Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How to make a living as an artist

Beating the odds

For those who are staring in the face of overwhelming odds and are ready to give up on their dreams or have already accepted defeat, there were many times I sulked and accepted defeat until I realized that there is always a way, even if we have to create that path.

There is a great difference between passion and devotion

For example, I learned that there is a difference between being interested in something and being devoted. I always loved drawing and creating since I was a little girl but the large chunk of my life I “accepted” the notion that an artist could never make a living from art. Therefore, I entered the finance industry and only created art when it was convenient, like in my free time after work or doodling while waiting somewhere in line. Art was still my passion and I showed interest in creating art but not much real commitment.

Create the right environment to charge your creative battery

The past 13 years of my life, I decided to only choose work environments that would nourish my mind and soul, such as the MCH Hospital in The Hague the Netherlands (surrounded by caring coworkers/friends). When I moved to the US in 2005, I worked in the familiar hospitality field, which reminded me of the satisfying feeling I got from working with my parents in their hospitality business.

Silence the naysayers, including your own inner critic

While my imaginative and dreamer side was able to create again, my financial background helped me to not accept the label of “starving artist” and other lies artist tell themselves such as, that art is a luxury and not a necessity, that art is like a bird song and that birds sing for free for everybody to enjoy.

Find out what people want to pay for and be willing to create that.

Despite shocked purist fellow artist eyes, I looked proactively for every job that had anything to do with creating necessary and wanted art such as designing flyers, making pet portraits, cartoons, cards, murals and illustrations. I would design anything, even for free or very low pay until I was able to get so much work that I could only work part time outside the studio. My last job outside was delivering news papers 4 hour a day. But even this odd job enriched my life because it enabled me to see inspiring night creatures such as owls and raccoons while everyone was still sleeping.

Only commitment will bring results. Be more than just interested and passionate.

For 6 years, I approached my art work like a serious career and business and was willing to do whatever it takes to get myself into this energized passionate vicious circle pleasing others but also my heart and soul. But at times it also scares me because every process creates a snow ball effect that forces you out of the comfort zone, away from the excuses that once were protecting you from change.
Never stop improving your art skills. The more you learn and are able to do, the more confident and successful you'll become.
Reach out to people so that they can find your work and get to know you. See marketing as a way to connect with people rather than just promoting yourself. Appreciate your fans and followers and keep them interested in your work. They are the ones who will help you get exposure, work and sales. No matter how hard you work, without a fan base nobody will ever know you or your artwork.

Use your imagination to go were you want

We artists are very good at creating mental dead ends in our head but our privilege and real talent is our imagination.  Create that beautiful scene where you heart flutters and soul sings and then find or create a way to get to there. Once you got there you will gain the confidence and determination to create more of those dreams and the possibilities to realize them.
That is my wish for you in 2015 and always!


Naomi R. Heckler said...


What a beautiful and true story. Ursula and I met on the internet in a group about Ragdoll cats. We both have a passion for cats. From just a funny post, we became friends and much more than that. Ursula helped me get my creative mind back in a way she may not even realize. She is the Only Artist that will ever be involved in my business as she so brilliantly bright it to life. I recommend her artwork for anyone, and will forever be her #1 supporter. Thank you Ursula for all that you do.

Ariannah said...

Thank you so much for your kind words. That means a lot to me. I always admired your artistic eye that you express so well through your photography and that now shines through your beautiful collectible products. The world needs creative minds like you. Everything we truly enjoy in life, from our favorite car we drive, the movies we watch to the beautiful Chef Axle products we buy from you, are all designed and produced by creative people.
I value your friendship and support very much and I am proud and honored to be part of the wonderful creative Chef Axle team.