1. Find a way to make money. I know it’s going to be hard these days because of the economy. Once you decide what kind of job you are interested in you might discover that you still don’t have the right skills for it, so find out what is required and start developing those skills and perhaps a few more so you can qualify for any opportunities out there.
Make finding a job your first priority before you continue producing more work, especially if you must pay for your own housing. Nothing is more important than your art except to take care of yourself financially, physically, mentally, and socially. Succeeding as an artist starts out with having a way to support yourself.
If you really want to continue with your art work after college, what helps the most is to work at a job with other creative people. It may be in an art museum or gallery or it may be in a local restaurant with an artistic vibe and artwork hanging everywhere. Being around works of art and creative people all the time can really inspire you to keep producing work.
2. Set up a studio space in your living environment. Then set aside time each week to continue making your art.
3. Set aside time to do the following:
a. Get out to local art shows in your area.
b. Start reading art magazines to stay up to date on what is going on in the art world.
c. Submit your work to local art shows.
Step “c” is important because if you do nothing but produce work then no one will know you exist. You can tell that it’s time to get your work out there when your studio space starts overflowing with pieces. One thing you could do is spend a year producing work, the next year getting your work out there, and so on.
4. Keep working at your writing skills. Maybe English wasn’t one of your favorite subjects in high school or college but using proper grammar is a must have when it comes to art world success, especially when you apply to shows and events. I don’t like writing that much but I know it’s something that must be practiced regularly. You can start a journal to write about your art practice, which is also a great way to remind yourself how much you have grown as an artist. Or do what I’m doing right now-- start a blog.
5. Learn to cook. During your first few years out of college and in the real world you probably won’t be making much money, so you will need to save as much of it as possible and one of the best ways to do that is to avoid eating out. It’s ok to eat out once in a while but it’s best to avoid it. Obviously you don’t want to do it every day. When you cook at home you will be amazed by how much money you save. And it’s fun too. Don’t get me wrong-- I still love my pizza, Chinese food, and diner food, but I don’t eat them every day. Instead enjoy them when celebrating something. (The way they were meant to be enjoyed). If you’re staying home on a Friday or Saturday night watching TV, you could order out.
6. Find a support group. When you are starting out with your art career it’s important to get as much support as possible because, unfortunately, you are going to feel very isolated being by yourself in your studio all the time, so you will need as much emotional support as possible. A group of like-minded artists would be a great support group.
It’s also understandable that you might want to take a break from making art for a few years since you’ve been painting like hell for the last few. But if you continue with it you should only pursue it if it makes you happy. If it doesn’t then it may not be for you (At least not for now). Paint because you want to and not because you have to. And that is my advice, take it or leave it.