Artist’s Life after Art School (How to Jump Start Art Career.)

Artist After School 

Let’s admit it. Life outside classroom is tough. We all struggle. One may unconsciously think this simple rule does not apply to themselves for some ridiculous reasons. But, take a look around. You have got to know at least one (more than one, actually) college or MFA graduate who still has hard time building their career in art. Many of my friends with traditional art background find themselves lost and hopeless in pursuing an art career after graduation. Just quoting one of them, “it took literally four years to pick up the brush again.” If you see yourself as a professional artist someday, and want to take the leap in the creative world, what should you do?

  1. Time Management, Are you the Boss?

Everything You Need to Know (And Do) as You Pursue Your Art Career asserts that time management is the most crucial quality to develop for artists. Artists tend to have more flexible working hours and independency over how they want to spend a day.

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey.

The best thing about school is a fixed schedule. There is a set daily routine: you wake up at 8 am, take a quick shower, go to class from let’s say 9 – 4. Then you either work, study at library, attend a weekly club meeting, or do an art project in studio. Following graduation, there is no more of it. You have a complete freedom. However, more control you have of your time, more swayed you are by time, ironically. Well, what can I say? It is a good and bad that comes with the life of artist.

Everything you do is up to you. It means recognizing that you will have more control over your career when you organize yourself- and your time –as if you were running a business.

It’s better to “identify your tendencies early on”. Are you a night owl or early bird? Build your schedule around the most productive and creative time of the day. The chart above shows that there is no definite answer. Writer like Murakami Haruki placed the time for creative work from 4 am all the through noon. Tchaikovsky had two different working hours a day 10 am -12 pm and 5 pm -7 pm. Figure out your behavioral pattern as soon as possible! Try multiple different times. You will know when it is right.


  1. Studio: Home or Separate?

Getting a studio space is a matter of financial status and work tendency. Ask yourself these three questions.

a. Can you focus at home?
b. Can you afford a separate studio?
c. Do you prefer to work lone or with people?

If you can’t afford a separate studio, then there you have it. Home is your studio. There is no need to buy a bunch of stuff to fill a new space. Nor need you to move all your art supplies or other bunch. But, it can only work out best for those who are well-disciplined and have the ability to fight off all the distractions, such as TV, bed, mobile game, etc..

art career and artist studio
Francis Bacon’s Studio.

If money is an issue, yet working at home is the worst idea for you, shared studio is the third option. Be mindful that it leads to the next question: are you your able to work with people? If yes, this will be a fantastic idea!

After graduating college, you lose your daily interactions with peers and even the slightest chance to get run by abrupt inspiration which often comes from random conversations. It is definitely easy to get fallen out of the art world unless going to an exhibition opening is a favorite activity of yours. By sharing a studio space with local artists, you can stay up to the industry even if your art is not shown anywhere yet. To top it off, you can easily make connections with people that matter. When I was interning at a commercial art gallery, I often witnessed artists recommending/introducing their fellow artists to the gallerist or museum curators.


  1. Second Job?

Having a second job is very normal for artists. One may not realize this fact, but they all (almost all) have a day/night job that supports life. Just remember the first thing you need to do after graduation is pay your bills and probably pay off student loans. You must make ends somehow unless financial support is guaranteed from your family. The myth that artist is not serious if they have other professional job is complete nonsense! Sol Lewitt was a museum guard, but still made it as an artist. Richard Serra owned a furniture moving business. Mark Rothko was an elementary school teacher. And we all know Andy Warhol was a graphic designer.

art career andy warhol
Andy Warhol.

Do not fear to admit that you are in need for a money-making job other than making art. I personally have none full-time artist friends: English tutor, art installer, museum educator, restaurant server, gallery manager, commercial photographer, computer engineer and babysitter. Nonetheless, it did not stop them from getting recognized by the world for their brilliant talent.


Lastly, I urge you to kick off your inner critic’s butt!

Since I plan to do a whole writing on this evil called “inner critic” that resides in every artist’s heart, I didn’t include this in the list.

When you struggle most, there is this little voice tattering you: What the heck are you doing? Can you even call yourself an artist? You have no talent.

You know what? It is not odd to feel that way. Everybody felt alienated, incompetent, and self-loathing, jeez. You must keep drawing, painting, carving, clicking, doodling, creating or writing. Just make your work.

Art career and sol lewitt
Sol Lewitt’s Letter to Eva Hesse


BBuzzArt believes in your passion for art, which is why a company like us does exist! To have you connected with the world, people who love art, and help you not to get discouraged by this lonely nature of artist life.


Written by Joomi lee, BBuzzArt Marketing

This article was published for artists and art enthusiasts by BBuzzArt.

BBuzzArt is an art social platform to present new and emerging art and to share simple and sincere feedback. It is open to every artist and art enthusiast around the world.
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