"My Real Job is Being an Artist"
How to Produce a Body of Signature Art & Build the Foundation of an Art Business
Why buy this book when you could buy more art materials instead?
I LOVE buying art materials, so I know this is a hard choice.
But what if you could learn more about how to use those materials to make more art so you could make more money to buy more art materials? Just sayin …
Over all the rewarding years of coaching entrepreneurs and working with visual artists, I’ve gained many solid insights while helping them build professional art businesses that last. In this book, I share those with you.
I’ve also been privy to the major stumbling blocks that many artists encounter while on the path to a professional career. In "My Real Job is Being an Artist" I give you ways to go over, under or around what could otherwise trip you up.
Artists frequently ask me questions like:
- “How exactly do I create a signature body of work, and how will I know when I have one?”
- “How much art do I need to make before I can show it?”
- “How do I keep up with both creating art and running a business?”
- “If I am not yet selling any art do I really have to set up my business officially?
These are all valid questions, and the artists who ask them are smart to do so. Consider the answers in this book the “prequel” to art marketing. (If you want more marketing help, you’ll find plenty of that here on this website.)
How is this book different from all the advice already out there?
While there are many fine blogs, books and programs available that discuss art marketing, what’s missing is a more robust treatment of what comes before art marketing.
My motivation in creating this guide for you was to fill in that very important blank.
Whether you’re a “Sunday painter” or already have an art business, "My Real Job is Being an Artist" will help you identify the mindset, skills and resources you already have, as well as those you need to develop in order to navigate a professional art career.
- You’ll gain tools to create or further develop your own “signature style,” which will make your art more memorable and more marketable.
- You’ll have a framework to build up your level of art production, so you can keep inventory levels high as demand for your work grows.
- You’ll understand exactly what to expect as you enter and move through each of the various career stages of being a professional artist.
- And while it’s not the sexiest part of being an artist, you’ll also learn how to set up and manage your art business — from record keeping and inventory systems, to tax and liability issues. (Oh the joy of deducting expenses!)
Who this book is for
If you have not yet started your art career, this book will help you decide if/when to quit your day job (or switch to part-time) and what to do to become a working artist.
If you have already made forays into the art world, you may want to keep your other job or find an extra source of support until your art income matches your needs. This book will help you take stock of what's working and what you could improve.
The contents of this book are based on real world experiences – my own and the thousands of artists I’ve had the pleasure and good fortune to know through my role as artist advisor.
I consistently hear good news from my clients about their accomplishments, from completing their first body of work, to being interviewed for an international art magazine, to having their work selected for a national gallery. That’s what I want for you — to build and celebrate a successful, satisfying and financially sustainable art career.
Now it’s your turn to take this same timeless business information and make your art the jewel in the crown of your creative life.
Bottom-line, there’s no drivel here — just friendly, focused information.
Whether or not you have other income, you can still be the “real artist” you are. (Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not!)
(Again, this book is not about art marketing and sales.)
This book is about the steps before you get into the art market – all you need to know about making art that is marketable and saleable.
“My Real Job is Being an Artist” is an indispensable reference book about the art business and how to prepare for success as a fine artist. Author Aletta de Wal, who is both an artist and art business coach, provides a fresh look at exactly what an artist needs to do to become self-supporting. Aletta draws upon more than twenty years of relevant experience to explain how she and other successful artist clients have achieved their goals.
For artists who are not sure where or how they fit into the art world, this book provides detailed information on exactly what to do to break into the next stage of their career. Chapters on how to plan your time, visualize goals, and monitor progress are especially pertinent.
Readers will appreciate Aletta de Wal’s practical advice on how to make the most of their limited time, energy and resources to land that perfect day job… as an artist!”
Owner of DanielakArt – Art Sales & Consulting Services
Author of “A Gallery without Walls: Selling Art in Alternative Venues”
What will you learn?
Section 1: The Career Path of a Visual Artist
You’ll learn what it will take to move from being a hobbyist to being an amateur, or move from amateur artist to professional artist.
Next, you will understand how to transition through the three stages of a professional artist’s visual art career: from emerging artist, to mid-career, and finally to established artist.
Section 2: The Work of a Visual Artist
Contrary to the myth that artists are only “right-brain” thinkers, it’s not at all unnatural for artists to be business-oriented.
You’ll learn the methods I’ve learned, modified, or developed to help artists plan to succeed. Naturally, this includes how to accomplish your Number One priority as an artist — how to improve and increase your art production.
You’ll apply time-proven ideas and exercises that will help you create a “signature” style and distinguish your own works of art in a crowded field of visual artists. You’ll also learn what to do to continually assess and develop your unique signature throughout your career.
Section 3: The Basics of an Art Business
Many artists have a paralyzing fear that there are a zillion things to know, and a gazillion ways to get into trouble if they don’t get everything about the business side of art exactly right.
But the truth is simpler than that: you can rest easier once you learn how to take care of the “bare bones” of your business.
You’ll get all the basic bricks to give you a foundation on which to conduct your art business properly while avoiding many common legal or tax problems.
Award winning author Lee Silber recommends “My Real Job is Being an Artist”
"Even if you only read the third section this book, 'The Basics of an Art Business,' you would be well on your way to a successful career in the arts. But wait, there are two other outstanding sections filled with everything you need to know to grow your business and build your career. This is a must read if you are serious about your success."
Award-winning author of the Business Books For Artists series
Founder of Creative-Lee Speaking
Artists at all career stages recommend “My Real Job is Being an Artist”
“Though I’ve been a professional artist now for almost two decades I found this book to be a compelling read and one I wished I had when I was starting out. Aletta de Wal details practical advice and organizes it in such a way that you would want to keep this book out on your desk for quick reference.
