a writer/poet, whom saw my art online and purchased the License to use my art in her book soon to be published on: facebook & twitter.My paintings are inside the book and ONE is on the cover page,there is no telling what this publicity will bring my art.

  25. Jason, I look forward to your Newsletters and Share on Facebook whenever I can. This one particularly struck a chord with me for I am drawn between several creative outlets. I paint, I’m a Photographer, and I want to write. I do a little of all three, and fear I can Master none if I don’t focus on one. And then I get frustrated with each, because my skill level is not progressing at the rate I think it should. Lastly, I avoid the aspect of selling, because well, I just despise having to sell myself. That’s pretty much it, in a nutshell. Keep up the great work…
    Greg Autry

  26. Beyond the challenges of interruptions, today is a perfect example where my son is on Spring break and wants driving places, so its turned into an errand day. So I’ll be in the studio late tonight.

    My biggest problem is overcoming my own negative self talk, here are a few examples:
    Being an artist is an up hill struggle and I don’t think I have enough energy to keep going.
    There are a million artists and most of them are better than me.
    Galleries will never choose my work its way too pretty and not edgy enough.
    How can I create fabulous work at the price point people want to pay, I’ll be working for less than minimal wage.
    I’m overwhelmed trying to balance my money making business, my family and my art career.
    Just because I work from home my family thinks I have time to do everything around here, like cook, shop, mow the lawn, walk the dogs, do the laundry etc.
    Because I have a low income I’m not valuable or contributing enough to the world.
    Being an artist is a mental illness. I keep investing time and money into it until it hurts, and then I can’t stop doing it, whats wrong with me?

    1. My dear, dear Jane,

      You have to learn to say “no”. You have to set specific studio hours, sacred time, that no one is allowed to violate.

      I have a loving and supportive husband, but he is retired. He was in and out of my studio numerous times a day. It drove me crazy. I couldn’t concentrate. He was bringing me something to drink, asking if I had something he could do to help. I finally had to sit down and talk to him about my process for making art, the steps I mentally go through, the difficulty of just mixing the right colors, etc. he then understood, and my life is easier. I also explained that when I was able to produce my art efficiently, I had more time for us to do things together.

      Just think, if you had been able to work efficiently, you could have taken off for spring break too. So set your work hours. Stick to them. Your family will adjust and respect you for taking your work seriously. All of you will be happier. Who knows, you may be able to retain your sanity long enough for them to grow up.

      Your work is wonderful. Don’t ever stop.

  27. My challenge is, I can see my painting in minds eye in it’s complete state, and I can’t seem to get there as quick as I want to. A painting is done well and to the best of it’s ability when the artist can see where her signature will go, for me, and so my greatest strive is getting there quickly enough. It is not that I struggle with perfection, it is that I seek to fall in love with each piece, because this is when I know I can let go of it. It may sound crazy but but nothing else comes out of me as the artist. Each painting has to speak the truth of what is before me. Nothing else matters. Crazy I know.

    1. Actually, I have a problem with this when I create the ones I love I don’t want to sell them. Most of them are textured so I don’t really get how to make prints from those. They would lose all it’s character. I have a fear if priced to low you get people who don’t regard your work as highly might not treat it well. I had one that bought two pieces from me early on and they said they gave one set to some kids as a gift or something and that’s not what I want happening here. I care about this aspect. Others might not. I got requested to paint a realistic horse when I mainly do abstracts and there’s just some things I have to draw a line …Not that I can’t, I find no pleasure in doing so. It facilitates a different process in me that I just don’t want to unless I have some deep urge to do it lol. Forget about the money part that was guaranteed but I opted out. Other issues being my current work space is far too small to work on the larger paintings that I’d like to so I’m stuck with things 30 and under. Which I guess is ok for now to see how people like my stuff. I’m debating on a website or trying to go to some local galleries when I get enough work in place.

  28. I’ with Karen… many hats and feeling the pull from several directions.

    Right now I have my first book on color mixing completed. When I read about e-books, publishers, Kindles, self-publishing, and on and on, I want to shut down. Even though I have done the research and know that my content is unique and I have students eager to buy the book, it does get overwhelming.

    I have started to think that the word for me is not ‘focus’ but it is the word ‘simplify.’ Or perhaps they can dance together. Lately, I have thought that is might be a good idea for me to post my biz and artistic goals up on a wall so that I can see them everyday. Anyone else done that? I have not acted upon this idea yet.

    Thanks, Jason

    1. Hi Carol! We met at Sondra and Jack’s workshop in the 90s. I, like you feel overwhelmed….By all the info I think I ought to know. I agree with you about using the word ‘simplify’. I just listened to Jason’s broadcast on productivity.. Mentoring broadcast #6, and he suggested staying off line til 2:00 pm each day. Haven’t followed that suggestion today, but maybe be starting tomorrow. I definitely suffer from FOMO… Fear of missing out, and most of what I fear missing out on is information online.

  29. I read through some of the posts and realize I am truly not alone iin my challenges. I guess my challenge, at the moment, is getting from the compliments to the sales. I’ve not shown in a Gallery mainly because of a lack of framing. I have a couple higher end restaurants that show my work periodically, so far it’s just show not sale. I’m at an age where getting the JOB is not an option so I am definitely working on a limited budget. I have started picking up frames from various places to frame my pencil drawings since you can’t show them without. My paintings are set to hang without frames but that is problimatical, nothing shows off art like a good frame. So, here I am, going slowly but at least going. So, anyone want to buy some art?? 😉

  30. The things that work best for me as a watercolor artist are artistic community, which I have been blessed with (including being married to another watercolor artist), and discipline. When I am motivated, inspired, the discipline is no problem. Otherwise, it is erratic. Currently motivated. I am an emerging artist, not well established, but in juried shows and selling work and have been in a gallery. The difficulty for me is that now that I can devote almost full-time to my painting, I am feeling the pressure of age. I am 70 and it is hard to feel the downslope of life and have so much creative fire inside. Add to the usual problems of the “business” of art the maintaining of the physical body, which can take up a lot of time. I have been artistic all my life, during marriage and children and working full time. I have written three books, two of which are published. However I never tried marketing paintings during those years. Now I devoted to getting my art work out there.

  31. Jason, I have read through the comments here and decided to buy access to your mentorship video casts. I can’t a peak for anyone else… They answered a lot of specific questions for me. I’m just about to listen to #5 on studio and production practices. You’re doing a great service for artists. I appreciate that you are a gallery owner who can empathize with the difficult aspects of running their art as a business.

  32. I used to live in a destination ski resort. Those who were not trust funders lamented about how to make a good living in a ski resort. Many went into real estate because it was easy to get into and the market there was sky high. If you sold a $million house, you made $30 – 60,000! However, about 10% of all real estate agents there made about 90% of all income from real estate.

    I suspect the art world has similar percentages. Universities turn out thousands of art majors every spring all thinking they are going to “make it” as artists. Thousands more self-taught Sunday artists dream each year of finally becoming professional. Look around your own city/town; there are artists everywhere, and while a lot of the art is not very good there are also a great many artists who have excellent skill and/or unique work.

    So, why do few “make it” and not everyone? There are hard answers and soft answers. As Henry Miller and Anais Nin once stated, “We were not necessarily the best authors around, we just outlasted everyone.” Quality of work is only part of the answer. I’ve seen in both the visual and performing arts that often outstanding talent does not guarantee success, and I’ve seen rather mediocre or common skill reap overly zealous support and reward. It can make you crazy if you are very talented or it can make you think you are much better than you really are if you are in that second group. The awful truth about the art market is that it is run entirely on personal taste. Usually, if a person is going to buy an artwork, they do so because they like it. If every critic in the country agrees that the work someone bought is a terrible painting or sculpture, it matters not at all to either the artist or the client. It’s also true that no matter what art you do, how bad or how good or how simple or how difficult, there is someone who will like it, and many who don’t.

    Of course, liking something doesn’t always translate into buying it.

    Obviously, the “trick” to having a successful art career is to find those people who like your work and convince them to buy it. If you can find enough of them, you will have a great career; if you can find only a few, then you will have a more typical career and be frustrated quite often. If you want critical acclaim, then you have to focus on doing the kind of work critics tend to pay attention to and get it in front of their eyes, and usually that means you will have to have come out of academia yourself. There are several layers in the art world and you have to choose which layer you want to be in and then you have to concentrate all your effort there. If you are a landscape painter, you will have a LOT of competition and you will most likely never have your work in a museum or be taken seriously by critics. If you paint intellectual abstracts, your audience will be limited and you should not be surprised by that. If you want to sell prints and calendars, then focus on art fairs and other venues where people are looking for cheap art.

    Those are soft answers. The hardest answer is usually the one Jason harps on – work hard. Not always, but most successful artists work very hard. But I would add to Jason’s advice, work smart! There is a point of diminishing return when it comes to work. In our present age it is easy to constantly feel you have to do more and more or that another new social medium comes along or there’s another trend that you feel you have to jump on.

    Understand you can only do so much. Personally, I think if you are spending 30 hours a week not doing your art work you are doing too much non art work. Pick your art focus, the level of the art world in which you see yourself, and ignore the rest. Pick the MOST productive approaches and ignore the marginal ones. Say no to things. You cannot do everything, so don’t try.

    It’s important to remember that an art career is extremely difficult to achieve and sustain. No one asks us to be artists. It’s a self-inflicted situation! While we live and breathe it, the rest of the world does not and also does not have any inclination to believe they owe us anything. In truth, the world does not owe us anything. Only a client that loves something we have done owes us the fee we put on letting them take it from us for their own private pleasure. There are many, many thousands of artists with the same hope, so when it happens to us it’s a very special and gratifying experience. Whether it repeats itself or not or how many times will be the result of our efforts, our choices, and also a large measure of luck. Those 3 factors usually explain why there are so few successful art careers.

    Good luck!

    1. Well said. Personally working hard and working smart is just that….hard…..but I love painting and I paint everyday without question. Last week I sold a piece in a London show so I am floating on air. I hope the same for all the artists here.

  33. Money is my biggest challenge. I’ll find the time to create, even if it means painting at night to early morning, which is usual for me. And my Evernote has a long list of ideas! My problem is, I see too many people trying to take advantage of artists desperate to get their art out there. Galleries charging wall space and/or application fee’s, festivals and their high booth fee’s, jury fee’s, advertising fee’s and the list goes on and on. Some may work out, but there are more that don’t. Festivals and galleries are popping up everwhere your turn, charging all kinds of fee’s, while the director/owner is making more money than the artists. Sometimes I think in order to make it as an artist you have to have a great deal of money first, really no different than the corporate world. Ironic because that’s what most artists try to avoid.

    1. I know what you mean, so I have a little part time job , 3 times a week 9 to 1, and earn money for supplies.
      My biggest challenge is self confidence. I get a lot of compliments, and I sold 3 paintings today, but I tend to underestimate the value of them. I think I need to charge more, because I’m really a good artist.

  34. Thanks Jason. One if the challenges I have is skill. I’m realizing that I really want to put more energy and time into doing my work more often and learning and creating new tequniques. Also not being lazy and time management!

  35. Jason
    I bless the moment of meeting you/your site.
    Listening to your broadcasts, reading your blog posts and books I came to realize that although I am not painting 40-8- paintings a year, although I don’t have a gallery representation I am a fully dedicated 24/7 artist.
    I had different dresses in this lifetime.
    I begun as a musician, left it to become a kite master, moved to aerial design, sculpture and for the last 14 years, mostly a painter with stage setting, carving my frames and video clipping my art in between.

    A month ago, with you in my heart, I realized that I am not an artist in the sense that you mean.
    I lost the passion to find a gallery, knowing that I wish to have the freedom and choice to create according to the call of my heart. I lost the fear of not being good enough if I don’t manage to make money from my art.
    I became a Heartist.
    And a Heartist is definitely an artist.
    From my book “Loving my neighbour as i love mySelf”:
    “Today, I feel newly interdependent of the wonderful teachings I’ve encountered on my path and have integrated, and feel that it is time for me now to share what I have gained.
    I AM the heart of my heart, and knowing this, I feel myself to be a “Heartist”.
    When we all realize that in truth, we all share one big heart, we will begin to experience true happiness and unity.
    The aims I have set for myself reflect the different sides of my vision and understanding.
    • To share my heart with warriors that are ready to follow their hearts.
    • To create a “Warriors of the Heart” community that will have its own practical, new integral-world structure in order to promote a paradigm of collaboration, integration, and integrity.
    • To use this teaching as a platform to promote education about the connection between art and life in schools world-wide.
    • To create a yearly art event for heartists from every artistic discipline from around the world……

    I know now that life is a spiritual event, and that to bend our knee in that direction, every day, with whatever our talents may be, in service to our highest ideals, is the true occupation of an Adam-to-be.

    Each one of my paintings is the fruit of my personal experience in trying to fully feel, sense, and understand what the biblical sages meant when they wrote their profound texts. My wish is for you to receive the inner spiritual meaning of these texts by the simple act of contemplating the paintings, and breathing them deep inside you.
    And so I bid you farewell, for now, my dear fellow heartists. I hope to meet you all inside my heart.

    “Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art”
    Leonardo Da Vinci.

    Thank you Jason for giving the stage to expressing our hearts.

    1. Hello Yo-Hana…This post has touched my heart…I also paint and create from a deep and sacred heart space…how wonderful to connect with you here…thank you!

  36. Right now I am suffering from a lack of focus. Or, rather, I am, to quote A.A. Milne,” Like the old sailor my grandfather knew /that had so many things that he wanted to do / that whenever he thought he would like to begin / he couldn’t because of the state he was in.”
    I paint regularly, and produce paintings that sell to the audience that I have created locally. However, in trying to expand that market by finding gallery representation, I recognize that I need to have more of a focused style. This has become a very real problem for me. In the past I have painted in a wide variety of styles, and become proficient in many of them, but your observation in an earlier blog post that, “artists need to be consistent ” rang true.
    However, knowing that, the question becomes, which style to choose.
    As I re-listen to the mentorship broadcasts, I recognize that your selection of an artist was brilliant, but wonder how those of us working toward gallery representation can find assistance in getting a grip on all the various reins on all the runaway horses that are pulling the wagon and getting us who knows where.

    1. Constance Patterson… You read my mind! I am the Lack of Focus Queen! I am experiencing much of the same issues, with regard to finding the style that I feel is best for me. I find I can get caught up in trying to create a unique style, something that is going to scream…Kimberly Bentley and I become completely overwhelmed and then eventually underwhelmed with what I am working on. I can probably fill MOCA with all of my unfinished paintings. Fortunately, the unfinished works are still the minority. I keep thinking back to when I was in high school and the guidance counselor brought all the students in to take a test to gauge the type of career path was best suited for each student.. I am wondering if there is an Art path test? What an amazing tool that could be.
      Today is my first visit to this blog site. Honestly, I rarely do the blog thing. I am so glad that I gave this a try. I am already feeling a bit more focus… well at least I am focusing on the fact that I need to narrow my focus! Around and around I go again!
      Thank you for your post…

  37. Jason, thank you so much for this opportunity. There is so much valuable information in this blog. Thrilled to read your views.

    I had a profession for living and art was the joy of life. I got inspired by anything, tried every medium, experimented different mediums. I was in love with the process. Spent a lot of time observing others work. Followed blogs and discussions. Shared with friends. Even sold some of my work thru direct channels.

    In time, my artistic judgement changed. The works I evaluated to be the best once, fell behind. Things I didn’t understand, became more meaningful. It was impossible to be satisfied with the piece I currently worked on. My technical skills couldn’t catch up with my mind. I destroyed some of my own work to make room for new ideas.

    I learned a lot. However, I kept myself in a secure place, by not coming forward as a professional artist. Because, once you are there, there is no way back. You cannot say: ” Iwas experimenting with paint and luckily I created this piece.’

    Deep down I know that I will never feel ready. I can spend another decade learning and experimenting, but nothing will change. As a wise man once said: ”The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.”’ I can never perfect my skills to the point I desire…By then, my mind will jump to the next stage…

    Then it became crystal clear: I was becoming an art lover, sitting amongst the audience, instead of being the performer.

    So I have decided to take the challenge. I have made a project plan. One step at a time. I have listed some conceptual ideas. Eliminated mediums: for preliminary and final work. Listed the things that inspire me. Listed the recipes that worked for me. Now, I need to perfect my process, so that nothing is there by chance. There is always room for mistakes. However, my mind should be relaxed for having a basic strategy.

    My first challenge is: stay in discipline, not to judge and alter my initial decisions on the way. Show up and finish the first 3 pieces. Then, go for 10 or may be 20 pieces.

    My biggest challenge is: be satisfied with the results. Not to self sabotage, by being an art critique for my own work. I leave that seat to the viewer.

    I have a long way to contacting the galleries or marketing my work. I believe, if I can come up with a series that I am satisfied with_ It will be easier to stand behind my work and be proud showing my portfolio.

    Wish me luck:)

    1. Alev… I like your project plan. What an excellent idea. I am in the same place… I have a long way to go to be ready to submit my work to galleries. I too, am my biggest and worst critic. I really like your ideas and may try some of them myself. Thanks! Good Luck 🙂

  38. Hello Jason
    I have read over your blog and its contributors and I must say that I can see some of my own challenges in each scenario. However I believe that since I have only just begun to focus entirely on my watercolurs by business plan is going to be imparitive. I need to find the balance as does everyone. The cost to do business cannot be ignored. Aside from setting up a website, my first step is to find a gallery that will take my work. Oils seem to be the flavour of the local galleries. Finding the appropriate vendor is my biggest challenge as I see it.
    Thank you for the opportunity to join your blog.

  39. Hi Jason,

    I began painting again 3 years ago. My husband is about to retire after 27 years in the military and my last 2 kids will be graduating soon. This is the perfect time for me to focus on my art. While I have found a gallery, started a website, and had a solo exhibit I am at a loss for how to manage the promotion and business end in order to become a successful artist. Much of what I have done has been based on “monkey see, monkey do”. I see local artists “do this”, so I do it too. As other posters in this thread have said time, money, and exposure are at a premium when it comes to building our reputations from nothing. My main challenges are in learning how to more efficiently promote my work so I spend less time wasting important resources and more time slinging my paint. I need a map.

  40. Thanks for your blog posts. They are encouraging to read. I guess I am still an emerging artist (ish). I got my first gallery show in 2009 and have been building my career since then. I work at art full time. Money is definitely my biggest challenge, and being able to save up during the ‘fatter’ months to cover the leaner months. Up until this past year I was going up money-wise each year for profits, but last year for the first time since I started my art business, my profits went down, and I had to sit down and figure out how to re-assess my business. I realized certain things were not working anymore (namely art fairs / festivals which have tanked in the past two years for me) and I decided to drop them as they were a drain on my time / money / resources. While I used to make money at art fairs, in the past couple of years I’ve noticed that most of the people coming to the fairs I was at were very casual, out for a fun day with the family types, and it was hit or miss if any of these people would buy an artwork. I saw very little ‘serious’ art collectors. While my profits at these shows were going down, they cost me proportionately way more than any of my other expenses. So I had to bite the bullet and cut them out of my schedule.

    I also increased my prices this year because – although I was still selling the same number of paintings as always – I have more expenses than when I first started my art business and I needed to take them into account. I now charge $3 a square inch (with some larger works being a little more like $2.5 a square inch. I still consider this to be somewhat low, (especially when you factor in 50 percent gallery cuts) but I am not sure if I can get higher than that at the moment in my area. I am trying to keep myself from being afraid of my prices and projecting confidence to people that my work is worth those prices (I have a very labor intensive, detail-oriented process, so I can’t just sell a large painting for $300 and expect to make any kind of a profit).

    So my challenge is to find people that value art, and have the discretionary income to be able to allow themselves the luxury of original art. I also am trying to be OK with the fact that not everyone can afford me and that this should not make me fearful. At other art shows I am in this puts me in the mid range of artist sale prices, which I think is probably a good spot to be in. If I find myself in a show where I am the highest price artist, then I figure that gallery is probably not for me.

    However, I did also started making tiny framed paintings for $99 for the “I wish I could afford you but…” crowd. These have been doing pretty well so far. Many of them I sell within a few days of posting them on facebook and people who normally would hold off on buying from me because they felt they couldn’t afford to buy art are able to afford these. I am hoping these are “gateway” sales, and maybe some of these people will come back to buy a larger painting. I decided that while much of my work is larger than this, I can probably devote one day a week to doing some minis, so that I always have a little stockpile of small affordable works that I can sell quickly / easily direct through me (these pieces will not be sold at galleries ). Maybe this will help even out cash-flow inbetween larger artwork sales. We’ll see….

    My other big challenge, besides figuring out what works and what does not work for my business, is reaching beyond my own East Coast regional area, and getting into higher quality shows. Last year I got into a museum show for the first time (for a three month show) and I am trying to see if I can get into another one this year. I am hoping once I get several museum shows on my resume, I can use that to leverage myself into higher end galleries, who hopefully have higher end clients.

    Keeping my fingers crossed and trying not to panic 🙂
    Thanks again for all your advice.

    1. Just an update: I seem to have had a run of good luck since I last posted here – I got work into one of the museums I had applied for, sold a large painting today, and got contacted for a large commercial illustration job that fits my purview (knock on wood that actually falls into place as the deal is still in discussion, but I feel positive about it so far). So now my challenge is to capitalize on this momentum to keep it going. I am going to start a large marketing effort shortly, to promote all my spring shows (I have six shows, with two more juried shows I am still waiting to hear back on). Hopefully I can market the shows correctly – I will be mailing out cards to my mailing list, as well as sending out an email newsletter, social media campaign, and some advertisements in local media. I hope I won’t be throwing my money away…

      And also I need to be able to make sure I keep slogging it out in the ‘studio’ (aka the spare room in my apartment) as I have three solo and / or featured artist shows also coming up – one in August, one in September and one in October. So other than the marketing efforts, and artist receptions, I will probably have to go into self-imposed exile for a couple of months while I paint like mad. When it rains it pours! 😉 😛

  41. Trying to hone marketing skills, and having other artist put me down for being self-promoting (though my efforts also brought more folks in to see EVERYONE’s art), trying to focus on being productive at the canvas AND deal with all life throws at you (illness & death of a close family member, the shifting population swells within the household during that time, then just weathering all the changes, including reduced income, reduced exposure), frankly, everything’s pretty much come to a standstill, and extended family still echoes “just get a regular job.”

  42. I have too many run-a-way horses as well. I want to do it all. Ouch. Why focus it is so much fun experimenting and playing.

    I too have to work to live. So I teach but the teaching means a lot of demo’s and a lot of repetition of basic skill sets. Now that I finally have enough classes to be working full time I drive through all my studio time from one location to the next.

    I wish I had more time to play with my own dreams and my own choices of medium.

