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Become a Working Artist

Lesson 1 of 22

The Beginnings of a Working Artist


Become a Working Artist

Lesson 1 of 22

The Beginnings of a Working Artist


Lesson Info

The Beginnings of a Working Artist

I'm so glad you're here I wanted to first extend a warm welcome to everyone in my studio audience I have a whopping seventeen people in the studio with me today which is really exciting for me it makes it more of a personal experience especially since most of the people viewing are out in the world and s o I also want to say that there are people tuning in from all over the world some of them it is the middle of the night and so that of course requires a lot of determination which is really important skill when you are becoming a working artist and a lot of the folks in the studio audience are going to be getting up here on set with me at various times over the next eight segments and that requires a lot of bravery which is also a really important quality and becoming a working artist so all of you are here because you're curious at least some of you may have no clue what we're going to talk about over the next two days I'm gonna try to give you a little bit of an overview before we ge...

t started and some of you I think have a good idea of what we're going to do because maybe you've read my book and you want to just no more um so some of you are probably really motivated and uh and that's that's great all right? The exciting news for all of us is that there has never been a better time to become working artist there has never been a better time to start your career as an artist, and there has never been a better time to expand your careers and artist, we're living in a really magical time when there are so many opportunities that have never existed before the internet, which we're going to talk about a lot over the next eight segments, is a tool that has changed the landscape for artists over the last several years in particular, it is I wouldn't be standing here right now talking to you about this if it weren't for the, um, it's, not all about the internet, but the internet is a great tool. Your goal isn't just to work hard, making the stuff that you love to make your goal is to get to know and enjoy all of the aspects of a thriving business, and if you end up not enjoying some of them, then you figure out how to hype hire other people to help you do them. So we're going to talk about that as well. The more you understand about all the aspects of a thriving art business, like things like figuring out where you're headed next, being strategic about where you're headed next, um, things like managing your time um things like promoting your work the more you understand about those things, the more fluent you're going to feel and the greater ease you're gonna feel around your business. And so I'm really hoping that by the end of these, like eight segments or however many you choose to watch you, you will have a tool, a tool kit and you help we'll have begun your path and begun to make plants what I hope to give us some concrete information, some really practical information that you can use with tools you can put to use our ink chris mentioned earlier in my book that just came out in august and we're going to cover a lot of things in the book and we're going to go deeper. The book is a great resource because we're not going to cover everything in the book that would take about a week, probably of glass, but we are going to go into some key areas and the areas that I chose um are areas that I think for many artists are the most painful or the most mysterious, and we're also were not a lot of resource is exist already, okay? I don't want to tell you stuff that you could easily find on the internet and and I'm also going to give you a bit of a process for planning next steps and we're gonna start that in segment one and my goal is that by the end of the segment you can take action based on the information that I give you we're gonna have some special guests coming in segment three two guests to come talk about the fine art world which is for many people very sort of mysterious world out there that they don't know how to break into tomorrow we're gonna have somebody come in and talk talk about licensing which is another area that's really popular right now lots of opportunities and licensing okay, so again the more you understand and the more you know the greater ease you're going tohave running your business all right um oh, another thing I want to mention is going to talk a lot about fine art an illustration in licensing but you may be a graphic designer you may be a photographer you may be a textile artist or a potter um and what I'm hoping is that even in those segments that air sort of about things that you don't necessarily aspire to do and your art career that you'll still learn some really important information um about what opportunities there are and um you know what you need to do to break in all right? So who am I and later down the road and one of the segments you're going to be answering this question about yourself who am I so a lot of what we're gonna be talking about is who you are as an artist. What? What is your particular stamp on the world? What is it that you have to offer? What is your voice? What is your story? Because all of that makes up your identity as an artist and makes it easier for you to share what you do people so that other people could connect with your work. So who am I? All right? This is not all of who I am, obviously, um I'm an artist, a late bloomer. We'll talk about that a little bit in second, a dabbler, I do lots of different things. One of the things I want to talk about periodically over the next eight segment is this idea of diversifying your income that you don't have to choose one thing to do as an artist for the rest of your life. In fact, part of what's helped me make a living is that I do lots of different things, and I used to