top of page
  • Writer's pictureHazel Manley

What Do Artists Do When They're Not "Arting"?

Updated: Oct 20, 2021

If you tell someone you're an artist, then the chances are they think you spend all day, every day, stood at an easel painting. The reality is very different. Apart from the fact that I don't use an easel, but sit at a tilting table and don't use tubes of paint, but sticks of oil pastels, I can't remember the last time I spent a whole day painting. Not only is painting incredibly tiring, but, more importantly, there are lots of other things that have to be done, because , unless you sell all your work through a gallery, being an artist is like running a small business.

So, what do artists do when not 'arting'?

The same stuff as everyone else!

Most artists I know also have the usual household or family commitments to juggle with creating art, many also have part time, or even full time, jobs as well.

Gathering Inspiration

Even those who paint from life in the open air have to visit places to check out the possibilities. I take hundreds and hundreds of photos and research the background of the subjects of my pictures.

Sourcing Art Materials

Knowing what colours you have and which are running out is vital. When I was starting out, I had had to pause a painting because I ran out and cut reordering too fine! keeping stock of materials and paintings takes time.

Videoing & Photographing Art

Images from snaps to high quality photographs or videos, make it possible for others to see work and, hopefully, fall in love with it.

Social Media

Whilst few artists I know actually sell work via social media, most find it invaluable in getting people to see work and visit their website.

Website Creation and Maintenance

Until I decided I needed my own website, I had no idea about any of the processes that went into setting up a website. Setting up your own website is time consuming, which is why many small businesses pay others to do it, but if you take the time & trouble to do it yourself, it is easier to update it or try new things. I also recently came across two small businesses which had been badly let down by those they'd entrusted their websites to, leaving them without a website altogether!


OK it's a bit weird to blog about blogging! Most advisors deem a blog an essential part of introducing both yourself and your work so here I am!

Clearing Up

I hate starting work with a mess, so I like to clear up after each work session. I've found using oil pastels much easier to clear up than acrylics or oils which is quite a bonus!

Developing Art Products to Make Art More Accessible

I thought I'd use my new products as an example of what's involved here. I start by asking for recommendations for printers and manufacturers - one of the lovely things about the art community is the willingness to share information and experiences. I then work out what I need to send (online) to each printer. Each needs a particular kind of image. Some (like the printer of greetings cards) want high quality but small image files. Other (such as the art quality prints or scarf) need quite large files. Where really good images were needed, I used a high resolution scanner. Some paintings need several passes because the originals are so large. These then have to be greatly enlarged on a screen and very carefully examined for sharpness and clarity. Quite often the colours need adjusting to make sure that the final item will be a faithful reproduction of the original as far as possible. For me, this has been a very steep and time consuming learning curve! Finding the right programmes to achieve my aims and learning how to use them takes a lot of time which I view as a skills investment just as much as learning how to use a new medium or a new painting technique.

Because I like to see the quality before adding an item to my website, I order a sample so I can see it for myself. Finally there is the tricky business of pricing work or products so that the price is fair to both my customers and myself.

Invoicing, Wrapping and Selling

When setting up my website, I decided that as my business is relatively small, I can afford the luxury of dealing with sales personally. So, whilst I could add an automated shop so you could just pop items into an anonymous basket, instead when you click on the link, it takes you to an email form. It gives me an opportunity to tailor the process to suit you. If I can save money on postage and packaging, I can pass that on to you, if you would prefer to use a particular carrier (or avoid a specific carrier) I can arrange to accommodate that. It means I get to know my customers which is one of the perks of running a smaller business. Finally, when I wrap an item, I like wherever possible to reuse packaging. During the lockdown, I've been doing most of my shopping online and the amount of packaging that generates is huge. If some of it gets reused before being recycled, that's better for everyone.

The Other Stuff!

At present, unlike many artists, I'm not teaching, visiting galleries, doing online demonstrations etc, but I have many friends who fit all these in as well.

So, perhaps the question is not, 'What do artists do when not arting?' The question is, 'How do you fit in time for arting?


bottom of page