    But then I do like owning a house and eating…LOL

  43. Hi, I have read your very interesting blog for the very first time. I thought your readers may find this interesting. I picked up my brushes for the first time just over 4 years ago. I had never, ever painted before in my life not even at school as in those days the choice was Domestic Science as it was called then or art, I chose the former. I found that I loved it. I have never had an art lesson and read everything I could about the aspects that interested me. I started off with watercolours but acrylics are my love they are so versatile and I work with lots of layering, glazes, washes and light impasto work. I set up my own website and joined a few facebook art blogs, posting my paintings (for free) as often as I could. My confidence boost was when I had several inquires from here in England and America. I have sold quite a few works in both countries and have 4 commissions to
    be finished by Christmas, 3 for America and one for England. In the meanwhile I have been accepted for a multi exhibition from a very professional art centre called Landmark Arts Centre, Teddington, Surrey, England June 21st and 22nd this year. This is not easy, you have to send in 3 photographs of your work and they go before a jury of assessors to see if the quality is up to their exacting standard, they have a waiting list of artists who wish to exhibit there and only have 2 art shows a year. I will probably be the only artist there without letters after my name but if you dont have confidence in yourself and your work nobody else will. I am now working hard to get a large enough portfolio together for this. I love realism and working in fine detail, I am very eclectic in my choice of subject. It is no good telling me that a green wash and a smudge of brown will tell people it is a tree I want to paint the tree, although of course the former does suit some amazing artists. I have my own style and love what I do. Once the exhibition is over I will enter some of the competitions online and see where that goes. Oh bye tge way, I am a very young 69 this October coming.

  44. Hi Jason,
    The greatest challenges I face as an artist are right now are:

    1. Managing time carefully and staying on track

    • time to learn more about the medium I work in now,
    • time to think about ideas for the next painting or series,
    • time to plan and work out my ideas,
    • time to execute a series of paintings into a cohesive body of new work to present to galleries,
    • time to learn the business aspects of art and run my developing art business,
    • and of course, time for family…

    2. Learning to locate the right markets for my work, approach galleries effectively and build long term profitable relationships.

    1. Lillian, I am whole-heartedly with you. Couldn’t have written it better!
      First, time, time, time.
      Second, overcomin guilt about spending that time, and overcoming the constant doubts about my abilities
      Third, not understanding what judges and/or galleries want from an artist.

      After that, what everybody else has said!

  45. Time and Money. Constantly trying to streamline studio operations for greater efficiency. Trying to get personal sales up to gallery pricing is a major challenge. After 7 years full time, I know what my work can sell for to balance the volume I can create and to pay my bills. But it needs to be higher to get more gallery involvement. Cash sales, barters, these things help but only go so far.

    One thing that has improved, is tweaking social media to be more instant for marketing. I have my phone nearby when I work, I can take a studio snapshot and send it to Instagram which feeds my Facebook artist page and I can even automatically port that to my website if I like. This makes for little interruption from working and a nice side effect has been that the shots are very candid, honest, current. People seem to dig that, but, a like is not a dollar.


  46. As you see I have no website. I’m at present at ViewBug an at Flicker I do many of the different photo contest that you see on line. I’ve done a couple of Photo books that available on line one is at
    Clouds Impressions 1, also at Xlibris .com we have Clouds Impressions 111. I mat my own pictures or frame them to give away. I do want to be able to do this full time in the mean time I’m taking pictures an have a lot of subjects. I’m in Up State New York lovely scenery always something to shot.

  47. I have time and talent, but no idea how to focus it toward selling. I’ve got a large clientele in Europe who find me by accident mostly. My website is not very good at the moment – and needs some serious updating. I’ve done that part myself (I was trained as a graphic artist) and have a good handle on the web work, but have not made time to do it correctly.
    I am a sculptor, so I have a unique set of challenges as such. I must create the piece, then photograph it to show it’s best sides, then post it online and then — I don’t know! That’s the challenge! How do I get it into a gallery? How do I submit my work for review? How do people get into shows or hanging or whatever? I’ve no idea – I wasn’t trained as a fine artist. I had a very successful career as a graphic designer, but now I pursue other interests. The artwork is part of this but I have no idea where or how to move forward. Help is greatly appreciated!

  48. Jason: My route to and struggles with art are somewhat unique. I did not have the opportunity to go to art school but began working for income (summers) when I was ten-years-old and added work after school and on weekends when I was 15. I was raised in a small town where the only way out of your parent’s home was marriage and that’s what I did right after high school, just long enough to have a child. I worked very hard just to survive, studying each move I made along the way, always keeping my head above water while attempting to provide my daughter with a different reality and different choices than I was given. Always, in the back ground, creating art was the well I reached into to sustain my own happiness. It was the secret place I could escape to, for a short time, when reality became just too tough. After a successful career as a legal assistant, my husband decided to venture into an agricultural endeavor. We became a first, we paved a new path, that many have used as an example. We made a good living by working ourselves to the point of breaking, until suddenly our water-well started losing pressure. Development…houses going in above us were unraveling the basket that we had put all of our eggs into. I literally ran to the creative side of my brain. My entire life, my secret survival method had been pulling out the beauty in my surroundings and analyzing it. What is about those changing leaves that stops my heart? How could one reproduce that? Now I poured all of my fear and helplessness into one single focus–pulling the beauty out of life and sharing it. In my mind, I am saying “How can you destroy all of this?” “Look what you are doing.” All I’m saying is there are many ways to become an artist, and sometimes the greatest struggle is not getting yourself through art school and expecting returns for that, but getting yourself through life intact and continuing to see the beauty of your surroundings.

    Making a living off art? Now that’s a subject for another time, but it sure has been superior to other options.

  49. My biggest challenge is balance between working on my business which has been very lucrative for me and is what keeps paying the bills and finding the time to market my artwork. I am fortunate to have started a business that lends me lots of freedom with my time, so I do have plenty of time to paint, but it is the marketing of my paintings and setting the prices that is so difficult for me. There is so much art that is being reproduced overseas and being sold in this country at such low prices, it it hard to figure out how to get to the collectors that appreciate your work enough to pay a fair price for it. Recently I saw large pieces of “original art” created in India and China that were very appealing and fairly well done, being sold for less than I would have to pay for just the canvas, not to mention my costs for my paints. So, I guess to sum it up, my biggest challenge is marketing my work and setting a fair price that buyers will pay and also fair to me as the artist.

  50. Hello again: It is very interesting that many of us humans, try to express our most inner feelings by painting and then to show them and try to sell them to other humans. Life is always full of adventures, good ones, bad ones and so on but each one of us have only one life to live and do the most of it the best we can, certainly sometimes it’s difficult to understand how to deal with life or situation and circumstances but also we have to realize that life is short, sometimes it is not worth to invest in specific because the result of it won’t matter.
    My challenge is to understand that limit or see it so I can stop on time. I have given away many of my paintings to friends and family, they say it’s good, but then I think if I tell them I would sell it to them, how many of them are going to turn it down? I am not a professional artist, just somebody that has taken time to draw and paint, went to jr. college to learn the basics and I have been enjoying it up to right now. I don’t have a lot of time to immerse myself in art but I enjoy doing it. Trying to make a buck from it sounds very intimidating maybe not willing to invest all of my efforts in it or all my money but if somebody is interested in a painting and wants to pay That is Great!.
    It’s always good to learn something new ! So this is another good adventure for me, learn something that will help me later on in specifics in life.

  51. I think my biggest challenge is finding the time and the energy to be in my studio. I have to work 3 jobs to barely make ends meet. I haven’t painted in a few years because of the daily stress of working part -time jobs on my feet all day (I’m 59 and have hip issues). I owe back mortgage payments, my husband is a writer and works from home but he’s been without work for a long time and we are just depressed. I like to paint landscapes and happy places but feel that there are too many of those types out there. The galleries want young edgy art that is modern and unrealistic. I paint real landscapes, animals and people. I’ve tried my hand at various styles of modern art but never succeed. I have found this blog and class and feel that it might boost me into a painting mode again. OF course, my paints are old and mediums are old – I may have to update my paints which costs money I don not have but I think I’ll try to find a way. I want to spend some time in my studio everyday – but first it must be cleaned and made ready. The past year has turned the unused space into a ‘catch-all’ room – junk everywhere! So that’s the first step! CLEAN the studio!

  52. My biggest challenge has been to get into shows out of my local area. Documenting the works better is a goal I have set for myself this year.
    The local shows have artist that feel if they sell a painting at all they are lucky. So even pricing my art at a price that would break even makes my works very expensive compared to the rest. Event organizers have made the statement to me that ” The artworks that have been priced more gently are having great success at selling.”

  53. Jason,

    Thank you for starting this discussion. It is so important for each of us to hear and empathize with each other. Each of us has to work daily to overcome so many challenges. Some of them seem to be solvable with rational analysis and conscious decisions with deliberate action. So many of them are not.

    I personally live with self doubt. “I’m not skilled enough” is one of my demons. Another one is “I’m too old and ugly” to approach a gallery. Then there are the rejections. Entering shows has become very expensive. When rejected I not only feel inadequate, but also as though I have stolen that money from my family. I intellectually know that I should adopt a better attitude about myself, but it is very difficult. With this attitude, I find it impossible most of the time to market.

    I need a specific roadmap for going forward with the business side of my artwork. I did fairly well for a while developing this map, but am not sure now which way to turn. All the books I have read lead one on a different path and only serves to confuse. All the programs out there for marketing scream, “choose me, choose me”. With a limited income, how do I choose?

    1. Linda – thanks for sharing. I know a lot of artists who struggle with self-doubt, we all do from time to time. It’s great that you are building your knowledge – knowledge helps chase away doubt. You are right though, there are many different paths to success, and sometimes it’s hard to know which one to pursue. In the end, I think your greatest success comes in the path that you think makes the most sense for your personality, and that you have the power to stick to. Most success only comes after doggedly pursuing it for years.

      1. Hi Jason,

        Omgosh, I see myself in a lot of these challenges that others are facing.
        I guess my biggest challenge has been confidence, which leads to how to pick a theme or series, or even what defines a series, knowing how to price my work, and how and where to show it.
        I look forward to working through and learning more about art and myself.
        Thanks for your time and knowledge

  54. Hi Jason,

    Interesting reading which I did not finish. My biggest challenge has been getting the image in my brain onto the canvas. Since I am retired, I have social security and do not worry so much about marketing my art. I still worry about producing the art that satisfies me.

    Don Fowler

  55. For me it has been deciding to focus on one medium for awhile instead of second guessing myself. Doing both seemed safer, hedging my bets some. One selling for a lot less money than the other and easier to sell in the current market, but not the one I really felt the strongest about. The large canvases I do seem more of a risk, yet are what I love most. Each medium also appeals to entirely different types of galleries. So I am preparing to focus on one thing for awhile and see what happens. I get impatient and am going to have to overcome that tendency and just look longer range and trust myself.

  56. Jason,
    After reading many of the blog comments concerning “The many challenges artists face”, it all seems a little disconcerting. However, I usually don’t let others sway me in my opinion or direction. So to respond to your assignment request, I have narrowed my concerns down to 3 major ones:
    1) The process on choosing the right gallery that fits my contemporary abstract artwork
    2) How to choose which pieces to include in a portfolio for gallery submission (very difficult for me to select which ones)
    3) Last, but not least, the fear / nervousness in actually walking into these galleries and personally presenting my work – Don’t get me wrong, I believe in my artwork, just new to the process and therefore anything unknown is somewhat intimidating.

    PS: I have never responded to a blog in my life; this is the first.
    Thank you,

  57. Wow, I am at a loss of words (which is rare for me) to read that so many struggle with the same issues as an artist gives me a sense of relief. This began as a way for me to waste time, and from that it turned into an obsession.

  58. I have found that my biggest challenge is knowing how to price my work to sell. I live in a small town that has just recently begun to make the people aware of the Arts. I get a lot of compliments and I put it in the small town galleries but very little sells I’m shy about approaching galleries in bigger cities. I really don’t know how to do it either.

  59. As Pogo so aptly says, “we have met the enemy… and he is us. ” I would so like to blame others or my circumstances for my shortcomings, but that would not be truthful. And above all, I think and artist must be truthful. I would like to say living in a foreign country is a handicap, but in truth, I thrive in a cultural environment not my own, and have been enriched by its diversity, distinctness and I owe my Mexican watercolor teacher, Cuauhtemoc Velazquez, a great debt. Since I am just starting on this path of becoming a visual artist, I suffer from a lack of knowledge of this field, having previously been a cellist and continue on occasion to play in a Baroque ensemble. Thanks to each one for your posts!

  60. A challenge that is a big one for me and that I forgot to post earlier, is the expense of art materials. It greatly inhibits my creativity and productivity. I don’t want to use cheap materials My goal is to have an almost unlimited supply of canvases, paint, wood, metals! And to create art everyday.

  61. I would have to agree with most of the above comments on time management. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed with all of the things that I need to do, that I run around in circles and get absolutely nothing done. I also worry about making the wrong decisions- it can be very expensive to make wrong decisions- which galleries, what kind of advertising, which shows, etc.

  62. I find that I am having difficulty managing time effectively as well. Often I have so many things that I need to do that I run around in circles, accomplishing absolutely nothing. I also need to learn a good way of making smart business decisions- often there are so many roads to take and I need to learn how to take the right one for me.

  63. I am too at a loss for words there is so much talent out there. I have only had the desire to paint, I am not business minded so I prefer to just paint so not being business minded is my challenge, I have sold a few pieces each year but only because someone has approached me and asked if I would sell what I was finishing up at the time or they would come to my home and look around and pick one or two.

  64. I am somewhat of a newer artist. I have been into art since I was a child but never really had desire or motivation to want to do anything more with it than just enjoying as a hobby. I think the biggest challenge for me is going out of my comfort zone and getting my work out there and marketing it. My goal is to have my work in a gallery and out for more people to see. I have sold pieces through family and friends and while I don’t paint to sell my work it feels amazing to know that somebody loves your work enough to want to display it in their home.

  65. yes,I agree with some of the previous responses on working full time and feeling less than focused after a hard week to sit down to my art and feel creative and excited to paint anything. To be honest though,that is not the only or biggest issue with the last couple years very stressful with family issues that have interfered with any joy or fulfillment from this endeavor: the satisfaction from a work well done and chief reason I got into art in the first place. I am trying to do something about this,I have kept up with my artists membership and shows and events,but they just seemed like more work,so I am going on an artists weekend soon,just painting for fun,no pressure or worry of sales,just immerse myself in art and being around other artists,hope it helps.

  66. I a semi-retired tax practitioner since I sold my practice in 2006. I now have time for my passion for art. I began my journey experimenting with everything I came into contact with, but I soon learned that I could not be a master at everything so I picked my favorite medium, oil, and decided to focus on it. That was my first challenge because like so many others that have commented here, I was easily distracted. We artists have curious minds and it’s difficult not to follow those distractions! My next challenge was genre, what to paint. I’ve learned that I have to paint for the venue where I want to sell, but my biggest challenge is marketing. I’ve tried many different things, including my website and art shows. My husband and I took to the road last fall to check out different galleries because I feel like that’s the direction to go, but an artist needs to be careful to get into a good gallery that will represent you. There are galleries and then there are galleries that take a real interest in their artists, those are the ones you want to be partnered with. The next biggest challenge is pricing my work. I need to price my work to sell, but not so low that the buyer does not value it. I think pricing also depends on where you are selling. I entered three pieces in a juried show last Spring and was told that I under priced my work by at least half, I thought I’d priced them too high and had no chance of selling any of them. I sold two of those pieces, but I came away from that show a little better educated. I’m entering that show again this year, well see what happens.
    I’m looking forward to Jason’s E-course.

  67. My biggest challenge is the voice in my head. It is my mother , she always said to me “you will starve as an Artist” . Pick a profession that will allow you to afford yourself and to be independent. So I went to engineering school.

    The beauty is that I get to paint what I want. Bad thing is my waking hours are the ones devoted to the company. So I push myself through on evenings, weekends and yes even while traveling. I am a master at packing paint. What’s stranger in this paradox is that my split brain works on problem solving for the other side when working I am in right brain creating, I am also problem solving left brain and vise versa.

    Although my mother changed her mind before she died. “She told me, don’t stop doing what your doing”, live your dream. You are Artist.

    So my biggest challenge is the voice in my head.

  68. The challenges that I struggle with the most with would have to be how to price my art and where to sell my work. It is interesting to read through the other comments. It is hard to go from the complement stage to actually selling and coming to terms with the fact that a little piece of you is leaving your soul.

  69. How to budget my work time had usually been my biggest challenge, and still to some degree is. I spent many of my years experimenting, not just with the glass art itself but which directions I wanted to take selling it, and would reinvent myself often, prevented me from reaching my potential with my business. Then I went and started another business with my watercolor stationery, which is now paying off, but might not have had I not saved enough money for startup costs and time to get it going.

    My biggest breakthroughs in this area:

    Discovering and accepting that I had a compulsive urge to try and recycle materials and that I had to find a use for whatever people that liked what I had going gave me. Then I found a solution to the problem, I just donate the stuff to people and organizations who are glad to take it.

    Discovering the universal value of consistency and having a theme as an artist, thanks to Jason’s book.

    Paying attention to whenever being a full time artist felt like a lousy job and I wished I was doing something else, like selling through galleries and word of mouth rather than suffering through doing shows. If people want commissions I will take them on as long as they are somewhat within my regular line. For example, the customer who bought an octopus chandelier from me now wants a pair of squid sconces to go with it, but if he asked for something like a 3-D stained glass giraffe I’d turn it down.

    1. Hi Mason
      Just wanted to let you know I LOVE your octopus chandelier. I had actually seen that photo getting passed around facebook and had faved it as I thought it was super cool (I love to paint octopi myself). So I clicked through your name to your website and instantly recognized that octopus. I just wanted to say great work! Keep it up 🙂

  70. I may be only fooling my self, but, I think I may be the biggest challenge I have. Lord knows it couldn’t be the art itself now could it? lol. About 6 months ago I seem to have lost all motivation, for not particular reason. My self doubt has become overwhelming. My work is not good, I don’t produce enough and I do not have a great body of work to show anyone. The list of how to pull myself out of this funk seems massive. So, I think I’m my biggest challenge.


  71. My challenge is the language. I am a Chinese but living in Germany. Although I can talk with people in English or German, but a beautiful communication is a big challenge for me.

  72. Wow! So many comments, and who would care where lil’ ole me stands in such a wide spectrum of challenges?

    I think it’s (obviously) very true what you’ve said, Jason, about how every artist has their own set of challenges besides the obvious ones of honing their craft and finding their market. Many here have a lot of the same challenges I have too, like the juggling thing. That’s a BIG one!

    Mine biggest challenge however, would have to be TIME. I can’t tell you how many time I have heard from others (non-artists) that say, “It must be so nice to be a full time artist and get to just paint all day,” and nothing boils my blood more. Not at the person for not know how untrue all that is, but just how sad I am that I haven’t touched paint to canvas in weeks!

    When it gets to be weeks, it’s about that time to call in the men in white coats, but I think the other artists here know what I’m talking about.

    There is so much time spent on marketing and promotion in keeping yourself relevant, who has time to paint? For me, painting can’t be done a couple hours here, and an hour there. It’s about seclusion and long periods of dedicated focus. A big “Do not Disturb” sign goes up and I act like some drug addict hidden away on some meth binge. That’s the kind of TIME I’m talking about.

    This isn’t out of the question – getting this time. It’s about bringing yourself up, just enough to afford that part-time assistant. I know, I have hit that mark a few times when I have been doing really well, and it really does work! It’s just a matter of getting to that point on a consistent basis.

    So that is my main challenge. It sounds like money, doesn’t it?

    I don’t like to think of it that way, because there have been times I have received helpers, interns from colleges that did it for free, or some that just wanted to experience and all it cost me was their lunch. You just have to be resourceful. It’s just hard to find a consistent person in that case. It’s hard to ask for a lot when they are working for free, and they are just kids (19-23).

  73. Wow! So many comments! So who cares where lil’ ole me would stand in such a wide spectrum of challenges? Maybe somebody.

    It’s so true what you’ve said, Jason, about besides the obvious challenges that artists have, like honing their craft and finding their market, every artist will most definitely have their very OWN set of challenges that are unique to them.

    And it’s great that we are all sharing them, finding solutions. Finding a network.

    Many here have a lot of the same challenges I have too, especially the juggling thing. That’s a BIG one!

    My biggest challenge however, would have to be TIME. And to insert a little pet peeve, I can’t tell you how many times I have heard from others (non-artist others) that say, “It must be so nice to be a full-time artist and just get to paint all day.” Nothing boils my blood more. Not so much at the person making the statement – they don’t know. I’m more upset at myself that I probably haven’t touched paint to canvas in weeks!

    When it gets to be weeks, it’s about that time to call in the men in white coats! I hate it when too much time goes by and I’m not painting.

    Why am I not painting if I am a full-time artist? TIME spent on marketing and promotion in order to keep myself relevant.

    For me, painting can’t be done in a couple hours here, or an hour there. It’s about those long periods of seclusion, with dedicated focus. A big “Do not Disturb” sign goes up and I act like some drug addict hidden away on some meth binge. That’s the kind of TIME I’m talking about.

    Getting this kind of TIME isn’t out of the question. It’s about bringing yourself up – your business up – just enough to afford that part-time assistant. I have hit that mark a few times and it’s wonderful! It really does give you that time. Making it consistent is another story! (Help!)

    Sometimes, you can find younger people that will help you for free, but that can be a slippery slope: making demands from someone that is working for you for free. I usually buy them lunch, but I feel bad to ask them to be on time. They are doing it for class credit, or for the experience, which is great, but sometimes – maybe because of their age? they tend to be less dependable/committed.

  74. Maintaining momentum is what I am focusing on this year. I graduated college as an art/painting major with no idea of how to develop my career. Momentum stopped. I discovered I could get a job in graphic design and advertising and stayed in that career for 27 years. My art background was extremely useful and I continued to use foundational art skills as I directed other designers. Momentum very sluggish. But I continued to self-educate on all the things I didn’t learn at college including transitioning to the computer in early nineties. This has been the biggest asset to date–all the years of struggling with software has been well worth it. Building momentum. After family/children /college responsibilities were under control, my husband and I had some very frank conversations about my very real need to “just be the artist”. I tried on 2007 to make the leap but I let myself get sucked into helping other artists with their needs and sacrificed my own goal. Back to the security of ad agency work I went. Lost momentum big time. Finally at end of 2013 we adjusted our household budget and I started my fulltime career as a painter. Real momentum building as I worked my way through how to put my marketing program together while retaining plenty of time to “do my work”. Decent success but not nearly where I’d like to be. In 2014 I’m tightening up on my social media and traditional marketing efforts, cleaning up my inventory tool (Artsala) and going with new template style website (Xanadu). I have worked hard to develop a personal style and constantly remind myself to stay focused. Momentum is in a good place in early 2014.

  75. Thank you, Jason, for the book “Starving” to Successful and for this course and all your efforts to help artists. Thanks to all who posted here.
    My biggest challenge is my having postponed figuring out what it costs for me to make my art. So I’m looking forward to getting to that assignment, but I wanted to do them in order.
    Distractions always exist

  76. Thank you, Jason, for your book “Starving” to Successful and for this course and all you do to help artists.
    My biggest challenge is having postponed figuring out what it costs for me to make my art. So I’m looking forward to the assignment where we do that but I wanted to do the assignments in order. This is the first I’ve completed. I did do some work toward that goal and I know high standards in quality, of materials and art, and consistency in style, are important. Distractions exist for everyone and balance in life is another struggle but there has not been any successful artist who did not and does not have those problems. Keep up the good work!

