Transitioning to a Career in Art


  • 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.



  • I was very pleased that the direction of the conversation went towards folks other than students. After a few decades of trying all kinds of art and styles while holding down fulltime work I've reached a crossroads moment. I'm out of a job and only doing a little freelance at the moment due to a serious work injury - I'm debt free and I have saved a bit of money and started classes at SVS. I'm mostly self taught, no art school, no degree and it really feels like This Is It - this is when I can focus on the one thing that has remained constant in my search for the right thing - the picture which tells a story. I've found a bit of a niche in doing bookcovers for a small publishing company - mostly photo-bashing - and I've gotten better at it - but it's the hand drawing and illustration side that I'm here for. Thanks again for the supportive environment and remembering that not everyone here is a fresh 20-something art school grad.


  • Pro

    @JaneElliott27 Actually I've noticed most people at SVS and here in the forums are not fresh 20-something art school grad! Don't worry you are not an exception, you're in good company here!



  • @NessIllustration I'm just starting to look at the forums - I'm still on my first class ! Thanks Ness !!!!!!



  • Thank you so much for this episode! I am currently restructuring my life to make room for illustration (in the practice phase right now). It's so encouraging to know that I'm not the only one working around kids and jobs. We've started with preparing our family - I've just stopped homeschooling our kids, set up my work so it's only 3 days a week, and got my 3yo used to looking for me in the studio rather than the kitchen each morning. I am very grateful that I've received an education in being an entrepreneur/working for myself from my husband and that I have flexibility in my job since it is our business that I help run. This episode gave me a more realistic view of how to plan the next phase of my illustration career and inspired me to continue carving out time wherever I can. Thank you so much again!


  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    @Whitney-Simms You have no idea how much research I've put into framing. It is truly a stumbling block in gallery art/art fairs if you don't know what you are doing. So here's what I've learned:

    1. Work in common sizes
    The big framing costs come from having to custom frame something that is a weird size. There are some great places online to frame if you already have art made, but moving forward only make art in sizes that work for standard sized frames and mats that are pre-made! This tip alone can save you literally thousands of dollars. I've listed below the common sizes of frame/mat combo so you know what size to make the art. I typically work at 24x30 or 30x40 for my newer work.

    2. Frame DEPTH and WIEGHT
    This is how deep the frame is from the side. Why in the world would this size matter? Well, there is only so much room in your vehicle or trailer. If you use frames that are 1" deep instead of 2" deep, you can bring TWICE AS MUCH ART TO THE SHOW.

    Weight is also a huge factor. If you are painting on deep canvas or cradled panels, you will need a deeper frame to fit it. That means weight. Weight and shipping don't go well together! I try to keep my frames and art as light and thin as possible for shipping and transportation.

    3. Try to frame nice, but keep costs down!
    You aren't trying to actually frame the work for the audience. You should assume they will frame it themselves later. So your frame is to show the art off in a nice way and to protect it during travel and shipping. I'd much rather break a frame corner than the corner of my painting! Keep the framing VERY SIMPLE. Either black wood frames with nice white mat or natural wood finish like maple has a very modern feel. Buy in bulk and keep all the frames consistent.

    OK, here's some resources:

    Custom Framing: If you already have weird sized art, I recommend going up a size with the frame and getting a custom mat with a standard sized frame. But if you have to have a weird size frame, these guys are great!: www.frankenframes.com

    Custom mat: If you want really nice thick mats, these guys are great. You can have custom size art or whatever you want really for a very good price: www.matboardplus.com

    Great standard size frames:

    Floater Frames (these look great and quality is great too). Only snag is limited sizes: https://www.dickblick.com/products/blick-maplewood-floater-frames/

    Maple Floater frames at all kinds of sizes. This is who I am using to frame my next show. They are cheap and beautiful! I'm painting on panels which allow me to use their panel frames. These are only .75" thick so I can bring a lot of art. These guys have a lot of sizes and they are wonderful to work with. Highly recommended: www.canvasplace.com

    Glad you guys are liking this episode and I hope this helps with some of the framing questions. Let me know if you need anything else. : )

    -Lee

    Frame Sizes.jpg



  • @Lee-White Is there a reference for business plans available?


  • SVS OG

    @Lee-White holy cow! Thanks for all the info! That’s a wealth of knowledge right there. Love the place you can buy mats in bulk. That’s fabulous. 50cents a mat and backer sound great. I don’t use canvas, but those floater frames make me want to do some. They look lovely. The other frame sources are good too. It’s so hard to invest in your business. I wish i could pay $1 a frame and it still look nice! The mindset of this is for showing off your work and protection vs finding the most wonderful frames for you patrons helps a lot. I didn’t even think about the width of a canvas. I know it’s fancy to work on the thick sides, but traveling with them thinner makes so much sense. And painting on the edges is fine, but I bet it is SOOOO much safer to frame those corners like you said.

    The standard size info was helpful too. I worked at Michaels in the frame department in college. I totally recommend working in framing as a supplementary income to artists. It’s super helpful to learn those skills. Like knowing how to cut your own mats and how much cheaper things are if you work in standard sizes. Those will help your bottom line. I did a few pieces that I painted on the actual size (5x7) and now they aren’t centered. Now i have to cut custom mats. Always leave room in the margins!

    Thanks again Lee! So much useful information.



  • So many good points in this podcast!

    In my own experience, I know that I definitly didn't appreciate my time as a student, and when I was unemployed after I still didn't have the vision and discipline to properly focus on my art work. Working in an office for a couple years has gotten me used to a 9-5, so working 7-8 hours a day isn't this horrific new challenge anymore. I'm much better now at keeping myself a to do list and motivating myself to work.



  • @Lee-White This is helpful as I'm a sucker for impractical dimensions. I draw a lot in panoramic dimensions so its hard to go standard with that. But have a good relationship with a gallery who frames. I find the museum UV anti-reflective glass is the most expensive thing. It makes a massive difference when lights are shining on it in a gallery. I've started painting more on wooden tintoretto blocks so I can avoid glass and just put the work in box frames or not even frame at all as they're pretty tough and easy to screw in hanging cable.


  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    @sigross I NEVER use glass. It only has downsides with almost no upside. So I varnish my watercolor paintings to exhibit with no glass.



  • @Lee-White I dunno varnishing a limited edition sounds like too much work for me. The posh glass is pretty tasty. And wiping dust off glass is easier than off a bare print. I live in London, it's filthy here! But I wouldn't use glass on a painting.


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