be there was a lot of separation between fine art and commercial art, and those lines are blurring and that's great news. I'm an illustrator, an author, a painter, a doodler. If you read my block or follow me on instagram, you know, I'm voracious, uh, sketchbook, doodler. I'm a traveller, and my traveling really informs my work and inspires my work so that's really part of my identity as well? I'm a collector. A few years ago I published a book on all of my crazy collections and a hand letter, which is something that's just recent in the last couple of years, but now is a big part of how I make my living in two thousand one I took my first painting class I was thirty one years old um and I was really nervous because I had not taken in art class since I was a kid. I didn't take art in high school, I did not take part in college, I come from an artistic family, my mom is an artist and, um so I grew up in a creative home where we did lots of activity, so I was definitely learned how to sew at a young age and I was definitely crafty. But if anyone had said, are you an artist or you artistic, I would have said absolutely not so taking that class put felt pretty scary. However it changed my life not overnight and not in a explosive way, but it set me on a trajectory that led to where I am today and fifteen years later I am working hardest um at first it was a hobby a hobby that gained momentum and grew exponentially as I developed my skills my artistic skills and as I began to share what I was doing on this new thing called the internet um you know, it used to be that in order to share your work with other people when you were an artist you had to have somebody representing you you had to have an agent, you have to have a gallery you had to have somebody who had cachet and a name to share your work um and these days anybody can share their work which is great several years later in two thousand seven I left my job and started my self employed life along the way there was no guidebook for me um there were, um there were some books out there but none of them were super current at the time um none of them talked about how to use the internet and things like lice art licensing fine art and illustration we're very exclusive kinds of careers at that time and I was pretty intimidated by all of those things I didn't know anything I didn't go through traditional trans channels to get where I was I didn't go to art school and then what I learned of course is that my friends who did go to art school I didn't know either now there are just so many more professional practice classes in in art school but you know even folks who how many of you graduated from our school, several of you like half the studio audience and yet you're here right? Because we're there's so much more to learn besides, you know how to paint or draw um even platforms like etc we're new at the time and I felt intimidated by that, but over the course of time I asked a lot of questions and I talked to anybody who would listen about you know what I should do, and I read a lot anything I could find and I tried lots of different things and some of them worked really well and some of them didn't um and so what is in the the book in particular when I talk about in the class are lots of things that did work. I also talk about a few mistakes that I made and things that didn't work and I will hopefully remember to share some of those with you because I feel like the stuff that we do that flops is justus important in our journey as the stuff that we do that works and catches on? Um so as awkward as it felt, I also began to spread the word about what I was doing on whatever platform I could find it at the time this was around by this point it was like two thousand five ish and there was no facebook yet no twitter no instagram I did start a blogger which is different than the block I have today and we'll talk about blogging um I think in segment five and I joined flicker which still exists but at the time that that was the place if you were a visual artist a photographer that was a place you met people that was the place where you started to share your work and I began to spread the word about what I was doing and um I was hoping of course that um people would hire me for an illustration job that they would um asked me to be in a gallery show um that they might want to buy something of mine and for the first few years that I was out on my own after two thousand seven in particular I felt a certain level of frustration because those things all started to happen for me but they still weren't enough to pay all my bills and that felt frustrating, right? I'm sure some of you already have opportunities that you're getting but it's not it's not bringing in a full time income so it felt really important to me that once I figured out that this is what I wanted to do that I figured out how to do it so that it could pay all my bills and then some that I could really flourish financially and otherwise so I kept at it and I was just hoping to hit a tipping point and then finally in two thousand ten I have good news I did um all of a sudden literally not overnight but it sort of happened in this weird way it was october of two thousand ten all of a sudden things just started happening for me and since then the opportunity has been so great that it is almost as overwhelming sometimes as the frustration I felt before when I felt like nothing was happening and that's that's sort of the other side of this story of success that you have like we all have dreams I remember I used to lay in bed and try to fall asleep at night and I would think, gosh, if I could be anywhere in a few years, where would I be? And I have a bee in this place where I can have a range of opportunities and I can choose the ones that are best for me and it's all going to feel so easy and and then that thing happened and it wasn't easy. I have um I had all this opportunity and I don't like saying no and I had to choose which things were