What is the business of art?

Who is a Professional Artist? You may be someone who really enjoys making art and is really good at it. This can be the first step on the road to becoming a professional artist. Shifting to a more professional career path can take many different forms.

‘First Steps’


Your artisitic path could include taking some formal education, starting to show your work in public venues; and selling your work. These are typical activities for professional artists.

The International Artists Association defines a “professional artist” as one who:

  • earns a living through art making;
  • or possesses a diploma in an area considered to be within the domain of the fine arts;
  • or teaches art in a school of art or applied art;
  • or whose work is often seen by the public or is frequently or regularly exhibited;
  • or is recognized as an artist by consensus of opinion among professional artists.

This definition is a simplification of the complex experiences many artists go through in their development of a professional practice. One of the first steps on this journey is to evaluate your practice.

‘Artistic Practice’


Do you want to make the shift from making art for your own pleasure into a more professional practice? Are you ready to exhibit? Is your work at the point where you want to share it with a broader audience or do you want to refine some aspect of the work- areas for more exploration could include exploring why you make art and how you want to share that practice with an audience; refining your technical skills; or working on your presentation and framing. Exhibiting your work creates a permanent public profile of who you are as an artist.

All of the artists interviewed related the important role that mentors played in their artistic development.

‘Mentors and Networking’


You may want to start by networking with other artists; further education- attending short courses/workshops or a formal educational institution; or working with an experienced mentor. You may want to start by having some informal showings of your work with friends, family and artist peers in your own home and/or studio.