  77. My greatest challenge has been getting over my low self esteem. In junior high my art was always stolen from the shelf, it was too realistic my art teacher told me, if people wanted photographs they would buy a camera. In high school my art teacher told me that I would never be an artist because I could not follow her instructions, that I should give up art. I did. Later in my mid 20’s I tried again, and took an oil class in college before my marriage. I would draw pictures of my children, small kids in daycare, but I did not know how to paint. It wasn’t until an accident that put me back into square one in my 30’s, that I struggled to draw again. Since then I have worked on drawing when I can, took Studio art in College in my late 40’s, found that I can draw, paint, and imagine. I think back of how it all could of been different with a few small words of encouragement from my teachers. Second to that challenge has been time, space, and money, and still the uncertainty that my work is worth the canvas it is on.

  78. I have no website right now. My biggest challenge is time. Actually it is very difficult for me to focus and make time for a good body of quality as well as quantity work produced. If I can do that I can also have solo exhibitions in my carreer as an artist. Another challenge is that I am not educated in Art. I am totally self educated or self – taught and purely amateur in this field. But I hope I can overcome these obstacles with your little help.

  79. Like your father, the biggest challenges I face is time and money. I have had to put my art on hold while going to school and working full time to support and raise my children. And now that they are grown I have more time, but still need to work full time to support myself. If I could make a living off of my art, then I would have more time to create art. However, all of the artwork I have done has been as gifts for friends and family and I have not yet sold any artwork. I would like to change that though and learn how to sell my artwork so that I can some day transition from a full time employee to a full time artist.

    1. I wanted to share my website/blog. I just started my own blog November 2013 so it is fairly new. I am reluctant to share my blog and my artwork, but I have committed to sharing my art online and developing myself as an artist no matter how intimidating it may be. So as other’s have indicated, another challenge for me as well is confidence in my art and myself. I am hoping to overcoming this by keeping a blog and connecting with other artists.

  80. After many years of employment with the same company my position was eliminated and I find myself for the first time able to concentrate full time on my art. Though, because of financial needs I am job hunting, my primary hope is that my art will sell. My biggest challenge would be a combination of a late start in life at all this and the somewhat remote location where I live. Currently my husband and I are finishing building my studio which will be wonderful. I am fairly discipline and have a list of assignments for myself each week. Business cards, web site, open studio event and additional exhibition opportunities are all in play. I plan to be out in the public painting en plein air as much as possible and have three events schedule. I love painting (pastels, watercolor and oils) and I love the New England landscape. I am so blessed to be able to do this.

  81. After many years of employment with the same company my position was eliminated and I find myself for the first time able to concentrate full time on my art. Though, because of financial needs I am job hunting, my primary hope is that my art will sell. My biggest challenge would be a combination of a late start in life at all this and the somewhat remote location where I live. Currently my husband and I are finishing building my studio which will be wonderful. I am fairly discipline and have a list of assignments for myself each week. Business cards, web site, open studio event and additional exhibition opportunities are all in play. I plan to be out in the public painting en plein air as much as possible and have three events schedule. I love painting (pastels, watercolor and oils) and I love the New England landscape. I am so blessed to be able to do this — I do need to sell to continue.

  82. My biggest challenge is juggling the marketing, social media, documenting of my work, etc. with actually making work. I am putting lots of thought into what my goals and expectations are in being an artist. Do I want to make money? Have more of my work displayed (shows, galleries…what other venues?)? Be connected to an art community (sort of a fellowship with other artists)? I’m trying to figure out what I believe is necessary for me to feel a sense of accomplishment and value? And whether all of these pieces can fit together. Goofy as it sounds, I’m kind of having fun thinking about it and exploring my options. Oh…and one other challenge, just making the art. Always a problem to get started.

  83. My biggest challenge at the moment is getting back into art at age 67. I used to paint and had a certain reputation in our area. I made enough from my art to cover any expenses including travelling for workshops and supplementing my husband’s salary. When our kids were in high school and looking at colleges, it seemed I needed to do something with more money so I got a regular job and gradually stopped painting. Now that my kids are out on their own and I have the time I’m feeling very intimidated. Where’s the confidence I had at 45? Over the years I’ve lost my contacts in the art world. Galleries I used to deal with have closed. The web is a significant part of the art world now and I’m a real Luddite. Most of all I miss the passion I used to have and want it back and the only way to get it back is to paint! Guess I just solved my main problem on my own.

  84. Although I used to do some painting 30+ years ago I gave it up to raise a family. Now that I’m retired I’ve gotten back into it. I think my biggest challange is coming up with ideas that might be concidered marketable. I love landscapes and wildlife painting, though I’ve haven’t really tried to sell any of my work, I find my self painting mostly to learn technique.

  85. In reading the responses left by many others, I see myself in many of them! At this point my biggest challenge is time. Managing/finding time for my art work, outside of my work world and time for family. The business and promotional tasks are often left for another day…

  86. I would say that my biggest challenge is that my work doesn’t read accurately in photographs. But getting gallerists in the studio is dependent on what they see in the photographs. I have my work professionally shot so that’s not the problem, it’s the very nature of my work.

    And an even bigger problem is that I’m pretty shy. I find it painful to contact people who don’t know me or know someone we have in common.

    I teach part time at a local community college which allows me regular studio time. However a single drawing will take 3-12 months. So I don’t produce large quantities of work.

    Thank you for this gift that you have offered to us.

  87. Reading all of these posts shows the wide span of those of us who are compelled to express ourselves in some sort of artistic way. During my years of raising children, working part time I neglected my wish to communicate to others through writing, or other artistic endeavors. Finally I started creating whatever took my fancy and people bought the many painted objects I created and the jewelry and gourds etc. that I made. I sold my paintings at local art shows, and took many classes.
    After a long while “I got out of my own way” and learned to enjoy the process and not demand perfection. I am progressing now at my mixed media paintings. I will never be an art school grad or someone with all kinds of letters after my name. Yes, I still feel somewhat intimidated at times, but I know at 71 I can’t redo my life. I can only make this a time to get and hopefully give some joy with my art. The question is how deeply do I want to commit to web sites etc, and the money and time to enter countless shows. I would just be happy to have the satisfaction to show at a few places where those who really appreciate art might see and like my efforts and get what I have to say. Many venues run by art groups give us a chance to display, but not a good audience. A recent health issue put it in perspective. I am lucky to not need this as an income, but wish I had the courage to try that path years ago. I would like to share my joy in the beauty of the world. I also love to meet with others who are in my same position. How do we find a place for our art??

  88. Reading the responses above I must say I do not feel so alone. My first and foremost challenge is time management like many others I have a full time job at this point, as well family time and just general household stuff. I get so desperate to find time in my studio that I start calculating everything by how many hours it will take, even down to how many hours sleep I can squeeze in. I allocate time to everything and then get anxious and annoyed if it goes wrong. When I eventually get into the studio I almost have to just sit and have some quiet time to gather my thoughts and focus on my art, and then the same thing happens I try and cram as much as I can into the time I have which is not always a good thing!!
    My second issue is having confidence in marketing myself. I currently have two galleries selling for me, one very successfully and the other not. On starting out I feel reluctant to put myself out there… what if I cant get the work out ? how do you sell yourself without having a good stock to show off.

  89. Stephen Hall, I appreciate your observation that we can’t let ourselves be distracted with our other talents that can take us off on a tangent and dilute our main focus. On the other hand, we shouldn’t eliminate all our other talents as they may enhance each other. My major focus is that I paint landscapes, seascapes and cityscapes in acrylic and sell at an art show every Sunday. About a year ago I signed up for a glass fusing class, just for fun. I started making plates, then knobs and handles and now jewelry. Most of my projects are abstract. I succeeded in glass in the direction I was hoping to move into for my paintings. I paint in the impressionistic style but want it to be in a looser style. Now that I have succeeded with a freer style using glass, I am making progress in my painting. Weaving diversity together is the best of both worlds.

    My biggest challenge has been to paint guaranteed sales (the same tourist attractions over and over) and paint my true loves (old vehicles and night scenes which also sell but less so). So I turn those same old scenes into fun challenges. How many different ways can I paint the Mission and have it look like the same building but a different painting? I get to try so many new approaches to the same ole thing mostly by using canvas I used as a palette where I get so many surprises. Or hold a sea cliff photo upside down and paint it in colors that suit my mood. I keep changing the approach to keep my interest. Then I give myself permission to paint what I want to paint.

    My biggest distraction is all the marketing, updating the web site every week etc. etc. as some of you have mentioned. But these are all part of the business of making sales. When I first became an artist in 1994, I wrote up my weekly schedule and posted it on the refrigerator. When family and friends asked me to do something I requested they add it to my schedule. And of course there were no blank spaces on my schedule so they couldn’t schedule me for additional tasks.

    I agree with Lori Woodward that outside the gallery system it’s hard to get the prices up because we are competing with all the other artists with lower prices – especially at outdoor shows. The galleries I was in have all closed also. Lori, I think you have the right approach with larger pieces but keep those separate from the lower cost paintings. That seems to be the approach that Carolee Clark chose with smaller paintings for her on-line sales. I will definitely keep with the outdoor show for now and those lower prices don’t bother me all that much cause the more I sell the more I get to play at painting. And of course the thing that keeps me going is hearing all the accolades from my customers.

  90. My biggest challenge has been lack of self-confidence. I am still an emerging artist, still trying to build up a body of work, and shouting down the inner critic that says my art is not good enough has been harder than usual lately. I tossed a lot of my oldest canvases (they really were awful) to make room for new works, and the new works are slow in coming. The other big challenge is the day-to-day battle against the distractions that compete with work, like so many others have stated.

  91. My biggest challenge is the computer. Finding things in digital space. As an artist my time is taken up with caregiving and now moving to somewhere and what to do with all my art. I have always found time to paint and even if it is 25 minutes at 1 am… soothes my soul to create. Learning to say “no” to requests of my time and help is very hard to do for me…..but I am learning.

  92. For me as a photographer, I feel like the biggest challenge out there is that people don’t value to time and education and know-how that it takes to consistently turn out quality work. I see top photographers I know personally who consistently win international awards who can’t sell enough of their art pieces and struggle to fill portrait sessions to make a decent living because of cheap competition or “Uncle Bob” can do it for me. The overall quality doesn’t seem to matter anymore. And price feels like it is the tipping point. This weekend while I was at a high-end show, the comment of “not having enough money to get what they want” kept coming up although I had 3 price-points represented. But I did get a lot of excited email contacts.

    I “hear” about successful artists, but I have yet to see it in real life. But I would like to!

  93. Having read over all these excellent comments, many that reflect some of my concerns, I think my greatest challenge is having faith(?) in my work. Intelectually, I know it is good and I know other people love it, but when it comes to picking one or two or five pieces to represent me, I’m stuck. I just don’t seem to have the vision or confidence or whatever, to say “here is my best work”. Very frustrating!

  94. My biggest challenge is managing my time on the computer. As a full time artist, I spend much more time doing things that have nothing to do with creating art, ie. display, marketing, record keeping, galleries, travel, shows, and the biggies: Website, Facebook, Newsletter, Blog. I wish I could afford to pay someone to take care of the online stuff.

  95. I worked for many years and raised my children. I was laid off in 2007 at the age of 64. I worked temp jobs here and there but my skills were not suited for most jobs. I was a property manager and interior decorator. I decided to start painting and drawing again a couple years ago. At the same time my mother moved in with me due to her age and inability to care for herself any longer. I think the biggest challenge for me right now is to find “uninterrupted” time to draw. It’s hard to start something, stay focused and into the zone, so to speak, only to have mother come and want to talk. If I’m at the computer trying to get products uploaded to my stores she invariably comes in and sits down and wants to talk. I really lose my train of thought then trying to keep up with what I last uploaded. I try to draw every day even if it’s a little at the time. Marketing is also a challenge. I’m not financially able to frame my drawings to display anywhere so I have to depend on the internet to do my marketing for me. I have four stores, FB, and word of mouth that I depend on. I was just featured on the cover of PKA’s publication for April/May issue which will help generate marketing to more people. There’s always going to be someone better than me, but as long as I can generate “followers” and “likes” I will keep on doing what I love.

  96. Hi Jason,

    It was a pleasure to meet you and your mother in the gallery last week. Thank you for taking time to say hello on such a busy day! Your recent blog about having too much art hung in a gallery, on a website, or anywhere the patron views purchasing options, really resonates with me. When an art space is “over hung”, I personally go into overwhelm, visual overload, etc.

    Best wishes to you and Carolee for her show!

    Joan Fullerton

  97. My biggest challenge is financial. I teach art and art history at a high school and make a very high salary with excellent benefits. The cost of living in Southern California is prohibitively expensive, so I would have to realize quite a bit of money in order to replace the loss of income in order to maintain my current standard of living. Moving away from friends, family, church, etc. is not, unfortunately, an option. I worked for many years as a graphic artist and taught it at my current position, but a retirement by one of the art teachers allowed me to move up to teaching higher level art classes and I had to give up the graphic art class so my skills with Photoshop and Illustrator are not close to what they were. So, at this point, financial issues are the obstacle.

  98. My biggest challenge these days is a difficult question. Do I paint? or Market? If I paint, do I work on a painting or an exercise to improve? I wanted to paint this morning, but just spent the last two hours updating my webpage, so Marketing won out today. I’ve read that you have to spend 50% of your time marketing to make it as an artist. I’m like most artists and would rather be creating. Marketing is hard where I live in North Missouri. 90 miles to Columbia, 3 hours to Kansas City or St. Louis. I only know of 2 galleries with in 40 miles, and to my knowledge, neither one has a LOT of sales. I’ve had my paintings in several galleries, but no sales from them. I’ve made more sales by painting in a public place.

    The best book I’ve read on marketing art is by Jack White, “Mystery of Making It.” You can buy it from just search for Jack White. He is very encouraging and has not only become the best known artist in Texas, but has helped his wife to become a successful full time artist as well. It is her success he uses most in his books. Her success mirrors his own, using the same techniques, just modified for her. If you’re struggling with self doubt, he has a book about that too. A good down to earth writer, with a straight no nonsense approach to marketing art that will work. You may not like everything he suggests, but he has proven that works.

  99. The biggest challenge for me is to find the best places to sell my art successfully. I produce work and make ready and then begin looking for shows and places to display. What is bad is, when you go through the process to find that no one sells at the entire event. How do you know what shows/events to try for? I find that so much of my time and funds are used in this process that I question the affordability of paying the entrance fees without sales, facing going broke. I continue to paint/draw and search for the right opening with occasional sales. I’d give any thing to paint and draw, all day every day.

  100. I have been painting for about 35 years, and throughout most of that time family and home always came before painting. Now that family is grown, I still have a hard time putting painting first. There always seems to be something else that needs to be done. I feel like the “great procrastinator”.

    For the first 10 years, I began to achieve a bit of success doing outdoor art shows and mall shows throughout southern New England. Since moving to Tennessee–well, let’s just say, its been a very difficult place in which to sell my artwork.

    For 7 years, I was fortunate to work part time in a custom framing shop, where I learned a great deal about proper framing of artwork. Also, for the last 15 years, I have taught watercolor classes in my studio. Now I am down to one class per week, and I still do some custom framing–mostly for my students. I feel its time to put my painting first.

    I would love to have gallery representation, as I now find the rigors of art shows too physically demanding and frankly, they just have not been financially worth the effort.

  101. The biggest task is trying to sell enough to make the month. I come up short each month, but still enjoy owning an art gallery. This month I am having a photo exhibit on Zion National Park & Bryce Canyon, with one Friday night special viewing to kick it off. I have also launched launched an amateur photo contest in an attempt to raise more money from entry fees and return a portion to the top places. My next exhibit will feature the desert in Palm Springs Calif.
    One of the biggest problems in the gallery is getting the artists to freshen their exhibit space with new art on a regular basis.

  102. After teaching for many years, I began to feel it was time to become my own WIP. My biggest challenge in this last year, has been finding my own voice. I know it will come, if I will just listen to myself. I have been pulled in so many directions and offered so much advice that I can’t “hear” my own voice. I have learned to listen to others, but not to let it cloud my focus.

  103. Hi Jason,
    I agree with a lot of the comments in the blog. My biggest challenge is getting my Artwork out into the world! I am a member of a Co-Op Gallery, have had good sales and even starting to get a following. But it’s mostly local – with a few exceptions from out of State sales. Where I have had most success is from Art Festivals or Studio Tours. Juried Shows are also costly and very subjective, so those rejections are disconcerting and it makes me doubt that I am any good at all!

  104. My challenge is my critical voice.
    While I am working on a painting I’m loving it but if it stays in my space for too long I start finding fault and often destroy it by working into it more and loosing something.

    I have managed to focus on painting now in the last 5 years after many years of meandering.. perhaps it is because I am so much older and feel I don’t have time to waste.

    Thank you for all these wonderful resources

    1. Hi Ruth,
      I recommend a book called ‘The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. It literally changed my life, in many different ways. Your response to the blog is addressed in this book, along with many other issues that I think you would find extremely valuable.

  105. I’m painting every week (mostly life studies) – it’s a challenge to think about selling especially as I don’t care for self-
    promotion, framing, business….

  106. My challenge at this time is getting my artwork organized into marketable form, such as a portfolio of samples to send or take to galleries. I’d like to find a gallery or two that would be a good fit and that could represent my work so that I could begin to sell more of it. I have many paintings stacked in my studio which I have shown from time to time in various settings, or group shows. My work keeps growing and changing, so it’s hard for me to decide what I should include in a portfolio of works to submit to a gallery. Also, my paintings are in various mediums – oil, acrylic, and watercolor. It’s very difficult, as the artist, to look at my own work objectively. My current work represents my “style” of painting, at this time, but I have many paintings done over the past years that are good, in a different way, but not representational of how I paint today. Perhaps I should just follow my instincts, and if I get accepted into a gallery, I can find out then if they are interested in looking at my other paintings.

  107. For me, it is time. Working a full time job to make ends meet 8 months of the year & 3 days per week the rest of the year.
    As I get older of course the energy level goes down, so it gets harder to pack it all in. But these days I am lucky to even have a job. I still do a lot of art work. But the ideas keep flowing & I need a lot more time in the studio to be able to realize them. The second obstacle is money. When I do get a show together, framing & matting it is really tough to do.
    I spend a lot of time marketing & doing what I can to get myself out there. Iwould be happy to give a gallery 50 – 65% commission on my work to find sales for my work. They are doing a lot of work to be able to make that sale. Some money is better then no money. Plus it gets your name & work out there.

  108. One of my biggest challenges as an artist is how to move from a semi-professional artist to a professional one, where I am able to earn an income from my work. What do I need to put into place to take that step and how do I know when my work is of a standard that is marketable?? Monica

  109. Hello Jason,

    My biggest challenge is time. There’s never enough of it. Throw in having a day job and kids and it can be suffocating!


    Mark Gizewski

  110. Hmmm…the challenges are many…is my art really good enough to sell? I would say the biggest challenge though is to get the word out, to figure out the best way to sell my art and how to price it. Should or should I not sell prints? When living in a small community, where is the best place to sell? One final challenge, they say you should have a certain style so that it is recognizable when seen to be identified as yours. What is my style? Will my style sell or do I need to change my “style”? Oh…more questions than answers. 🙂

  111. My 2 greatest challenges are: first, flogging myself to paint on days when the urge to do so just isn’t there. Second, the placing of artwork in juried shows or galleries where they get the best exposure and, hopefully, the best opportunity to sell to a “discerning” collector. To overcome the first challenge, I sit in front of the painting and contemplate it critically. Then, when I recognize how flawed it is, I pick up a brush to correct the imperfections and then get into it so much that I will paint for hours. To minimize the second challenge, I research the jurors of each show very carefully and enter the competition based on the idea that if I like the work he/she does, then maybe he/she will like mine, too. This has worked out for me so far.

  112. My greatest challenge as a full-time artist is dealing with the “paperwork” involved with being a business owner.

    I can paint all day long, but say the words taxes, insurance, inventory, social media, and my eyes glaze over and my heart starts racing!

    Ok, Jason. I can hear you now, saying “get someone to help you with that”. I’m on it!

  113. Jason
    I became a Professional Artist at the age of 72. By Professional Artist I mean I would earn income from the sale of my paintings. At this juncture in my life, income is not a major priority, but the additional income from the paintings has proved to be helpful. Having spent 20 plus years in the advertising agency business, marketing and promotion have not been an issue, I paint exclusively what I refer to as “ACTION SAILING ART”….Medium to Large (18 x 24 to 48 x 60) Acrylic Racing Sailing Yacht scenes. (Sailing Art for Real Sailors) The market for my art is somewhat constricted. Primarily to those involved in sail boats and yacht racing. I have no problem with that, in that I am a slow painter and I am hard pressed to complete 3 medium size canvasas month or one large canvas. I put 4-5 hours in the studio Monday through Friday, (sometimes a little more on a more complicated piece) I don’t sell or produce a large body of work. I have a reserve inventory of around 80 pieces which I hold for use in exhibits. (yacht clubs, charity events, civic events, donations to special interst groups, gifts for friends etc) Venues to exhibit my art are numerous. I am however conflicted about the following. Exhibiting with other artists with a limited number of pieces or as a Single artist exhibit which generally requires 20 or more pieces. In this exhibit, I have found the number of pieces to be somewhat over whelming (People view the pieces and ask…”what else do you have?” I explain (lie) that what they are viewing is my entire inventory. Here’s my dilemma…..
    My pricing is high. but well within the gallery market price for similar size pieces. Sales are slow now…everyone says its the “economy” I don’t want to lower my prices as I feel it would devalue my body of work..I could “frame” every piece, maintain my price points and offer the pieces at a reduced price without the frame. (might work) . Do I now reduce the number of pieces I’m producing, Paint fewer, but larger more expensive pieces (for sale when the”economy” improves?) or take a break and spend more time on marketing? or..Produce much smaller 16 x 20 pieces at a much lower price point..This keeps me painting, and hopefully brings in some revenue. (I hate painting “small”) Don’t misunderstand, selling the art for money is important but I don’t want to under price it just to sell it . What.s your thoughts?

  114. I have read the blog for the first time today and found it to be so helpful. My biggest problem has to do with trying to make a living, take care of overwhelming responsibilities and do my art. Because of needing to pay the rent etc I work in real estate as well as teaching night classes in art at the local university . I paint a lot and have a large volume of work and show frequently with several local art groups. However I don’t sell much and have been afraid of approaching galleries.
    I want to focus full time on my art but always seem to need to make a living.

  115. Hi,

    I’m impressed (not surprised) at all the list of challenges above. My challenge is to sell my paintings. I’ve been painting for a few years now. Finding the inspiration, time, theme, etc -even as a self-employed and mother of three kids and wife of a musician – is not a challenge. My challenge is to sell my paintings. I showed at a gallery last year (my first gallery show), I’ve done 4 open studios, I have my paintings on online galleries, have participated in art fairs and I have sold nothing. People have liked my work. It’s just that they are not willing to spend the money on a piece of art work. At this point I see it impossible to make a living as an artist. It is, though, what I love to do. I am reaching a point where I might have to take a decision of spending more time trying to make more money somewhere else and I cannot reconcile that need with the need I have to devote more time to painting. That’s my challenge.

  116. My biggest challenge is finding a buying audience for my work. My gallery experience has been primarily in co-op galleries for the last 10-12 years. Some of these have been juried, the latest is not. While I sell several pieces a year and do the occasional commission piece, my inventory has built up to the point that I can hardly move in my small studio. The market in this area seems somewhat limited with the multitude of artists vying for the few buyers out there. Prices are rather low on most of what is shown and still sales are few. I no longer do outdoor shows as I find them too physically demanding (I’m in my 70’s). Luckily, I do not have to depend on my art sales for income, but would very much like to increase volume. My medium of choice is oil and I paint whatever interests me at the time. I could not paint one subject over and over as I find that extremely boring. While I have had a website for nearly 3 years, I can only trace one new sale to it–most of the hits seem to be spam from Eastern Europe/Russia. How do you develop a wider buying audience in an area where every other person seems to be an artist”?