gonna be best for me, so I still struggle with that, so we'll talk about that also and so I learned a lot I've learned a lot over over the period of struggle, the period of opportunity, and in two thousand twelve, I started writing those things down, and, um, I started talking to chronicle books about writing a book about my experience. They already have siri's started by a woman named meg elastico it's, the ink siri's it started with a book I think it's called crafting, and then there was creative ink and mom ink and blogging, and so they asked me to write art link, and I got really excited about it because, of course, nervous, but and I I really felt like the generosity that I had experienced, um, among other artists, in helping me get where I had gotten, um, was something that I wanted, teo give back and share so that's part of why I wrote the book, and I also interviewed about twenty people for the book because I also know that there's a lot about the art world for which I'm not an expert and that's part of what I'm gonna have folks come in over the next eight sessions toe who are experts and who have more experience than I do, and now I'm standing in front of you to teach this class, and so a lot of it is based on our ink, which I highly recommend you get, of course, uh but it all goes a little deeper, and we're going to work through some of the tools that are in the book and go through some of the information you'll have the opportunity as a lot of questions online audience. I encourage you to send your questions to us as we go and hopefully be taking time to answer them. And, of course, all of you in the studio and audience, we'll be talking about dreaming big and really thinking about where you wanna land in a few years as an artist. Like, what is your dream scenario? I want you to start thinking about that right now as I'm talking, and then we're going teo get into taking those big dreams and breaking them down into really actionable steps like you might have a dream to be a full time illustrate illustrator or to land a contract with a with a gallery, but how the heck do you get there? So they give you information that will help you plan your steps to try to get there. So a lot of information about how the fine art world works or the illustration world works and then some tools for planning, which I hope you will then take home and continue to use so practical information, concrete information and tools. And I really hope that by segment ate, you feel one hundred percent, two hundred percent, three hundred percent more equipped to go out into the world and procedure dreams than you did right now. So, um, that's my book art ink, as I said, I'm going to be covering a lot of things in, and I'm also gonna be recommending some other resource is they're a bunch of qualities that I think are really good for learning and their qualities that actually really good for becoming a working artist or working anybody for that matter and their qualities that I really want to imbue in this course. And I would like you to try teo and viewers well, and the first one is openness, openness to the possibility that you can be successful openness to the stuff I'm going to talk about that you may think is a bunch of b s openness, teo pretty much everything, so just an attitude of openness, okay? Um, humor, I was telling my studio audience before he went on camera that it was really important to me that they laughed at any attempt I made to make a joke. Um, I'm going to say some things over the next eight segments that that are stumbles or things I didn't actually mean and it's okay to laugh. But me, I like to try to not take myself too seriously, so let's have humor and laugh and enjoy ourselves I really want this to be fun and not too serious. I also would love for everyone to have an attitude of curiosity. There are some things that you think you may already know a lot about, but again open yourself up to learning some new things I have an attitude of openness and curiosity about what you could potentially learn over the next two days that you might not know already bravery I talked about this a little bit already um there are going to be times when you're going to feel really scared you might even have a slight panic attack about what I'm talking about like I could never do that or that is so not me or I can't imagine I would ever have time to do that or whatever um be brave be open community so important I would not be standing here if it were not for my community people that I have met over the last ten or so years who have helped me get here some are fellow artists, some our mentors some are just regular friends and family we have nothing to do with anything related to art they're just very loving kind support of people who have supported me in my goals and dreams when I was thirty one andi, I first started taking our class. I had no idea that I was going to become a working artist one day or that I could ever even draw or paint. And when a few years later when I it was, you know, ready to leave my job and start trying to make a living as an artist I had never could never imagine that that you know, that I would be where I am today and I had these crazy dreams and there were some people who really believed in me and I could I would not be here without them because it was a little crazy like I was a project manager at a nonprofit organization I had had never made art until I was in my thirties. Um it was crazy even my parents thought I was crazy as much as they love me, but they also supported me and lastly perseverance there going to be some times over the next eight segments where you're going to feel tired you're going to feel feel overwhelmed at everything you do you feel like you have to do but I encourage you to stick with it be determined this is such an important quality things are not going to happen for you overnight that's why it's important to start today on dh not put it off any longer and to really persevering and be strong

