I always knew I wanted to be an artist. After graduating the University of Illinois in 1992 with a degree in graphic design, I took a handful of 9-5 jobs, including some advertising agency gigs. (Note: The only other degree options were photography and painting!) But I wasn’t interested in becoming a photographer and my dad said artists (painters) don’t make any money (HA!)—so graphic design it was.
At 27 years old, though, I decided that life was not for me and I made the leap to start doing freelance full-time, mixing mural painting with graphic design contracts. By the 2000s, I’d started designing my own home decor product line, partnered with a fine art publisher and agent, and began designing countless product lines for retailers across the globe!
I’m so glad 27-year-old me decided to follow her dreams instead of continuing to design catalogs for farm equipment while feeling unfulfilled. Because now I get to spend my days doing what I love as a full-time artist!
What Does it Mean to be a Full-Time Artist?
You may ask yourself, what exactly does it mean to be a full-time artist? Maybe your dad has the same opinion my dad did when I was choosing a major in college!
Well, the simple answer is… it depends.
Being a full-time artist can mean a lot of different things based on the type of artist you are. For example, a fine artist may sell their originals in galleries. A graphic artist could spend their time designing logos, branding materials, packaging, design, etc. Some artists sell their work at art fairs, craft shows, and farmers markets and/or take on commission work with a wide array of clients.
The possibilities are endless, meaning no full-time artist’s day looks exactly the same as another’s! Which is why I wanted to share a post of what my personal day-to-day looks like to give you just another perspective of what full-time art life looks like.
A Day in MY Life as a Full-Time Artist!
Each day looks different depending on what projects I’m working on, but there are a few types of tasks I can always count on to be in need of getting done! Here’s an idea of what I do as a full-time artist:
As an artist, I design images for manufacturers to use on their products (think: dinnerware, stationery, textiles, and more).
I collaborate with select companies to license my artwork on their products, which have been sold in retailers like HomeGoods/T.J.Maxx/Marshall’s, Paper Source, Barnes & Noble, Target, and others. I have 20 years of art licensing experience under my belt and have worked with thousands of retailers around the world — from big names like the ones above to small boutiques.
Generally speaking, licensing = lots of emailing back and forth!
This is the work that helps my business run smoothly and effectively.
Admin tasks include everything from updating my website and publishing blog posts to answering client emails and creating my weekly newsletter, putting together color palettes and implementing client feedback, etc.
I pride myself on delivering custom art pieces on time and looking stellar, which involves a lot of little administrative details on my end.
In addition to client work, I’m also responsible for running the processes for my Etsy and Website shops.
Oh, and did I forget to mention capturing all of my expenses and profits?! *Takes a big, deep breath.*
One of my FAV parts about this business is being able to engage with fellow and aspiring artists online! One of the ways I do this is by creating posts and videos for social media.
It’s a fun way for me to express my creativity in different forms, though there’s still quite a bit of work that goes into creating the final products, like photography, filming, graphics, etc.
I guess this is a good time for me to plug my handles, right!? You can connect with me on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.
I’d love to see you there! I promise you’ll see lots of art, dogs, plants, and, of course, cats.
P.S. Don’t forget to hold me to all my 2022 marketing goals this year. Yikes!
Making Lists (and checking them twice)
As I’ve mentioned before, I can be a bit of a perfectionist (where are my fellow Virgos at?!).
I like starting my day by making a to-do list so I can set expectations for what I want and need to accomplish by the end of the day. This helps me stay on track with all the details and tasks required to run my business.
I either write my tasks down on a notepad or my board (my dry erase board, that is), which I also use to map out my goals for the year. And yes, it’s still clouded with blue and green marker from years of coloring with my kids!
Even though these businessy things take up most of my day, I don’t mind! I seriously love what I do, so it doesn’t feel like work to me (I know, I’m crazy—must be another Virgo thing…). And, hey, I’d much rather do this than go back to designing farm equipment catalogs!
It sounds cliche, but I can’t imagine doing anything else in my career. I’m grateful for every aspect of my business because it allows me to keep doing what I love.
Throughout the flow of my day, I like to squeeze in some personal things too where I can. If you’ve been following me for even a minute you probably already know my day also consists of going to the gym (typically in the mornings), hanging out with my cats, cooking, something plant related, and of course household chores.
One of the coolest parts about running your own business is having the flexibility to prioritize the things in your life that make you feel good, including travel—which is one of my family’s favorite things to do! (We recently just got back from a trip to Europe…one of my all-time favorite places!)
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to do what I love every day. You can keep up with my daily antics here.
Are you a full-time artist too? I’d love to hear what your day looks like! Feel free to comment on my last post or tag me in your Instagram stories.