  117. I’ve enjoyed reading the above entries and find many of the challenges I face already put into words. The challenge I find myself facing with my paintings is where to begin in the marketing and increasing sales of both current and older works.

  118. Of course there are many challenges as an artist, but I feel my single biggest challenge is the financial challenge of being an artist full time. Luckily for me, I have many skill sets outside of art that I can supplement and fall back on, but I don’t want to fall back on these completely, as I have made the decision to spend the majority of my time focusing on my art and making a living from that. I have applied to graduate school for my MFA, as my professional goals are two-fold: teach painting and drawing at the college level, and develop my own work so that I may earn a consistent living and further my reputation as an artist. So put simply, my challenge is to maintain the balance between putting focus into my art goals and paying my bills every month. I am a single, independent woman who has the support of my friends and family, but I do not have someone else’s income to rely on. My second biggest challenge is how to navigate the aspects of the art world, where to spend my time/energy, and where to focus as to further my professional career. I could definitely use some “insider” tips to help me to accomplish my goals.

  119. My biggest challenge in the creative process is being consistent with making time in the studio to create. Ironically, in the past year, my available time went from almost unlimited to VERY limited (1 hour or so per day), and my production and enthusiasm for creating have increased dramatically! I suppose I now use my limited time wisely (or try to).

  120. My desire is to find gallery representation outside of my region. I have done very well locally selling through a local gallery, regional juried art shows and studio sales. I wish to expand my contacts so I can continue to create without the distraction and time commitment to rep myself. I have researched gallery and have a list I’d like to approach. My biggest challenge is how to approach them.

  121. One of the biggest challenges I find as an artist is market research to make sure whatever project I may be working on will find itself in front of the correct audience.
    Although I create my work for my own reasons, I don’t just want to do it for fun. I want to sell it and create more demand for more work. This will allow me to focus on art production full time without having to rely on a job I really don’t want to have to pay the bills.
    However, trying to find out which gallery sells what type of work to whom, what is trending in the buyer markets (plural because there are several) seems to be a better kept secret than the location of the Holy Grail. It shouldn’t be that complicated. Where are the buyers for different genres at? How do you find it without paying an arm and a leg for the information?

  122. The greatest challenge for me as an artist is getting by in a world that doesn’t really care about art or artists, and that mostly thinks that artists are a lazy lot of people that live by depending on others for support. None of my friends nor relatives, but for other artists with similar backgrounds as mine, understand nor appreciate what I do. They try to be nice about it. They say ” Oh, that’s nice Ric. ” but they really don’t see it. I used to be married and my former wife, who wasn’t an artist, used to walk past my work for years and years and never really could see it, until one day she just stopped cold and saw a sculpture I did. For the first time. She said to me ” Wow, Ric, I see what you’re doing now. ” It’s like that with people who are ignorant about looking at art. They don’t know what they’re looking at or why. They only think they know. Then one day comes by and they wake up and really see it. I can only hope that I live long enough that enough people see what I’ve accomplished that I attain some modicum of recognition.

  123. Some of the challenges that I face as an artist include lack of discipline in my schedule, lack of motivation when my paintings are not selling (why produce even more?) and just an overall lack of focus. I also play classical piano and keyboard at church and sometimes wonder in which creative outlet I should spend more time. I am excited about the possibility of painting more and wish to gain a following, or at least have my name mentioned when someone wants a landscape painting or a painting of their house or favorite structure. I appreciate the advice given on this blog especially about focusing on a concise style for a body of work. I look forward to gaining more knowledge of marketing myself :))

  124. My biggest challenges currently are marketing and confidence. I am not out going at all, and I feel that it where I’m really failing in marketing even with all the various sites and tools around me, some which are confusing. And I don’t know how to be ‘that’ person who can pretty much go ‘Hey, I did this, isn’t awesome? You should keep me in mind.’
    It doesn’t help that I’m an artist in a fandom with a flooded market for commissioned work. I know I’m improving, but it seems that being ‘that’ person is so much more important than the skills that I have to offer, and it has been shattering my confidence lately as I get passed over easily and often.

  125. Challenges are life’s opportunities. How do we overcome our fears and keep on keeping on when it seems the impossible is impossible, when our dreams have faded and the flesh grows old?

    I have read the many helpful comments and find it comforting and yet mind-boggling how much everyone has in common. I’ve thought a lot these past couple of days of the question, “What are my biggest art challenges?” I believe my biggest challenge to overcome is the same one that applies to my musical career. I have a fear of success. Any help will be very appreciated.

    1. Joy:
      I am an architect as well as an artist. When I designed a building and at the grand opening one person walked through the door and said wow…my day, month, and year was made. Because my art impacted another person’s life. Just like your music, smile and just say to yourself “Yessssssssssssssss!”
      Then stretch yourself some more.

  126. My biggest challenge is getting the right work to the right dealers and then keeping track of it all. Over the years 95% of all of my sales have come form 3 key dealers so it hasn’t been to much or a problem yet. I have a full time teaching job that supports me and allows plenty of studio time to make the work. I consider myself a professional artist or a galleried artist but I could hardly support myself off my art. As I near retirement from teaching the idea of expanding my gallery relationships or finding new marketing tools is something I am exploring as a viable retirement option. I know from past experiences that finding and building relationships with the right galleries or shops is important.

  127. My biggest challenge has been to find my customer. I live in the midwest but my work doesn’t reflect that. I play around with different styles to learn and have fun but I tend to be realistic and do more portraits filled with emotion and drama.

  128. I’m sidetracked by doing the type of art that sells to pay the bills. The difficulty with this is each piece is made by me. I also scout for the materials (found objects) create the piece, do trade shows to market the pieces, travel expenses, cost of materials, etc.. For every piece I sell 1/2 is expense. So I’m on a treadmill. When I produce art for arts sake, I don’t have the professional skills to get anywhere with it, so I have lots of different directions fine art.

  129. Okay. I read other posts and was a bit overwhelmed at how many of us are challenged. My challenges are not so much the distraction of multiple creative ventures but just the time to do one thing. Paint. I work two jobs to make ends meet and of course pay for the studio, paint, canvas. I would love to make my life and my living about my work as a painter. Getting there is my goal. So I guess to keep it concise I would say my two greatest challenges….or should I say three … Are money, time, and energy.

  130. My greatest challenge is and always has been balance. In many cases there is none and I find myself working all the time. After two unrelated injuries eight months apart (first my eyes and then my back), I’ve been forced to take some time off in the last year. After 37 years as a full-time artist, who really doesn’t know how to take time off, to suddenly find myself flat on my back for more than a week, and limited mobility for the last month, was quite interesting. A month of catching up on reading, planning my garden, and soul-searching has left me looking at my career from a different perspective. In the last few years I have reached a couple of milestones I have been trying to achieve for years, it was still left feeling a little bit hollow. I realize now that what I really needed was some down time. And to realize that for the time being, I’ve done enough, and can rest.

  131. When I decided to paint full time by moving my workspace out of the home September 2010, I started with a goal. I planned to work on building inventory and good works . I was successful and thought okay next is to get my local community to know me and my work. There is a very well received craft fair held every spring and fall here in Nashville and I set my sights on being juried in for the May show. I was accepted, that was enough at that point to make me happy. I prepared for the show with cards and take a-ways and really only expecting a pleasant weekend outdoors. I sold 10 paintings and received two commissions. I was bowled over. I also had a show at a local library and sold two paintings there. I turned down a show because it was to overlap the library show.

    Here is the issue. It was too much of a good thing and I did not know how to take the next step. Since then sales are gone because I don’t know how to connect with the buyers, collectors or galleries. My webpage is/ was a good start but I have not devoted the time it needs to keep it relevant.

    What do I do next.

  132. hello Jason,

    excuse my bad English writing, i am a french self educated painter. I began painting during my day off. after a while , people around me went interested on my work, an some bought me some pieces. It took me time to find the “right” internet website,,,i mean the one that is “free” and the one that represent my work the best. i made photos of my art and i created a book , went into different places , as cafés and bars in France, to offer exhibition. i did in very different areas, it has always been a good way of learning because of the different relations with owners and also because all the places are “tricky” to set my work on walls (bad lightening, nothing made to fix canvas ect,,,,,,) .Fixing a correct price in relation to customers of each places is also important but hard to do,,,as an self educated i, sometimes, feel not expect to practice “high” prices,,,,.
    few weeks ago i made a bet to myself, and i aplly to contemporary art fair,,,,and i have been accepted,,,,,,but i had to enter an art world that is not for free,,,the cost for a place to exhibit was (for my budget ) high. I do not regret it because i sold some pieces and moreover it has been for me a great experience. I saw artists that are really good to COMMUNICATE,,,i saw also ,some that are stronger TOGETHER in collectiv community, without any gallery support,,,this can be an interesting way of founding a place to exhibit together, share costs,,,and feel for a while independant . Of course it has limits , and every artist are expecting to be “noticed” by an art curator,,,but i do believe that this is a way to start,,,as for exemple as i do : exhibit at my home 🙂

  133. I’ve had, and have overcome, many obstacles.
    1. Framing was expensive 30 yrs ago when I began and is more so now, so my husband successfully taught himself to do it for me.
    2. Photographing my work: I found someone who lives 30 min away…he’s a painter too and understands what we need, and he’s reasonable.
    3. Showing my work: Have been in many galleries (both co-ops and non) and have owned (and still own) my own gallery.
    4. Marketing and advertising my own work: Learned, on a need-to-know basis, how to use Photoshop, how to write press releases, etc.

    Current challenges:
    1. Self-imposing a painting schedule.
    2. Narrowing down my focus to a cohesive body of work.
    3. Partnering with the right galleries so that I can paint for them, not spend my time in promoting my own galleries.
    4. Getting full use out of my extensive email and snail mail list.

  134. I feel I have a lot of challenges as an artist and most of them don’t have anything to do with art. My first challenge is confidence. I am asked a lot what price I would ask to do a portrait and I find it very difficult to come up with a number. I usually go too low because of my lack of confidence or fear that they’ll think it’s too much, but I actually know that I can do it, even if it takes a couple of attempts, I will do a good portrait. It’s weird ! Another problem I have is subject matter. Sometimes people tell me that I should paint what the people want, not what I want to paint. What? I like to paint children and people in general. They also say to paint in series. Is painting people a series or does that mean painting them all on the beach, or in the woods , or in the same color? I feel I don’t have enough knowledge in the business field and I kind of like to keep to myself. I idea of “selling” myself scares me. So, to sum it up, my challenges are confidence, social skills, pricing , knowledge of the market.

  135. My biggest challenge is connecting with people. I’m absurdly shy. In a fantasy world I feel my art is more than sufficient to speak for me, yet I recognize people want a story. They want to grasp a deeper connection to the piece. The more I feel I have to perform, the more paralyzed I become.

    I don’t have an issue with productivity except in the areas of technology and socializing. I did set up a Facebook page with my art, but haven’t organized it or updated it the way it should be. There are loads of opportunities to network with other artists and art lovers. Most of which I feel utterly incompetent in being a part of.

  136. My biggest challenge is how to get people not to be afraid of buying quality arts/crafts that nobody else has on their wall. We need lead users. I also promote and display my husband’s unique French Knitted artwork which is mostly abstracts, vibrant colours, glued on canvas or board. We have been interviewed on Adelaide (South Australia) radio by Peter Goers in 2010, who then publicly gave my husband Peter accolades in his Sunday newspaper column. It lead nowhere. We have exhibited in various venues since 2006 (Peter) and I have had exhibitions in Germany and Australia since 1973. Nothing sold. I have illustrated 5 Latvian language books and work intermittently as a Graphic designer. I find getting places to accept our work for exhibition frustrating, as the work is well done. I have a Marketing degree from the University of South Australia (2006), but even with all that knowledge under my belt believe now that my idea of “the unique selling proposition” of our art being unique just doesn’t cut it with Australian audiences. Feel like I’m hitting my head against the wall.

  137. Hi Jason,

    My biggest challenge:
    –knowing how to market my art to show and sell and
    –pricing my work

    I look forward to your input in the months to come.

  138. Like many of you, I share the challenges of time management and deciding which creative impulse to focus on. I’m lucky to have my own studio, and a degree of financial security. Now my challenges are to refine my artistic voice, and to find the intersection between my own artistic vision and what the market is interested in buying. So far, I’ve focused on my own vision, but have few sales. I don’t want to make art I don’t believe in just for the sake of sales, but I do want to understand what my audience is willing to invest in. I’m hoping that better communication and marketing will bring my audience to toward me as I learn better what they are interested in. I’m clueless about understanding the market.

  139. My biggest challenge is branching out to a higher level of work. I have been pretty successful making a living selling in my medium at a low price point online. I will like to challenge myself in a new direction and create gallery work. I don’t know if it is an insecurity in my work, fear, procrastination, or lack of direction, but something is holding me back from moving to the next level. I feel I could be much more productive than I am and have been on autopilot for awhile.
    I have recently taken workshops to expand my skill level and try something new to break out of this rut, but I am having a hard time getting that going since it takes equipment I don’t have. I feel like I need to get excited again.

  140. I was born with a natural gift for art. I oil painted since I was 7 until my first child was born when I was 24. I put away my painting art supplies for almost 25 years. This April marks my 4 year anniversary of starting over. I am self taught, by choice. I wanted to have complete control of the natural style an vision within me, without being influenced by someone else’s vision and style. Of course I realize that it is an ever evolving and learning experience with each painting and am looking forward to continuous growth, but I am not lacking in confidence of the quality of my work. With all this being said, my obstacle is having confidence in the quality of my portfolio which I need to present when I walk through the gallery door. Which brings me to the 2nd obstacle and that is making the walk through the door for the first time. My career in my younger years was working and eventually having my own little frame shop and gallery. Now that I m trying to market my own work, I seem to have forgotten everything I learned. I do sell quite a few paintings on my own, through my face book page and in the past I have sold quite a few paintings on eBay. Surprisingly, eBay worked out well for me and I managed to keep a few collectors of my work. Only problem for me is that I know I could make a better price on my work if I can find the right gallery to represent me. Also I don’t want to have to do framing, I would love a full service gallery.

  141. my greatest challenge is a physical one. I suffer from fibromyalgia which often leaves with horrible exhaustion. just getting started is horrible but once I do I will work for a long time. I also love to work plein aire but that is even more difficult so I usually keep my camera with me when I am out and take pictures of things I can paint at home.

  142. Well it does seem I am not alone in my challenges. My apologies Jason, but I can’t pick just one.

    Having a themed body of work is driving me insane. Fellow artists have critiqued my paintings and have said that I have more of a theme than I think I do, but I’m not seeing it. I have shown in many local group shows/competitions and have even won awards including Best of Show, but I have never had a solo show in an actual gallery. I don’t think there is a cohesive body of work I could approach a gallery with and I definitely don’t have the inventory (due to a house fire that destroyed pretty much every piece I had), so I’ve had to start over.
    I am more of a realist and have recently started venturing into the world of abstract. I got my BFA as a non-traditional student and for one of my last assignments I had to do an abstract piece. I hated the piece and even my painting professor told me to stay away from abstract because I wasn’t good at it. lol Well I decided to prove us both wrong! I love it now and in many ways, I think my abstracts are better than my realism pieces. Abstracts also help me stay looser…yet another challenge. For now I don’t think my realism and abstracts go well together.

    Last year I sold more art and made more money than I have ever made with my art although it is still nowhere near enough to live on even though I’ve been at it since 2007. My prices are modest, but I have been told that they are way too low. Pieces that I thought would never sell – have, and I’m selling realism and abstract alike.

    So here is my last challenge. Creating art is my job. I have it set up as a business, I have a large home studio and am lucky to have a husband who works full time so I can stay home and paint, but I have a hard time staying focused and just doing what I have to do…paint! The smallest task can make art go by the wayside. Errands, dr appts, email…it doesn’t take much and before I know it, my day is gone.

    Thanks for your help!!!

  143. I am my worst enemy. Subscribing to your blog and getting up everyday to work in studio are part of the things I have done to make art my living. A lot of my problem is ignorance of how the art world works. What is expected from me? How do I approach a gallery? Will taking courses help or hinder?

    I have a compleatly supportive wife who has givin me her blessing to pursue my art. That is the best part.

  144. Hello, Jason

    You where right when you said that I would see I am not alone in the challenges that I face. I can most certainly identify with most of what I’ve read here, and it makes it easier to share my biggest challenge. While time, money and sales are all issues that I’m dealing with, my biggest challenge is switching my mindset. Up until last year I painted as a means to process and work through the issues and challenges I encountered in my daily life. That meant that when I had enough of an emotional charge built up, or when something especially spectacular or traumatic happened to me, I would paint. That averaged out to roughly 12 paintings a year, and as you’ve pointed out in the introduction to your course, this is not nearly enough to sustain a gallery relationship. I have been carefully stepping up my rate afraid that I would loose that emotional connection to my work. Your advice about spending at least 2 hours in the studio a day has not only helped, but has proven to be quite true – it becomes easier – not harder. But it is still a process that I’m going through (ironically it has made money even more of an issue – due to the sizes I work with, the more I produce, the more expensive it gets).

  145. The method I employ in my paintings (oil glaze), is time consuming and slow. My challenge is to price the work reasonably without feeling dissatisfied with sales. Time invested in a work alone does not qualify cost – I accept that. Good quality, best materials and craftsmanship should account for a satisfactory return. Am I right in this assumption? How to gauge what the dollar amount should be is the conundrum.

  146. Hi,
    My challenges include establishing a reasonable budget for materials and marketing, defining a category for some of my recent artwork (the term that Barney Davey coined, convergent media, was an interesting “solution”), finding the balance of time between how I currently earn a living (I’m a real estate agent) and pursuing my passion for creating art. Having been self employed and an entrepreneur all my life, I find the “business end” of being an artist equally as fulfilling as creating art, however, my greatest challenge is selling, or physically being involved in the sale of my artwork (we have many excellent art festivals locally, but I have a hard time picturing myself participating). Therefore, selling online and in galleries seems to feel like a good fit. I look forward to learning more from you Jason, as well as from your friend and associate, Barney Davey.

  147. OMG, there’s too many comments here to read through them in a week!

    My biggest challenges are finding clients interested in buying my work. They can’t wait to tell me how much they love what they see, but they rarely want to buy anything. That leads me to two possibilities… the work is overpriced for the market, or it’s not as good as they’re telling me it is. I don’t want to fall into the trap of lowering prices just to make a sale- all the while losing money in the process. But I do understand that a certain market bears a certain price range. I’ve had other photographers who do a great deal of business tell me the work is both strong and priced accordingly. So I don’t get it sometimes. Maybe it’s just the subject matter? In this area, there are certain subjects that just sell. I’m avoiding shooting some of those subjects… but maybe I need to add some in, hopefully with a different spin than everyone else.

  148. My greatest challenge right now — a good question that has many possible answers depending on the day or time. For now I am information gathering. Interested enough to research is always a good sign for me.

  149. My biggest challenge is the business side of my arts studio, specifically consistent and effective marketing efforts. Also keeping up with the latest social media trends of marketing. Many artisans I know are naturally skilled and dedicated to their art form from early on, then in college are able to immerse even more so into the arts, yet few college arts degree programs teach to or address the business side of an career in the arts.

  150. My biggest challenge is to make enough work to send out. I retired 2 years ago, and although making art is a passion, I am not concerned with making a living. I love the process of making art. However, I recently sold my first art quilt and that was a thrill! After I have a body of work ready the next challenge is to find galleries or exhibit opportunities that welcome fiber.
    Jill from Portland, OR

  151. As a full time tattoo artist and part time painter I deal with different challenges everyday but to narrow it down would be tough but I can say the biggest challenge I face would be the same as everyone else how do I get my work to the right click of people to get the most attention and biggest return. With the large amount of artist in my field that do similar artwork leaves me at a disadvantage when going up against say one of the painters I look up to because we wind up in the same group of people and I worry about their works being chosen over mine because they have a bigger following. I try not to classify otherwise artists as better or worse but different because it is self expression but the bigger name always gets the sale…usually

  152. Hi Jason,

    I’ve been in photography for over 20 years and painting for the last couple of years.
    My biggest challenge has been creating the best marketing for my new home area. As
    a military wife, we have relocated multiple times which makes finding gallery support
    and collectors difficult to say the least. I have connected with a very well known
    interior decorator who is guiding me into the Savannah area. I’m also scheduled to setup
    at a Farmer’s Market near Hilton Head Island.
    With each move, I have needed to research appropriate pricing.

  153. What is strange is sometimes I forget how much I struggle at this and just accept it as a way of life. Financial is a huge struggle, how to pay my always late rent, food, supplies etc. I work at jobs doing everything from decorative painting to administrative asst. It robs a little of my creativity, but again…it has become my life. Beyond that is my poor art marketing skills. I could sell someone else’s work, but my own….. very difficult for me. Never learned the skills I really need. I know my family thinks I am nuts, they all have great jobs, but still I feel mine is the only one for me.

  154. Hey there. My biggest challenge is living in a place where there are an inordinate number of artists per capita. Alaska is a sanctuary for frustrated artists. We all have to do something to keep sane in the long dark days of winter! That said, competition is fierce. I have found local opportunities to show my work, but have not ventured farther away where commissions are very high. I have a problem with galleries making more than I do. 50/50 would be great, but with framing costs, that just doesn’t happen. What Alaska needs is a professional artist agent to represent the multitude of talent up here. Another challenge is finding an audience for abstract art in a place where only Alaskana sells. You can only paint so many moose or cabins in the mountains! The last challenge is trying to make a living where folks can’t afford original paintings, but will readily buy a print. I’m thinking that online may be the way to go, but I worry about my work being copied. Thanks for letting me vent!

  155. I think my biggest challenge is figuring out how to move things up to the next level. Paradoxically as my work gets better the audience for it becomes smaller. There is a relatively large group of people who will buy easy, decorative work. The market for more challenging art is quite small, and often appears to be almost impenetrable. There are many entry level galleries and it is not difficult to find one (or two or five), but breaking into one of the relatively few galleries who sell something more than pretty pictures is a whole different ballgame.

  156. Hi ,

    I think my biggest challenge is procrastination – not due to distractions, although those are quite plentiful, but I am more guilty of procrastinating when I have a project that requires me to do something I haven’t done before or don’t feel confident about performing. Fear of “ruining” a piece (I sometimes do work/repairs on other people’s jewelry) or not getting the precise outcome I would like, sometimes paralyzes me with fear. When I recognize this behavior in myself, I give myself a specific day to accomplish it, “This project is the priority for Wednesday”. Of course, if it is a task I am not skilled enough to do, I network with others who are skilled in that area, so the deadline becomes, “I am scheduled to meet with Blaine about this on Wednesday.”

  157. Jason, My biggest challenge is marketing. I call galleries that I think would be receptive of my work and can’t even get them to look at my work. Many galleries say that they aren’t looking at adding new artists. I’ve sent pics and resumes, artist statements and often don’t even hear back. When I moved from Minneapolis I sold a number of works on Craigs
    List to one party who really loved my work. I sold way below market value, but then again they bought eleven of my works. Less to move, so it was a win-win.

