10 things you need to be an artist

What are the things you need to be an artist?

And – much more importantly – what are the things ✨YOU✨ need to be an artist?

Today I’m sharing a non exhaustive list of things I’ve found to be essential on the artist path – and they might not all be what you’d think.

But that second question is the one to really ponder, because you’re not like anyone else exactly, and so you get to choose what you – in all your glorious quirky uniqueness – need to be the fabulous artist you are.

1 | The call

I always say, if you feel called to something, that’s because it’s something you can do, and most likely need to for fulfillment and feeling like yourself.

This as is true for art as it is for anything else.

It might be an occasional whisper, it might be a relentless internal pressure or longing, but you’ll know it if you’re hearing it.

And if you ignore it, it will just get louder. It MIGHT go away for a while, but it will come back.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 😉

2 | Some art supplies

Some. Not ALL! Don’t let lack of funds be a reason you don’t respond to the call.

You can make art with a pencil and a piece of paper, or nature finds gathered on a walk.

Art supplies can be expensive, and creativity thrives in constraint.

Wood panel painting process

3 | A little space

You don’t need a dedicated studio, although that is lovely and if you’re going to make art your full time job, highly advisable.

You just need a place you can create in, whether it’s a corner of the spare room, or the coffee table.

4 | A little time

There are many artists out there with full time jobs, parenting or other family duties, caring roles, relationships, hobbies… you know, lives, who still find time to make their art.

That’s not to make you feel bad if you’re not, although I suspect you’re already feeling not that great if you’re not getting to make your art at all.

And in truth, it’s not about finding time. No one ever ‘finds’ time.

You create it, you choose it, you set it aside for a specific thing, you write it in the calendar like you would any appointment.

A big project can grow from 10 minutes a day.

Acorns and oak trees and all that.

Here’s a post that might help if time is an issue for you right now.

5 | Willingness

Willingness will stand you in SUCH good stead if you’re going to commit to this artist thing.

Willingness to be a beginner, to make art you think is dreadful, to be in it for the long haul, to hear ‘no’ more than you’d like, to persist through the difficult bits {there will be difficult bits, just like in life}.

Willingness to risk materials, to support yourself when others may not, to learn, to grow, to commit to yourself.

Willingness will take you far, artist friend.

6 | A Demon Management System™

No artist escapes the demons.

If you’re not sure what I mean by that, demons are what I call the difficult bits – self doubt, fear, overwhelm, confusion, getting stuck, feeling like a fraud, worrying what others will think….

You get the picture!

We all have ’em, even those of us who’ve been making art for a long time.

But when you learn how to manage them, it all gets so much easier.

{Sidenote: I’m pretty good at demon management, and I can teach you how. It’s a big part of the Happy Artist Studio, because knowing all the techniques means nothing if you’re too stuck, scared, confused, or blocked to actually use them!}

7 | Artist friends

We often make art in solitude, but we don’t have to be alone as artists.

We all need support, encouragement, shared experience, inspiration, advice, camaraderie – connection.

Especially with people who get it.

Lots of artists have lovely non artists in their lives who may even be supportive, but sometimes you just need to discuss the merits of Titanium White over Zinc White with someone who knows.

{Another sidenote: In the Happy Artist Studio we have a very friendly and welcoming, non judgemental, supportive private community full of artists carving their path just like you. Support is baked in. And it’s not on Facebook.}

8 | A way to gather and store your inspiration

This can get out of hand very quickly!

Thousands of photos and videos on your phone, scraps of paper covered in notes or torn from magazines, ephemera and nature finds, stacks of sketchbooks…

If you don’t have some sort of containment system for this it can make it hard to find what you need when you need it.

Or indeed remember you have it.

Find more ideas around this here.

studio wall

9 | Courage

Matisse wasn’t wrong.

Creativity {and being an artist} does take courage.

In part that comes over time, and in part it’s something we can choose, over and over.

The beauty of that is it is its own reward, and it also comes with the rewards of the thing we were courageous enough to try.

I find having an experimental mindset and approach makes being courageous much easier.

It takes the pressure off, because you’re ‘just trying it’. 😊

10 | Patience

Being an artist is for many of us – and especially if you’re reading this or hang out with me somewhere online – not a whim or occasional hobby.

It’s a lifelong obsession, quite frankly.

It’s also a long game.

The skills and confidence – and recognition and sales, if that’s where you’re going – take time to build.

It’s like any relationship – the best ones are the ones we put time, attention, energy and care into.

Expect to lean hard on patience as you walk your artist path – just knowing it’s part of the deal can help to make the sometimes painfully slow feeling bits easier.


What would you add to this list? Did I leave out something obvious? {Entirely possible.} Share your thoughts in the comments!