TAKING THE LEAP – Being a Full-Time Artist

TAKING THE LEAP – Being a Full-Time Artist

al-mcwhite-paintingTake the first step in faith.  You don’t have to see the whole staircase, you just have to take the first step.”  Dr. Martin Luther King

Many people are unhappily working at jobs because they don’t have faith in their ability to earn a living as a full time artist, or because they just aren’t sure where to start.  Fear stops them from taking the leap to doing what they love.

I say, just get started, take the first step, and the rest will follow.

Most professions have a formula you can follow for success.  You want to be a dentist?  There’s a tried and true formula, just as there is for being an accountant, and a salesperson, and a hairdresser.

Being a professional artist is less defined, because there are many different paths to follow, and very few formulas.   But you can look at what other successful artists are doing, and adopt some of their strategies.

Al McWhite is a South Carolina artist who worked at a clothing company for over eleven years.  Even though he was the Art Director and working with his artwork daily, he wasn’t fulfilled working for someone else.   He wanted to have the freedom to be completely in charge of his creations.

In his own words, he said “I wanted to write my own life story.  I couldn’t do that unless I worked for myself.”

Al’s paintings take you on a vacation with playful images of fun surf and ocean culture scenes.  He creates positive art depicting the lighter side of life, which is a reflection of his attitude.  There were enough people that loved his art, that he knew he had a market for it.

In December of 2006, Al took the leap and left his steady job and paycheck to go out on his own as a freelance artist.

At the time, he said, he was scared because it was a huge risk, having a wife and three young children to support.

But looking back, he says “I wouldn’t change a thing.  It’s been a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it and I know I’m doing the right thing.”

Since then, Al has built up a steady stream of income through sales of painting commissions, illustrations, prints, and licensing.  He believes that having multiple avenues to sell his art has been vital to his success.

Like most successful artists, Al believes that the following traits have helped him to make it work:

1.)     Be a disciplined self-starter

2.)    Be willing to learn – don’t assume you know everything

3.)    Meet deadlines and make your clients happy

4.)    Be very professional (not flakey)

5.)    Educate yourself on business

Al is now a father of four, and he creates new artwork every day.  He said that when things get difficult, “I laugh at everything and I don’t take anything seriously.”  He says.

Taking the leap means having belief in your abilities.  You can believe in yourself and still have doubts, too. 

The trick is, don’t let your doubts or your fear stop you.

spunk-head-shotI want to see you live the life you dream of!  Take the leap, go for it, don’t let fear stop you!

Spunk Brophy xxoo (Follow me on Twitter)

The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.”  Sven Goran Eriksson

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  • john glomb
    Posted at 10:41h, 18 August

    I’m so stoked for you guys! Drew you and your family are awsome!!! I just had to say hi….been livin over here in maui surfin and painting tons…plus shaping. had to break away for alittle bit from the industry..but i’m ready to come back with my new endeaver…. so i’ll see soon … much respect and aloha fellow artist glomb

  • lane
    Posted at 13:08h, 28 June

    Hello Maria,

    i just recently discovered the art of Drew.i have been searching for a way to “customize” things for a number of years now.i have been drawing since i was very young but i was never happy just doing art on paper.so eventually i graduated to tattooing.i paid alot of money for a very very bad apprenticeship.after that i gave up my pursuit for a career in art,it was very devastating to me.but i never lost the dream and so i began my search again.i have found the art and the dvd of drew extremely inspiring.it got the gears turning again so to speak.after i read your post i decided to take the plunge,put my fear of failure aside and see where it takes me.i just wanted you to know that you and drew have made a difference in my life.you have given me the inspiration that i sorely needed and i had to take time to say THANK YOU BOTH!!!!!!!

    take care of you and yours,

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