  158. I face many challenges including motivating myself and finding time to make art. I have had good luck at times with sales through galleries and sometimes online. One problem is that you need to create and finish (framing, presentation) lots of work to show and sell in a gallery and it gets very costly to the point that your costs outweigh your profits.

  159. I saw all the comments and can tell that mine will not be any different, we seem to all have similar challenges!
    I have three kids and manage my time well, I work in a studio outside home during school days, sometimes I do preparatory work at home at night or during holidays; but what I find difficult is to go to events during evenings and week ends to network. This is a real big challenge for me and I don’t know if I can overcome it until my kids graduate, which will be in 10 years!
    My second challenge, more manageable I believe, is that I have no clue how to approach galleries and I am scared; I have been told that you have only one shot with galleries and if you miss it, well it is too bad! I am ready to take some risks and too bad might be but I don’t want any regrets!

  160. I agree with Polly (April 20)…time to create and time to market! My biggest challenge at the moment is maintaining my schedule! Having just finished a complex drawing, I took a few days off and got side-tracked. But I have selected my next composition idea and will begin tomorrow! I am blessed to have a husband who is retired and is willing to pick up on so many of the daily chores.

    Jason, I read your challenge to produce and it has spurred me into action! I will aim for one drawing a month (they are detailed and require daylight hours only) and my last drawing took almost three months but I will strive for more!

    I am amazed at all the comments and it’s good to know that I’m not the only one wondering how to accomplish all that needs to be done! I have found my place finally!

  161. Don’t know what is my biggest challenge. Maybe time management or organization. The things that excite me are the things I most want to do but the final details (framing, artist statement, hanging the paintings) are more of a challenge.

  162. I just recently found your site. While thinking about the what do I struggle with most question, my first thought was “what struggle.” I love to paint. It is a very integral part of my life. At one point I would say I was addicted to art, buying, selling, trading, collecting, reading, visiting galleries, etc. Today I have just come to realize it is part of who I am. I enjoy visual art of all types, but prefer to paint illustrative representational work.
    Realistically, I have real art struggles as any other artist. My two most prevalent struggles would be (1) finding time and (2) contacting galleries. I often work on as many as a dozen paintings at a time and have a long backlog of ideas. There is never enough time. The business side of book keeping and contacting galleries is not my gift or interest.

  163. Jason:
    I have a twofold challenge in that I do glass-fusion art, which is non-traditional pieces. My challenge has been first to find a gallery that will spend the time and investment (i.e. their time) to understand the process and what goes into producing a piece. Unlike other mediums, when a piece goes into the kiln (which can take one, two, three, or four firings) may be ruined at each of those steps. If the gallery understands the process, they can better convey to the collector what went into making this piece and why it is truly on-of-a-kind.
    The second part of the challenge, is finding a gallery that is able to command the prices to allow both the gallery and the artist to make a fair profit. Which is the real reason a lot of us create, so that we can share a with a client, and get enough of a return to produce another piece.
    Hope this makes sense.

  164. Jason,

    My biggest challenge (at the moment) is finding the best galleries to show my photography outside of my local area. I am ready to broaden my horizons, but am unsure how to proceed.

  165. My issues are that I’m a full time student, full time single dad, and a full time artist. I tattoo, airbrush ( automotive and personal creations) I’m constantly coming up with ideas that I believe are amazing. The thing is I always think about the project till I feel I have every angle and perspective figured out before I ever begin on a canvas. I literally have thought of a project for years before I began it. I find myself working on consignment projects in order to pay the bills while letting my personal art lag behind. Mark

  166. Like so many others my biggest problem is marketing and selling. I just want to paint.
    Never have I been good at asking anyone to do anything for me, or to,[shudder,] buy from me!
    It is a guilt trip to ask a reasonable price. Are my paintings good enough to sell? Absolutely!

  167. Good morning,
    I found our biggest issues ( my wife and i are both artists and cola berate on pieces) are just getting our pieces scene . Our area where we live really doesn’t embrace pop Art . Though we do have a small following , are biggest hurtle is making that “jump” to larger galleries in major cities and how to go about getting in them, and trying to balance starting/ working on website, instagram etc..

  168. My biggest challenge is finding balance. I wear many hats- mom of 3 kids, still fairly active in their schools, church organizations, household duties, artist. I know the trick is to just say no to many of them but I still need to be apart of some of it. My kids are still fairly young so being in and around their world is still pretty important.

    I know I’ve barely mentioned my art- and that is sometimes how it feels. Since creating my art business and beginning to paint again about 2 years ago, I’ve fought to carve out the time for myself. It’s a daily battle- but I feel it’s doable. It has to be. Do I really need to shirk all my familial and community duties for my art- can’t it find a place in and amongst it?

    1. I just want you know I’ve been where you are with little ones. I was at home with my kids (3 of them) for 10 years and dabbled in my art then- I felt guilty about it, or sometimes resentful of them when I didn’t have the time to devote to my creative pursuits.
      I became a single mom in 2005 and by pure necessity carved a niche for myself as a faux painter, muralist and custom commercial artist. Looking back I’m just going to tell you that they grow up really fast- my oldest is 19, an other two 16 and 13. I have more time now to do my art- and I don’t regret the focus on them and keeping my family and community duties number one. I am on this blog because I’m trying to get out of the commercial work and come back to art for me, and make a profession out of that.
      You are doing it just right. Family first, passion/career second. Plus as long as you have health, you’ll keep on with your art and have more time in the future.

  169. At present my biggest challenge is emotional. Fear , insecurity and anger are keeping me intense and uptight. I have known absolute pure joy as a painter, a wide open trusting state. The “job for money” has gotten so negative it seems the unknown would be easier to handle. Have I set that situation up unconsciously in order to let go of it and begin this daunting journey into the art world as a true dependent? A world where a joyful, positive, sharing outlook and personality is attractive and effective and consistent hard work and focus poses as a safety net. No path for a sloucher. Difficult path unsupported. Wise? I am ready to move beyond this place of tension.

  170. Hi Jason, My passion is to paint and work in community in the arts. I am doing both. However, that is only part of what I do. My bread and butter has always come from working in the corporate world. While painting my heart out at night, I worked as an executive assistant in a leading human relations office for 32 years. I always wanted to only be in the arts, but I never believed that I could support myself that way. I have seen too many people not able to pay their bills that way. I do believe my art, visual and written, has merit. However, I still believe that in these daunting economic times and in general, I could not earn a living that way. I have written and illustrated three children’s books. I have gotten them into stores and libraries myself and conducted workshops in schools and libraries. I spent thousands of dollars on this worthwhile project, and have hardly made anything in return. It is still worth it to me. Please advise! Thank you!

  171. Hi Jason, My passion is to paint and work in community in the arts. I am doing both. However, that is only part of what I do. My bread and butter has always come from working in the corporate world. While painting my heart out at night, I worked as an executive assistant in a leading human relations office for 32 years. I always wanted to only be in the arts, but I never believed that I could support myself that way. I have seen too many people not able to pay their bills that way. I do believe my art, visual and written, has merit. However, I still believe that in these daunting economic times and in general, I could not earn a living that way. I have written and illustrated three children’s books. I have gotten them into stores and libraries myself and conducted workshops in schools and libraries. I spent thousands of dollars on this worthwhile project, and have hardly made anything in return. It is still worth it to me. Please advise! Thank you!

  172. Hi Jason,
    My challenge is to make enough time to paint between all my other mostly art-related activities. These would include working on my website, writing a blog post and participating (just a bit) in social media, networking in person at art events and exhibits, framing and delivering work to a few local galleries, taking workshops from national painters, and teaching 3 private students and a drawing class for additional income. I guess time management is what I need! Honoring my painting time seems to be my challenge. Thanks for all your advice.

  173. Hi, Jason,

    I see myself and my circumstances in many of these posts. My current challenges are (1) living with the high cost of doing business (I mostly do art fairs) and the corresponding low net income derived from my efforts and (2) balancing all aspects of my life with my studio time. It seems like something keeps coming up – serious things that need attention (like car tires!).


  174. My biggest challenge so far is getting people to buy a print from my website. Somehow I thought this would be easier. I’m encouraged though, that I have made some sales and social media is really helping me spread the word.

  175. Biggest challenge: being a woman.

    I recently participated in a collective project that tallied the gender representation in galleries primarily in New York and Los Angeles, called “Gallery Tally”. This collection of posters visually representing the gender representation of each gallery is currently on display at For Your Art in Los Angeles.

    In spite of the fact that around 2/3rds of graduates with an art degree are female, women only get ONE THIRD of the representation in galleries. You can see why this project is garnering a lot of press!!

    Participating in this project has opened my eyes to just how difficult it is going to be for me, a woman, a mother, an older artist, just getting back into making art now that my 4 children are almost all school age.

    Good luck with that, right? *bangs head against wall*

    But the ideas that have been fermenting for the past 15 years demand to be created. So, here we go…

    1. I think that men are under a lot more pressure to make money, making them much more driven to get their work sold. Women, in general, have help or are at least more willing to ask for and accept help. I think that is the biggest reason for the gap you are speaking of. I truly believe that we all have the same chance.

      1. I see where you are coming from, and think that men may feel more social pressure to provide, but there are plenty of women who want financial success just as much as men do. Take this group, for example. We are all here to get better at selling, regardless of gender.

        I did a quick count of the gender ratio of those participating in this e-course. It’s an imperfect number, since I can’t always tell the gender from a name, but roughly 60 of the 250 comments are from men. That is about 24% male participation. I would not feel comfortable telling the 76% women on here that the reason they can’t seem to get gallery representation is because they don’t want to make money as much as men do. I wish that were the case, though, because then the fix would be easier than changing a bias in others!!

        To show the gallery bias, lets assume that ALL 60 men found representation. That would mean that only 30 of the 190 women here would be represented by a gallery. Those are startling numbers….

  176. Cheers and blessings from TX. My biggest challenge as an artist is going from hobby to working artist. I feel I need to change my thought process to create an atmosphere to sell my work. Last year I said my goal was to enter more juried shows which I accomplished and from that my work was published twice. This year I want to partner with galleries. Sometimes my thought process is naive because I find myself exclaiming, “You can do that!”, when I’m looking for ideas. I never feel like I’m ahead of the game.

  177. Hi Jason, I’m very fortunate as being supported and encouraged by my loving husband. So I am free to enjoy creating art just for fun. Although my natural ambition wants me to succeed and get recognition too. I do occasional commission work for my dog park friends and have sold a few pieces, even as a beginner. I started painting 18 months ago but since I passed my hardest critics, my own family, I’m pretty confident that some of my work will sell. Never the less there are those self doubts – will my art be good enough to approach galleries above the local ones. I have posted my watercolor paintings on my Facebook site as a start. Oh wow…pretty hard to get those “likes”! First goal is to break even with my costs which is still a long way to go.

  178. Hi Jason,
    I am really focusing so much more on appreciating my art and not worrying whether or not it will sell. Not there yet, but am so much more confident.
    My biggest challenge is finding a unity in my work as in a way to identify me as M.Allison. I love to paint different things and that’s good, but I’m working on my individual style. I think I’m growing. My website is loaded with paintings because I wanted everyone to see the many things I do.
    I now plan to red0 my website into the 3 main subjects that I do the most: figurative, landscapes, abstracts. I’m going to only choose 10 or so for each catagory and update often.
    My greatest success in sales has come from private shows in homes, each with a different guest list provided by the host and I plan to continue to do that.

  179. BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Myself. I am finding all the things I paint don’t tie into each other to say this is a Soto. I am my biggest challenge, worrying about who is better, who is on top. I wish I could get on YouTube and learn how to paint like Sargent, just like I get on YouTube to learn how to play a song. But thankfully it doesn’t work like that because I probably wouldn’t appreciate all the hard work that comes from creating and selling my own work. I will continue to work hard and see were it gets me. I just can’t lose focus of what inspires me and allows me to escape from reality for several sessions.

  180. I have medical issues from a traumatic brain injury, that left me with a limited ability to understand new concepts. I have read multiple blogs and tutorials on how to market my art. However, learning the intricacies of Social Media marketing and website creation have proven difficult for me to learn. I am self-taught and don’t know how much I don’t know. I have won some awards from various local and regional shows, and exhibited in small town Art centers and museums, so I feel I am progressing as an artist. Just not so much as a marketer of art. So my question is ‘How important is Social Media and websites to today’s artist? Should I concentrate on other avenues?’

  181. My Biggest challenges are organizing the business end of things and just organizing in general….where ARE those images?

  182. I am new to your blog but feel I can learn from what you have to say. My biggest challenge is finding my own style. I love to learn and try new techniques and seem to have bounced around a bit as far as style goes. I’m getting closer but need to find and develop what really calls to me. I know it is inside of me and it will develop over time if I stay focused. It is amazing just reading all of the comments here.

  183. Hi Jason,

    I’m at a very precarious place in my art career, as I am selling about as fast as I can get things finished. However I’m so busy teaching and running my communal studio that I am only producing about 30-40 pieces a year.

    I don’t charge a lot for my work, of course some people balk, I live in a very yankee community. I probably get about $15/hr with my pricing, not including commission fees. I know that I need to raise my prices, but I also think I might be able to sell more, if I can take the time to make more.

  184. Oh yes, they don’t tie in to each other! I had about 8 year break from painting and now I am back to doing it – I feel like I have to rediscover myself again. I think once I done a t least a hundred paintings I might just about get in to a track of painting series of paintings that do tie into each other. Another challenge – can’t afford the paint I want. I only have about 30 paintings of which 15 are tiny decorative sea horses which I don’t consider being much of an artistic value. I only done them because I desperately wanted to do more more quickly… I won’t do it again. I didn’t get to the point of trying to sell any of my paintings yet, but I would imagine that will be a real challenge.

  185. As a new subscriber to this blog, Jason asked me to add something to describe the greatest challenge that I have had as a glass etcher. This was not my prime area of interest in the arts. I have never pursued the art industry because of the proverbial “starving artist” syndrome. I love painting realism art, to get it as close to a photograph as possible, but have never pursued it since work got in the way. What I did come across 13 or 14 years ago was glass etching, as in sandblasting. I took it up as a hobby since I could see myself include my artistic background and actually being able to make it a little bit profitable. Since I am in the IT (computer programming) business, I built my own website, and have relied 100% on that to serve as a marketing tool. I have had a lot of success with my glass etching, and I think my favorite and proudest piece was a life size depth (3D) carving of a 1958 Harley Davidson pan head motorcycle that a customer asked me if I could do. Unfortunately the photos of it in my website do not do it justice, but it stands proudly in my customers bar for all to see. I am now attempting to do some depth carvings of Africa’s animals, since that is where I originally come from. My next challenge it to profitably market myself and my work, and to that end, I have started using the services of the SBA (Small Business Association) and SCORE who have been very helpful in assisting me to get myself marketed, but I still have a long way to go to master that side.

  186. My greatest single challenge may be myself. More specifically, I am an introvert and often lack the assertiveness to approach new situations or ask for help. Questioning my options and best direction, market, appropriate galleries, which body of work… More time in the studio and out in the art community would probably improve these issues. So, here I am. Taking the e-course, reading the blogs, buying the books. Increasing my knowledge in the subject may help me to branch out.

    1. Heather,

      I too am an introvert and had not thought of it as a challenge until I read your comment. I have found that joining a visual arts group or organization, to network, meet other artists and exhibit my art and yes, volunteer and get involved has helped me tremendously to come out of my shell and to sell and exhibit my art.

      For me, the hardest part about being an introvert is trying to sell my art, face -to-face. I believe my art is good and I do know how to talk about and sell art because I can sell other artist’s work, I’m just not comfortable selling my work.

      As much as I know this prevents me from selling more paintings, I do not consider it to be my greatest challenge. To supplement my income I teach watercolor classes and private lessons, which is another good way to become more out going, but the catch is I spend more time teaching two to three days a week, preparing for classes leaving me little time left to paint.

      My other biggest challenge is that I am not technologically savvy and therefore it takes me longer to do things on the computer and less time to paint.

  187. HI Jason!

    My biggest Challenge is time and money. I need time to produce, paint more, find or make the time for it. However with my long commute to work, I’m out of the house from 6am till 7:30 in the evening. Then comes the usual chores like cleaning, cooking, showering and getting half decent sleep to start again the next day. I often find myself worn out from the day and mentally drained which leaves me not mentally ready to sit in front of my easel with a blank canvas, or even continue one I have already started. Maybe finding something closer to home will give me more time to do what I want but I’m afraid I will not be able to find something that will still pay the bills and have money for material like canvases and paint.

    I also need to find a more defined area of focus so when I am ready to approach a gallery or build a proper website It will have the “Looks like a REUT” Look. Reading over the comments above, I did like the idea of having a third day off because it will give me a full day minimum to concentrate only on my art. The more I paint the better I become. But just need to do it. I would love to become a Full time Artist but at the moment I am afraid to make changes and stick with my hourly paid job to pay the bills. And not sure what to do besides trying to find time to focus on my painting, slowly build a nice size of clearly defined theme and go from there.

    Of course after that, the question is, Concentrate on getting into shows? Try to approach a gallery? Sell Prints online? How much to price the art? and so forth….

  188. Since I have jumped into the art world full-time this past year, after teaching art for 17 years, the biggest challenge for me is understanding the best avenues to pursue. I am both an abstract photographer and painter. I found the FotoFest portfolio review in Houston, TX terrific for making professional connections in photography, but how do I meet professionals dealing with abstract painting that are looking for artists? Is there a meeting place for this too? I find that going to Art Fairs does not go so well, the gallery is there to sell, not to find new artists. I am part of a few online registries, ArtSlant, Saachionline & Behance, etc. I get some comments from people and some contacts via my website portfolio on ArtSpan, but mostly scams requesting art for cashier’s checks.

  189. Hello, and thank you for offering your help and attention.
    I am single and live in a small updated log cabin. So small that I bought a cute wooden portable building to use as a studio and storage in the rafters. I love it out here, but it is remote. I belong to a Lufkin,Tx guild which is part of The Lone Star Art Guild in Houston. I won Best of Show last year. Still, very few people sold anything, including me. Most people I see do not want to pay what I want to charge.
    So, I would say that my complaint is that on a fixed income, I cannot go far distances, take workshops, and pay for hotels and gas. I also have pets who are a bit distracting. Money is limited. Sometimes I get discouraged also when I see so much wonderful art in magazines. There are amazing artists out there.


  190. I am responding to comments regarding how many visual artists have other artistic expressions, like music, or writing.
    Trying to organize one’s time and energy is challenging.
    I found that doing a minimum of an hour (on most days) of each art form helps me to stay current.
    But it also important for me to choose a maximum time allotment (for most days)
    or I get overwhelmed, and behind on life in general.
    Art is ‘never ending’ and artists need to draw a line in the sand. Enough is enough!

  191. My biggest challenge has been to find a gallery or outlet where I can sell my work. I have shown my work during gallery walks, or in furnitures stores or salons, but have not ever had my work in an actual art gallery. I’ve not known how to approach a gallery before, and I think in the back of my mind I didn’t want to agree to a 50-60% commission. I really appreciated the post from Yanik that talks about why the gallery gets to keep such a large commission and now I get that they earn it! Having your art in a reputable gallery, allowing the general public view it, and making an occasional sale without having to run your own gallery has to have a price tag.

  192. My biggest hurdle right now is that my husband lost his job Monday. I’m trying to refocus my energy and make sure I’m not spreading myself too thin in any one area. I work a 7:30-3:30 job. I have a project that extends into after hours work, which is paid and we certainly need that right now. I also have two teenage children with demands on my time and transportation. I am renting studio space for the first time since high school and it’s awesome, but difficult to schedule in. I’m determined to make all of this work, though. So, here I am.

  193. My biggest challenge is making the switch from freelance commercial artist (murals, surface design, faux painting) to my first love; painting from nature. At the time I started my business 10 years ago, I was newly divorced, a single mom to three kids, and having been home for 10 years I needed something that would pay the bills and give me the flexibility to work only when the kids were in school. Faux painting in a growing area did just that.

    About 2 years ago I started feeling a lot of stress in my life . I took a hard look at my job, which was highly physical; climbing scaffolding, working overhead and dealing with a lot of deadlines and demanding customers. At that time I decided to completely overhaul my expenses so I could be home more and focus on being mom more. So currently I take on a few jobs a month to meet my financial obligations. Luckily cost of living is low here and the few jobs pay enough to stay above water.

    Because of the increased free time I take more walks, have more solitude and have reconnected with my childhood passions. I grow more content in my soul and more restless with making art without passion behind it. I have no desire to make samples, load scaffold, and create large mural pieces. I have been making art for my own soul and it feels like I’ve come home. So, I am trying to crash course myself and make the transition. I’ve really only started but in my mind I’ve quit my “real” job. And creating a large body of work and finding a niche can’t happen fast enough.

  194. Jason,
    In reading the posts on challenges facing an artist, I realize that I am in very good company. I have also had difficulties staying focused, creating a body of identifiable work, and second guessing myself to the point of giving up the artistic lifestyle altogether. On days when my creative juices are flowing, I am energized and can put in long hours feeling sheer joy at being able to do what I love. On other days, I feel like I have to hold a gun to my head just to go down to my studio. This has to be my biggest challenge. I am hopeful that if I can get over these slumps in creativity, that all other business marketing activities will fall into place.

  195. I consider myself very lucky to be able to do what I love. After working in a law office for many years, I am now a full-time jewelry designer. Like the artists that expressed their thoughts before me, I have dealt with most of the same challenges:
    – Time: The 9 to 5 concept doesn’t apply anymore as I still find myself sometimes at 10:00pm scheduling social media posts or writing descriptions for my online listings. There is indeed an unbelievable amount of time that goes into doing your own marketing, networking, advertising, event planning, etc., so much that there is not enough time in a day left to do all the creative things I would like to do;
    – Costs: All the fees associated with an online presence are overwhelming and after balancing the books it seems like what comes in goes out the other way in equal parts;
    – Critics: I am my biggest enemy when it comes to create something. I always tend to see other artists’ work as being a lot better than my own and get discouraged (the good news is that I am working on that! ☺).
    But the biggest challenge I came across so far is customer mentality. I am not generalizing, but I find myself running more and more into people that don’t seem to understand the uniqueness of each and every piece that comes out of the hands of an artist. I tend to price my pieces on the lower end in an attempt to maximize the sales. Still, there are a lot of people that cannot see the value of a handcrafted, one of a kind piece, created with quality materials, and argue about the price. As an example, a few months ago I was a vendor at a very high-end fundraising event. The ladies fought tooth and nail for a 2hr limo ride offered up for auction that ended with the highest bid at $12,000(!). After the auction was over the same ladies came by my table and started negotiating the prices for my jewelry (prices that were already discounted for the event), trying to get as low as possible… I wish I would know how to handle this kind of situations and how to explain in a polite way that there is more value in a craft than in a limo ride… Is there a way of “educating” the customers from this standpoint and make them understand that besides the materials used to create something there is a lot of time, talent, inspiration, soul, uniqueness, sleepless nights, etc. that go into a piece?

