How to Become an Artist

I often hear from art students and other aspiring artists who ask me for tips on how they can become an artist. I thought I’d share some advice on how someone can get started if they want to become an artist:

1. Start making art

You have to start somewhere, and the first step to becoming an artist is to start making art. Put your frustrations and negative thoughts aside and focus on putting the practice in. Watch YouTube videos of techniques that other artists are using, and try to use these techniques on your own. Practice sketching famous works of art, then start drawing from pictures you’ve taken or draw from real life.

2. Take classes

Take an art class to help encourage and motivate your work. Classes can help you get a better foundation in areas where you might be shaky, and with practice, comes confidence. They are also a great way to get advice and feedback from more experienced artists.

3. Evaluate your work and ask others to critique it

Every now and then, set your artwork aside and don’t look at it for a little while. Then return to it so you can evaluate your work with fresh eyes. Make note of what you think really works for the piece and what areas need improvement. Continue working on improving the work, or start over with a new work of art and keep what areas of improvement you need in mind. If you’re not sure how to improve a specific work of art, ask for others to help you out by critiquing your art. Ask them how you can improve your work and what they currently like about it. As an artist, it’s important to constantly improve and refine your craft.

4. Make time for your art

It’s a good idea to map out a schedule for making art, so you can constantly work on practicing your craft. It’s difficult to get better at something if you aren’t actually practicing it. For some more advice on this, checkout 7 Ways to Make Time for Your Artwork.

5. Build a portfolio

A crucial piece to promoting your work as an artist, is to build a strong portfolio. As you make art, take pictures of every finished piece. Then start sifting through the images and select your best pieces that also reflect the variety of work you can produce. You don’t want every piece in your portfolio looking too similar, but you also want to make sure that each piece reflects your strength as an artist.

6. Find a marketing strategy

One way that you can promote your artwork is by looking into local art centers and organizations that hold exhibitions, and start submitting your work to exhibits. Also figure out what ways you want to promote your work online – put together an online portfolio website and pick the social media platforms you’d prefer to use to post images of your work and share them with the world.

7. Connect with other artists

As you work on developing your craft and spreading the word of your art, it’s also important to connect with other artists you admire as well as more experienced artists in your local arts community. Seek out other artists who you can ask for advice.

8. Never give up

One of the biggest parts to being an artist is being persistent, and never giving up. If one technique doesn’t seem to work for you, try focusing on something else for a little while before returning to it. Being persistent and pivoting when necessary, is an essential part to being an artist.


Becoming an artist is journey that takes time and a lot of trial and error. I’m constantly trying to find ways to improve my artwork and the way I promote it. Some of the things I’ve tried have failed miserably, while other things have unexpectedly worked. You’ll never know for sure what can work for you until you start trying.

7 Ways to Make Time for Your Artwork

Daytime at the Capitol by collage artist Megan Coyle

Trying to find time to make artwork can be an intimidating task at hand. If you’re like me and have a full-time job, enjoy spending time with your family and friends, and also want to have time to make artwork, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by everything.

In an effort to make art making easier to fit into your schedule, here are a few ways you can make time for your creativity:

1. Make a schedule and stick to it

It’s easier to have time to do something when it becomes part of your weekly routine. Try carving out a few minutes a day during the week or on the weekend where you’ll devote some time to artwork. Even if you’re only devoting ten minutes a day, at least you’ll spend a little time at it. Plus, the most difficult part is getting started. Often times what was initially going to be ten minutes of creative time, can easily turn into a couple of hours once you find yourself getting caught up in your work.

2. Limit the time you spend on your smartphone or on social media

If you’re one of those people who checks his or her phone numerous times an hour, try to get into the habit of turning off your phone, or turning it on silent and hiding it, so you won’t get distracted by push notifications and other in-your-face alerts. It’s easy to get caught up in whatever is trending for a given hour when you’re constantly tied to your device. But when you set it aside for a while, it’s easier to have more time to do other things like make artwork.

3. Brainstorm the activities you want to do each week and map them out on a calendar

I like to come up with a rough idea of what I want to do each week. Then I map out what I plan to do every day of the week. I used to have a never ending to-do list, which quickly got out of control and got easier to ignore. I found that adding only one or two tasks for a given day was an easier way to cross items off my to-do list without getting overwhelmed. I found that this especially worked well when I wanted to make sure I did something art-related every day.

I also like to use an online calendar to manage these tasks, since digital calendars make it a lot easier to move things around if something comes up. You can always (and easily) reassign tasks to another day.

