Becoming a Professional Artist: How to Develop Self-Discipline in 3 Steps

By Milan Art Institute on June 18, 2021
Becoming a Professional Artist: How to Develop Self-Discipline in 3 Steps

Photo caption: Finding artistic inspiration often starts with the simple act of going to your easel and having something to paint once you’re there. Photo courtesy of Dalia Milan.

If you ask most artists what their biggest challenges are it is likely that they’ll say something along the lines of: “I need to learn how to find artistic inspiration.” 

Certainly, this isn’t always the case. Most artists are inspired to paint and draw a good portion of the time, mostly because they love it. After all, that’s why they are working towards becoming a professional artist.

However, a lack of inspiration does strike all artists from time to time, and when it does, it’s helpful to have some go-to strategies to get past those blocks.

Some of those inspiration helps you know, like always having a backlog of images to paint. That is to say that you’ve created enough sources to create at least 20 paintings from.

That said, there is something to be said for plain ol’ self-discipline. As Picasso once said: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” 

In other words, finding artistic inspiration comes when you’re at your easel working on a project already, but sometimes, even getting to your easel represents a heroic challenge to be conquered. 

This blog post is for those times when you might have a ready supply of images you want to paint, but little discipline to get yourself from the couch to your easel.

Video caption: How to Become an Artist: The Story of the Milan Family

3 Tips for Finding Artistic Inspiration When You Have None

1. Always Have Goals. 

Peak performance master Jim Rohn once said: “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.” There is a reason why the Mastery Program includes a section on goals. If you don’t know what you’re aiming for, how can you get there. 

Truly, if you’re looking for inspiration for artist’s block, having some goals in front of you can provide a catalyst for inspiration. Think of this way: Often people don’t know what they should be doing with their time. 

They need something to structure their days. Goals give their days structure. Without structure, they can experience a serious lack of motivation. 

It should also be said that the people who are best at reaching their goals have WRITTEN goals. According to the Huffington Post, people who write down their goals are 42% more likely to achieve them than if they don’t write down their goals.

2. Don’t Wait Until You Feel Like Doing It.

Here’s a secret. If you wait to paint until you feel like doing it, you probably won’t do it. That’s one reason why we advocate making up a painting schedule and treating your painting work like your job. 

Eventually, it will be your full-time job, if it isn’t already, and just like any other job, you’ll need to keep regular hours. By scheduling your work time, it’ll eventually become a habit. When that happens, you won’t need self-discipline to be at your easel. It’ll be a habit.

3. Remove Temptations.

When you’re on a diet, the worst thing you can do for yourself is to keep fattening snacks around. They’ll just tempt you away from your good eating habits.

So, too, is it with developing an art habit. If you want to know how to get art inspiration, then remove the things that tempt you. It could be that you can’t take your phone with you into your studio. More than this, let people know that during your scheduled working hours that you won’t be taking calls.

It could be that you’re working out in the open where you can be interrupted. If possible, move your studio to a place with a door that will allow you to shut out visitors.

The fewer distractions you have, the easier it will be for you to develop self-discipline. On a related note, if you have the means, it may be helpful to hire out some of the chores that distract. Anymore, you can get almost anything delivered. 

For example, maybe you’ll choose to have your groceries delivered. This saves you time (and possibly money, depending on the service you use). This saved time can be used to do other more productive things, like creating pieces for your portfolio or marketing collateral.

Final Words on Developing Self-Discipline

If becoming a professional artist is your ultimate goal, then you’ll need to develop a healthy dose of self-discipline. Doing so allows you to work, even when you don’t feel like it. After all, it was self-discipline that created the means for artists like Pablo Picasso to be so prolific. That being the case, if you’re wondering how to find artistic inspiration, the best thing you can do is to put yourself in front of an easel so that inspiration can find you working.

If you’d like to learn more about how to become a professional artist, then check out our Mastery Program. This unique one-year program teaches you what you need to become a working artist. Or try join our Milan Art Community, an online social learning platform for artists.

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Milan Art Institute
Milan Art Institute

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