This message is very important to me. I think this is something every self-proclaimed professional artist must overcome before others agree that they have reached a new height of professionalism. This is the key to making this shift whether you make weird art, have no sales as of now, or make performance and political art.
You must make art every day. 35 hours a week. NOT 35 hours if I can or if I’m feeling it. You must take this on as a full time job. Many artists I meet only make art when they have an art show coming up. If they feel some kind of monetary pressure or personal goal to of the show, they will make 20 mediocre paintings in 2 months in order to fill the space. Then the downward cycle begins again.
The artist makes 20 new paintings for the theme of their art show.
Only one painting sold and the artist assumes it was a pity purchase. Three people laughed at the prices in front of them, knowing they were the artist.
The artist goes home with their 19 paintings and they decide they don’t feel inspired enough to make art for 3 months.
A year later the artist enters a new art show and repeats the process over again, whist never promoting their older work, improving their older work, (yes it is okay to continue painting old paintings if no nostalgia is stopping you) or making new work.
The constant honing of your craft is the same reason kids go to school day after day. Learning has to happen in such small chunks of time for us, it will take us roughly 10,000+ hours or a decade of deliberate practice and study to attain a mastery over any skill. So don’t just try to make art for art shows. The real secret is that you sell most of your work IN BETWEEN art shows. When people are ready and can afford a bigger purchase. Unfortunately, they don’t make money on our time scale. So don’t give up and continue to make great work.