Class Description

"This is an incredibly helpful class for anyone who feels intimidated by all the "giants" in the land of art, and wonders if it's really worth keeping trying to make money from their talent. Lisa breaks everything down into manageable steps, while not dumbing things down. Her manner is very approachable, so that you can imagine yourself doing what she does. Her generous spirit means too that she is sharing really useful stuff - not just some fluff, and keeping all the good ideas for herself!"
 - Janet and Craig Mathewson (CreativeLive Students)

An enthusiastic audience that appreciates your art is waiting for you. Join Lisa Congdon, illustrator, artist, and author of Art, Inc. for Become a Working Artist and learn everything you need to know to make a living as a fine or commercial artist.

In this class, you will find out exactly what it takes to break into the art world and reach new, diverse audiences. Lisa will show you how to:

  • Identify the characteristics that make your style unique
  • Map out the vision and goals that will drive your artistic career 
  • Navigate the fine art market and break in to it
  • Land and negotiate art licensing deals
  • Develop effective techniques for promoting your work
Every artist faces rejection and setbacks on the road to finding an appreciative and paying audience. Become a Working Artist will teach you how to navigate the inevitable disappointments and push through to build a vibrant, rewarding career in art.

Making money as an artist doesn’t have to be far-fetched dream, Lisa Congdon will show you how to make it a reality.  



I was very happy and inspired to be able to attend to this class! It helped me so much to understand which are my goals as an artist and what I need to make to make them happen. Lisa is amazing and I cannot be happier to have been part of this, thank you so much!! I am now more than inspired to create beautiful things and make the tasks I need to make to become the professional artist I aim to be. Thank you Lisa for your wonderful generosity and Creative Live for hosting and creating such a wonderful event!


This course was fantastic! The format was great and Lisa was extremely helpful, knowledgable, and engaging. I was so inspired and loved that she gave very real information and great advice. I came away with a great new plan for my business and a renewed excitement for growth. I would highly recommend this class!

Simply Stated Architecture, PC

Professionally, I am an architect, but I also dabble in some watercolors as well as wood and metal work. When I started my own architectural office, I found good resources for business information were scarce. Most of what I found applied to retail or service businesses that really did not apply to a creative professional. One of the best resources I have found has been my local art guild - The Yellow Breeches Chapter of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen. I found that the painters, jewelers, potters, fiber artists, and other artists faced much more similar issues to what I was dealing with than the contractors, store owners, financial planners, insurance salesmen, and other business people that I was finding in business groups and classes. Lisa Congdon's class is the first CreativeLive course that I've taken. I had signed up for the CL email recently and Lisa's class just caught my eye. I'm glad that I took the time to sit through the sessions. A few of the segments - such as that on illustration and licensing or fine art - really did not have any practical application to my own situation. But there were items of value in pretty much all of the segments that I could take away to adapt in my own business. For someone just starting off in a creative profession, I'd highly recommend Lisa's course as a roadmap of items to keep in mind and plan for in their business. But by no means should you consider this to be a "beginner only" course. I started my business four years ago and I really wish that I had found something like this course in those first months or first year. But even after four years, I found great value in this course. The information on setting goals, actionable tasks, and the final segment on managing your success were extremely valuable and gave me many items to work into my own business in the coming weeks and months.