The Big Difference Between Those Who Make it in Art…And Everyone Else

The Big Difference Between Those Who Make it in Art...And Everyone Else 2 BLOG The Difference between...

This is part 2 of a 3-part series on taking the next step with art career

Ever wondered how some people make it in art…and some don’t?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between those people who are able to turn their art and creative passion into a career…and those who can never get past the hobby level.

And, do you know what I think? It really has absolutely nothing to do with how skilled the person is. I’ve seen terrible artists at the professional level and I’ve seen expert artists at the hobby level.

So how could it be that somebody who is actually terrible can have an art career in the first place?

And, even more bizarrely, how could somebody whose skill level is very high not be able to find work?

Developing a Positive Mindset

After hours thinking about this question, what I’ve come to realize is this: The difference between these two types of people is actually the way they think.

The person who is a professional, or at least is being paid to perform a creative job, thinks of themselves as a professional. They think of themselves as someone who is good enough to do the work at a high-enough level to satisfy the task at hand.

On the other hand, the person who can’t seem to make their creative career work (even though from the outside looking in they have all the talent required), is suffering from a mindset issue.

It’s a mindset that’s telling them they’re not ready to go to the professional level. They tell themselves their skills are not good enough to be paid for what they do and earn a living as an artist.

To let this point hit home a little, take a second now to think about how you view yourself and your art skills.

  • Are your skills at the level where someone is willing to pay you for them?
  • Are you actively working as an artist and making a full-time wage with your creative talents?
  • Are you not quite good enough and so you’ve never thought to approach an employer?

Are you working as a full-time artist, but know that what you’re doing isn’t what you’d really love to be working on?

Perhaps you don’t feel your skills are good enough, so it’s not the right time to look for a new job?FREE Live Training: Have a big project on your mind? Learn how to turn creative dreams into creative reality.

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How to Make it in Art With Positive Thinking

I don’t know where your skills actually are without having a look at your work and knowing what your personal goals are.

However, I’ve met a lot of artists who were actually really talented and could very easily have found a job.

However, because they thought they weren’t good enough to make it in art yet, they spent all their time practicing and learning new skills, instead of reaching out to potential employers like we talked about in the previous post in this series.

So, if you think you’re not good enough to move forward with that big project you have in mind or apply for that ideal job, I really want you to stop and consider where your skills are at.

You possibly even need to get a second or third opinion here. Why? Because if it’s the case that you’re holding yourself back, someone else can have an opportunity to look at your work and help you move past your mental roadblock.

For me, the most frustrating thing when I see artists stuck in this negative loop of not thinking they’re good enough to try and get a job, is this: I know these people aren’t living up to their true potential.

I also know they’re not giving themselves an opportunity to work on things that are really exciting to them.




What’s stopping you from pushing your art career forwards?

Therefore, if you don’t feel your work is good enough to achieve your goals and make it in art, I’d like to challenge you. I’d like to ask you what might happen if you moved forward with it anyway.

For example, if you’ve always wanted to get a job working as a comic book artist, what’s stopping you from taking your portfolio and sending it into your top five favorite comic book companies and seeing what kind of response you get?

If you’ve always wanted to work in animation, what’s stopping you from sitting down and creating a short 10 to 15 second animation and putting it up on YouTube?

And then sending it to the top names in the animation industry letting them know about your video and asking them for advice on how you could improve?

And if you’ve always wanted to illustrate that story you wrote years ago, what’s stopping you from making today the day you finally do something about it and start illustrating that story?

The Big Difference Between Those Who Make it…And Those Who Don’t

The big difference I see between those who make it in art (and those who don’t), is this: The people who make it really believe they’re ready for it, and that they’re meant to be doing this.

Those people who don’t make the leap believe they’re not good enough, they’re not ready, or that the timing isn’t right.

There are all kinds of excuses we can tell ourselves in order to continue playing it safe.

