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How to turn your art into a full-time career in 2021

With lockdown part 2 officially in session, there’s no time like the present to get in on the gig economy. Aspiring artists, are you ready to become your own boss?

The time is nigh for those looking to make a buck in the creative industry.

Social distancing regulations imposed by Covid-19 have well and truly ushered in a burgeoning DIY culture. Economic fallout spurred by the pandemic has shaken up entire industries, and the concept of job security is becoming less tangible as the months trickle by. Feeling good?

For the aspiring artists among us, lockdown has been something of a double edged sword. More time than ever has been freed up to hone one’s craft, but the conventional route (if there really is one) of advancing through a specialist college into a lucrative career is largely out the window.

With such massive tuition fees, and arguably no worse time to dip into your savings, going it alone and delving into the gig economy is proving a good course of action to make money in the industry. If you’re interested in joining the party, here are some simple steps you can take right now to boost your chances of landing that big break – or just the odd commission.

Get on Instagram

It may sound painfully obvious, but if you aren’t already sharing your work on Instagram, you definitely should be.

Insta is to artists what Spotify is to musicians, and devoting an account to your work is a no brainer. Far and away the most popular visual-based platform out there, it’s the place to get discovered by brands and build out your artsy network.

First up, start to populate your account and develop a knack for standing out on the platform. Upload a handful of tiles, and really focus on the copy. Try to encapsulate what inspired your work and build something of a story around it – insight into your medium and methods will also add great value for fellow artists and commercial prospects.

To ensure that your work is being seen by relevant people in the first place, you’ll need to start being hot on related hashtags. Start to bank 10 ‘industry specific’ hashtags, and 10 ‘general’ which will likely vary depending on what’s trendy on Insta Insights – maybe save them in notes on your phone – and use them regularly when posting. While you’re getting a handle on this, frequently comment on related posts in the discover page and attempt to start a dialogue with fellow creatives.

With 500 million people on stories and IGTV every day, it’s worth chucking up a few ‘behind the scenes’ type snippets too… though perhaps go a little more nuanced with your theme.

Facebook Groups and forums

Granted, Facebook is a little like boomerville these days and organic reach is tricky to come by without opening your wallet, but Facebook Groups is still a valuable resource for networking. Do not stoop to Chat Roulette.

If you’re looking to join communities of likeminded people who can possibly connect dots in a professional sense or even just appreciate and share your stuff, this is the place to go.

As a current member of 5 private groups I forgot even existed, it has to be said that some groups are completely dead in terms of engagement. However, when it comes to art, there are tons of groups that receive hundreds of daily contributions still and are a great place to improve visibility.

On that front, forum sites like Reddit can be goldmines in getting your work seen by those you want to see it. A quick peruse now, and you’ll find bustling subreddits related to everything; from your methodology, your medium, your concept, your subject, your brush stroke – everything. Get involved in conversations, share your work, and maybe bounce people to your online portfolio.

Create your own site and email

You wouldn’t approach an employer without knocking up a CV first, so if you’re serious about hustling your hobby into a business, you should definitely get working on a website to profile yourself.

The good news is, with accessible (and free) site builders like WiX, Squarespace, and Site123, gone are the days where private businesses have to outsource coders on LinkedIn or Indeed. Now, putting together a professional quality website is as simple as choosing pre-made designs, uploading your assets, and organising with drag and drop mechanics.

It can be a time consuming process to make the most of, but once you’re done, you can instantly bounce employers or potential customers to your resume from anywhere with one link.

If you want to go for brownie points, picking up an original watermark for a small fee and a G suite email would be a big bonus in legitimising your business, and just may be the decisive factor in clinching a commission.


Dedicated art platforms

Once your own site is up and running, the next logical step is to take to dedicated art platforms like Pintrest, Dayflash, ArtStation, Dribble, Deviant Art, and The Dots, and to cultivate a presence on some (or all) of them.

Whether you’re pushing graphic designs for marketing purposes, or are just sharing your personal sketch book illustrations, your signature style will find a home within these networks. In terms of engendering a sense of community and inclusivity, these spaces are great, and you’ll find that enthusiastic peers will be keen to check out your website before long.

It’s become common knowledge on platforms like Dribble that corporates are often trawling through threads looking for talent to partner with too, so it’s worth putting yourself in the shop window.

Competitions and briefs

Finally – and this may seem a bit of a longshot – but why not get involved in designing competitions?

Huge brands think it’s trendy to give aspiring artists a shot at the big time, and someone will go from amateur to professional overnight. Make sure your name is in the hat when that time comes.

If you’re ill at ease with leaving things up to chance, you can head directly to agencies offering up creative briefs to be filled. Take Talent house for instance, is sourcing everything from art designs for the marketing of household products, to augmented reality digital filters for Dua Lipa’s chart topping tracks.

Whatever your niche, get browsing, making some submissions, and possibly earning some cash.

Truthfully, there is no bonafide way of securing a lucrative career in the arts, and going it alone you’ll have no one to hold your hand. But, by quickly acclimating yourself with the new landscape imposed by Covid-19, you may find that you’re slightly ahead of the competition.

Learn, adapt, and become your own mentor.

Alternatively, we’re always happy to give you a helpful nudge in the right direction. Hit us up on socials.