Photo caption: Milan Art Institute founder Elli Milan adds a few touches to a painting. Photo courtesy of the Milan Art Institute.
For many who dream of becoming a professional artist, a career change is in order. The question for many of these brave and passionate artists isn’t so much if they want to become professional artists. The question for them is how to do it.
There are some real obstacles for these artists to overcome. They buy into the myth of the starving artist. They may have attended art schools that didn’t teach them how to turn their vision of an art career into an actual career. They may have well-meaning friends and family who try to talk them out of it.
However, as MAI’s Mastery Program proves, creating a professional art career isn’t impossible if you have the heart, the conviction and the courage to overcome these obstacles. It’s something that Milan Art Institute founder Elli Milan addresses both in the Mastery Program and in the school’s podcast.
Her experience allows her to offer aspiring artists, like you, some concrete advice on how to transition out of a job and a passion career. In the school’s podcast, Light Movement, Elli outlines five steps aspiring artists like you can take to make the transition from day job to professional artist.
Your transition from a “regular” job into a professional art career will likely require you to make some sacrifices. According to Elli, this may mean you have to become conservative with your money. For example, you may have to put off a vacation. You may have to forego your weekly dinner outings with friends. Maybe you’ll have to put more money into savings than you normally do.
However, making these sacrifices means that you’ll have the financial resources you need to invest in your art career. This kind of sacrifice requires you to devote yourself to a single cause and to continue on with the pursuit of that cause despite the sacrifices you’ll need to make.
There is no replacement for excellence when it comes to building a professional art career. As an artist, your skills allow you to make a living selling your art. If you feel as if there is a gap between the skills you have and the skills you need to become the artist you dream of becoming, you must make a commitment to invest in yourself.
This may mean taking classes from an online art school. It may also mean that you attend a weekend seminar to learn more about marketing and promotion. It may also mean that you invest in marketing materials, like a website, marketing collateral, like business cards, or business supplies, like a mixed media paint kit.
Virtuosity comes with a price, but it comes with as many or more rewards. Becoming a professional artist requires you to become more than you are today, but it will be so worth it in the end.
When you transition out of your job and into your art career, there will be a time when you’re likely working at both jobs. When Elli created the art school, she worked full time as an artist and full time at building the school. Elli points out in the podcast that Dimitra Milan, co-founder of the Milan Art Institute, also worked very hard - sometimes 60 to 70 hours a week to meet a deadline for her art career.
It’s likely that you’ll be asked to do the same. This kind of work pace requires you to develop a warrior spirit. It’s the best way to inspire yourself to push on when things get tough.
This goes back to the sacrifice idea, but it may be a bit more personal. It could mean that you must make new friends who support your art career. It may also mean that some of the people who surround you currently may not be as supportive, so you may have to spend less time with them in order to make your art career a go.
You’ll face a number of obstacles on the road to your dreams, and Elli points out that this kind of life isn’t for the faint of heart. You have to have an above average mentality and be willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.
Again, that’s where the warrior spirit comes in. In fact, Elli likens the process to being at war with yourself. This is particularly true when you’re battling your own inner obstacles. You have to keep pushing at the obstacles in front of you until they budge. Doing this over and over again is what allows you to eventually transcend the boundaries that hold you back.
Listen to the whole podcast in its entirety to get more useful tips on transitioning out of your job and into your passion career.
MAI team members Jake Dunn and Dimitra Milan Dunn also weigh in.
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