128 Artists Share the Best Advice They Ever Received

What’s the best advice you ever received?

Advice comes in all shapes and forms. Sometimes it comes by professors, friends, family members or others. The true is that we all need advice for our art career. Nobody knows it all or has all the answers. On March 10th, 2015, I asked this simple question on my Facebook wall “When it comes to art, WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED?” Below are the answers of over 128 artists that shared their advice. Their answers are unedited and used with permission to repost. Enjoy!!

John McLauhlin 
Just make it, dont worry about anyone liking it.

Gregg Hertzlieb
“Don’t make the work something it isn’t.”

Judith Peck Price
Your work reasonably so you can be in a lot of collections.

Michael Jantzen
Make art because you love making it, not because you expect to sell it!

Marie Vartenberg
Just continue to make it! We are going to continue to buy it! It gave me a kind of confidence.

Eulalio Fabie de Silva
The ole cliche’—just be yourself.

Frank Juarez
Walk to the beat of your own drum.

Jia Zhou Artist
Why you cannot use your imagination?

Diana Leviton Gondek 
Have it be your work not others. Immediate acceptance doesn’t mean lasting art.

Renee LaVerne Rose 
1) Become very proficient in knowing the business side of the art world.
2) Follow your own muse.

Neil Goodman
Be resolute

Michael O’briana 
“When you’re struggling, copy a few pieces by your favorite artists, there are no better teachers than the masters.” That nugget got me into grad school.

Gretchen Hasse 
If you are afraid to suck at something, you will never try anything new. (That was actually my advice to someone else, but I live by it too!)

Eric Tucker 
Failure is not an option!

Silvia Inés 
1) What marks will you leave on this paper, this canvas, this world? What risks will your lines take and what will you learn from that? (What I ask my students)

2) Make your “failures” your biggest opportunities for growth and learning. (What I tell my students based on something a drawing professor once told me. He said, “you are not afraid to fail, and that is why you make those failures your biggest successes” I will never forget that. )

Terry Crane 
When I was a kid, I was painting a picture of windmills. My art teacher walked by and studied it. He said, “What if those windmills where lifting off into space?” That more than anything introduced me to all the possibilities of art as a means for expression, story telling and philosophy.

Gretchen Hasse 
What a great teacher.

Carlos J. Duncan
There’s no right answer in art, only options.

Riva Lehrer 
A small selection: 1. Well, it’s obvious you’re just going to get married – we don’t understand why you’re in school at all (said by painting teacher at U of Cincinnati) 2. why don’t you go back to the English department (said by drawing teacher, UC) 3. Absolutely no comment (apropos of work about disability, said – well, not said) by painting teacher at SAIC. 4. There’s no way we can sell work like that (in re images of people with disabilities, said by several dealers). They all infuriated me, while making me have to be very clear about what I was trying to do, and why.

Brabant Lenting 
Just do it…….love it….

Lauren Levato Coyne 
Be a good parent to yourself (Steven Assael).

Eulalio Fabie de Silva 
Everyone has their own agenda (or lack of it)…and thus everyone is “right” in their own right. The best advice is the one that fits theirs…

Carolee Ross 
A painting professor told me that I wrote so much better than I painted. I took his advice and got degrees in Art History and still love it today. I also switched to photography, something that has given me great joy throughout the decades.

L Lee Heinsen-Ligocki
Keep painting no matter what the critic says. Its the process of doing that makes you evolve into an artist.

TL Duryea
The only critique I got that made me cry was by Monroe Denton at SVA. He told me I couldn’t draw and to go spend a year studying the human figure. As someone who thought pretty highly of my drawing skills I wanted to dismiss him, but I asked some people I respected their opinion and they said it would make me a better artist. So I did it, and he was right.

Micah James Zayner 
Your art sucks.

Terry L. Adams 
Be true to yourself, be passionate, and share it with the world.

