Monday, October 12

Three Rules for Artists to Live By

Today’s Image
On the Deck
Watercolor on Paper
Copyright 2009

Have you admitted, or come to terms with yourself, that you actually are an artist? While this may seem to be an absolutely absurd question to you, please bear with me.

May I see a show of hands if, in fact, you are already a professional artist? By professional artist, I mean you make your living solely and entirely from the creation, production, and/or sale of your artwork.

Now, may I see those hands again?

Even if you are not a “professional” artist, the point I’m making is that it is perfectly OK to say, “I am an artist.” Making that verbal statement will help you put the importance of your art in the proper perspective relative to other parts of your life.

If you do have a day-job, admitting that you are an artist will help you move toward the goal of one day, perhaps, becoming a full-time artist, if that is something you want to pursue.

If you haven’t yet or for some reason are unable to say, “I am an artist,” then you may want to step back just a bit and consider, or re-consider, in what direction you are headed as an artist.

Let me be so bold as to suggest three rules for artists (or they should be rules anyway) to live by:


While this may sound like an oxymoron, if you don’t have much, or any, contact with other artists, you should do something to correct that. You should find organizations or classes or informal gatherings of artists. Being in the presence of other artists will validate your own status as an artist. It’s also a learning and sharing process on creating art. It will help “ground” you as an artist.

(There is, of course, nothing quite as interesting as a room full of artists, or even a handful. gathered together. Be that as it may.)


In my fourth OrbisPlanis art blog, I mentioned how important encouragement is. It is still just as important, and almost every artist needs it. Artists, for some unknown reason, seem to need it more than most. I think it has something to do with the creative process being a fragile thing that can overwhelm even the most egotistical artist.

Even if you have to brow-beat your family and/or acquaintances to encourage you, do it!


“You should be confident; your artwork is beautiful (or interesting, awesome, etc.).” It's true, but for many artists confidence is a fleeting or non-existent thing. It’s difficult to grasp and hold on to, I think, because artists set themselves up for criticism by the very act of showing their work.

How do you gain confidence? Perseverance—try, try, and try again!

Now what? Well, you should internalize these three rules, and you will achieve a level of success, which will motivate you to keep going.

Today’s Image is a watercolor of mine, which recently won an award at a local watercolor show. It didn’t win 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd, but it was recognized. And that’s the point, if I can do it, so can you!

"I am an artist."



  1. Another great post, Byrne! You make an excellent point, and it's surprising how difficult it can be to say the words, "I'm an artist." Whenever I meet new people and tell them what I do, I talk about my day job. I always seem to forget the art part!

  2. There was a big difference in how I felt between saying art is a hobby, or I'm giving art a shot, and stepping out and saying to the world "I am an artist". It is scary because it is putting myself out there. Now I am accountable. But once you do say those words, it feels wonderful.

  3. I really appreciate your comments and encouragement to all artists!

  4. "While this may seem to be an absolutely absurd question..."

    Not. At. All.

    Becoming comfortable with responding to the question "what do you do?" by saying, "I'm an artist," is the hardest thing I've had to train myself for.

    It's finally "sticking" though, as the other day I met someone whose first question was, "you're an artist, right?"

    I beamed and answered, "Yes. Yes I am."

  5. Thanks enXer--and after a while, it sounds very natural to say--you go!