On Becoming an Artist: A Guide on How to Become an Artist for the Curious College Student

Tired of those lame work-study jobs in the cafeteria? Wish you could quit your job as a convenience store clerk? Don’t let the RISD kids have all the fun — now, by following these easy tips and tricks, you, too, can become an artist!

First, you need to alter your mind. Let’s face it: you gotta be a little messed up to be an artist. Look at Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin and Frida Kahlo. No-one ever accused them of being normal: Van Gogh chopped off his ear during a seizure; Gauguin gave up his friends, family, and job for his art, before finally abandoning modern society to sail away to a tropical island to live out his days; and Kahlo lost her tweezers and became addicted to self-portraits, and. If you aren’t already crazy, you’re going to need to work on that. Whether you choose pot, alcohol, or overdoses of C-SPAN, you need to open up the creative channels in your mind.

You need to successfully communicate your emotions about it to your intended audience. – Prescott Papers

Next, you need to develop your artistic shtick. While talent and hard work does play a role in your continued success as an artist, you don’t have to be the most talented artist in the world if you’ve got a great gimmick — look at Andy Warhol! Your shtick is the characteristic attribute that gains recognition for your work and helps people remember you. How to find your shtick? Exploit your interests! Environmentalist? Make garbage art. Not only are your Styrofoam cup sculptures great for the environment, if you scour the neighborhood trash cans, your supplies are practically free. Politically-inclined? Make presidential-themed sock puppets. Gay activist? Shred rainbow flags and crochet hats shaped like your favorite body parts.

Now that you’ve got an assortment of art, you need to develop your image as an artist. Some artists forgo showers in favor of creation; others have tight-laced day jobs but transform by night into turtle-necked hipsters with paint-splattered jeans. Day-glo tights with mini skirts and ripped t-shirts are always a great bet, especially if you are a man. Don’t let the stereotypes dictate your appearance — choose a look that works for you and stick with it. While you’re at it, cough up $7 and order yourself some business cards from Vista Print that proudly proclaim your new “artist” title.

Finally, you’re ready to start selling your art. You might have your schtick, your look, and your business cards, but you can’t really call yourself an artist these days if you aren’t hawking your wares. You might be a sculptor, but you aren’t legit until you finally sell that $1500 bust of Madonna that looks suspiciously like John McCain in drag. Start with your friends and family. Heavy guilt trips and pouting will likely end in a couple of sales. Next, post ads on Craigslist. Make sure to mention that your art is A) one-of-a-kind, B) limited edition, and C) really freaking awesome, yo. Wait as the cash flows in. You can also set up your own store on etsy.com, design your own website, or buy a peddler’s license from city hall ($60) and sell on the streets.

Serious about your art? If you want to be more than a passing fad, educate yourself. Whether you take non-credit art courses, start frequenting the local galleries, or enroll at RISD, the more you learn about art, the better. Keep practicing, and find yourself some artist friends for inspiration. Good luck in your new career choice!

2 thoughts on “On Becoming an Artist: A Guide on How to Become an Artist for the Curious College Student

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