4. Take a class

Sometimes it’s not necessarily a matter of not having enough time to make artwork, it’s more along the lines of not being inspired enough to find time to make artwork. When you’re lacking motivation or inspiration, it can be difficult to set aside any time at all for art. By taking an art class, you can give yourself a little push to find time for art every week. You could also get some ideas from my post on 10 Ways to Get Inspired with Your Artwork.

5. Find ways to ease art into your schedule

There are times when making a schedule for your art seems too structured and intimidating, and you’d prefer other ways to work it into your life. One way is to ease art into your life gradually. If you enjoy watching the news or a little bit of TV at the end of the day, one way to start incorporating art-making time into your life is by working on a project while the TV is playing. That way, you can not only follow along with the news or other TV show, but you can also get some art done.

6. Have a designated space for making artwork

If you have no real workspace for your art, then making artwork will become more of a hassle when you have to recreate your studio environment every time you want to work on a project. If you set up a space where your supplies and work in progress are set out, it will make it a lot easier to continue working on a piece. In fact, any work in progress sitting in your studio space can serve as a reminder that you should get back to art making at some point in time.

7. Set goals

Without any concrete goals or a tangible vision, you can easily get lost. By defining your goals and what you want to accomplish with your artwork, you’ll have an easier time setting aside time for art when you have an end-goal in mind.


The art making process is indeed a process, and you should keep that in mind when making artwork and working on refining your style and technique – art making takes time. And the only way you can continue to grow as an artist, is if you work on finding that time to develop your craft.

10 Ways to Get Inspired with Your Artwork

Puppies in Jail by collage artist Megan Coyle

Inspiration can take work, just like being an artist takes work. As an artist, you need to consistently schedule the time to practice your craft. When it comes to inspiration, you need to be dedicated to discovering and exploring different ways that you can jumpstart your creativity.

I usually find that getting myself out of my comfort zone helps energize my mind and makes me ready to tackle new and exciting things. So if you’re having trouble getting inspired, here are a few ideas of things you can do:

1. Walk around your neighborhood and challenge yourself to take ten creatively cropped pictures

This will help you start thinking creatively about common, everyday things and settings by looking at them in a new light.

2. Make a claymation inspired by a dream you had

Working with clay and thinking creatively about illustrating different moments in time, even if they can seem silly and nonsensical like dreams, will help you find the art in moments.

The Ewok Terrier by collage artist Megan Coyle
“The Ewok Terrier” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
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3. Play with your food

Find different and unique ways to rearrange the food on your plate. This can help you find the fun in everyday activities. And who knows, perhaps this could inspire a fun new series.

4. Find ten different items in your room and create characters inspired by them

This is another exercise in finding the art in common, ordinary things. Our lives can’t always be really exciting or inspiring, so it’s up to you to find that inspiration in what might otherwise be drab or dull.

5. Write a poem where the first line comes from the first thing that pops into your head

Brainstorming ideas can sometimes feel like a chore. Turning it into more of a game can help you find inspiration, and get into a brainstorming rhythm.

6. Take a series of photos to make a flipbook

It’s great to look at things you’re used to and might normally overlook in a new way. Making a flipbook can help you focus on making mundane actions interesting.

7. Make a collage entirely from cutting and layering text

This allows you to look at typography in a new way – by focusing more on the shape and color of text than the actual content.

Portrait of a Dog by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Malachi” Collage on paper. 9″x12″
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8. Make a painting without using a paintbrush

Again, this gets you thinking outside the box. Without a brush, what kind of shapes and strokes can you make with other objects or tools that are dipped in paint?

9. Find the music in normal sounds and dance to it

Avoid succumbing to the humdrum of routine and the ordinary, by training your ears and mind to find the music around you.

10. Pretend you are someone else – what kind of work would you make? Try it!

Learning to see things from someone else’s perspective is a useful skill to have. If you’re making art from someone else’s point of view, it could help you think more about the messaging behind your work.

How to Build a Wall of Positivity for Your Creative Self

As a creative, it’s easy for my confidence and self-esteem to take a hit from time to time. I am putting myself out there as an artist, which means it’s easier for my work to get rejected and criticized. And although I can get better at dealing with rejection when it comes to my work, that doesn’t mean it won’t sting from time to time.