What I enjoyed most is that the advice is spot on, well researched and cuts through all the 'what if' scenarios to 'what works.'
Even as an established artist, I found myself taking notes in order to look at some of my perspectives in a different way. I can say without a doubt there isn’t an artist on any level in their career that wouldn’t find this book an absolute necessity. ‘My Real Job is Being an Artist’ is a roadmap to a profitable and fulfilling art career.”
~Eric Armusik, painter
“Aletta de Wal has been committed to the success of international artists for more than two decades. As a Coach, Mentor, Entrepreneur, Artist and Muse, Aletta continues to support the art and creative world with great humour and empathy. With this book, she continues to prove this commitment.
I know that my own commitment to my craft is not always consistent — Aletta encourages me to take up the challenge and to continue to 'make art.' As an entrepreneur, I now have the tools to not panic about the mechanics of the business.”
~Susan Birkenshaw, photographer
“If you are or want to be a visual or performing artist, organization and linear thinking — business thinking — is usually elusive at best.
Aletta de Wal with her summaries, lists, questions and charts draws a road map for your individual growth and success from wherever you are in your quest — beginner, mid-career or even successful professional — to your dreams. It's like broccoli with chocolate sauce — easy to swallow and good for you, too.”
~Connie Bransilver, wildlife photographer
“I’ve stated for many years that there isn’t a manual on how to be an artist, as if it were a badge of courage inherited by choosing this career path. After reading the detailed information compiled by Aletta de Wal I’m happy to say that statement is no longer true. ‘My Real Job is Being an Artist’ is the solid, no-nonsense advice I always wished I had. Finally a manual that demystifies how to start, build and continue a career as an artist.
‘My Real Job is Being an Artist’ lays out, in easily understandable terms, how to approach your career as an artist. This book is not only relevant to the emerging artist, but to the mid-career artist, and the established artist as well. More importantly Aletta helps you identify what career stage you’re currently in and the steps you should take to advance your career.”
~Peter Bragino, painter
“‘My Real Job is Being an Artist’ is the book I wish I’d had years ago! In fact, it should be required reading for every B.F.A. program in the country! Chock full of art world savvy, artists’ real experiences, step-by-step actions and incredibly well thought-through lists, I can only look back on how many false leads I could have sidestepped had Aletta de Wal’s book been at hand along the way!
Having read many books to improve my art career, I can honestly say this is the book I wish I had found from the beginning. ‘My Real Job is Being an Artist’ is a definitive bible for artists at any level of their careers and creative paths.
In a practical and nurturing voice, Aletta guides you through a journey where you discover where you really are as an artist, where you need to be and the steps you must take to get there. It is not a book just to be read, but also a reference tool to keep going back to in your creative growth.”
~Frank de Las Mercedes, mixed media
“Art business authority and marketing coach Aletta de Wal shows us how the right self-knowledge coupled with true art-world business savvy can equip any determined artist to step it up, moving from wherever you currently find yourself toward the deeper satisfactions of both creative and financial professional success.
Aletta takes the clueless and wandering among us and leads us through her remarkable thought processes, equipping us with a full backpack of perfect tools and the confidence to hike toward our own creative and financial mountaintops.
With deep empathy for the daily practical challenges every artist faces, Aletta guides us to the self-knowledge and practical business wisdom we must possess to fully reap the financial rewards we deserve to experience in this lifetime! Chapter by chapter, Aletta shows us the way with assurance and warmth.”
~Huguette Despault May, MFA, drawings
“‘My Real Job is Being an Artist’ is relevant to all artists seeking to earn recognition and income through their unique forms of expression. Aletta de Wal has successfully ‘peeled the onion’ of life as a working artist in the 21st century.
This book is the perfect read for those new to the business of art, to learn, in bite-sized chunks, the steps to take. If you are already immersed in the art world, this book will take you deeper. The contents got me all jazzed up to recommit to the on-going personal development necessary for continued success as a professional artist.”
~Patrice Federspiel, watercolor artist
“In ‘My Real Job is Being an Artist’ Aletta de Wal provides a comprehensive guidebook for life as a professional artist. Aletta provides the real stuff — not fluff — of what it takes in terms of work ethic and habits, signature style artwork, nuts and bolts of business and what to expect during different stages of your art career.
Aletta may not always tell you what you want to hear, but she gives you the straight story on what you need to hear to successfully develop and manage your career as a fine artist. As a full time artist for the past ten years and business executive for twenty years prior to that, I have read many art business books and this one by far is the most practical and realistic in terms of what it actually take to succeed.”
~Pat Fiorello, painter
“Highly recommended! Aletta de Wal lays out the practical realities of making a living from making art with clarity, detail, and a dash of inspiration.
This book is a must-read for anyone contemplating or struggling with a career as a visual artist. Whether you’re an art student, an experienced artist already selling, or someone who hopes to turn their talent into a business, it’s all here.
From a frank assessment of where you are now, to tips on developing a signature style, to advice on starting and running a business, this book is filled with useful and practical information.”
~Jennifer Mason, painter
“Perseverance means that your essential identity is that of being an artist. Nothing changes that; no life circumstances, no economic lows, no outside criticism, nothing.
If you have to work a regular job five days a week, then you paint inside your head during those five days.
Life changes all the time, pendulums swing. Things are good, then they slow down, the situation becomes disappointing, and then one day something shifts and whole new worlds of opportunity open up.
If you are truly an artist you never give up. You don’t listen to those outside voices that say to quit — ever. You only listen to your muse — your inner voice. You create and grow no matter what."
~Alexandria Levin, painter