L Lee Heinsen-Ligocki
The statement from one of my mentors and friends Judy Betts, nationally known watercolorist. Do art (paint, draw) every day..it doesn’t matter if it is successful…you will develop into a great painter thru your experimentations. The worst one was by a classroom teacher….”I don’t like your style…you’ll never be an artist.” He was arrogant to everyone except those who bought art.

John Bodkin 
When you receive criticism that hurts, make a painting that is better than any critic can comprehend

Eulalio Fabie de Silva 
One can be as stubborn as stain on your white couch…and not listen to criticism at all and just being yourself is art also, but if one would dilute one’s art and rely mainly on what “experts” say then it is not-so-strong of an art other than a populist kind of art (not to be confused with pop art)…

Janice Meister
Play-work-dream

Irina Gabiani 
Be yourself in your in your life, in your art and in everything you do!

Andy York
Never Give Up.

Richard DeVeau 
Best advise received and given: To create art that has the power to feed our culture… 1. Hone your skills — constantly push ourselves to new levels; explore, pursue excellence in our work–make lots of it. 2. Submit your work to be judged by others–earn the right to be seen and heard. 3. Repeat steps one and two ad infinitum.

Andy York
Be Vulnerable.

Nancy Trock 
Take exquisite care of your health.

Marilyn Propp 
Endurance. Perseverance. Persistence.

Elaine Miller
First you learn how to start an image, then you spend years learning how to make the image, and then at last you learn how to finish an image. My wonderful first painting teacher.

Serena Kovalosky
Create from what you know.

Carol Hamilton
Acknowledge setbacks and MOVE ON.

Panjana Obetzanov
Art is beauty that comes from the heart;it comes in the heat of the moment; art expresses your personality through vision and imagination; it is a priceless keepsake inside of you and it never wants to hide.

Kristy Pokorny
You don’t learn anything new when you’re the one talking.

Correa Correa 
“Have no fear of perfection-you will never reach it” Dali

Awadh Baryoum 
Do it and see what happens.

Jennifer Reeder 
You don’t have to tell me they are fucking, I can see that they are fucking.

Michael Jon Skura
“Passion without discipline is sentimentality”-Jiddu Krishnamurti

Ellyn Weiss 
Go back in the studio and work. Repeat.

Gesso Cocteau
Sculptor to find my own voice….

Ryan Matijevich
I told myself once, before starting my very first sculpture, “I am going to create the things that I find interesting today, the very things I would want in my yard!” With the understanding that “what other people think” or “might think” would never be a determining factor in my creative process or vision. If they love it then cool, if they hate it I hope they loose good sleep over it tonight! Ever since I’ve been allowed to love what I do for a living! For that I am greatful.

Israel IzZy Carranza 
Do it and keep making it

Mary Strasevicius
Be true to your inner self

Wayne Cable 
“I don’t care about anything else, it’s all about the work.” Ann

Sarah Kaiser
You can’t please everybody.

Eulalio Fabie de Silva 
ce ne est pas une pipe

Thor Eric
When making imagery what is general to everybody is specific to no one

Harry Sidebotham 
There is no shortage of paint

Tracy Ostmann Haschke 
“Just Paint!”

Charles Rolwing 
Tenacity

Donna Bliss 
Quiet your inner censor and go for it!

John Aaron 
Go to your room and make art- Fred Babbs

Renee McGinnis 
Your Daddy is rich and your Ma is good lookin’

Gabi Rhomako 
Paint what you feel, not what you see!

L Lee Heinsen-Ligocki
One of my favorite quotes. By playwright Henry Miller “Paint as you like and die happy”. It changed my objective on why i should paint. Read Paintings of Henry Miller. ” Paint as you like and die happy “. I have used it in my classes to inspire discouraged artists.

Hector Hernandez
The return is on the long run, not on the short end because there is no paved road in the arts.

