Top 4 Skills for Aspiring Artists to Enhance Your Versatility

Hannah Whittenly Career Advice, Getting Started, Visual Arts

The starving artist. It’s as cliché, and so is the “crazy artist” (think Van Gogh and that missing ear). None of these myths need to be the truth about working artists. The fact is that artists can and do make a living with their artistic skills. This is because many of them don’t just think in terms of pencils and paints, but also use digital tools too and have a knack for marketing their creations.

Here are four skills that artists can acquire to help themselves become more versatile and profitable.

1. Multimedia Skills

Many marketing and promotions companies use multimedia skills like video production, animation, and web design to create their promos. And some of the most common commercial jobs that artists get are in multimedia in some capacity. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for these jobs will grow by 6% by 2024. Many of these jobs will be in the mobile app and video game production areas.

2. Screen Printing

Many art majors will find their first jobs in screen printing shops in their area. These shops print logos, funny sayings, and other matter on T-shirts, hats, aprons, and the like. The pay’s not bad, either as the average screen printer makes over $12.00 an hour—which is great for earning money on the side along with whatever other type of art that you do. That being the case, it’ll definitely be worth your while to take a screen printing class or two. Many of these shops allow you to work while you go to school, which gives you some valuable experience plus a paycheck.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in learning about, then you might want to start doing so from your own home. Grab some materials and start practicing different techniques. Sure, it’s more traditional to do t-shirts and banners. However, don’t hesitate to try your developing screen printing skills on other objects as well.

3. Digital Marketing Skills

This skill goes hand-in-hand with being a multimedia artist. Here’s what we mean. Fine artists, who’d like to develop careers in disciplines like portrait painting or illustration, need to have marketing skills in order to get freelance jobs and repeat buyers of their art.

The problem is that these artists need digital skills to create promo pieces to market their work. They also need marketing and business skills. Most fine artists do not think of themselves as a business person, but they should. Art is art, but it’s also a business. Knowing how to promote yourself means that you can make money as an artist. You’ll learn how to connect with people who will want to buy your wares.

4. Book-Making Skills

The adult coloring book market has exploded in part due to the popularity of Johanna Basford’s books. This UK artist has sold millions of coloring books for adults, spawning a new market for artists. With the advent of Amazon’s self-publishing branch, Create Space, artists and writers are empowered to self-publish their books.

In this respect, when artists create coloring books, they are combining their marketing and design skills with Amazon’s platform. It’s an excellent way to make extra money as an artist while leveraging Amazon’s distribution capabilities. As a side note, the savvy artist who develops a coloring book following can then parlay that audience into other business ventures, including creating a line of screen-printed items, featuring their own work. This, in turn, means more money for the savvy, business-oriented artist.

Having the right skill sets can mean the difference between an artist getting a job or not. The acquisition of the previous four skills can exponentially increase an artist’s likelihood of making money as an artist. Learning how to do any one of these things can help. However, it is the artist who combines one or more of them who wins in the career game in the end.

Author Hannah Whittenly recommends Schilling Graphics for all your screen printing needs.

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Hannah Whittenly

Hannah Whittenly

Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.
Hannah Whittenly

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