You know how the saying goes: “Jack of all trades, master of none.” This cliché is used to demean those that are multi-faceted in their skillset.
But here’s the thing…
That’s not the complete quote.
The full adage is Jack of all trades, master of none. But often times better than a master of one.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It is vitally important to become a master of your craft (I’ll get to that in a minute). But predictable, long-term success as an artist involves more than just the singular skill of painting.
A variety of techniques
Imagine a construction worker trying to build a house with only a hammer — no level, no saw, nor any other tool. He might be able to get a few things nailed together, but that’s about it. The hammer may be his most frequently used tool — perhaps even his favorite — but without other tools to work with, and the knowledge of how to use them, he isn’t going to get very far.
It is the same with any profession, and being an artist is no different.
As an artist, you can certainly make a beautiful painting with one medium alone. But if, say, you only ever know how to use acrylic paint, you’d be missing out on the magical richness and dimensional effects of warm and cool colors that oils provide. Likewise, learning to effectively use a variety of collage tools and mediums can create new textures or appearances not achieved by paint alone. Even the very surfaces you paint on can spring forth a whole new world of inspiration to your process. All of these tools increase the variety of art you can create, as well as the depth of message you can convey. You might have one you prefer or are best with, but branching out and learning more increases your ability to make an artistic impact.
Being a master of your craft (I told you we’d get to this) involves trying new things in order to have a deeper understanding of your voice and style. This is where The Mastery Program really shines as the ultimate toolbox for artists. A unique art program unlike any other, it teaches a wide variety of media and techniques. But, at the very heart of it, its purpose is to teach you how to become a master of your craft — meaning, a master of your style, of your voice, and of your purpose.
Art, at its most basic level, is like a parable: steeped in deeper meaning that is only revealed to the collector predicated on their own life experiences. One of the earliest paintings I created depicted a pair of weathered hands kneading sourdough as flour filled the air. The effect of the flour flying was created with texture mediums not traditionally used in such vintage imagery. The collector of that piece, despite my feelings about the demonstrated lack of skill, absolutely fell in love with it because it reminded her of a beloved relative that would make homemade sourdough bread for her and her siblings when she was growing up. Being willing to explore a variety of mediums to bring to life a heartwarming moment allowed my art to resonate deeply with the collector.
If art is about touching the heart of another person, then expanding your knowledge base to include lots of different tools to reach as many hearts as possible is a goal worth pursuing.
If a painting sits in an empty room and nobody ever sees it, is it actually art?
Obviously the answer is yes, but the chance for the right person to be inspired by your art is drastically reduced if you can’t get it out there for the world to see.
So yes, becoming a master of your craft is foundational. But this is where that “better than one” part of the jack of all trades adage comes in. Because you can paint all day every day and it will get you nowhere if you haven’t any sense of business skill.
Success without hard work and strategy is called luck. Unfortunately, far too many artists rely on luck to be successful in their career. They haphazardly post their work on social media in the hopes of being discovered. While rapidly growing innovations like the Milan Art Community will be the future of pairing artists and patrons, the current social media climate requires more than just sheer dumb luck to be successful.
And this isn’t the only issue facing professional artists today. To establish a predictable success, having a marketing toolbox is necessary. It’s not enough to just be great at painting; an eclectic skillset in business is a must. This includes, but is not limited to: lead capturing, email marketing, website building, networking, etc.
As an artist, you are a business owner. Don’t let the stereotypes about artists persuade you into thinking this part of your career is unattainable or unachievable. You can be a successful entrepreneur with the right knowledge of your available tools. Again… this is where The Mastery Program becomes invaluable — because it not only teaches you a variety of art techniques, but it also teaches you marketing and business skills to launch your professional career.
Ultimately, whatever holdups you have about the professional/business side of your art, it's time to stop thinking about what you can't do, and start focusing on what you can do.
Know your place and make your mark
There is nothing quite as tragic as a truly transcendent piece of art that never gets noticed, or an artist whose art is not appreciated until they are dead.
Your art is a business, yes, but it is also a transcendent catalyst for transformation… if it's not stuck in that empty room no one will ever see.
There is a moment in time, precious beyond belief, that can change a person forever. It is the intersection point between life experiences, divine perspective, and a transformational medium.
Every art collector talks about that first piece of art that they experienced that moment with. In one magical instance, an image on canvas speaks to their soul and conveys a message that the artist themselves may not have even known they were creating. This moment often leads to the patron having a fierce desire to purchase the painting — but even if they don’t, it will likely compel them to return frequently to see that art piece again and reconnect with that moment.
That moment is pure, energetic power. It can inspire ideas not possible through the written word or through verbal speech. It can inspire courage in the coward. It can instill hope in the weary heart. It can heal the deepest hurts. It can change a person forever.
Art, more than any other process, can quite literally change the world.
There is a reason why most freedom movements start with the artists and why most authoritarians try to silence the artists. That reason is the power art has to make what seems impossible become possible.
Art is the most powerful thing in the world, and artists, in all their varied mediums, are the soldiers in this divine movement that is sweeping the earth. Interestingly enough though, it is rarely one artist alone who affects such titanic change. It is almost always a group of artists connected by a common love for beauty who transcend their station in life and build a greater future. In these moments, the artists become prophets showing the world what will come.
All it takes is one person, looking at one art piece, who is inspired to do something great… and BOOM — the world is now a different place.
It's not enough to just make great art. It’s also not enough to just know how to be a great entrepreneur. Artists also need to learn to tap into that force that makes them different from the rest of the world — that divine power that makes an artist more than a painter or an illustrator, but an agent of change.
Art lifts people out of the darkest pits, releases them from the strongest chains, and encourages them to be more than they thought possible.
It is time to step forward, with your jack-of-all-trades toolbox of techniques and entrepreneurship, and embrace your role as a world-changer. Understand the coming renaissance and your place within it.
This is your destiny.
This is your purpose.
And it is time to stop fearing it.
Written by Julie Briggs