How to Get Your Big Break as an Artist
We all dream for the big break and this post is how to make it happen! A big collector happens to see your work and buys the entire series. A patron of the arts believes in you and wants to fund a year of studio work and creative study. A gallery in New York wants to feature you in a big solo show.
Alright, let’s start getting real. These types of big breaks do happen, but we can’t expect those events and opportunities to just fall into our lap. You need to set yourself up for success. These “big breaks” or moments of “luck” do not come without lots of hard work behind us. Putting in studio work to make art, spending time writing proposals, and spending money to document the images are all steps you can make to execute your best creative effort. These steps help you increase your “luck” and ability to get accepted, funded, published, printed, promoted, and sold. They also help prepare you so when those moments do happen, you are ready for the next level of focus and work that the new opportunity may bring.
So instead of a list of ways to make your big break happen, this list compiles ways to help you set yourself up for success.
Goals: To begin setting your career up for these “big break” style opportunities, set challenging but realistic goals. Keep in mind what career stage you are in when writing goals. If you are an emerging artist, focus on building your portfolio of work or getting your art on a website. If you are a mid-career artist, focus on building your merchandise, building a brand, or getting a grant proposal funded.
Strengthen Your Weaknesses: Once you have spent time setting goals, evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Determine what areas you need to immediately work on. This doesn’t mean we all need to perfect every aspect of our business. We can’t all be good at everything. Identify what you can improve on, and make a plan to execute. Then, identify what you need help with. Hire consultants, designers, and contractors who can help you in areas you are less skilled in. Think about hiring help with website design, social networking, or documenting your work. Having a professional take over the “weak” areas of your business will strengthen your brand without the extra headache.
Mentorships and Apprenticeships: Ask for help along the way. Find yourself a mentor to work with who can guide your career trajectory. They can ask the right questions, push the correct pressure points, and help prepare you in the best way for your future established career. Don’t forget to consider an apprenticeship if you want to focus on the quality of the work and learn a specialized craft, technique, or skill.
Enjoy the Ride: Your career with a twist, turn, speed up and slow down. Be open and flexible and when you least expect it, big breaks will happen. Be thankful when these opportunities show up, and chalk it up to your work rather than pure luck.