    1. Simona,
      I certainly empathize with your encounter as you describe in your post regarding the value of your art. I have experienced similar reactions and lack of acknowledgement of the value of my own work. In my case it was in regard to my custom animal portraits. People loved them, but did not want to commit to the price. I realized that photography, costing less and offering more options (poses), was more desirable in the dog world. I do not want to give the idea that I devalue photography as an art form, which it certainly is. However, it surpasses my ability to create the action shots available to the photographer, and remains a perceived better value to the pet owner. I think one way to educate people about the uniqueness of our art is to write it in a marketing statement that is bold but simple and easy to display at an event. I don’t know how one can hope to explain the difference between the value of a limo ride and one’s art to people who perceive otherwise. But, I have a feeling that it may not be possible with this kind of customer. Perhaps they think it because the limo is larger? (I say in jest). It is quite exasperating and disappointing especially if pricing is questioned. One can only remain polite but firm that pricing is non-negotiable.

  196. Hello,

    I was active doing arts some years ago but then became a full time (math and science) teacher so I only painted a piece here and there or did crafts (jewelry and knitting) once in a while. A series of various circumstance made for me to be able since last October to focus on developing my jewelry business, do more art and show it in various venues: galleries, art associations, etc. This is actually really the first time I am so actively involved promoting my arts and jewelry. I have some success selling my work, especially my jewelry but not yet to a level that I would feel happy with. I have probably many challenges to find and overcome as an artist but right now I think my main challenges involve: – balancing the desire to, at least, break even in terms of my expenses versus sales. I still teach once in a while as a sub to be able to do so.
    – getting my name as an artist out there so I am recognized: showing my work, finding the right competitions …
    – giving classes or not
    – Should I focus on paintings and mixed media only? jewelry only? or keep doing both?
    – balancing doing art versus promoting it and my family life
    – Should I keep working part time to pay for my expenses?
    I do share many of the challenges that many of the artists have. Let’s see where I go from there …

  197. I have always wanted to work as a full time artist but, unfortunately, financial concerns made it impossible for me to pursue an art career. Instead, I went into teaching. For years I balanced job and family and had little time to devote to my own art production. Recently I have retired from teaching and hope to fulfill my lifelong dream.
    The first challenge that faces me is to spend some time honing my art skills so that I can find gallery representation. Because I am starting to follow my dream somewhat late in life I feel I have to work extra hard to catch up. This can be intimidating. If I compare my work to that of artists that have been painting for 20 plus years I see that I am just beginning my journey and catching up is nearly impossible. Gaining confidence in what I produce without being excessively self-critical is something I will have to work on. This then is a second challenge I must overcome. I need to remind myself that even master artists at the start of their careers found themselves where I am today, at the beginning of a journey. With hard work, determination and perseverance I too will reach my destination.
    My third challenge is simply to set aside a block of time that is mine alone. Since my retirement, friends and acquaintances seem to think I have loads of time at my disposal and think nothing of disrupting my work with numerous interruptions, or requests for my help in art related ventures. While I don’t mind helping out friends, I need to find a way to let them understand that when I am in my studio I am working and I need them to respect this.

  198. Hi Jason, I just signed up for your e class. My greatest challenge is finding a good gallery to show my work. I have been in many galleries, but I want to be in a first rate gallery and the trouble I have found in Santa Fe is that they can’t even be bothered to look at the work.
    It is also very challenging to come up with all the fees to enter shows, buy art supplies and I also want to get professional photos taken of my work.
    I cut my working hours to just 15 a week to make the time to paint, so money is tight. They don’t make it easy to live this artist life. You have to be an artist, a business major, a photographer and a computer geek or have the money to pay someone to do these services.
    But I would not trade my life as an artist for anything :-).
    It is my passion.
    Annie Coe

  199. Jason, you asked for my biggest challenge making a living as an artist.

    I discovered the answer one day, as I read a flight magazine on an airplane.
    On the cover was bold lettering, “Art Collecting: Do’s and Don’ts”
    What a wonderful thing to see. Art collecting as a cover story!
    Maybe I can make money after all on my art. I was so encouraged.
    I opened to the article, and read the first guideline.
    “Rule #1: Don’t buy from living artists.”
    It listed reasons: living artists change their style, they behave badly and loose favor, they haven’t stood the test of time, etc.

    Since that day, my subconscious has been fighting against this article.
    But as it popped into my mind today, I felt differently.
    Because you are a gallery owner, and I read today in “Defining Your Success” that
    “In this course, my primary focus is on helping you with the business side of your art.
    An artist whose primary motivation is financial stability will benefit most from the course.”
    Today I thought… maybe with your help, I can laugh all the way to the bank, when I remember that article.

    I love painting, and I want my paintings to sell !!

  200. We stock and sell supplies for Potters, Artists/ sculptors . We also have a Gallery. We “Do” this to provide basics. We paint, write books, pot/sculpt. Make tools, make Lurkers. We are in process of setting up our markets, mainly overseas. Problem…if marketing, cannot produce. If producing…….cannot market. Also there is a very unfavorable, unprofessional and downright dangerous person with more money than sense that is sabotaging all the other businesses like ours. Three of us left. He has run two out of business already. We only wish to support other artists and ourselves. The Joe-average customer has no idea and blindly supports this person. Business is business. If we three close -this person will screw every customer over many times. This is what he wants. World domination.

  201. My biggest challenge is myself.

    I disappear into my art for days, sometime weeks at a time. When I am creating, I have little awareness of anything else happening around me. When I come out of my art, I then spend all my time playing catch up with the chores, tasks and relationships that I was neglecting.

  202. My biggest challenge is increasing prices for my art. I have sold a good number of paintings in the past year. Since I want people to share a connection through owning my paintings, I tend to price them perhaps lower than I should. Also, I am not dependent on the sales for living expenses. I don’t want to underprice comparable art nor overprice my market. My plan is gradual increases and culling out paintings I don’t consider among my top 20 percent. I’ll paint over the over 80 percent.

  203. I can see a lot of myself in many of these posts. I think a major challenge I have is getting past inertia and actually painting. There’s a whole chain reaction that occurs that adds up to this inertia that is hard to get past. I’ve been working at painting part time for about 8 years now with a few fulltime years prior to that. Sales are low now and I’ve yet to acquire any gallery representation. So without the validation it’s hard to keep inspired, hard to stay motivated, hard to keep going at it. Without good sales I remain dependent on my day job. And this unfortunate spiral continues.

  204. Hi Jason,
    Reading through all of these posts I find so many similarities to myself, particularly as a woman in this culture of expectation. I want to reply to many here to say I empathize and understand. I began to write down what my own challenges may be, or as I perceive them to be. After years of commitment to others, i.e., family, job, etc. trying to fit into the path of life, I find the greatest challenge is probably allowing myself to be an artist. I seek the permission never granted but required. There are many barriers to overcome, but upon examination, this must be the greatest. So this sense leaves me with feelings of regret, guilt, and lack of direction, at times. I do not regret the efforts spent on my family, and helping them. The rewards have been great. I do not regret the myriad distractions; all a part of raising children and experiencing life. As well, I allowed myself to become distracted to please others; the part about keeping it all together. That is the secondary challenge (related to the first) for me…the nagging need to please others!

    With the time left to me I have been working at my art while pursuing some means of recognition in the field. That is why I stopped at this site. I see artists who have worked a lifetime and I do not have that. I must look at it from a different perspective and move forward beyond my inertia. I wish to continue to learn from others and work toward my goal of becoming a better artist. I believe the knowledge and support coming from your blog will help. Thank you!

  205. I have always been a “full time” artist with a working spouse. Now that the children are grown I keep thinking that I will have even more time for the paintings I envision in my mind. My biggest challenge is now and has always been Focus. It is making the art (paint first!!) a priority every day, and letting go of distractions and other demands on my time and energy. Even marketing my work and getting it into social media properly is taking time away for what I want to be doing, even though it is important. I know all about prioritizing and spending 80% of your time on your core competency, but putting it into practice is my challenge!

  206. I have to say, it made me feel better to read some of the comments. I’m a writer, artist, photographer and graphic designer. I find it so hard to settle down. I’m always excited about my projects but sometimes that’s the problem. My excitement about a new idea can draw me off of a project that I’m already working on. I do end up finishing most of what I start, which is good, at least. I’m intrigued with all types of art and artistic expression plus I’m a Gemini – could that explain a bit? LOL……My newest passion is steampunk art. I really just can’t settle down into one niche. My portfolio reflects that. I really appreciated the earlier advice about that suggested you portfolio reflect a series and show consistent ability. I’m going to work towards that and forgive myself when I stray. I am after all, just a work in progress, myself.

  207. Thank you all for your comments…it is very helpful to see so many in the same boat. Where I differ from the other contributors is that I have ended my corporate career (30+ years while making art when I could) to one where I can now concentrate on art. I also moved from urban centers to a very rural home with much less opportunities for relationships with galleries.
    I now find the major challenge to be marketing while painting. I have worked with web galleries and have shown in many local venues. I now am more interested in a gallery relationship….even if it requires travel.

    1. I like you have retired from several right brained careers. Now I have time and use every bit I can to pursue art.
      I live in a rural type environment with locals not of an artistic mind.
      I have had several shows and sold many paintings on Facebook. Now as the paintings mount up I have no place to store them waiting for someone to purchase them. I must find an appropriate gallery or agent. I do not know where to look.
      I am not adverse to paying a percent of the sale price to anyone that can help, but do not know where to find a legitimate professional. I have had several cons try to get me to pay them in advance. They are usually overseas saying they are opening their own gallery will I send them cash to up front to sell the paintings.
      I was told by an agency to specialize in one or two things with multple paintings. Then produce a minimum of 24 a year. This increases the inventory and the quality of the work. That I have done.
      Ron if you find a relationship please feel free to contact me.

  208. I find that the highest hurdle I face, being an introvert, is my inability to sell myself, and placing a high enough value on my works. I also live in a rural community, in the midwest, and there are limited venues to hang my pieces. I have a tendency to lean toward contemporary and abstract, and there is little or no outlet for it here, so I struggle to find galleries and businesses that have an appreciation for this genre of art.

  209. I’ve been a full-time Calligrapher and Artist since 1976. The work is well received in my community and I have a loyal following. I create documents of all kinds and they often include watercolor. I occasionally sell my paintings, but not often. The Recession has been tough. I’m more recognized than ever, but making less money. My work is better than ever, but sales are down.
    The struggle to make ends meet is never-ending. I recognize that the fault is partially mine, since I steadfastly have avoided learning the principals of marketing. But no more. I’m taking the bull by the horns and I’m going to make 2014-2015 my year to blast through my pre-existing assumptions and find a way to earn enough to live the lifestyle I deserve. There. I said it. Out loud. In public.

  210. Same problem as others, juggling full time career with part time artist. Having the energy to produce and the inclination to get my art out there and keeping my website and blog current. Also approaching galleries with my work.

  211. The challenge I face is marketing. I am introverted and find lots of time to create bodies of work but have difficulty maintaining a consistent marketing plan. I don’t reach out enough to people, and talk about myself rarely, if at all.
    This quality coupled with self doubt keeps me forever producing work and not following through to share, publish and sell the work when it’s complete. The slightest rejection or obstacle will send me retreating back into my shell. When I come up with a plan I use excuses and self sabotaging tactics that keep me from achieving my goals. I think it’s fear of success! If I did achieve success with my work what would I do then? Maybe I need to contemplate this to discover exactly what I’m so afraid of!

  212. I love to paint! But I don’t like to deal with customer! Between family and create something (paint & write ) , my biggest challenge is “to sell”!

  213. Marketing my work is the biggest challenge I face. I’m 65 years old, and my work has been recognized to be of merit. But I don’t have transportation, nor live near public transportation. My options for selling my work seem limited to me right now. My portfolio consists of both high quality art quilts and paintings, which in the past I’ve had moderate success in showing together in galleries. They strongly relate as a single body of work.
    I opened an Etsy Shop last week, and it’s generated a bit of interest. But I don’t have high expectations there because Etsy is geared more towards crafts.

  214. My challenges have been many. I retired from my fulltime job, then devoted my time to my art. I constantly have a sense that time is running out, must accomplish something before I’m gone. I was in a local gallery during the bad economy, and fled that for the internet. Since becoming a “Daily Painter”, I have sold all over the world, but they are small, inexpensive paintings. At least it gets my name out there. At first my biggest challenge was a lack of confidence in promoting myself. I’m much better now, but I am dealing with the distraction of family problems that involve much drama and even harassment. With all that, I painted a painting yesterday that I am very happy with, though my overall mood was anything but happy. Those personal challenges aside, I feel I am ready to be in a gallery and I want to learn the best way to go about it.

  215. When I first came to the blog post my first reaction was definitely that distractions/trying to find enough time to paint is my number one challenge (which seems to be true for so many artist here). I am rather early in this process of “being an artist” and am working on creating a body of work that is professional and suitable for presentation. I hope that by taking this e-course I avoid some mistakes early on. I have found many of the comments very thought provoking.

  216. Hi Jason:
    From all the comments posted, I can see that there are many common issues that we all face; I share in quite a few of those. However, my biggest problem is focusing on one style of expression, as I like to create textile wall-hangings and sculptures, as well as jewelry and wearable art. The textiles are very labor-intensive compared to painting/drawing media, so it is more difficult to come up with many pieces in a short timeframe, as some of my painter friends do. The inherent beauty of textiles, the tactile surface design element, is not as appreciated in reproductions, so it forces the design to become much stronger, which is a good thing!

    The second biggest problem is marketing; I know what I need to do and have a website, but it alwas seems that I have to decide: keep up with marketing or spend time in the studio? I almost always opt for the latter, so website updates are woefully not up to date. I also refuse to compromise my life, and will always opt for balance, making time for friends, family and uplifting hobbies rather than spend every minute working, as I know a lot of successful people do…

  217. My biggest challenge is pricing my ceramic pieces. I sell at a local art fairs and I price my pieces according to what I believe the market will bear, however I am often told that my prices are low. I would like to show my work in a gallery but lack the confidence to price my work high enough to make it profitable for the gallery and myself. I do not have any of my pieces in a gallery but would like to explore that avenue. I am just becoming aware that the typical take for most galleries is 40 to 50 percent. I am a poor at marketing. I’d rather create than sell.

  218. It sounds like my challenges are common ones:
    1. Biggest one is time/too many interests. I’m a lawyer practicing in a depressed area and many people need lawyers but can’t afford them; I can charge lower prices since I work out of my home. I am also office manager at my ex’s ex-business. These are the jobs that put food on my table (no spousal income backup).

    Plus I’m president of a 7-member “gallery without walls” (we did have a bricks-and-mortar space, but had to close when the economy tanked.) We now go to craft/art shows and have a local art show once a year. Lots of time expended for variable income — several of us sell large amounts at these fairs, but, alas, I am not one of them. In the time I have available, do I do my “ART” or weave scarves that will sell at fairs? Does the routine stuff drive out the more serious stuff? Well, yes, since everything takes time. But the routine stuff sells better than the “ART.”

    Then add chores, errands, shopping, housecleaning (ugh), jigsaw puzzles, gardening, reading, playing the piano, and occasionally visiting with friends. . . And it’s not that I’m slow or procrastinate or have no stamina — at 65 I can still work rings around most other people of any age. I just have to stop sleeping — there’s 8 hours a day right there!

    2. A “consistent body of work.” I understand it in theory, but am still confused in practice.

    3. My art form, fiber, generally “don’t get no respect.” Oh, it’s sewing/quilting/craft not art/my grandmother did that/do you make bedspreads? Yes, it’s art — wall art — and I use fabric, etc. as a painter uses paint. (Am I sounding a bit defensive?) Well, we all struggle on. . .

  219. My biggest challenge is turning out a large body of work without having it all look too “same same”. I don’t want it to look schizophrenic, I just want cohesion without repetition.

  220. Hi Jason – I saw my challenge only mentioned a few times. I work in a field that most galleries don’t consider “fine art” – and that’s working with fibers. In Arizona it seems if you don’t paint westertns, no one takes you as a “for real” artist. Textures Gallery in Scottsdale focused on fibers until the recession hit. Now it’s even more difficult to find an outlet for serious fiber work. I think most people don’t understnd the medium. When we did a trunk show at Textures, the people we talked to couldn’t see beyond a “quilt” aspect, and as we explained the marbling process (over hundreds of years old), they became more intrigued with the work. But it seems that gallery owners don’t want to take the tine, even with a large body of work (I realize that’s a generalization about gallery owners, but that has been my experience).

  221. My biggest challenge at the moment is twofold. 1) I am still lacking the confidence to go forth in to the art world with my “babies”. I work on them, frame them, price them and then hang them in our gallery. And they sit there. I talk to a lot of people that like them but no sales. I live in a city rich with artists and have been told I may need to get myself into another area to make sales. 2) I need more time for me. I know my confidence would be better if I had more time to paint, more time for workshops, just more time. I still have a child at home and his activities take priority. I know when he graduates next year my world will change so I am patiently biding my time. I have upped my studio time at least double and that helps. The bottom line is that I need to learn the business end of this field so that I can confidently forge ahead.

  222. Although I can relate to many of the issues that others have described, my main challenges are finding enough time to do at least two pieces per week, and my rural location away from art centers (four hours from Denver, four from Albuquerque, three from Santa Fe). Through the years, stories of other artists and their struggles have encouraged me, and the last visit to Santa Fe very much made me want to paint more. Some of my work is representational, but most is more realistic. I do like to do abstract and digital work with photography. Probably the biggest challenge is the actual doing. I know that if I set my mind to do it, it will get done, though. We tend to find time to do the things in our comfort zone, and, for me, that zone needs to be stretched a little, even if it means painting at night when the phone’s not ringing and people aren’t walking through the room. I don’t have a separate studio, yet, but that will change soon. I built a stud wall on the south side of my (radio station) studio in my home that encloses the south section in a 5′ by 16′ area with windows (where a 2-year-old tomato plant is taking up space). I look forward to having a space to paint. Thank you, Jason, and to all who’ve posted here. You are not alone.

  223. Hello Jason,

    As a metalsmith specializing in metal repair, restoration and preservation I spend a great deal of my time with three dimensional metal art. And because there aren’t many who do this, I am constantly overwhelmed with requests for my services. I have been raising my prices, but evidently they are not high enough to quell the demand yet. Being so busy caring for others’ art is taking time from creating my own metalwork.

  224. My biggest challenge is working at art on a full time basis while holding down a full time job. Very simple challenge, but each year finds me getting closer to my goal of my art becomming my primary endeavor and source of income

  225. My biggest challenge is not having a business mind. I paint almost everyday, and I have a specific style which I am very focused on. I want desperately to make a career of my art, but I really don’t know where to begin.

  226. As I was reading through the comments I was beginning to wonder if I was the only fiber artist out here — until I read Christina Brown’s comment — which sounds like exactly the issues I have

    So the challenge is where do I focus? I love both the textiles and the beadwork — so I don’t really want to do only one or the other. I’ve been doing the beadwork longer, and have actually sold some of that, while the selling of an art quilt just seems like a pipe dream right now — still finding my voice there

  227. My biggest challenge is the fact that we moving to a new area of the country. I’m excited about the move but of course it impacts my art in many ways. My studio is over the garage. Its a wonderful space that could easily be converted back to the apartment it used to be. So I have to keep it extremely neat. I’m neat by nature but when a house is for sale everything needs to be perfect. Other tasks related to showing the house are keeping me from getting much new work done. I accept this current situation as a temporary break.

    But the biggest question/challenge is how am I going to get gallery representation after we move. Right now we live in a small resort town. I am reasonable well known locally. I have work in a few galleries in the area and just received a request from a very good gallery to represent me in a town where I don’t yet have a presence. Nov I’m moving to a much larger area when I don’t have connections. It took me a while to get established here and I hope to be able to get representation reasonably quickly in a much larger “pond”.

  228. For me, it is confidently describing my work that is difficult. This then impacts my ability to write a great artist’s statement, and that impacts getting shown and selling. Everyone describes my work differently, and it isn’t about anything other than what is in my head. Pricing is difficult as well.

  229. My biggest struggles is the marketing of my art. I have been to several shows and hung in local galleries in my town. However approaching people that are admiring my work as soon as I open my mouth I seem to loose them. It is so frustrating. If I could afford to hire a high pressured sales person I would. But this doesn’t discourage me from keeping up with what I love to do. Even though I spend money on shows I never get back more than I have spent so I most definitely need help with this.

  230. Like many other artists who have posted to this blog, I engage in lots of activities that can divert my attention from creating marketable art. However, as a semi-retired person whose children are grown, I have quite a bit of time to work on my art projects, so I’m fortunate in that regard. I now have a body of about 100 portraits, so it’s time — perhaps well past time — for me to devise some strategies for marketing my work. Therein lies my challenge: My creative mind and passion for creating art far exceed my business acumen. Simply put, I’m a lousy marketer. I’ve just finished reading Jason’s book Starving to Successful, and learned that it’s packed with helpful, pragmatic suggestions, so I’m beginning to develop some marketing ideas — but I suspect I’ll need some moral support along the way. I’m working on my artist statement, bio, resume, and portfolio as well as pulling together the information I need to develop a website. All interesting tasks, but not nearly as much fun as sitting in front of my easel! And, a word of encouragement for younger artists attempting to balance art, other careers, and families: Hang in there! It really does get better over time. I no longer have to do my creative projects at 3:00 am because that’s the only time left for such endeavors.

  231. Before I list my challenges, I first must recognize where I have been very blessed.
    I attended an artistic high school where I was able to receive some training two hours a day for the full four years.
    Then right out of high school I was hired (yes, paid hourly) to work for a public arts organization that created huge murals and sculpture installations. I ended up overseeing the organization of 30-40 artists and worked there for a total of 13 years. My network of artists were strong and the overall support I received from local schools was wonderful. I taught an art class to junior high students as well as trained high school students in the techniques I knew. The city I lived in was supportive too. I made some city council proposals for murals and installations, which were accepted. I was even invited to join our mayor on the All American City competition, with me being one of the people representing the arts. We won! As for selling my artwork, I was able to sell my work out of places like hair salons where they did not require any percentage off sales. Foot traffic in places like the City Council building and hair salons were ideal for selling my work. Some months I would even sell up to 75% of my hanging work.

    I became a fully fledged artist…gosh… 8-9 years ago? I had to quit my “day job” when it began to interfere with my “art job.” I think jumping into becoming a full time artist is a bit terrifying for most, but for me it felt more like the day job was just In-The-Way of what I really wanted to do.

    Speeding up to today:
    I just recently became a Mrs., left my position of working at that arts organization, moved to another state far from my family, art community and friends. It is a happy move, but if feels almost stunting with facing a complete start-over where very few people know me. I have given myself a goal of ONE YEAR to get my work in line so I can then begin presenting it to various venues.

    I pride myself at being a bit of a creative problem solver and found a great studio solution. I am working out of a storage unit in an indoor facility. It’s great. Brand new, air conditioning, electricity, restrooms, client meeting room, wifi, use of computers and even a wine cellar….. and 2/3rds cheaper than your average rental space.

    As for my CHALLENGES …..This can be broken up into two categories: FEARS and CHALLENGES.

    Under Fears,
    I have a fear of becoming artistically trapped in one style or topic of painting. The repetition of painting 10,000 Tuscan landscapes that look completely alike sound like creative insanity to me. Nothing against Tuscan landscapes. In fact, I enjoy painting them. It is just the idea that I could be under some contract where people are expecting me to paint one single topic in one particular style. Eh… perhaps this is an irrational fear. I suppose I could always experiment with new techniques and subjects on the side. This concern seems to relate to what many of you call “multi-interests.”

