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professional artist

Being a professional artist is a challenging but fulfilling career. It requires a deep passion for art, determination, and skills to create high-quality artworks that will appeal to art collectors, galleries, and numerous other clients. In this article, we will dive into what it takes to be a professional artist and the different areas an artist can specialize in.

What is a professional artist?

A professional artist is someone who earns a living by creating art as their primary occupation. Art can be created using various mediums such as painting, drawing, sculpture, digital art and mixed media. It can be sold through different channels such as galleries, exhibitions, auctions, and online platforms.

Professional artists, unlike hobbyists, are continuously developing their skills, techniques, and styles. They are also always looking for opportunities to expand their audience and build an extensive network of clients.

Skills and Qualifications

To become a professional artist, one must possess a certain skillset and education to shape one’s creative abilities. This can be achieved through a degree in fine arts, which offered by many universities and colleges.

Besides formal education, a professional artist should possess several skills, including:

1. Technical skills: A professional artist should have excellent technical skills to produce artwork that is visually appealing, of high quality, and attracts potential clients. This includes having a good understanding of tools, materials, and techniques used to create artworks in the chosen medium.

2. Communication skills: Communication plays a significant role in the success of a professional artist. Communication skills are required when dealing with clients, galleries, and other artists. Good communication can lead to strong relationships and can enhance the artist’s reputation.

3. Marketing skills: To succeed as a professional artist, good marketing skills are essential. The artist must identify their target audience, showcase their artwork, and find unique ways of attracting new clients.

4. Time management skills: Being successful as a professional artist requires a lot of dedication, discipline, and time management skills. These skills are needed to keep up with deadlines, handle multiple projects, and manage the business aspect of the artwork.

Areas of Specialization in Art

Professional artists can decide to specialize in several areas of art, depending on their interests and skills. Here are some popular areas of specialization:

1. Painting: For artists who enjoy working with paint, painting is the perfect specialization. Paintings can be created using a wide range of mediums, including oil, watercolor, acrylics and gouache.

2. Drawing: Drawing is another significant area of specialization for professional artists. It involves creating images on paper or other surfaces using pens, pencils, markers, or charcoal.

3. Sculpture: Sculpture is a specialization that includes creating three-dimensional artwork using various techniques. Sculptures can be produced using stone, wood, metal, or other materials.

4. Photography: Photography is a specialization that deals with capturing images using a camera. From landscapes to portraits, the photographer can specialize in many areas.

5. Digital Art: Digital Art is the discipline of using digital technology to create artwork. It includes graphic design, video production, and animation.

6. Printmaking: Printmaking is a specialization that involves engraving an image on a surface such as a metal plate or woodblock and making multiple prints from the engraving.

How to Make a Living as an Artist

Making a living as an artist is not an easy task. It requires a lot of effort, dedication, and a strategic plan. Here are some tips on how to make a living as an artist:

1. Target a specific audience: Identifying and targeting a specific audience is an effective way to attract potential clients. This includes marketing to galleries, art collectors, interior designers or corporate clients who would be interested in the artist’s work.

2. Building a comprehensive portfolio: A portfolio is a collection of the artist’s best work that showcases their various skills, talents, and capabilities. It should be well-organized and easily accessible to potential clients.

3. Participating in art competitions: Participating in art competitions is a great way for an artist to gain exposure to a larger audience and potentially even win significant awards and cash prizes.

4. Networking: Building a strong network is essential to a successful career in art. This involves attending art events, engage with other artists, galleries and clients.

5. Selling digital/print copies of artwork: In the modern era, there is a growing market for digital and print copies of artwork. While it cannot replace the personal connection and unique nature of original artworks, it can reach a wider audience and provide additional income streams.

6. Offering art classes/workshops: Teaching art classes or workshops can provide artists with an additional income source and an opportunity to share their knowledge and skills.

7. Establishing an online presence: Maintaining a personal website and an active social media presence can help artists reach a broader audience and connect with potential clients.

Challenges Faced by Professional Artists

Being a professional artist is not without its challenges. Some of the common challenges include:

1. Self-doubt and Criticism: Many artists struggle with self-doubt and criticism, which can impede their creativity and lead to burnout. Negative feedback from clients or galleries can be discouraging.

2. Financial concerns: Making a living as an artist can be unpredictable. Sales can often be seasonal or sporadic, and artists may need to manage their finances carefully to maintain a stable income.

3. Limited exposure: Due to the subjective nature of art, it can be challenging for artists to gain exposure and reach a broader audience.

4. Dealing with Rejection: Artists will often face rejection when approaching galleries, exhibiting artwork, and making sales. This can be discouraging and lead to a loss of confidence.

5. Time Management: Balancing the artistic aspect and business aspect of the career, artists face a high demand on their time. This can lead to burnout or neglect of one or the other.


Becoming a professional artist requires dedication, passion, and hard work. While it can be a challenging career, the rewards and fulfillment it provides can make it a worthwhile pursuit. With the right skill set, a strong portfolio, careful planning and consistent marketing, a professional artist can earn a living doing what they love.