Thrive in your Arts Career

On Oct 25th GAC and the BCGW held an online workshop and panel discussion on the topic of thriving in your arts career. Here is a little breakdown of our conversation.

Please keep in mind that this isn’t a recipe for success in the arts. It is a brief overview of tips, insights and resources that can help you thrive in a creative life – what that creative life consists of is up to you! This article is directed towards makers of all kinds.

Before you start reading through this article, define what thriving means to you. Is it financial stability, notoriety, fulfilment, sales, lots of exhibitions or performances, work life balance? You are the one who needs to set the goals and create your own measure of success (AND these change over time!). 

If you are ready to take your arts career to the next level, you need to invest in it. There are tons of ways to invest if you practice and keep in mind that you can’t (or probably don’t want to) do them all at once. However, let’s go over a few important investments you may need to make. 


In order to sustain a creative practice or business you need to invest in it first with your time. You do not need to quit your day job to invest in your art, a good place to start is investing 10-15 hours into your practice per week. Prioritising this time is essential, but it’s not just time creating the art. A common misconception (maybe even a controversial christmas dinner conversation) is that artists just spend their time creating their art (painting, performing, writing) but let’s set the record straight, there are tons of things related to your art that take up your time. Making Art, Documentation (photos, recording ect.), Promotion/Web Presence (website, social media, newsletters, art profiles), Business related tasks ( ie TAXES), Research, Applying to grants, shows and opportunities, Networking. Keep in mind these may not all be something you want to take on now, or ever but it’s important to keep in mind that there are many moving parts to an artist’s life.

It is really important to remember that we are not machines, be kind to yourself, there are seasons to your career. Many artists go months or even years with limited creating, and performances or forget to update their website. The important thing is to pick it back up and keep creating. 


At some point in your career you may be in need of space (outside of your home). This could be studio space, recording space, or gallery space. Getting a studio may help you with that ‘Time’ investment, treating it like office hours or allowing you to keep your projects out instead of having to put your equipment away all the time.

Lack of affordable and accessible art spaces is a huge issue within the Guelph Arts community and many others. However there are still some amazing venues, galleries and studios who are supporting artists in Guelph. (Please note this is not an exhaustive list) 

Galleries: N/A Gallery, 10C Gallery, Gallery 404, Silence, Renann Issacs, Lalani-Jennings, AGG, Miijidaa, Red Brick Cafe.

Studios: Necessary Arts, Otherwise Studios, York Rd. Business Centre, Guelph Jam School, Royal City Studios 

Venues: Silence, Cornerstone, 10C Shared Space, Red Brick Cafe, River Run Centre, Guelph Little Theatre, Guelph Youth Music Centre 

Build the Skills

From photoshop to pricing, artist statement writing to grant applications. There are a number of skills that will help you build your career in the arts. These skills can be picked up through workshops, formal education, podcasts, online resources, mentorship and your peers. 

Professional Development is the key to success of any business and your art practice is no different. 

  • Documentation 
  • Website Design 
  • Marketing
  • Social Media Promotion
  • Grant Writing 
  • Artist Statement writing 
  • CV Development
  • Arts Related Skills

A note about money management – artists make money from a variety of sources (selling work/reproductions, grants/awards, speaker fees, exhibition fees, teaching). Diversifying your income streams is only going to bring sustainability to your art career. Creating art (and selling it) is a business, make sure you are getting the proper advice.

Resources and Opportunities

Being able to find gigs, grants, jobs, calls and other opportunities is essential to any creative. Some of our favourite resources are listed below but we also highly recommend following arts organisations and artists on Social media, where a lot of these resources and opportunities are shared around each day.

Find your community

You can create budgets, business plans, and market your product or service with the best of them but you will be missing out on one of the most valuable aspects to an arts career: The Community. Connecting with other artists and creatives is key to success in any arts community. The more you show up for your arts community, the more they will show up for you. Formal/Informal mentorship, Attending Openings/Performances, Online community, Feedback from your peers, Knowledge sharing, there are so many ways to connect with your arts community. 

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