Transitioning to a Career in Art


  • SVS OG

    alt text

    Art by Braden Hallett

    Our newest episode just dropped, click here to listen to it and to see the links from this episode.

    Feel free to use this thread to share other thoughts you have about transitioning to a career in art, success stories, or to ask questions!

    Thanks you guys, we hope you having a great rest of your week!


  • Pro

    @Jake-Parker Oh wow I did a double take on that artwork LOL! I was like "Wait a minute that's Braden! That's @Braden-Hallett!"



  • Wow looking great @Braden-Hallett what a cute bunny


  • Moderator

    I'm so thankful you did this episode. I feel like I'm on the right track now. I really appreciate hearing the validation of pursuing illustration as a part-time gig. I think I was caught up in a romantic notion that legit illustrators simply did nothing but illustration, and it's really heartening to actually hear that's not the case. I think I was undermining myself because I somehow wasn't "competent enough" to make this a full-time career. And for me, it never can be. So I think I may have been self-sabotaging my own development.

    I'm 50 years old, and one of those incredibly lucky people that has the magic ticket you describe, I think. I have a "part time" (ROFL!!!) job as a costume designer in a theatre department at a university, but it's benefits-based. I've been there for almost 20 years, and my contract guarantees at least two more years of employment. I have a partner who makes more money than I do, and summers off to invest in my own self-education.

    But I'd been operating under the assumption that if I can't do just illustration all the time, I was a "pretender" and suffering from delusions of grandeur. LOL! I needed this podcast. Deeply. On a personal level. Thank-you.



  • Yay @Braden-Hallett
    I want an original art from Braden



  • This was a really good episode! As usual, I wish I would've found you guys before I made my own transition from public school teacher to illustrator. I definitely got debt free and then saved up a year's salary before quitting, so I had some kind of safety net. However, I did not utilize that first year of freelancing in the ways that I should have. Lots of really good advice in here!

    I will say that, contrary to popular opinion, teaching (at least as a public school elementary art teacher) did not afford me the oft-perceived ample amounts of free time implied by the schedule. Due to constant in-services, continuing education requirements, conferences, etc, summer vacation usually ended up being maybe 3-5 weeks if you smooshed together all of the days from weeks that were broken up by job requirements and school year prep. I tried to make it work for five years, but I did not find that I had enough time, even during summer "break" to satisfactorily complete anything of substance with my art. Kudos to any teachers out there making it happen! I often think that had I taught high school or private art school it would've been much more manageable.

    Adjunct is something I'm actually looking at for that part time work piece right now; I gather that the workload for those positions is much, much lower than what I experienced. In fact, I'd love to hear a podcast on teaching at community colleges/universities as an illustrator. Especially as someone without a masters. More and more I run across professional artists that I admire who teach part time. I'd love to know best practices for getting the job, teaching well at that level, etc.

    Thanks for another great podcast, you guys!



  • @Aleksey said in Transitioning to a Career in Art:

    Yay @Braden-Hallett
    I want an original art from Braden

    Whoa! You must be made of money if you can afford a Braden Hallett original. 😉



  • @JerrySketchyArt haha if i was made of money id start my own publishing company and hire all of you to make art. We’ll call it the SVS Publishing House.

    6F31FC0A-5A3E-4951-86B9-EDCAE36AD054.jpeg

    On a more serious note:

    I work retail part time, and the tricky thing working part time isnt just how exhausting customer service can be, it’s also that part timers are treated as lesser people by many companies that can afford to give them things like health insurance. I have some health insurance but it costs more and isnt as good as the full timers get.

    Another big thing I’ve discovered on this path is you have to create a strong network of people you can rely on to throw your name into a hat if the opportunity ever arrives. That’s something I think art schools do well is that you can transition into an art related career after graduating because of the connections the people at the school have already established. Which is why a place like svslearn is such a critical part of the development, there are people here that you can connect with and grow with.

    One thing thats tough on svslearn is (and this might be in the works who knows) connecting with Mentors, people that have been working professionally for a certain length of time that are willing to provide guidance and support and put your name into the hat should an opportunity pop up that they can connect a student with. Because without that relationship it’s not only so much harder to get agents and publishers to be willing to give someone that has never been published a chance because their names, reputation, and money, are on the line. (Which is totally valid) it’s also so much harder to figure out what you should be addressing or working on next if you dont know what your issues are.

