The Downsides of Life as a Fine Artist (and How to Cope)

If you’re like me, you’re a planner. You’re dreaming about making consistent money as a fine artist. Now you’re learning all you can about what it takes to make that your reality, but you just can’t imagine what life as an artist will look like.

Well nothing in life is perfect, and though I am living my dream of being a full-time fine artist, there are some downsides that I wasn’t really prepared for. Here are five of the biggest downsides of the fine artist lifestyle and how I manage them:

#1: The biggest downside of the life artist lifestyle for me has been loneliness.

It's been a long time since I was in school or worked in an office, but, even as an introvert, I really do miss the consistent social contact with a larger group of people. I currently work in a studio in my backyard, so the only people I’m guaranteed to see on any given day are my family members.

The way I deal with loneliness is to get some regularly scheduled social contact in my calendar. I have a weekly lunch date with a friend who also works on her own. I take a group exercise class 2-4 times a week, and I have another friend I walk my dog with 2-3 times a week. I think the key here is to find a few recurring activities that happen every week so that you don’t have to always be looking to schedule social time. Especially if you're an introvert, the extra effort of planning a social activity can be enough to keep you from doing it. Having these events in my calendar every week has been really great. I should also mention that I have worked out of a community studio in the past and felt much less isolated and may decide to do that again in the future.

#2: People think your job is cute and that you must have someone else supporting you financially. In my case, my husband.

This might seem like a little thing, but it is really frustrating. I’ve worked out a few things to help prevent my annoyance. First, when asked what I do, I always say that I’m a professional fine artist. I think that helps clear up the misconception that its a hobby and not a career. Second, I’m not particularly shy about talking about money. If someone makes a comment that implies they don’t think you can make a good living as an artist, I’ll let them know I make more money now than I ever did as a graphic designer, and I also help other artists do the same.

#3: Not having like-minded peers to bounce ideas off of or commiserate with if you're having a bad day.

OK. So this drawback is sort of like loneliness, but I wanted to call it out separately because the solutions are different. The artist life is pretty unique, and if you try to talk to family or friends about things like feeling stuck in a painting, or not getting any traction on Instagram, they’re probably not going to be able to empathize. To get around this, I have two solutions.

First, at any given time I’m usually a part of an online artist group. Whether that’s an organized class, mastermind, or just through social media, I’ve learned to find my artist community online. It's not as good as in-person, but it really helps. And sometimes you actually get to meet your online artist friends in-person and that is pretty amazing. The other thing I do is listen to artist podcasts while I’m working in the studio. Just hearing them chat about their process or their struggles is like having a friend in the room.

#4: My hobby is now my job that I am always working.

This is a real struggle for me because I literally can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing than paint or work on my business. But I also know that if I don’t take breaks that it will lead to burnout. To try to keep myself sane, I regularly schedule breaks both in my day and in my life. I try to get out in nature at least once a week. I get my exercise. I try to schedule some time away from my computer and the studio just to rest or travel or visit friends. I always say yes to my family if someone wants to engage. But sometimes I just give myself freedom to go back in the studio if that’s what I really want to do.

#5: There is really no roadmap to success.

This particular fact is part of the reason I started my group coaching program, Palette to Profit. It’s not always easy to know what to do next, where to focus your energy, how to best spend your precious time. There’s no boss, no real deadlines, no one to suggest improvements or bounce ideas off of. The way I’ve dealt with this is to find mentors and consume tons of educational content.

A big part of this job is figuring out how to do the job, so I’ve always been a huge believer in finding mentors to help me get to where I want to go. If you’re just getting started, there’s a lot of free content out there (though not all of it is great). But it is nevertheless a good place to start. And then when you’re ready to take your art career seriously, I suggest you find someone who is doing what you want to do and see if they can help you get there.

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All right, friends. I hope you this breakdown has provided you with some helpful insight of the cons of the artists lifestyle. Despite these cons, I continue to perfect my craft and I wish the same for you.

All my best,

Jennifer


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