In an ideal world, I’m sure all artists would love to have every piece they’ve made to be thought of as perfect and beautiful to every viewer. The truth is, not everything we make will be great and not everyone will like our work. But that’s part of the beauty of being an artist – the exploration of our work and process. It’s a fantastic journey where we experiment with making things. Some of those experiments won’t turn out well, while others will make us stand back in disbelief that somehow we made something that came together just right.

But for those days when I’ve felt discouraged and frustrated with my work, I realized I needed to find a way to remind myself that I am capable of doing good work. So today I decided to do an exercise. I decided to build a “wall of positivity,” and I thought I’d share it so that it can help anyone else out there who needs a little bit of a creative confidence boost.

  1. I took a stack of three different color sticky notes. One color would be used to focus on my achievements as an artist, another would highlight my skills, and the last would focus on my personality traits.
  2. I wrote down a different achievement or positive way to describe myself on separate sticky notes.
  3. As I wrote down a thought, I took the sticky note and stuck it to a blank wall.
  4. I kept writing down thoughts until I had a few rows of notes on the wall.
  5. I took a step back and stared at the notes for a little bit. It’s difficult to feel discouraged with your work when you have a wall of positivity staring back at you.

I think it’s important for artists to find creative ways to remind themselves why they’re doing what they’re doing. It’s good to recognize your successes no matter how small, so you don’t forget the great things you’ve accomplished and where they can lead you next.

Top 10 Things to do When You’re in a Creative Rut

Coffee Cup Collages by collage artist Megan Coyle

I was recently in a bit of a creative rut. I was feeling uninspired and noticed that my attitude about my work was getting increasingly negative. I had developed this “what’s the point in making artwork anymore?” mindset, which was clearly toxic and needed to be fixed.

I started making some changes in my life, and found that several of them were pretty helpful. So if you find yourself in somewhat of a creative rut, here are a few things to keep in mind that can help you get out if it:

1. Take a vacation

If you have a day job and you’re working on your artwork on the side, or if you’re a full-time art entrepreneur, you might find yourself having trouble figuring out when to actually stop working. The danger of having a “never stop working” attitude is that you run the risk of burning yourself out. So if you’re finding yourself uninspired, and feel like your creative passion is beginning to fade, take a vacation. Your body is telling you that you need a break.

2. Give yourself pep talks

I realized I was being too hard on myself, and I needed to start talking to myself the way I talk to my friends or family members when they’re going through a hard time. Instead of dismissing my work as “terrible,” I started editing my thoughts so they’d be more like, “this might not be where you want it yet, but it will get there.”

Afternoon in the Park by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Afternoon in the Park” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
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3. Take better care of yourself

Taking a step back from your work and focusing on yourself can really help. Make sure you get enough sleep, eat, and exercise. If you’re worn thin physically, it’s difficult to work hard on your craft.

4. Go to a museum

Simply setting aside your work for a while, and going to an art museum or gallery to admire the work of others, can help you get inspired. It can also give you another perspective by showing you what else is out there, and how your work fits in. Or how you can do things differently now that you have learned about a new artist or body of work.

5. Spend more time with friends or family

Spending time away from your artwork and around others can help you get motivated again. Conversations can jumpstart new ideas.

6. Go to a concert or play

Seeing the work of other creative artists can help you get passionate about your work again.

7. Do something for someone else

Doing something for someone else can help you get out of your head, and you can start focusing on something new for a while. It can also help inspire future works of art.

“City Sunsets” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
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8. Organize your life

When your “to do” list is growing out of control, it’s difficult of feel in control of your life, and it’s easier to fall even deeper into a creative rut. Getting organized can make tasks related to your artwork more manageable. I’ve also found that mapping out what I plan to do for the week on my calendar, really helps breakdown my workload into manageable chunks. Plus, if I don’t have enough time to get to one item, I can easily reassign it to a new day. So instead of taming an incredibly long “to do” list, I’m working on a couple of tasks every day.

9. Set goals

First, I think it’s helpful to list out what you’ve already accomplished. It’s useful to keep a running list, so if you’re ever feeling negative about your work, you can pull out the list to remind yourself of what you’ve achieved thus far. Then I think it’s helpful to work on setting new, manageable goals, to continue to move you along with your artistic career.

10. Change something

It’s easy to become a creature of habit and fall into the same routine day in and day out. But if you’re in a rut, changing things up a bit can really help. It can be something as small as taking a different route to the grocery store, or experimenting with a new medium with your artwork. Change can take you out of your comfort zone and help move you forward.


Have you tried something else that’s helped you get out of a creative rut? Feel free to share what worked for you in the comments!