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Being a mixed media artist

I wanted to ask you a few questions, if I may, about being a mixed media artist. I'm 43 and looking for an artistic career that can actually bring in some money. I'm in love with all kinds of creating, but I'm just getting started with mixed media. I read on your profile that you are a full-time artist. How do you sell your work?  I'd like to eventually have my own store, do you know other mixed media artists who have their own stores, or is it a smarter idea to start with something on Etsy? Also, what are some good resources where I could network with other artists?

I appreciate your help and am looking forward to combing your website. Thanks!


Hi Cara,
Congratulations on your decision to embark on a new career!  I've actually got dozens and dozens of posts about having an art business, but they are on my other blog, Beading Arts.  Even though many of the posts are geared towards jewelry artists, the information there is sound for anyone thinking about a creative endeavor.  The newest posts are at the bottom: Business Tips

Personally, I have been through the gamut of approaches to earning money from art: I've sold on consignment, through wholesaling, online through my own website and through eBay, but at this point my primary focus is on education rather than sales.  Well, I guess it's sales of a different sort.  Creating and selling projects through different books and magazines, and earning revenue through ad sales has largely replaced selling loose beads or finished jewelry for me.  Same with the mixed media work.  I do sell some prints, but I don't make my pieces for sale anymore...simply as examples that I can use in articles that I write.

There are lots of posts in the Business Tips section about selling through your own website vs a site like etsy, and also lots of posts about networking and building a good support community.  I wish you well in your next steps, and the thing is, as long as you don't sink a lot of money into something that you can't back out of, nothing that you choose will be a mistake.  The art life is about evolving and refining it as you go, and everything you try will teach you something for the next step!

Best ~

Copyright 2012 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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I would add to this that if you read through the blogs of the well-known published mixed media artists you will find that they have alternate sources of income. Teaching is very common, and that is hard work and you need to be at the top of your game. You also seem to have to be innovative and be able to create a new gimmick regularly. Again that is hard work! Some are sponsored by art supplies companies and tour the craft shows, demonstrate and create projects for the company they work for.
There are very few artists of any sort who can make a living at what they do without many long hours of studying and practicing to hone their skills, and most of them these days complain they are spending far too much time on their computers making themselves visible. Being creative is not quite enough; most people are naturally creative although modern society tries to knock that out of our systems at an early age. It requires perseverance, practice, learning, more practice and more learning, and somehow finding the time to also get yourself out there in the public's eye. This can take years, not weeks to get your name known as the competition is fierce. Experience in other media is a bonus and will give you a head start and enable you to experiment independently, but the person who said that it was 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration was not too far off the mark.
You do not have to sell your work to be successful as a mixed media artist; blogs, e-zines, self-published books, Youtube, Facebook, etc, are all very useful tools to get you visible and can lead to other opportunities in the art world if you widen your horizons. Determination will get you there.
Give it a go, but don't rely on it. Fashions in the craft world change very fast and if you want to be a stayer, you need other skills to back you up. All the best!
Cyndi L said…
I couldn't agree more! In fact, I think I'm going to have to repost your comment as a full post so no one misses this!