    I know that if I keep my head down and keep pushing through and making progress in my art, eventually i will get recognized and someone will pay me for something, but I’m grateful for svslearn because it’s a place where it’s ok to ask for help.


  • SVS OG

    Another excellent podcast! I work full time and while I hate the job, I do realize how fortunate I am to have the regular paycheck. At the same time, I often get really depressed about how slow this process is for me. I have sooo much to improve upon before even considering the prospect of client work. It will be literally years, and at this rate I will hit retirement age before I'm ready. Of course, then I'll have social security (hopefully!) as a base income, so I guess there's a silver lining to the wait.

    I did a lot of research before deciding to follow this dream, so I feel like I've got a pretty good idea of the non-illustrating aspects of being an illustrator. I've also started working on some additional revenue streams, which is a good thing, although it also takes time away from study. Can't seem to give it up, though...

    Anyway, great podcast, and I just need to keep working at things and be patient. Get the ducks in a row, etc.



  • @Aleksey pulling for your success🤞🏻👍🏻



  • @BichonBistro <3<3<3


  • SVS OG

    Great podcast! Totally speaks to where my mind is right now. I feel like I’ve kinda hit a good point in where I want to be artistically. I think sometimes we put validation as an artist on the “demand” for our work and the amount of money we can bring in from it. Being patient with the journey it takes to be full time can be hard. And you guys being up front about the other tasks and stresses helps us see what we would be trading if we transitioned. The example of the Home Depot guy was great. Basically, if you are happy where you are, stop worrying about the amount of work you are getting and focus on the art you want to make, and then make incredible work!

    I don’t think I’ll ever be full time. But if I had to choose the amount and type of work that I would do, it’s almost what I have now. I have a store that wants new seasonal notecards. Which is what I love to paint. And my friend needs spot food illustrations for her cooking school for kids. There are more projects I want to do within those clients, but I’m good for now.

    I would love to have an open house and workshop this November. I want to teach a class and then have my work on display for people to purchase. So.... @Lee-White share all the frame knowledge you got! I really don’t want to go to micheals or ikea for adorable frames!

    And the business classes from lee are amazing! Make sure you guys check those out! I feel everyone who is trying to make this work and especially transition to full time needs to listen to those!



  • @Whitney-Simms I second the framing advice from @Lee-White (and advise for presenting artwork at shows/presenting artwork in general). I don't sell prints, just originals and usually frame them. It's a lot of work and money upfront and I wonder if I would be better off just matting the work or simply putting them with a backing in those archival clear envelopes instead? Do the people buying artwork care if the work is framed? Or would they rather just buy the artwork for less money and frame it themselves?

    Also, great podcast guys! You always tell it like it is which is why I'm a forever fan, supporter and subscriber to SVSlearn.



  • Great episode! a lot of stuff there I agree on. There is no need to rush to be full-time artist. I see my peers who work in the industry and there is a lot of stuff that drains their artistic energy. No thanks. I like to work on my personal projects after the day job. I can afford it. I definitely want to be full-time artist - I just dont want to take the path that will suck the life out of me.



  • also great image @Braden-Hallett ! 😃



  • @kadelex I prefer buying original art unframed and unmatted, unless the frame is inexpensive, in which case it probably doesn't add much of a selling point anyway. The one artist whose frames were truly compatible with her work had them professionally framed by a guy who does work for the smithsonian museums. In my opinion, an artist usually doesn't recover the investment on a good frame. Of course you don't have that option when presenting your work in a gallery, but as a buyer, my preference is archival backing & envelope.



  • @NessIllustration @MichaelaH @Aleksey @JerrySketchyArt @Jonas-Zavacky Thanks guys 😃

    I really wish I'd had this advice a few years ago. Such an awesome podcast!



  • @Braden-Hallett an original please. 💵 💵



  • @Aleksey Check your discord 😉



  • Top episode, lots of great advice and warnings there. I've never had a salary, so I've no idea what that life is like! So the multiple revenues streams makes perfect sense. The life of a juggler.


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