10 things that should be taught in art school

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For artists and creatives with formal training, you might feel like you have everything you need to “go ahead and create.” But at the end of the day, there are a few real-world skills that artists need — and they don’t teach them in art school or college.

Becoming an artist requires dedication to developing these somewhat obscure skills, just as much as developing your creative skills. To help my fellow artists — so we can enjoy more art in the world — here are 10 skills they don’t teach in art school (but should).

1. How to start a business as an artist

We can be taught to create our best work in a specific medium in school or through formal art training. But when it comes to building a business out of your art? It’s not something many of us learn or even think about possible.

However, building a successful business with your art is achievable. We, as artists and creators, need to know how to sell our art and ourselves. People buy the artist as much as the art, so creating a cohesive story, presence, and image can help build a strong foundation for your art business.

Related: How Art Helped Me Find a Different Perspective on Business (and Life)

2. How to Navigate Hesitation and Doubt

Who are we to create art? Who are we to try to make a living from our work, when so many other artists are struggling to get by? The long-standing societal myth of the “starving artist” prevents many amazing creatives from pursuing their skills, let alone building a business or a source of income. Our work goes beyond it.

3. How to change your mindset

As mentioned above, part of an artist’s job is to address mindset challenges and deeply examine where they come from. We need to address our social influences, our upbringings, our histories and our relationship with money.

We must also learn to personify resistance and give a name to our fears. Elizabeth Gilbert often talks about how fear never goes away, but there’s something we can do to deal with it: ask it to take a step back.

4. The power of visualization

As artists, we have the ability to bring outside what we see and make it tangible. We can basically visualize what we want to see in the world – and that’s a superpower. Visualization is a tool you can use to create art, grow a business, and even create the life you really want.

It’s not just an artist’s superstition either. This is rooted in scientific fact. What does this mean for artists? There is evidence that visualization works. It’s not an intangible artistic concept – we can leverage this skill to help us create our art and achieve success in both business and life.

5. How to Create Multiple Income Streams

As a painter myself, I have created several sources of income by selling my paintings:

  • In art galleries (sale of the physical canvas, sale of art in store, etc.)

  • Via digital prints (selling hard copies of my original paintings)

  • Through licensing agreements (allowing companies to source my original artwork for printing, design, etc.)

  • Create, learn how to create and sell NFTs (non-fungible tokens)

I’ve also created courses and programs to help artists like you perfect their craft. and establish a thriving art business. Other artists have:

  • Teach their specific medium to other artists through classes, workshops, etc.

  • Goods sold

  • Work commissioned from bidders and clients

Related: How to Build and Maintain a Successful Art Career

6. How to manage finances

As artists, we have to look at our finances. Sometimes you have to be a little awkward. We also need to know the basics – i.e. what a P&L (Profit & Loss Statement) is, where our income comes from, what expenses we have, what our cash flow looks like, our future income, etc. It’s important to know what you spend versus what you bring in and how your art sells.

7. How to Create Honest Art

To be a successful artist, you must adopt what is called “honest art”. It’s art that’s true to you, your skills, and what you want to bring to life. The most powerful and impactful art is art only you Can create. For those of you who struggle to create “honest art”, try doing some sort of cleanup. Do not look at other people’s photographs or paintings if you are a photographer or painter. Don’t compare your art to someone else’s. Delete these entries and create whatever comes to mind. You will surprise yourself.

8. The Value of Community

The community helps us get inspired and stay connected, and it also gives us the unprecedented ability to create our own space with our art. Not only can you showcase your art in more places, but you can make real connections with people who could potentially buy your art (or share it with others).

If you want to support yourself through your art – financially, artistically, spiritually, interpersonally, socially – put community building at the top of your list.

9. Marketing Basics

Want to make a living selling your art? Want to share your work with more people? Next, you will need to understand the basics of marketing. As artists, we can take inspiration from other artists and some of the biggest brands to see how they market their creations. The basics are there for us to learn vicariously.

Related: 10 Things The Artist And The Entrepreneur Have In Common

10. When to ask for help

If we spend all of our time on tasks that take us away from creating our best art, we’re not doing what’s most important to us (and the world, if I’m honest about it). And if we don’t have time to make art, we can’t honestly create, market well, or build community. These are all the cornerstones of a successful art business.

So let me ask you this: is it better to spend your time uploading images to your site or creating art to sell on your site? Should you care about which caption to post on Instagram or should you bond in your community? Do you need to focus your energy on learning everything you can about marketing, or is your energy better spent in your studio?

You can’t do it all, and you certainly can’t do it all alone. Like making honest art, don’t overthink it.

Kayleen C. Rice