One of the hardest parts of art: staying in practice

How many artists out there struggle with continuing with art as their path? How many artists do continue with art everyday? If you didn’t know this already, I chose to work a 9-5 art job while still doing my own personal side art gigs.

You’re probably saying, “this whole time she could’ve been some more well known artist if she just committed to doing art.”

MMMM. Not exactly.

You see, the misconception for a lot of artists is that you need to just produce art and sell it. Let me ask you though, what about funding for what’s essential to selling: website, business cards, or advertising. How else is your work suppose to get out there in the world without these things?

We want to sustain ourselves with our craft, I get it. But nobody out there will tell you how to brand yourself so that your work is actually looked at and bought, not just another artist on Instagram, ya know?

I suggest go get a job if you have to do it in order to keep supplying to your hustle, I did it.

BUT, I know a very common situation that happens from picking up a side job:

  • Phase 1: I have to go pick up a side job.
  • Phase 2: Yay, got a side job to feed my art, but now suddenly, there’s more income coming in from side job but not too much from actual hustle.
  • Phase 3: Now, my hustle starts becoming your side job and my then-side job becomes the actual hustle.


I recently talked to Tina Stoffel and oil painter from Marietta, Georgia who does really dope work by the way. She also agrees that “if you have to get another job do it,” but she also notes,  “Don’t give up your art.”

Often times we see that scenario play out above. Where you work a job to feed what you thought was your actual hustle but overtime that dies down and you stop doing art, instead you’re doing your day job.

Staying in practice is key

Photo by Tina Stoffel

Stoffel suggests to sketch and produce even if it’s a small project to keep practicing. You’ll realize that small projects like this will definitely help you stay creative because it’s short and you aren’t expecting to finish it. If you do, great

When you practice, you also learn to pump new ideas which will cycle out any old ideas that is taking up a big portion of your brain, even if you don’t notice it. Sometimes we hang on to some ideas that we hope to work and it legitly feels like there’s no space for new ideas.

During this time, you will eventually develop yourself a brand. You will identify a style for yourself, even if you thought you had one before. These are all essential to becoming a self-sustaining artist

You practiced. Now invest back.  

After working long hours of your day job. I could understand why you’re tired and don’t want to work, but think about how much you’ve invested into your hustle.

What I really learned over the years was how to budget and save. Learn how to identify goals that you would like to see achieved and just start saving for it using your day job.

I got paid every week so I would take out a minimum of $20.00 USD and stash it away in an account or for those who want to be a bit more tangible, use the envelope method. Stash and never look or touch it again, until you are ready to use it for your work.

Some other methods I did to pick up some cash for the company:

  • Pick up some small side projects, invest a part of the earnings back into your work savings.
  • Learn how to pack your own food, stop eating out. What I would’ve used for buying Chic-fil-a that week, I stash it away and instead home cooked my meals for school.
  • Cut out things from your monthly bills if you can. My essentials were really Netflix and Apple Music. Got rid of some other streaming services I was using and some gaming accounts (sad, but had to be done).

Some other methods I didn’t do, but would help:

  • Do more hours at work.
  • Stash away more than what you budgeted to stash if you can that week. Some weeks I felt extra proud that I could stash 30 or 40 bucks instead of 20.
  • Pick up projects that will be long term paid. It’ll be as if you’re working another job but hey I was making an extra 100 a month just to help someone publish to their social media every weekend.
  • No shame in picking up another part-time. Sad to say this, but if it’s manageable for you to work two jobs and your art, do it. Hard work pays off.

You practiced. You invested. Now Promote.

I’m picturing you at least a year into this. You have been through a lot of shit and some days you want to

throw in the towel and say fuck it to art, but look at where you are now!

Use your funds, get your business cards, get your website together. Stoffel would suggest to expose your work in local restaurants or shops. She also goes to local art markets (not pictured right) to not only see other people’s work but also to learn about pricing. She’s now at a point in her life where she does art full-time comfortably and can make a bit of extra income through displaying her work in local galleries.

While you’re at it, join support groups on Facebook and get tips on how to improve on top of the improvement you’ve already done for yourself.

It’s a tough ass world out there creatives. Everyone is going to try to promote on social media and to their friends, but how are you going to do it differently? By all means, go FIND your way to expose your work and do it creatively.





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23 thoughts on “One of the hardest parts of art: staying in practice

  1. Tina Stoffel says:

    Great advice Tammy. Hopefully those in their hustle job can also get some work shown through that employer’s public location. Exposure is key.

    1. The Creative Folks says:

      All advice came from you! Loved our conversation

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