    Under Challenges,
    My largest challenge is in regards to my demure personality.
    The artist ego fascinates me. The confidence to stand up in front of a crowd of strangers and say, “This diagonal curve I painted is fabulous and if you don’t have the guts to buy it, well too bad for you!” …or something to the effect of that. The confidence of an artist to his or hers work is infectious. Almost all of the most famous artists had such an ego…Degas, Picasso, Warhol, etc. I would love to develop a bit more of an artist’s confidence, which I believe in turn would make me more comfortable to take on more public events, and give me more selling confidence.

    My second challenge I mentioned briefly above. The challenge I gave myself was to create a full body of work within a year and prepare to present to galleries or any other venue opportunities. I created an annual calendar specifically for events/competitions/ect. That way next year I know when the deadlines for applications are for every opportunity I have interest in. Organization is key for what I call my art business. However this is a challenge every day.

    My third challenge could be discussed in a variety of different ways, but it really comes down to dollars and cents.
    Sales, sales, sales. My vision for myself is grand, but in order to get there I need to package myself so my art can sell.
    Honestly gallery percentages don’t bother me. Prices should accommodate the gallery and the artist’s price. Art is a LUXURY. Yes, you can get art at Kmart…… but art is still a luxury. I find it so frustrating when artists give their work away. Do we not value the items in our own homes which cost the most? We take care of those items much more than something we got for free, or spent very little on. Whether we realize it or not, our value translates to money. Even things that we hold emotional value to, we often price much higher than it’s worth might actually be. So we as artists should not get hung up on increasing the price of our art. As long as it sells, people are bringing it into their homes and you are getting paid. For some of you I might sound money hungry, or perhaps I appear to have trampled on the purity of art and the creative soul, but my goal is to make more art! Artists need supplies and food and shelter! There is no getting around it.

    I’m ready to get busy and tackle these challenges!
    –sorry for the rambling of my comment! 😉

  232. There not much that hasn’t been covered so far. I continue to struggle with technique versus style versus series of the same subject matter to ensure people know that is a piece of work by X artist. I stick with painting right now due to physical injury while pursuing metal arts sculpting. I obviously am not mature in my art yet to enjoy having a mentee or employee to help me with my work. I am finding the blog and stated challenges similar to my experiences. I look forward to hearing more and learning more from this affiliation with other artists as well as learning the business of art.

  233. My biggest challenge is all of the above. I don’t seem to have just one luring challenge, they are all lumped together. I quit a ft well-paying job some years ago, sold my house (as I could only afford the mortgage with my well-paying job) to pursue my art work. So, though I have made some strides, I have not yet sold enough to have the luxury of quitting my pt job. I enjoy my pt job, but it doesn’t pay for my monthly expenses, so I live life “on the edge”, with regards to finances. It is a challenge to create art in the capacity that I’d like while still working pt, as most of my energy is funneled into the pt job…and as the cycle goes. So the biggies would include: money, time, and I’ll add in there distractions too. I wholeheartedly agree with Stephen Hall about the too much talent thing. I don’t yearn to pursue anything but the visual arts, but within that arena, I have my eyes set on several different mediums and that is a big distraction for me. Jason wrote in another post that an artist should dedicate a minimum of 6 months to one thing and I “get it”, but that is a hard one for me. Another one for me is where to focus marketing my work. I did a high-end outside show last year that exposed my work to a lot of people and the response was overwhelming, but it didn’t pay the bills. I am scheduled to do another show that will draw in even more folks, but the cost of doing these shows is huge and it is always a risk. Ultimately I would like to focus my efforts on showing my work in galleries. I love doing shows, but I think my energy and money would be more effectively spent finding other venues.

  234. My biggest challenge currently is a choice between making the bright/colorful/decorative/glassy work that sells very easily OR make the more thoughtful, conceptual gallery work that sells occasionally but makes me feel like I have arrived. I make my income from teaching workshops because gallery sales aren’t what I want to rely on. (I think)
    As I consider teaching less often I’m trying to convince myself to go approach more galleries….

    I’m having an identity crisis here!

  235. I guess my greatest challenge is focus: avoiding distractions, finding the right thing to focus on. . .

  236. I am in the same boat as most of you as far as with what I am struggling! I am a professional artists, but making time to make art is my biggest challenge. In being a professional artist, I take a lot of portrait commissions; market myself; manage my website, social media, etc; help manage a local artist coop; and take care of my home and family. Sometimes it is overwhelming. My work is selling well right now, but finding the time sometimes is difficult.
    I also am really intimidating by the whole gallery process, but I am sure with some help and some research, it will be fruitful as well.

  237. Self confidence as an artist is one of my problems. The fear it produces reduces my willingness to expose myself to rejection. I worked with a trainer for a couple of months, and hopefully after finishing I will continue to follow my goals and make progress.

  238. Helllo Jason,
    Great googley moogley! It is sadly comforting to know I am not alone, and there are so many of us with the same issues! Thank you Jason for putting us all together and helping out!
    My biggest challenge, aside from bits and pieces of all of the above post-ers, is myself and my lack of DIRECTION-aaahhh!
    Like many post-ers, I can’t do just one thing. I paint, I Illustrate, I do crafts & jewelry. I live in a city in Montana that is considered the Western Art capital of the world, but I do POP-ART, so I definitely stick out, which is a blessing and a curse! Having been with every art group in my community, become part owner of a Gallery co-op, entered contests and many shows, and sell at the local Farmers Market; I still have no idea where to focus energies or skills?
    I love to do all of it, and when I finish paintings for a show, I wind down with crafts & what-nots. I sell well enough, considering, but craft wise, I can only stand to do 35-50 pieces depending. Then I’m done with that idea, they become limited editions.
    How do I decide what becomes more artistically important, or do I just keep doing randomness until something definitively sticks? Because for me, it all is equally fun, and profitable, but it’s so unpredictable. Are there individuals or groups that sponsor artistic mish mashes? I have entertained the idea of my own gallery, but I don’t know if that will take away from time to do the art, even if I did it in the gallery. Could I focus, I don’t know? Ugh. I have a hard enough time keeping up with my website and other social networks! I know I need to branch out show wise to other areas, but usually just the jurying requires a payment, and if accepted, it has to be shipped. I sold some pieces to a gentleman in TX and it cost about the same amount as the paintings to have them shipped. It was crazy! I’m rambling.
    Any feedback is great! Thanks again! Have a great day!
    Sheree Nelson

  239. A long time ago I would draw, I would paint.
    Then all of the facets of LIFE ratcheted into place.
    I did not restart drawing and painting ( and now, creating digitally too ) until 2012.
    The sheer joy of creating again, of receiving ideas and charging into the making of art to express those muse-given ideas has kept me happy for the last couple of years. The making of the art has always been more important to me than the selling of the art. My working life showed me the commercial constructs built on the backs of artists to make others wealthy, or at least more comfortable than the artists that made the art work. ( my long working life took me through DESIGN, ILLUSTRATION, TV SHOWS & COMMERCIALS, COMPUTER ANIMATION, VISUAL EFFECTS, ANIMATED FEATURE FILMS ….. back when there *was* film )
    But now, recently, I find that I want to try to *show* the art I am making. So I am hesitantly starting to show my new work in underground pubs, jazz clubs, city libraries, and newer galleries that might be willing to take a chance on me.
    The only aspects of my old working life that I have held on to now are scheduling and deadlining. I try to keep a routine. At present, and for the last year or so, it has been : WAKE UP, READ, DRAW/PAINT, GYM, WRITE, and then – all the other daily odds and ends that need to be done before I go to sleep at night. I don’t mind the repetition. In fact, it feels right, for me.
    My next steps will be rebuilding websites to show the visual work, and writing a second story to be web-published.
    A friend down in Texas sent me your contact info to this site, and I am grateful for that – THANKS.

  240. Like many others have said already, balance is the challenge. Financial balance, family balance, and time for self care. I have studio space outside our home for the first time in the last year, and I love it, but some health issues with my daughter have meant that I have had to spend more time driving, or in other ways, attending to her needs. It is a tough adjustment after several months of being able to work full-time at my art, and now scraping out a few hours here and there instead. In addition, I am subbing to help cover my expenses. I have been struggling to find ways to sustain my practice with all these interruptions in the flow of my work. So far, no easy answers. But I am working to stay focused on the direction I had begun. The alternative of giving up is far more painful that working at a minimal level for the time being.

  241. I have one great challenge these days, and I’m certain it’s one that almost every other artist shares at some point:


    I have a full-time job to pay the bills (duh), but I’m also a father of a three year old boy, and a newlywed to boot! So, as you might imagine, finding time outside of these responsibilities is daunting, to say the least! I can only manage a few hours a week outside the home in my studio, late at night to very early in the morning, when all the other responsibilities have gone to sleep! This is my creation bubble, my quietude, my sanity. Needless to say, it isn’t enough. Not nearly enough to even begin to make a dent in the creative impulses that push me every moment of my life, but what can a man do?

    Oh, I could ignore my family, perform in a subpar capacity at my job, but then I fear I would quickly become a SOLO unemployed struggling artist, and that’s an unacceptable condition.

    Cliche’d as it may be:

    It is what it is, and I can only do what I can do with what is MY truth. Keep moving ever forward, doing the next right thing regardless of outcome. I cannot, will not stop being the artist, family man, social man, and human that I am now and am constantly becoming.

    Feel me, fellows?

  242. Many of my biggest challenges are what many others have already posted, but I seem to have them all! Finding my niche audience, pricing, marketing, and healthy dose of self doubt about all of this. Hopefully through this course will shed some light and bring some clarity and vision to help me with my pursuit into the fibre art world.

  243. For me, the challenge is balance. An artist who teaches, both internationally and online, the work satisfies me as an artist and feeds me as a teacher to educate others. Having lost my online teaching situation last year, I now work to build a new online facility to host my courses and those of other teachers. Art has, of necessity, fallen by the wayside.

    How to juggle the huge time commitment of editing and publishing my existing courses on a new site with the fast-approaching time when those courses will be open for enrollments and my time spent responding to students with the creative need to be in the studio is the hard task I face at the moment.

    Once the site goes live and my courses settle into a routine, I face the challenge of helping other artists present their online courses via my site.

    Is there any real hope of returning to the studio? I am truly uncertain about that, but I have always believed that an artist who does not work runs the risk of physical as well as emotional and spiritual disease, so I suspect there will indeed come a time when I will push back from the computer and RACE to the studio!

  244. My single greatest challenge is getting people to pay for what a piece is worth. Some times I have had to sell pieces for less than I paid for the frame. This is a problem for most artists in our area. We call it the Wal-Mart effect. I will spend 10 to 15 hours on a painting, purchase a frame for around $60 and people want to buy it for $75. There is also the $300 dollar booth fees (for festivals), panel and tent setup, and cost of materials like paints and brushes. It has been very non profitable. Most of my pieces are priced at double the cost of materials to avoid this, but the comments always come that I am to overpriced and I will often take a lower bid just to afford some of the costs.

  245. My biggest challenge is juggling everything: studio, family, pets, house, garden, cooking, framing, photographing and marketing. When I fall short on time marketing is the first to take the back seat. I’m trying to set one day for marketing and still other issues creep in my search process.

    I’ve read a few comments on pricing. I’ve heard if someone sales their pieces outside the gallery settings for a less price then the galleries prices, the artist will devalue their investors pieces, resulting in a market black ball. Who want’s to purchase pieces that are going to loose value?

  246. Catch 22 – If you have been working and creating fine art photography for a long time you probably have an extensive and diverse archive – galleries tend to prefer you show series only and narrow it down – then when you narrow it down they tend to say you don’t have enough because it is too diverse.

    I just produced an exhibition of a collective of my work in New York City – combining individual series images and some single images to see what type of image style I would get the best response from. I was pleasantly surprised when some credible art critic friends responded with “what a bold move” but “it works.”

    I sold 3 prints and booked a first time director gig for a music video from this exhibition of one week – a music video? – go figure.

    In general we prefer to recognize a distinct style of an artist – perhaps with the concept of educating artists we can come up with an idea to plant a seed to galleries and collectors in understanding growth requires diversity and diversity requires growth.

  247. My biggest challenge is finding or setting aside time to paint. If I can’t have at least a 3 to 4 hour block of uninterrupted time to paint, I usually forgo painting, altogether on any given day. I tend to let other things or other people take precedence–even though I know I need some “me” time to create my art.

  248. I have many challenges that are all similar to the ones I read. I don’t like
    the business part of being an artist. I do have a hard time making a series
    of pieces that are all similar. The most I’ve done in a series is three.

  249. Hi Jason,
    Thank you for all the work you do on behalf of artists. It is great to read these comments, and nice to hear that we all struggle with these issues. I frankly am not sure whether to be encouraged or depressed at this point, but I fully intend to press on trying to make a living doing art. My two biggest challenges at this point are 1. finding the time to make art while trying to handle the business end of things, volunteering for several local organizations and raising a child and 2. living in a very small town with few opportunities to sell art. The local community is very supportive of artists and the arts, but on the whole do not have a lot of extra income to spend on art. I fully intend to explore markets in surrounding areas and with your help I hope to organize and streamline my marketing efforts.

  250. My greatest challenge is marketing. I like to say I couldn’t sell life jackets to drowning people. I have been exhibiting at co-op type galleries and shows and have had a fair number of sales over the past several years. I feel pretty confident that my work has improved to the point where I should begin developing relationships with some commercial galleries. Unfortunately, I do still have a day job and need to find a way do get a integrated approach together without THAT becomming another full time job.

  251. My biggest challenge is marketing. I do social media, send out at least a quarterly e-newsletter and write a blog about art but have a hard time doing more than that. It feels as if it takes too much time away from my studio hours.

  252. It’s so comforting to know I’m not alone in worrying about everything from scheduling time for creating new pieces to getting up the nerve to seek new gallery representation. However, my biggest challenge is a sudden lack of self-confidence. The questions pile up: am I any good at this, should I change my style, is it stupid to stick with the tried and true, where’s the inspiration, what do I do now? It can be paralyzing.

  253. I think my greatest challenge is finding time for my own art. I teach art full-time and recently was in charge of a large art auction where I worked with 16 classes to create collaborative art works for an auction fundraiser. By the end of the day, my energy is low and weekends become busy with family activities. I need to set a goal of 1-2 hours each day for at least sketching or working on works that I have started and not completed. I do have summers off and hope to catch up then, but don’t want to get in the habit of waiting until summer to get work done. I need to make it a daily practice, especially since I have people waiting for art work. It is nice to hear others come up against similar challenges.

  254. Greetings!
    How’s things? I am choosing to view “challenge” as a camouflaged opportunity, a positive experience in the making. I was recently asked to explore the theme of vulnerability. I came to the realization that the depths of vulnerability reveal the steps of possibility. I am open to the possibilities, it is now a matter of finding the opportunities that complement my aesthetics and are my aesthetics worthy of compensation? My goal is to establish autonomy with my talent. Excelsior!

    Good things!

  255. Jason

    Thank you for this opportunity! The biggest challenges I have are;

    As Gallery Director:
    – getting artists to present themselves professionally and understand they are business people
    -choosing artists that meet our academic standard in the community based on experience, technique, academic standard and professionalism
    -teaching artists about artists, statements, head shots, bios and portfolios. Also, it is important that they understand when they meet with me to show thier work, it is an interview. Dress like it.

    As an artist:
    – TIME. NOT ENOUGH HOURS IN THE DAY. Balancing my work as an art administrator with my personal desire to create. Always a challenge.

  256. I signed up to discover your suggestions on finding galleries to represent me. Years back, I was part of a co-op in Old Town (Albuquerque) but the market was in the tank. Since leaving there, I affiliated with an arts group that held monthly Art in the Park sales but again had little luck. Lately I have had some success with on line sales, largely through Facebook, and my work continues to improve. I enter the State Fair and even sold one there last year. My current inventory (on my own walls) numbers 63 and there are many that sit around unframed. I publish a calendar each year from current works, largely for my own gift needs, and the same people buy each year. I have not approached a gallery for some time now, and will be very interested in your suggestions.

  257. My biggest challenges is if my art is good enough to sell, getting exposure and how to price it. I will not sell my originals, only prints, prints on canvas and cards. I definitely have developed my own style over the last year, which is rather simplistic and most likely not suited for a gallery showing. I have a few local fans who are always giving me advice to set up a website, get on Etsy, do art fairs, etc. but I can’t seem to move forward because of my lack of confidence. I don’t plan to “give up” on what I’m doing, in fact, it only drives me to produce more of the same. I do zentangles in between my paintings but even after painting 25 in this ‘series’, I can’t stop! But what to do with them is a big question! I can see my characters in a children’s book, made into some plastic toys and maybe even stuffed toys but persuing that dream is way beyond my knowledge.

  258. I need to get into more venues. It is time consuming to do so and I have often chosen some that are less than ideal. I need to develop moore of a business plan and I am hopeful that becoming more involved with those in the know will help me dedicate more time to the production of artwork which I absolutely love doing.

  259. My greatest fear is that I won’t have the confidence to plow through the beginning years as a professional artist to reach my goals. Also that I will price my work too low just to move it. I believe that this ecourse will help me a lot in both of these areas. Thank you!

  260. My two main challenges right now are getting my art out and seen in several galleries, and learning to work bigger–both very do-able, although not easy. I work in pastel and have found resistance from galleries (as in “No, thanks”) to art behind glass, although I now frame with high-class frames, no mats and use museum or anti-reflective glass–most people who see the work think it is done in oils. The working bigger challenge is coming along slowly for me, but is so far mostly successful, so I’m encouraged. Thanks, Jason, for your continual encouragement and assistance to us artists!

  261. My biggest challenge is to paint without being interrupted. I am a mom to a 3 year old and a 10 year old so the only chance I get to paint and be in my zone is when they are not around (either playing outside or sleeping). I don’t want to put her in day care because financially we just cannot afford it right now, neither do I want to be apart from her for over two hours. I did that with my eldest and I live to regret that everyday. I missed out on so many things with her. So I go to bed around 2 a.m almost everyday or else the paintings would not get done. Too many ideas, and not enough time to get all of them out on my canvas. Furthermore, my husband does not see what I do as a ‘career’ despite the fact I have been selling my art and having a dozen collectors. That is a major source of frustration to me as well. However, in a couple more years, my 3 year will start her preschool and that would open up a good amount of time for me to paint. As for my husband — he only makes me more determined and ambitious to succeed as an artist. In time he will learn to respect what I do so I just have to learn to weather the storm. The goal is to keep on producing good stuff NOW — I am doing it but not at a pace that I want to be doing. All in good time they say.

  262. My biggest challenge is that, although I have been capturing landscape images for many years, I am new to the concept of actually marketing my photographs. I have no idea as to how to approach galleries, display my work, and price it. In other words, I am a complete novice when it comes to the marketing side of fine art photography. Additionally, Walla Walla, WA (where I now live) is a small community that supports few if any true galleries. Most of the local artists display their work at the many (over 100) fine wineries that have popped here over the past 15 years.

  263. Wow, so good to know I’m not alone! Like many of you, it is a challenge to finding the time to focus on the making. I also have a full time job, thankfully in the arts and in the field I’m most interested in…fibers, so that feeds my soul to an extent. I find that I go through phases of making…usually when I’m not slammed at work (summer and winter), and when I am busy at work, I struggle through the dreaded “paperwork” of promoting…photographing (still looking for a decent photographer), website updates, artist statements, researching shows, social media, etc. I also feel very spread thin by having so many other interests and commitments: gardening, house renovations, relationship, family. I just wish I could clone myself! However, I would have to say my biggest challenge is the selling part. I spend so much money framing and shipping work to shows….but nothing ever sells! Where are my collectors?? I am happy in my full time job, and am not really trying to support myself (at this stage of my life) necessarily….but it sure would be nice to have my art pay for itself and maybe a little extra to pay for a real vacation or something??

  264. I have a similar problem as Bill. I live in a small town, Gunnsion CO. Although I have shown my work a few times at local galleries, the galleries tend to be very overcrowded. I have my first large show coming up in September so I am hoping for good exposure. I am able to work on my paintings every weekend and some during the week but I am unable to travel far so my options are limited.

  265. My biggest challenge is time. I work while my kids are in school. I am quite good at getting down to work, and accomplishing as much as I can in a short period of time. My job as an artist is speculative, however, so when a snow storm cancels school or someone gets sick, it is my job that takes a back burner.

  266. I find that my greatest challenge is balancing my art work and life. With a toddler in the house it truly makes it hard for me to get in the zone of painting. As she is getting older it is becoming a little easier. My goal is to paint more! I tell myself that every day.

  267. I am my biggest challenge. I am a self taught artist that has spent years painting but only sporadically in between raising children, homeschooling, working, volunteering, etc. Now that my children are older I have more time to devote to painting but I don’t have a body of work for a gallery and since I get bored easily I’m all over the place in content and style. Most of the work I’ve sold in the past few years has been commissioned work for clients that want a custom piece of art for a room that I am decorating so that keeps my work random and what I do paint is usually sold before I paint it so I don’t have much inventory on hand. As others have stated I have many creative interests (writing, painting, decorating, dancing) so I feel like I am a jack of all trades but a master at none. Because I do not have an art degree it feels like “cheating” to call myself an artist and since I don’t work in oils I’m not even sure a gallery is the best place for me. After reading many of the posts I am very discouraged. If an artist with a fine art degree and a large body of work has difficulty supporting themselves I don’t think I stand a chance but I will continue to paint because I was born to create….it’s like breathing for me. Might have to be a hobby rather than a vocation.

  268. I think my artistic problems have many levels. To name one: production and marketing. It seems that I like the production but like less the marketing side. More: I also would like to know when a painting is finished. How to deep it fresh. How do I make money as an artist. If I had to rely on sales I would truly be a starving artist. Who do you contact and how do you know what to charge for a painting?

  269. Right now main challenge is getting new studio as my previous space is changing its direction.
    I am on waiting list, but expect 1-2 month delay. Also previous space was “furnished” so I am gathering
    necessary equipment for new studio…I did not want to learn to set up my own studio, rather spend that
    time DOING my art…but I am embracing it, and hope that being in my own personal studio (well shared with
    two partners) will be a nice jump in having my own creative space. It will be located in a large bldg with about
    100 other artists on their way to becoming professional artists (some already are). So while this is taking some
    time, I am working to still have time to do some art, and looking forward to new situation

  270. Ok, where shall I begin. This “ART THING” has been quite a journey. Many, many years in the making. I’m a jewelry artist. People love my work. I have a small but consistent client base. An Etsy pressence and have sold to people all over the world. I do business with a few small boutiques on the east coast and it’s been a positive experience for the most part. I also do private showings and events with artist groups from time to time. I am very selective about craft shows and that type of venue. They are TOO EXPENSIVE and often times the payoff is not worth the effort.

    I was introduced to a gallery owner here in PA who loved my work metal work…but they made every excuse in the world to choose work that was the least likely to sell (beaded designs similar to work already in their gallery)…nothing sold. As soon as I took my work to my audience i sold almost every piece. That said…

    My work is very eclectic…unique and One Of A Kind. Having a professional Marketing and PR person to work with be that has a real collector base, understands art jewelry and its value. Then we can work together to truly create a viable and sustainable selling relationship. I work in silver, copper and brass, with a variety of semi precious stones. I have a full line of earrings that number over 100. I create approximately 100 to 200 new designs each year.