And, if you’re that person and you’ve been trying to turn your creative project into reality for a long time, here’s what you need to do:

I strongly encourage you to think about your mindset when it comes to making a career from your creativity or completing that big project you’ve wanted to finish for so long.

The pro-mindset says “I’m a pro artist” –  even if that person can’t draw to save their life in this moment. As long as they continue to hold that thought and work on it, they will become a professional artist.

The amateur mindset says “I’m not quite ready” – even if that person has all the skill and talent in the world.

As long as they continue to think there is something standing in the way of their dream, they will never be able to realize that dream.

So, in knowing this, I hope you can start to develop a pro-mindset and use this to accomplish the things that are really important to you in your life.

But, most of all, I hope all this information helps you make it in art!

Live Training: Project Breakthrough

Do you have a big creative project that you’d love to see finished? Join us on this training to learn what’s been holding you back and how to start turning dreams into reality.

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10 thoughts on “The Big Difference Between Those Who Make it in Art…And Everyone Else”

  1. Brilliant post, thankyou so much! Has really inspired me and got me thinking where I am with my work and my mindset as I have so many ups and downs with it at the moment, thankyou.

    1. Chris at PencilKings

      So glad you enjoyed this post, Rebecca! We really hope it helps you feel positive about your art and make the first steps towards a rewarding career as an artist 🙂

    1. Chris at PencilKings

      Thanks so much for your feedback, Leonie 🙂 We hope this blog post inspires all artists to reach their true potential!

    2. Thanks Leonie. Took a long time for this realization to come to me. Even when you are just beginning something you can still think of yourself as a pro and get to where you want to go. And then on the flip side – if you think you’re not good enough – then you never will be.
      The kicker though is when you see people with these mindsets – it’s almost like the technical art skills that we tend to ‘think’ are the most important part don’t matter nearly as much.

  2. You’ve hit the nail on the head with his one!!! I think I’ve used literally all these excuses and my own personal favourite ‘but I don’t have a portfolio yet’ (as I didn’t go to art school) which is a fair reason but I think I’m using it as a crutch! ?
    New mantra – ‘I am a pro artist, I am a pro artist!’

    1. Another way to look at this Jess – is asking yourself ‘what would a pro do’, and then just sit and see what kind of answers come up for your situation.
      EG: If a pro artist suddenly got amnesia and their skill level went to exactly where yours was, and they didn’t have a portfolio – what would their next step be.

      Then do that step. We have so many answers inside ourselves already – we know what to do.

  3. Wow another post that hit home for me and I do that all the time the “I’m not ready” phase but then look at my work and say to myself that I have improved from where I was before then, look at great artist and say nope not there yet. But by reading this post It has really changed my perceptive of how I view my work and myself. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings about situations like this I really appreciate it!!! 🙂

  4. You really hit a soft spot on this i say all the excuses to my self and i am killing my talent and possibly my career but there us also a bigger reason for me to think that it’s because i am stuck at home in a country that doesn’t offer anything to support artists and above all that without the support of the family, even if I start improving my portfolio and find all the right people to offer me a job how will I ever get out and work?! How will i ever achieve my dream when I can’t even step outside the door without permission?!i am trapped in here so my mind keeps telling me why should I bother? why should I even try i am like no body in the middle of no where how should I deal with this issue that holds me way back !??

    1. Hey Safa, it’s great to hear from you again 🙂 I’m really sorry to hear you feel trapped by your circumstances and unable to pursue your true passion for making art. However, you’re certainly not alone. If you look through art history, you’ll find there are lots of people with similar stories, ie. Van Gogh, Frida Khalo – people who just kept on creating regardless, because it’s what they were compelled to do. So, my advice to you would be to keep doing what you love – regardless of whether people support you or not. Remember, all of us at Pencil Kings are always here for you and you’ve already made amazing progress with your art. Keep going and don’t give up, because making art is what you were born to do! Have you considered using Instagram? Lots of artists are using this to get their names out there right now, and it’s another great place to get support. Keep in touch and let us know how you get on – we’re always here for you, no matter what 🙂

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