10 Common Mistakes for Artists To Avoid

common mistakes by artists

Here are 10 common mistakes for artists to avoid. If this is your first time reading my blog, I’m a contemporary landscape artist. You can view my online landscape painting gallery here. The following mistakes are things I’ve learned over the years.

#1 Don’t sell all your great work.

Invest in yourself and hold on to some of the really good ones. Study the ones you keep and if you are going in the right direction you will discover their magic. I have pictures from thirty years ago and can now appreciate what took place inside the creative spirit that produced them.

#2 A little originality trumps the best imitation.

Be original–not necessarily different but at least distinctly you. In writing, they call it finding your voice. And this usually means when you stop imitating and begin to show the world your personal perspective on things. Originality is much more powerful than imitation—even if that imitation is highly polished.

#3 Don’t dig through the garbage looking for a crust of bread.

This has nothing to do about the starving artist thing; it’s about the people and places you try to use to further your career. Exhibiting your work is not a hang anywhere scenario. Be selective and exhibit professionally such as your studio (or home studio) or at a gallery. Restaurants, craft fairs, downtown parks, sidewalks, and the local bakery are usually easy places to show—but they might not be worth the effort. The lighting is dreadful and the clientele are not interested in buying art: they are there to eat, to walk in the park, or buy a coffee at the bakery. The most basic rule of marketing is to fish where the fish are. Exhibit in places where people come to view and buy art.

#4 Don’t neglect your natural talent.

It is innate and it is yours to nurture. I have a talent painting nature. I really enjoy sitting for 2 or 3 hours painting outdoors. It’s natural for me; I don’t force myself to do it. I feed this talent first and then attend to the rest. Identify your natural ability and develop it.

#5 Don’t bury yourself in your ego.

A reasonable amount of progress in a reasonable amount of time is a much healthier lifestyle than working on your craft 13 hours a day. Go for the marathon. Painting 15 hours a week (in the evenings, the early mornings) for 50 years is much more productive that working all night one day, and then not touching a brush for a few weeks. Integrate your craft into your daily life.

#6 Don’t get stuck in the studio.

Get ye to the high mountain and refresh your creative awareness by looking, sketching, enjoying, and appreciating nature. Or, if you are not a landscape artist, go down into the streets, hear people talk, and experience life.

#7 Don’t neglect OPPORTUNITY.

It might not knock on your door but it is out there.

#8 Study, study, study.

Read about great artists. Find out their struggles and joys. Look at their work and their contemporaries. Where do you fit? Will anybody read about you? Is that important to you? Why do you do what you do? Introspection helps your work become more original. Study them and grow.

#9 Don’t use inferior grade materials.

Bronze and stone are permanent. Use permanent materials only. If you can’t afford them then work smaller until you overcome that problem. Art needs to survive. And you will thank yourself later (in 30 years) for buying the better material.

#10 Don’t avoid struggle.

Overcome with perseverance and principals. Struggle is learning. It strengthens our weakness.

You can view Ron Mulvey’s contemporary landscape paintings here. Or take home a small original art work for only $40–ready to view, ship, and be ordered online in Ron’s online store. View and buy inexpensive art online here.

Bad experiences buying art online?

By Ron Mulvey

What is the greatest fear related to buying art online?

Sending money to a stranger and getting ripped off? Being disappointed with the true product when it arrives at our door? Not really knowing whether the dimensions will fit our walls or whether the colours will match the rest of our house or office? And then being stuck with a giant picture–wondering if the artist wouldn’t be terribly upset if we asked for our money back?

Obviously, artists like myself are biased when it comes to encouraging people to buy art online. But I think the real fear isn’t any of those questions above–the real fear is that we have never done it before. It’s new.

For what it is worth, here is an artist’s take on why buying art online is advantageous to both buyers and sellers.

You pay less for art online

Most art galleries know that they need to somehow adopt to the growing amount of artists trying to sell their art on websites–rather than in galleries. And so, they advise buyers to go search out a particular artist online by a gallery and then report back to them to see and possibly purchase that online painting at their gallery. Comissions are added onto the price ranging from 40% to 60%  and you walk out with your painting,  feeling safe secure and satisfied.

Galleries still want to be the centre of the art trade. But in five or ten years, people will simply become more comfortable buying online. For example, I never thought anyone would buy clothes online. You need to try on a sweater or shirt before you buy, right? But online clothes retailers like J Crew are showing that younger generations don’t have the same objections to online shopping as many Baby Boomers. My daughter regularly buys sweaters, blouses, and even boots online. And really, it’s not much different than how we have shopped and purchased with catalogues for the last 100 or so years.

In other words, the biggest objection to buying art online is that you won’t like the painting when you receive it in the mail. And, as online retailers know, this is best answered by a strong, fair return policy which puts the extra cost on the seller. People will never buy online if they don’t feel like they have the freedom to change their mind once the product arrives in the mail. And that means that the seller must take on the responsibility of risk and the seller must absorb the costs associated with that return.

Artists need to do the same–if the customer isn’t satisfied when the painting arrives, then they should be able to ship it back, get a refund, and pay nothing for the inconvenience.

That’s because the worst fear of buying art online is that you are making a large purchase decision. You want to make sure you make the right choice and not buy something you regret. By the seller assuming the risk and offering strong refunds, then it is just a much more pleasant, comfortable experience for the customer.

You get to know the artist better

If this were a traditional gallery, you’d never get to see much of the artist. With online sales, artists like me have to prove we are human with blogs. You have to interact with the customers, talk about your own work, and even pick up the phone.

I find this very rewarding. Nothing fuels an artist like an audience. And I think that customers appreciate this as well. The web is making the world smaller, not bigger.

Payment is secure

As most artists aren’t web developers, they rely on 3rd party payment systems like Paypal. These are very secure. It really is no different in terms of risk than giving your credit card to the clerk at the grocery store.

You can ask directly

With email, you can always get rid of any other objections simply by asking. If you have any questions, please contact me <ron.mulvey@yahoo.ca>. I really will personally respond and back all my paintings with a 90 day full-refund policy. I will also refund you the cost of shipping the art back if you aren’t completely happy with your painting.

And then even send you a free little framed sketch for your trouble. Because a happy customer, even if they return a purchase from time to time, is always the best marketing.

About Ron

Ron is a contemporary landscape artist. You can view and buy his landscape paintings in his online art gallery.

Never bought art online before? Ron offers beautiful, original landscape paintings for just $40. You can view and order these small paintings here.