For the beginning artist, often one of the biggest obstacles to overcome is the belief that in order to be successful you must live in or near a big city and thus have access to large, upscale galleries and their big-money clients. In fact, for the beginning artist, geography is largely irrelevant. Having access to a large metropolitan area is important for the beginning artists ONLY in that it allows them to visit these museums and galleries as spectators and students. Insofar as selling is concerned, I dare say NO beginning artist is going to walk into a major gallery, portfolio in hand and gain representation. That doesn't even happen in the MOVIES. But, regardless of place of domicile, the artists CAN succeed if he or she will simply ADAPT. This takes on a number of different elements, but the key word is versatility--letting your environment shape your career, instead of trying to shoehorn someone ELSE'S model success story into your own personal situation.
Though I'm by no means a model success story, here's some advice I've garnered from experience, books, and hearsay. 1. Work from your home. Storefronts are expensive ego trips and 90% of them fold within 90 days. 2. Take classes or else TEACH classes, either way you're going to learn a lot. 3. Collect books on any and all art that interests you including art history--you may learn far more "how to" from them than from the "how to" books. 4. Join a local arts group--no man (or woman) is an island. United you expand, divided you crawl. 5. Do self-portraits. You get to know yourself and you always have the model handy when you show your work. 6. Build a tear file--pictures torn from any source you can find that you think you might even CONCEIVABLY have a use for. Mine occupies the better part of a two drawer file cabinet. 7. Discipline yourself. Take pride in the fact that you work when you don't feel like it. 8. Do local color. Hit the parks, monuments, bridges, schools, churches, stores, post offices, factories first, and THEN start doing that which sells over again from other angles, in other mediums, at other times of the day and year, and in other formats. After that, start doing some of the more outstanding homes in the area. THIS WORKS!
Don't miss the humble in search of the grandiose. A row of mail boxes can be far more interesting than a row of mansions. Once you have a body of work, 9. arrange an art show in a public place--a library, store window, local gift shop, your church, an office, any clean, attractive place open for hours at a time over a period of days or weeks. 10. Learn to take good, utilitarian photos. You're not going to be displaying them so they need only be good enough, not perfect. 11. Do matting and framing. It takes some space, some new skills, and some time, but it allows you to control the piece of artwork from conception to sale; and in a low-volume situation, the savings and income adds up quickly. 12. Enter area (within 100-200 miles) juried shows. Even if you don't win, even if you don't even get in, they're fun, educational, and important to your career. 13. Promote but don't advertise. Business cards, a brochure, a newspaper article, that's promotion. Ads are a waste. 14. Keep your own books and other records. Know where the money comes from and where it goes to. 15. Price to sell. If you get too busy, raise your prices, if the opposite is true, lower them. And finally, the word I used at the beginning, the most important thing in all this cheap advice--BE VERSATILE. Learn to do it all. It's the highest compliment that can be paid an artist.