15 Things an Artist Should Never Say


This was an interesting article I saw passed around on Facebook and thought I would share it here. You can check out the original post here at Artbistro. 

-David Rodriguez 

#15 “I can’t do that”


Say a friend wants to commission you. They propose a work of art that is not your typical style or medium. The last thing you want to do is to flat out refuse them.


You have some options:

• Learn what ever skill you lack to do the piece.  

• Take the opportunity to educate them about your work to see if they might want something closer to what you do (but don’t be dogmatic).  

• Hire someone to fabricate what ever it is that you can’t.  

• Propose another work of art that will give them what you both want.  

#14 Never say yes to a hard deadline on the spot.


Whether it is a commission or a gallery show, a commitment is to be taken seriously. The gallery or collector will be planning around the finished work. The last thing you want to do is inconvenience them. Before setting a hard deadline, make sure you have enough time to complete the project.

#13 “I can’t afford to make art”



Artists over centuries have always found a way to make art…for nothing. Think of the cave painters, their art did not cost money. Yes, some art costs money to make, but it does not have to. You may even have things lying around your house with which you can make your next masterpiece.


#12 “I didn’t go to ‘X’ school, so I’ll never make it as an artist.”



Now that is just a cop out! If your work is good enough, it will find its way. A good art education is worth it but not everyone that went to Yale is making millions from their art.

#11 “Never Be Silent…”



…when you should be promoting your work. Simply open your mouth. Invite the curator you met at the last opening for a studio visit. This is the way the art world turns.

#10 Never say you will do it… when you won’t.



This is the most obvious suggestion, but also the one we mess up on the most. Don’t agree to something that you cannot or are not willing to do for what ever reason.

#9 “Never indulge in self-depreciating comments”



If someone asks you about your work say something that will interest them and invite more questions. Do not say anything negative or incredibly boring about your work or career.

#8 Never “dis” the competition.



It’s a very small world and you just never know. Do your best to be gracious and have something good to say about your fellow artists. Having said that, if your opinion is called for, be honest about what you see in the work.

#7 “I’m too old”



Matisse made art work into his 90’s even while sight impaired.

#6 “I’m too busy to go out and network.”



You can only say this phrase if you are rich and famous. If you are not, how else are you going to get there? Like it or not, networking is your job.

#5 “You can have it”



Never give your work away. If someone is interested in buying but the price is a little steep, offer to discount it 10% or 20%. The value you place on your work is an indication of how successful you feel.

Exception: Giving artwork as gifts or a trade with another artist is fine. In fact, it may help your career.

#4 “I’m an artist not a computer geek.”



Some use this excuse to not learn the necessary tools to promote your work in this day an age. Every artist needs to promote their work on the internet. You can do it!

#3 “I’m a failure because I’ve never sold”



Van Gogh only sold paintings to his brother while he was a alive.

#2 “No.”



You should never say “no” to a project out of fear of the challenge.

#1 “I’m an artist, not a business person.”



Sorry to tell you this, but you may be in the wrong profession if you want to make a living as an artist. All artists can benefit from business training. Contact your local art center to see if they have business classes for artists or get help from a mentor.



2 Responses to “15 Things an Artist Should Never Say”

  1. Great article! Love the pictures too – very well-presented information. And every word of it is true – excellent advice to all of us.

  2. It’s a good kick in the pants! What we all need if were complaining!

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