There is a common belief that self-taught artists are at a disadvantage when it comes to becoming professionals. We are of the belief that anyone can be successful, and in the end, the most important thing is the work. That having said, there are certain hurdles which self-taught artists often face, so here we address some of the most common of the self-taught artist and offer some practical advice and solutions.

  • No formal art education to add to an artist’s CV. Though many self-taught artists feel self-conscious about not listing art education on their CV, it’s not a deal-breaker in any professional situation that we are aware of, other than teaching. Applying for exhibitions, representation, grants, and the like should not require a formal art education. Ideally, hopefully, and usually—it’s all about the work. For more CV advice, check out How to Write an Artist’s CV in 10 Steps and How to Write an Artist’s CV When You Don’t Have Much (or Any!) Professional Experience.
  • Hesitation or uncertainty in applying to art galleries. It can be intimidating and frightening for anyone to submit their artwork to a gallery. Sometimes self-taught artists feel like they don’t have an “in” or don’t understand why or how galleries make their selection. Though this is a broad and open topic, we have six different articles about researching, approaching, and applying to art galleries in our Submission Tips page to help you put your best foot forward.
  • Lack of focus with business or career goals. Though some self-taught artists are savvy marketers and goal-oriented individuals, many struggle with the realities making art a career. A formal art education generally exposes students to the structure of the contemporary art world and reveals a number of different paths to take. Starting out as a self-taught artist without these paths dictated to you can be overwhelming, however there are countless quality resources available online for free to help any artist, self-taught or otherwise, including our 10 Week Bootcamp to Improve Your Artistic Career.


Are you a self-taught artist? What advantages or disadvantages have you experienced?


Some further reading and resources on the topic:

Art Marketing for the Self-Taught Artist from ArtBusiness.com

The Rise of Self-Taught Artists by Sarah Boxer on The Atlantic

Who is self taught? on Joanne Mattera’s Art Blog


Image: Stephen Eastop

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