    My work has been featured in several magazines through the years and is being looked at on a regular basis by Un Common Goods for inclusion in their catalog. I’ve won a few awards and have made some strides…but I can’t pay my mortgage. Thank god I have a husband who can and does. That kind of love and support allows me to work in a beautiful studio in the mountains on PA, undisturbed, supported and loved. I am a degree’d art professional with a teaching certification. I teach small classes in my studio to supplement my sales. I hope to start traveling by invitation do more of that. I’m on an extraordinary journey.

    I am a professional artist working to heal the world through teaching, learning and the creation of beautiful things. I do what I do, so you can discover what you can do. Woven into the direction of time is the intentional undoing of every mistake, with the knowledge that total complete love can be achieved. Thank you for the work and sharing that you do to help others. :+}

  271. One of the reasons I pursued an art career was the challenge. Yet those challenges have increased at times. Shortly after 9/11 I noticed an uptick in gallery sales for my work and other artists but then slowly the market started to go soft. The Great Recession (or whatever you want to call it) has stressed the market even more. I had for years been a full time mother/wife and painted as much as I could. I did well. I showed my work nationally and also very briefly internationally. Then came the downturn followed by an unexpected divorce. Add to that a bout with cancer. None of those things rocked me as much as the dwindling number of dwindling number of galleries and patrons. I was left with the question, “Why am I doing this?” I’ve mostly recovered from the divorce, the cancer and the kid has grown up and left the nest. How do I rebuild me career and re-launch my work in a more disposable world? How do I find galleries that have staying power that respect their artists. It seems I spend far more of my time on promoting or selling the work than I used to. I’d love to have more time and support to create. The local gallery scene has shrunk but I have a hard time knowing where to go next. I am working larger and faster keeping the work fresher. I’m at an age when I’d like to work on my legacy. I don’t have as much energy as I used to so I would like to focus on the work and not so much of the marketing. Having to turn on and off the creative energy to deal with all the other stuff is frustrating.

  272. Marketing. Marketing. Marketing.
    I would love to get my photography outside of the region I live in but I don’t know how.
    I also have a hard time affording to frame and present my work affordably.

  273. Many thanks Jason for all you do to advance artist’s careers! My biggest challenge is turning admirers of my work into buyers. I’ve done 6 fine art festivals in the past year, around the Midwest and had little success selling but have tons of folks that love and respond very positively to my cloudscapes. This year I’m more concentrated on gallery representation and have secured such in Oklahoma City and Santa Fe and will be branching out further in that regard as time allows. From reading previous posts, finding a financially successful path is a great challenge for all artists these days, so I know I’m not alone in this. Looking forward to learning from you and other artists what works.

  274. My biggest challenge is I am new to art, so I am well behind all the people that have posted. I find that my mind will go from one project to another, so I have a hard time staying focused on just one piece. I consider myself starting at square one on everything to time, marketing, theme. So at this point I am an open sponge ready to take all that I can.

  275. I think my biggest challenge is marketing. I love making my batiks and quilts and have no dearth of ideas but I do not like spending time marketing, updating my website or going to galleries. I enjoy presenting my work in shows and juried competitions but these don’t seem like the best places to sell. I think having a relationship with a good gallery would be so worth it. I have had bad experiences in the past with galleries and have avoided them for years. I have an etsy shop and web page but neither seem particularly conducive to selling my work.

  276. In the last two years I have made some pretty major changes. I left my art community in Seattle to live near family and start my own in San Francisco. With an eight month old baby, I am surprisingly finding time to make work (although not as much) but I am unable to get to art openings in the evenings to network. Not knowing a lot about the galleries or the community here, I am struggling to figure out how to get connected with a galleries and meet other artists, curators and gallery owners. As far as I know this is how you get shows and representation through networks, but perhaps there are other ways?

  277. My biggest challenge and frustration is money!! I don’t have money to invest in my business. There are times that I have to wait to sell a piece to buy material for my next piece. I can’t afford to do a lot of advertising (thank God for Facebook) but I do have nice post cards from vista prints. However I have to pass up shows because I can’t afford to get into them, so I’m missing out on a lot of exposure because I can’t afford to get out there. My dream is to have my own store front. I know if I could get something like that I would make money. My style is unique and custom and I do a variety of art. I do get discouraged but I have faith that something will come my way because I want to help others with my art and I’m determined to find a way.

  278. My biggest challenges are:

    1) Time and time management
    2) Marketing effectively

    Much like everyone else here! I could not imagine having the time to read over all the comments posted here, but I’m not surprised to see that so many artists are in the same boat!

    -Peter Paradise Michaels
    RavenWolfe Photography

  279. Hello, Jason, nice to meet you.

    My biggest challenge these days is staying motivated. Several years ago, I was chugging right along- working many hours every day in the studio, working on a series based on new technique I’d created, getting published, etc. I was on track, I felt, for gallery representation in the near future. For years before, I had been working in my garage and had recently renovated it to include AC/Heat, a large sink, better lighting and dedicated electrical. I was happily buzzing along when word came suddenly that my husband was being transferred to another city. My beautiful new studio and all my momentum would be left behind in the move. We were told by the relo company that in order for all my very valuable supplies and art work to be insured during the move, I would have to allow their movers to pack me up. Reluctantly, I did so, putting my precious studio in the hands of strangers. I wouldn’t know until much later what a huge mistake that was.

    It took months to find a site for a new house, and many more months after that to build it, during which we were living in a temporary apartment (our house sold very quickly, leaving us nowhere to live!) From the moment the packing started, I was without creative space or supplies. I had many months to sit idle and wonder when I would ever get back into a real studio to begin working again. It was a panicky time for me… inactivity for an artist can spell the death of inspiration.

    Once the new house was built and we were moved in, I had to do another garage conversion. I had a munch larger space to work with this time, but every piece of my studio was scattered across dozens and dozens of poorly marked (and as it turned out, packed) boxes. It took several more months before my new studio was complete and ready to move into, and then I had to go on the hunt for all my supplies and stored art. What I found horrified me: the movers had scattered the contents of my studio throughout nearly every one of the 60+ boxes they had packed from our house. It took more than a year before I was able to round up everything and find a place for it in my new space.

    Now, all of this probably sounds like a high-end problem, and maybe it is, but for me it’s meant nearly two and a half years of creative inactivity. Now that I have my space put together, have added lighting, plumbing, electrical and AC/heat AGAIN, I find it difficult to care enough to spend hours in there, working.

    The momentum I had built on the back of the new technique I created has vanished. I do still work, but it’s slap-dash, and inconsistent. Basically, I work to blog (another thing that had fallen by the wayside- how do I blog about art when I’m not making any?)

    I’m scared stiff that the creative spirit has left me, having been idle for so long. I WANT to create- I just can’t seem to find the energy anymore.

  280. I see art as a whole body that may find expression in many forms, all of which I cherish and explore. It’s a journey that offers us the chance to express our passions. Max Ginsberg of ASL – NYC admonished me to stop paying the bills and go paint. So I’m living on one of the Chesapeake Bay’s “disappearing islands.” Smith island has no distractions other than watermen with lineage back to 1652, their families, boats, faith, crabs and oysters. Painting every day builds a body of work and sure hardens off your style issues. The only way on or off the island is a 45 minute ferry ride. We were frozen in to the point of diminishing meds and food. Psychology magazine last month headlined an article about how to remake yourself with tons of experts in the field. Universally, they said set long term goals in writing and then act on them in some way EVERY day. I think that is what this course seeks to do with the 15 minute bullets. I have been fortunate enough undertake a whole immersion postponing the thoughts of what to do with hundreds of works and a 16′ painting in progress. I am convinced I will never sell that one.

  281. I think the hardest part of the art “business”, is finding quality representation. Galleries may look good but once you in, they don’t always understand that the artists that they rep are their bread and butter. Payment can be months late with very little recourse for the artist. I also find that if the artists is not a particularly good business person, they are at the mercy of the gallery who may wait months to let an artist know works have sold or that they need replacement art. Sometimes the problem is simple. The gallery and the artist are not really compatible. They may not understand your work and therefore they will not find it an easy task to sell it.

  282. Great blog Jason, again thanks for being such an amazing resource.

    I’m launching into this as a second career at the age of 40. I’ve been painting since a young age and have always kept it up. I often refer to myself as a “professional amateur.” I’ve never had work in a gallery and have only had a few art shows outside of my own studio. Despite that, I have always consistently sold my art and acquired commissions over the years, but have never considered myself a true professional artist since it isn’t my primary work.

    Now that I’ve decided to make this a full time endeavor I realize there is so much I don’t know in terms of the business of art. I want to enter it to with highest degree of professionalism and quality as possible. So the primary challenges I face right now are:

    • The right way to approaching potential galleries
    • Managing my relationship with a gallery in terms of contracts, payments, and inventory
    • Proper methods for shipping and/or installing art
    • Managing logistics of tracking art pieces at shows and galleries
    • Presenting myself as a professional despite a limited art CV

    I’m sure as I get deeper in to the day to day of this more challenges will arise. But for now these questions are on my mind and in some very significant ways hold me back from taking the next steps. Of course your book has helped me to leap forward on much of this as I read and reread it.


  283. I think my greatest challenge is marketing in general, and/or FINDING my market. As I have gotten serious about my being a real live artist, and making that art which is my passion, I am certain there is someone out there who would love it like I do. I have met a few people like me who would buy art for the sake of loving it rather than worrying what to do with it or where to put it. The work I have done most of my career has been outside of the decorator type (though I am sure it would be right ON if only people would decorate like I do), but it always has entertaining appeal. IF I compromise my love of an image for commercial reasons, the result is never as good. So I need to find those few that I know are out there – they won’t make me rich, but they will make me (and themselves) happy.

  284. My current challenges:

    To market myself better as an artist. I want to start selling art by learning more about market expectations and tendencies. I need knowledge where and how to target regarding my own art skills and level. Seek ability to price my work in a reasonable way.

    To turn my own creative ideas (have many) into active projects. My problem is not bad time management. Having difficulties to define which ideas have true potential and really worth my time to be developed. I’m gifted to be very determined when follow a goal, but somehow my creative mind is tempted by many goals. Need to refine my ideas and focus mainly on the best of them.

    Being just a graphic designer in the past 15 years made me a pure beginner in communication with galleries. Have ideas how to approach them, but not sure is part of my vision is not dumb or naive:) I want to do all this professionally, don’t want to act as an amateur.

  285. My biggest challenge, at this time, is focusing my work in one particular direction. I am a ceramic sculptor and over the past 20 years I’ve used experiences, such as artists’ residencies and travel, to inform my work. I work in series and when I’m finished with one, it seems, I go on to something completely different. It happened in such a subtle way, I was hardly aware of it. At this point, I’m feeling like I need to spend time working in a single direction and finding something that works for me and represents me. When asked to teach workshops I’m not sure what it is I should teach, I have such a plethora to pick from and I’m not sure I’m an expert at any of them anymore. I accepted an opportunity for a week-long workshop this summer and it was a struggle to decide what to focus on and my prep time will be twice what it should be. I’ve always been excited about trying something new but I think it’s become a handicap.

  286. My greatest challenge is Marketing. I want to paint.
    I don’t want to spend so much time working on a website; trying to research and learning how to market; doing demos; hanging local shows and participating in local galleries to network; looking for exhibiting opportunities; and answering calls for artists.
    I would also like to learn how to establish a long term relationship with a gallery.

  287. My biggest challenge is being from a small town and living there all my life. You don’t get recognized or branched out without some traveling outside of your small town. I am multi talented like others here before me have commented. My grandmother and mother always said I had too many irons in the fire. I stay extremely busy with all my talents. Problem with having too many irons in the fire, is that I don’t have the fuel to keep the fire going to keep the irons hot. Meaning financially like others here it holds me back from being the artist I was born to be. I’ve never immersed myself in the Art Gallery world, so I’m clueless to how it functions. You could say that I am at the elementary level when it comes to galleries. I’ve never been one to boast about myself when it comes to my talents. My art has always sold by word of mouth. I don’t publicize, people have heard of me and my art and sought me out to do work for them. I’ve done every type of art imaginable and excelled at it since I was a child. I am self taught with no schooling. Small towns didn’t offer studies of art as I was growing up, otherwise I might have learned more about the art world. For years people have told me I should be doib g it professionally. I’ve won many art contest and a couple scholarships for Art Schools, but the remainding factor still always fell to money and location. I am known locally very well for my art and have had a couple newspaper articles written about me. The past couple years I branched out a little further through Facebook and now am known in other states and countries for my art. I’m ready to take it seriously and go professinal. I just need to know how to do that and how to be financially able to. God gave me a gift…I’m a vessel that he guides my hand. It’s not my gift to throw away.
    I’m willing to set my other talents aside that I am good at, just so that I can be great at what I’m best at…which is being an artist with vision and imagination.

  288. I have many challenges from finding the right market for my work & balancing 2 part time jobs, family, etc & creating work. I am currently in vicious cycle of not making time to make work, so I am depressed and not making work!

  289. My biggest challenge right now is deciding my next direction. I’m being downsized from my well paying job, and considering going into consulting, OR putting more of my energies into my art and getting better at marking it, along with teaching workshops as a way to share my art. I already have consulting work coming my way, so it looks like I might need to make more of a conscious decision than I thought. I was expecting to have the summer off to work it all out.

  290. I have been a full time professional and successful painter for over 30 years. As a new senior citizen now and with this economic downturn we’re having, the trick for me is trying to find a market that is working. Rather seems like the low end and middle range markets have disappeared. So where to go, how to find and how to market to the high end buyer?

  291. I see that many here are multi-talented/multi-faceted individuals. I have had two previous careers–one as a radio newscaster and personality (little work in that field these days) and as a public criminal courtroom attorney–as both a prosecuting attorney and public defender. After 16 years in front of judges, I found myself very run down and sick to the point I ended up in the hospital. It became apparent that although I was a very good attorney, the job was taking a heavy mental and physical toll on me. I left my job with no idea what I was going to do next. I stumbled into the art world through a friend who introduced me to the director of the Fine Art Sales Gallery located inside the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio–a nationally recognized museum. I had taken art classes on and off over the years and got all the basic painting and drawing classes in as I worked full time. My paintings were accepted at the gallery, so I consider myself very lucky to be able to work and exhibit and sell my paintings in a place where people come who actually appreciate art and buy it. All the art in my gallery is done by artists in the Youngstown/Pittsburgh area. Commission is 30% at the gallery and I consider that reasonable. One problem I didn’t anticipate is that my work would sell as well as it did, so my inventory was depleted relatively quickly. My first piece sold within a week of having it in the gallery. My challenges are similar to many others posted here–scheduling time to paint, avoiding distractions, and creating consistently quality work. Despite sales being fairly good, I don’t make anywhere near the money I did as an attorney (and I was woefully underpaid at that for the time and energy I put in). So I have had to scale back my lifestyle and learn to live simply and with less. I shop at dollar and discount stores rather than the higher end places I used to frequent. My situation is that I live with my boyfriend who is a union electrician and makes good money. As he works long hours at various jobsites, he has no time to take care of his home, prepare meals, do laundry, go to the bank and post office etc. So I take care of all that for him and work on my art. As he is being laid off next week, money may be more of an issue and I won’t have the alone time I am accustomed to, but hopefully he won’t be out of work for long (being laid off, I have found is just par for the course when you work out of a union hall as an electrician). I will have to adapt to the situation. As money can get scarce for me (no one was buying anything at our gallery after Christmas–especially with our very bad winter in Ohio), I sometimes struggle with being able to purchase supplies–paints, canvases, frames, etc. I also still struggle at times with regaining the strength I lost during my illness while I worked as an attorney. So exercise is something I try to fit in every day. I thought if I left my full-time job I would have so much time to paint, but I find that is not often the case. There is always laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, family issues, etc. And I think it is important to stay on the online radar through my website/Facebook/e-mail/etc., so I do spend a certain amount of time keeping in touch with other artists, updating my website and blog, and putting my latest work out there. I don’t necessarily schedule every day, but I try to keep a checklist of things I want to accomplish for the day and cross them off as I complete them. I wish the best to you all–and thank you, Jason, for your sound advice and this opportunity to share.

  292. Hi! I am a self-taught artist, mother of 4 young children, and yoga teacher. I began my art career (if you can call it that) when I discovered the art of Mehndi (the use of paste made from the henna plant to create intricate, temporary adornment on skin). I began using henna on the body, as it has traditionally been used around the world, and have recently expanded into using henna and henna techniques and styles in other ways. I taught myself how to create printable screens from henna paintings and I use acrylic paint, henna, and even bleach to create mehndi-inspired designs on textiles. I have no art training whatsoever; my college studies were scientific. In fact I hold a PhD in plant ecology!

    I find myself facing several challenges, but I think the biggest is that I don’t even know how to bill myself as an artist! I feel very self conscious and awkward because I never went to art school to learn how to do things ‘right’ and my techniques are unorthodox to say the least . I am involved in the artisan and crafting community in Reno, but not in the art scene and I would like to be considered an artist rather than a crafter! Also, I find it difficult enough to find time among all my other responsibilities to even create art, let alone do any networking. I think this really hinders my ability to share my work. I often find out too late about exhibitions and group shows where (I think) my work would fit and so I don’t currently have any work on display apart from the pieces I bring to local artisan and craft fairs. Thanks for the opportunity to learn from some more experienced artists and figure out the way forward from here!

  293. Wow! So many people. Good to know that I am not alone. My problems are focus and marketing. My mind fills up with so much information, thoughts, and ideas on how or what to do next or create next that I lose focus and then feel overwhelmed. Eventually I do a total system dump on paper just to clear out my head and see what I really need to try to focus on. Marketing is something that is new to me. When I was working a full time job, I was stressed out to the max and treated my fledgling business more like a hobby. Now that I can no longer accept the stress from the other job I need to treat my business like a business. I’ve realized that I cannot approach it with the same mindset as I have when I create. As that mindset tends to be whenever the idea or urge strikes. I need more consistency, more focus, better marketing skills, and more confidence. Thank you for listening.

  294. I am getting started much later than most. That seems to be the story of my life. However, I am pretty much self-taught with a few classes at local leagues and art co-ops to increase my knowledge. I live and work in a university town so I feel very intimidated by art students and professors. I still haven’t found my “style” and am still trying many different mediums.

  295. I retired two years ago from a business I began in 1973 and my wife now runs it so I am not dealing with the distractions that many artists seem to be, including making a living. But our income has gone steadily down hill since 2007 and it would be helpful if I could sell as much of my work every year as I did in 2012, my only really good year when I had corporate clients and lots of commission work. My biggest challenge is to find the relatively small audience that appreciates assemblages made from found materials. My biggest fans seem to be other artists and they’re not buyers. My studio is at home and I split my time very comfortably between tending my land and livestock and making art. Some of my work hangs in public places and it attracts some inquiries but most are from people with unrealistic expectations about price. It would be tempting to say that my notions about the value of my pieces are unrealistic but I’ve been spoiled by my corporate clients who paid what I asked. Unfortunately corporations move on and I haven’t had a commission in a year and a half. I recently emailed around ten art consultant firms about my work but I haven’t received a single response. My pieces are not a good fit for most galleries, especially if their bread and butter is paintings of landscapes, still-lifes or portraits. Even when the gallery seems right for me they tend to be fully booked. I’ve had some pretty good galleries tell me “not now but we’ll keep you in mind for the future.” I feel like a lot of my most recent pieces are ideal for high end bars, restaurants or lobbies but I don’t know how to break into that market.

  296. I love being able to paint and can do it for hours a day, it’s the marketing part of my job that is work for me. I mostly paint small paintings and I sell them online and at art and craft fairs from May through Dec. Art shows can be exhausting but doing them has helped me to attract collectors. I am fortunate to be married to an art lover and my husband is very supportive., he always says we are in it for the long haul. I do treat my art as a job, which doesn’t mean I don’t love what I do. It means I have to show up at my art table daily. Do what needs to be done to keep my little art biz going. Painting, varnishing, photos, posting daily to DPW and my website, marketing, FB, preparing for shows,. Like a lot of other folks, I also take care of my family. I try to remember how long it has taken me to get to this point of being a full-time working artist, many years. Marketing and selling my art are the parts of my job I am not crazy about, but I love to create art and each painting I sell means I get to paint another, so I have to market my work.

  297. Hi Jason:
    As my husband and I have been very serious savers over the past 30 years, I am most fortunate to be in a position to be able to focus on my art without needing a job outside of my studio.

    My primary objective now is to expand my gallery representation to more galleries, but I am greatly hindered in that endeavor by the limitations of properly presenting my very high gloss, three dimensional art in two dimensional images. The galleries which currently represent me all were able to see my original work before they agreed to take on representation of my art. Every one of the gallery owners who saw my originals said that they were not expecting what they found because photographs just did not capture the vibrancy, dimensionality, nor quality of the work. I have even spent thousands of dollars hiring professional photographers without solving this challenge.
    Since first impressions are so critical in this highly competitive market, and most galleries rely upon photographic images in their initial reviews of artist submissions, my challenge is to determine how to cure the limitations photographic representations of my art so that my art creates that critically important, positive first impression.

  298. Imagine if you didn’t have to struggle between money, marketing, and painting because circumstances allow you to paint every day, sometimes all day. For decades. Imagine exploring line, color, texture, and paint until imagination expresses itself effortlessly through your expert brushwork. After seventy or so years, you amass an incredible body of superb and timeless work. And, then, eventually, it must be left behind. Where will it all go? I am the trustee of the estate of such an artist. Placing his work is my greatest passion and my greatest challenge. Reading the other entries helps me in part understand the artist whose work I love, whom I was never able to meet.

  299. I’ve been teaching high school for 2o years, before that, a full time artist after grad school. I’ll probably retire next year, and plan to dive back in. My web site is almost 8 years old and I don’t have time or skills to add and delete. I paint with encaustic, weekends and summer, so my work lacks consistency. I’ve lost touch with the gallery scene, my work was in textiles 20 years ago and I had some success, the Lausanne Bienalle and gallery’s. my goal is to develop a body of work, I’ve started, summer almost here and I’m very excited about my coming freedom!

  300. Aloha
    Thanks for this forum reading the posts have been interesting and helpful
    As a jeweler, the biggest challenges for me lately are:
    Confidently PRICING my work. My pricing can be a bit inconsistent. I do not have a method to the madness but price according to other similar pieces. However, it does not seem to translate with any consistency in the market.
    CONSIGNMENT. Galleries all do consignment and my income is wavy. It is a lot to keep track of, plus I often have a lot of money out for materials, i.e. chain, which I do not get back for quite a while. Although I give thanks that there are people out there willing to market my work for me. because my next challenge is
    MARKETING. it seems to take a lot of time for marketing and paper work and I don’t always feel like I am using my time wisely.
    INTERNET I wish that I had a stronger internet presence to balance my gallery sales.
    Im looking forward to hear from other people with similar situations and how they are handling them! thanks, Amy

  301. I’ve read a few of the comments and must agree with the distraction of too many artistic interests. I am concentrating on oil painting as of the beginning of the year. I only allow myself to work on other projects when I need to let paint dry. I have been researching the habits of successful artists. The common thread is that they all put in a lot of work. I have almost completed my 3rd painting this year. I need to work faster or have more than one painting in progress at a time. My current goal is to submit 2 paintings to a local art exhibit by the end of the month. I am looking forward to learning from your posts. Thanks, Jackie

  302. Through my life I have dabbled in being creative. Always caught up in paying bills and staying one step ahead of catastrophe, this is now a crossroads in my life. Life is an adventure, I don’t have a set goal or grand vision of what should come next but I’m open to doing something different.