Want to Become a Successful Artist?

We asked the ACE Club artists what tips they could share to empower and inspire those trying to make a career as a professional artist. Read on for advice and inspiration for aspiring artists from the differing perspectives of ten of the ACE Club artists.

For a while now we have been meeting and interacting with ACE Club art aficionados at our live events, art fairs and on social media. Interestingly, we've discovered that many of ACE Club's followers and fans are artists or aspiring artists in their own right. 

In recent Artist Q&A's, aired on IGTV, ACE Club artists Ben Allen, Patrick Morales-Lee and Joe Webb all gave really useful tips and advice to those trying to make a living as an artist. We have had such a great response to these Q&A's that we decided to ask more of the ACE artists what tips and inspiration they could share to empower and inspire those wishing to make a career as an artist.  We got some really interesting responses.

Alexandra Gallagher  “I think my top tips would be to work very hard, have a thick skin and a sense of humour.  Have some humility and don’t be over pretentious.  Never stop learning and don’t be put off with the way things are “supposed” to be in the art world - if you want to do something then do it.  Art is subjective, your voice will always speak to someone and don’t ever give up".

Ben Allen  “Absorb all the different things you are interested in creatively. Research other artists. Go to galleries and exhibitions. If you are interested in graffiti go and look at as many walls as you can, and take pictures.  

Build up your own mental and physical scrapbook. Start a wall of inspiration which you can update as your interest develops.

Look at different techniques. Take courses or classes. Magazines and art books can also be a good source of inspiration. 

Use Online Resources. There is a lot of stuff online. I have looked online for tips on different techniques, for all sorts. There are tutorials for spray painting and stencil making. Yeah just basically have a go.

For me, computers and Photoshop were always beneficial, so if you have already got experience with those, it can be really helpful. If not, and you have the means and you can get Photoshop - just experiment with it. Don’t be afraid - that’s what I did. I had no formal training - I taught myself Photoshop, and if I didn’t know something, I either asked someone else or played with it until I figured it out.  Now that you can look online, there are tutorials for everything. 

Instagram is massive now, there is so much to look at on there - visual things that other artists are putting out there.

Think about colours.

Be true to yourself. Don’t paint what you think others might want to see or buy.  Focus on expressing and creating what it is you feel you want to create”.

Adam Bridgland  “Have a thick skin, learn to accept the word no and keep trying!"

Lucy Bryant (Haus of Lucy)  “Accept you may not be able to make a living from your art, particularly at the start. We all need to pay the rent, right? So be prepared to have a day job which you can then consider an investment in yourself.

Try to have faith and self-belief in what you are doing. Art is so subjective, not everyone will ‘get’ it, but as long as you’re doing what you love that is the important thing.

Approach galleries for representation. I got involved with Ace Club by turning up to their second exhibition and showing pictures of my work to Heath and Anthony. By the time they had their third exhibition, I was part of Ace Club which is all I wanted!

Try not to take rejection personally. Artists get many knock backs but you must be able to pick yourself up and carry on as you were. Someone else will love your work!”

Dave Buonaguidi (Real Hackney Dave)  “Work out what your ‘thang’ is.  Constantly try to improve technically.  Treat it as a profession and work hard, it’s your job.  Tell your story and keep going, even when it’s tough.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has a good one - Early to bed. Early to rise. Work hard. Advertise”.

Sara Pope  “I’m going to swipe Grayson Perry’s tip…’ Just stay on the bus’  meaning just keep on keeping on, there’ bound to be times when you doubt everything you’re doing, but that’s just something you have to go through, alongside the times that you feel good about it.  The further you progress the more you learn about what you’re doing and why and where you want to go with it".

Heath Kane  “People often ask where I get my inspiration. Do I find inspiration from others?

It’s easy to be blindsided by other artists work that you admire. The best thing is to follow your instincts and/or intuition. We all have original thoughts, we just need time for it to appear clearly in our minds. Inspiration is all around us, we just need to keep our eyes wide open to see it”.

Patrick Morales-Lee  “Based on my experience and my journey it comes down to just a couple of things -

Really hard work. Put the time and the effort in. I found the best way is to treat your practice like a job. 

You have got to try to disconnect some times. When I was in my 20’s I was quite close to my work and it didn’t go anywhere. I was quite emotional. Since I’ve come back a bit fresh and started drawing (in the last 4-5 years) I can disconnect from it and just try to produce and produce work. 

Don’t get too caught up. Send your work out there - a lot of people get nervous about sending work out. There is a lot of rejection in this career choice, so for every great thing that has happened to me in the last few years, I've probably had 5 times as many rejections.

You have got to be quite strong-willed to believe in your work. Once you have got to a point where you have got the work where you want it, where you are communicating something important to you - where you have got it visually, from an aesthetic point of view. When you generally believe you are ready to make that next step it is about getting that work out there as much as possible, so you have got to network, go to shows, galleries, try and meet people.  Message people on Instagram. Try and connect. Expand your world. Your art world out there. That’s important.

A great resource is The Artists Information Company or the website. If you sign up, there are listings of all the competitions - there are over 100 things you can enter each year. There are things like residencies, where you can do open commercial jobs, murals and such, and so there are so many opportunities out there, it really is about getting yourself out there too.

You can put your own shows on, which I have done myself. You can try and find places to exhibit. Local Town Hall’s, shops and the like.

My main tip though is to treat it like a job. Get your head down. I work evenings quite a lot. I’m in my studio 9-5 or 9-midnight sometimes to get work done. Keep pushing the work, keep believing in it. Just don’t give up. If you don’t give up you won’t fail”.

Ange Bell  “Take risks, especially with regards to opportunities.  If you don’t ask you don’t get, so aim high! Also, be kind!”

Joe Webb  "Work on your own authentic style, don’t try and mimic somebody else. Try to be yourself because then you will enjoy it, and will be happy with your work. 

When you have found your voice you can put your work out there. Do some online competitions - there are loads of opportunities nowadays compared to say 15 years ago.

Approach some galleries. 

I was always drawing as a kid then I went to art school. I found it hard to know what to do after that. Later I started putting my work on Instagram and Facebook. I entered a few competitions, including a Saatchi competition where the prize was to get some work shown there. That's what I did".

It would be fantastic to get your input. I'd love to know what questions the readers would like me to put to the ACE Club artists in future Q&A's?  Please direct message me on ACE Club's Instagram or ACE Club's Facebook Page. I would love to hear from you. 

Stay safe and well.


Other articles:

The Art of Staying Home: Heath Kane

Welcome Joe Webb to the Club

Stay Home And Make Art: Free Art Print Colouring Sheets