When to Make the Jump to Full-Time Digital Artist

As artists, making a living wage with our talent and artwork is a common dream many of us share. While we all make art for different reasons, there are likely a fair number of similarities: personal enjoyment and fulfillment, scratching that creative itch, and expressing our personal beliefs, ideas, stories, and imagination.

At Daz 3D, we’ve partnered with incredibly talented artists for many years, and many of them make a full-time income with their art. Here are a few things we’ve learned from them as they’ve built up their side hustles or full-time livelihoods creating digital art. 

How Do You Become a Full-Time Digital Artist?

The easy answer: download some software, purchase materials like a tablet and pencil, or whatever you like to use, and keep practicing! The beauty of digital art, like all other mediums, is how vast and open the space is. There are so many different styles, software, and applications you can use, so don’t be afraid to explore and try different things. When you’re ready, apply for jobs, or start selling your work.

We recently published a blog post all about personal art journeys and knowing when you can call yourself an artist and what that means on a personal level. If you haven’t read that yet, we highly recommend it. This post is a natural progression from everything discussed there.

Decide if You Want To Specialize in a Certain Type of Art

As you prepare to make the transition to becoming a full-time artist, you may want to examine what your skills are and your artistic preferences. Specializing in a specific type of art may increase your ability to stand out, and if you find a niche or demand for what you bring to the table that might interest employers and buyers. On the other hand, some employers may prefer an artist who has a wide range of skills. There is no wrong way to do it, however, it’s invaluable to you as the artist to know your strengths and focus on them, whether that strength is specialization in a certain area, or being a jack of all trades kind of artist.

For example, many creative industries like the video game industry and Hollywood have dozens of reasons to employ an artist, and often for very different reasons. On one hand, you’ll find illustrators who focus primarily on concept art, which often creates the backbone for a project’s creative direction and style. Then there are animators, modelers, and others who handle the 3D implementation of the work. Both have the opportunity to work full-time doing what they love, all while doing very different types of art.

At a large studio, you might be required to specialize in one aspect, say rigging, lighting, or modeling. Or, as a concept artist you might have the freedom to use any medium you need to convey the theme, style, or concepts you imagine. Be open to opportunities, but don’t be afraid to focus on what excites you, too!

“Sanctum Lost” by rickwesh in the Daz Gallery

Build a Portfolio

Whether you want to work independently and sell your work online, or seek a job from a full-time employer, building a portfolio is essential. This is your chance to show off your skill and creativity. A portfolio is one of the best ways to break into the industry because it speaks for itself. As they say, a picture’s worth a thousand words, so I guess we could say a portfolio’s worth at least a dozen resumes!

Consider designing an online portfolio as well as a finely crafted paper one. Take your time, seek professional help if needed, and do your best to present your work in the best light possible. Many artists create portfolios that, in and of themselves, are works of art. While this isn’t necessary, and shouldn’t be overdone so as to distract from your actual artwork, this is a great opportunity to show off some design prowess and even a little creativity!

Diversify Your Revenue Streams

Making the transition to full-time can be nerve wracking if you’re going solo. Having a full-time employer usually brings some comfort of stability, benefits, etc. In contrast, if you’ve started your own business part-time and want to make the transition, you might become overwhelmed and suddenly start stressing about when the next payoff will be.

We highly recommend starting part-time first, and waiting until you’ve experienced the ins and outs of running a business before you make the jump. An important aspect of a healthy business is to try not to put all your eggs in one basket. This means diversifying your revenue streams.

Outside-the-Box Revenue Streams

Many independent digital artists have found ways to become full-time by thinking outside the box. While it isn’t for everyone, there are a number of ways to market your art, such as streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube, hosting hangouts, providing learning materials, or even just providing news about the industry or field. Once you have a community, which you can discover through social media, you could consider launching a Patreon where fans can pledge support to you. The benefit of these types of revenue streams is that they diversify your income and provide protection if you don’t sell as many items from one week to the next.

Places To Sell Your Art Online

You can also consider getting established on art platforms that allow you to sell your work. ArtStation is an excellent place for many artists because you can show off your work, offer artwork and learning materials, sell assets, and even find potential clients and job opportunities.

Research each marketplace, and don’t be afraid to post your work on different platforms as well. This is another great way to diversify and keep numerous channels open that will lead to further growth for you and your business.

“VA2022: Office With The View” by -valzheimer- in the Daz Gallery

Apply for Full-Time Jobs

If the thought of going the lonely road and being self-employed is overwhelming, finding an employer is likely the better route for you. Having the stability of a full-time job can be an important benefit to many workers. You may be surprised how many industries can make good use of artists, from video game and movie studios, to marketing, architecture and even construction for those who have skills with 3D.

Applying and interviewing for jobs can be tiresome, but it’s a necessary part of the process. Having your best portfolio ready to go and taking the time to research each company and tailor your resume and cover letter will also help increase your chances of getting an interview. When it comes time to start interviewing, don’t be ashamed of seeking a mentor within your chosen industry. Many professionals are willing to give back and help others land their first position. While you may experience rejection along the way, keep at it and don’t give up!

Kick-Off A Side-Hustle With Daz Studio

Even if you aren’t ready to become a full-time digital artist just yet, it’s never too soon to pursue a partnership with Daz Studio as a published artist. We have one of the largest marketplaces of 3D assets available, and a large community that has grown around Daz Studio over the past 20 years.

If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of becoming a published artist with Daz, we explain everything you need to know in this post How to Make Money With Daz Studio.

Learning Daz Studio is a great way to dive into the world of digital 3D art. If you haven’t tried it yet, you can download it for free here.

Whatever your future as an artist holds, we wish you the best of luck in your endeavors! 

Featured image: “Sunset On Canvas” by Torgan Art in the Daz Gallery.

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