Katy Sandoval 
Don’t think just do

Herman van Bergen
Keep communicating

Spencer Hutchinson 
Recently I was reading about Julian Schnabel’s early years in New York in the mid-late 70’s. He hung out with a crowd of painters that included Brice Marden. Marden got drunk one night and started harassing Schnabel endlessly. By the end of the night he had almost succeeded in picking a fight with the younger artist. After Marden and Schnabel parted ways one of Schnabel’s older friends said “that was the best piece of advice that one artist can give another. You should be proud that he singled you out like that.”

If your work is good enough to sell, it’s a threat to established artist. If it sucks, nobody will pay any kind of attention to you.

Nancy Merkling 
Shoot what you love … and find a good marketer!

Renee Baker
From my baby sister: Let me think-Let’s not……

Blossom Verlinsky 
Find your personal images – you will never know all they mean – use them everyday and enjoy painting

Jay Strommen
Advice from my dear friend/dealer Frank Paluch @ Perimeter Gallery. “Jay, you want a nice even ride to the top over the course of your life and never ever compare yourself to others. When you are a old man and still doing what you love, you will have found the ultimate success.” I live by this….. Jayzo

Jeane McGrail
If you want to be an artist you need to be independently rich, marry someone rich, or God help you teach… by Hans Hoffman (one of the Great art teachers). I could not find the exact quote, but that is the gist of it.

Kristy Pokorny
The chairman of my MFA committee told me that the best artists only produced really good pieces about one in four attempts, so give yourself some slack. He also said that when starting a new series or medium “Be prepared to be bad for awhile” those took the pressure off.

Assunta Sera 
Be definite, be clear, paint what your all about.

Adolfo Santos
Focus on the work.

Ruyell Ho
Market and recognitions have nothing to do with the QUALITY and true value of your work. Every artist should know his or her’s MAGNITUDE as an artist. It has nothing to do with external factors. It is all internal.

Barry M. Messer
Have little or no expectations in making a living as an artist one of my teachers told me in 1972-73. Maybe I should’ve been a lawyer instead. I’m around more positive people these days

Susan Hernandez
Just do it for the love of it and it will come out beautiful!!!

Josephine Lipuma 
Just keep on doing it, even if you fall down. Get back up no matter how hard it is to do so. Dance to your own time and place.

Darrell Roberts 
Hire a professional to take your images for your for grants. They are 90% of your application. Once I saw the images from winning grants from a 10 year period, I was blown away and felt stupid. You really do not know what you are up against.

Bruce Lieberman 
Painters paint and sell paintings or try to…Paul Georges

Lewis Achenbach
“Fear motivates” -Richard Williams, animation master. Signed and said to me at a book signing in NYC.

Lewis Achenbach 
Also, ‘draw lines, young man, from life or from memory. Draw lines’.

Dana Major 
“Don’t give it a future” Xavier Toubes, ceramic professor

Nadine Robbins 
Be authentic. The business of art is equally important.

Ruyell Ho 
I am totally aware of my own MAGNITUDE as an artist. Regardless of other people said. It has nothing to do with the market and recognitions. I know what my work is all about. I totally accept my own worth and totally happy about my work.

Margie Lawrence
The technique I teach you will flow into art

Elsa Muñoz 
“Be generous.” – Paul Klein No artist is successful on his/her own. It’s important to remember that we’re a part of a community and we get what we give.

Michael Klaus Schmidt 
A friend and fellow artist was reading a book about some topic, and I asked how that person would incorporate the ideas into his art. He told me that he had no intention of coming up with any sort of plan, and if the ideas were worthwhile, they would end up in the art regardless.

Elsa Muñoz 
Something else that I like to keep in mind is that everyone is so quick to say “Take criticism with a grain of salt.” I think it’s equally if not more important to take praise with a grain of salt as well. It’s dangerous to become too confident and comfortable in what we do. Being too self-congratulatory discourages growth and discovery.

Maria Chuy Soto 
I still remember once in HS when I was upset and ready to erase my mistake and my HS art teacher told me that ‘there are no mistakes in art, only new possibilities’, I agreed with him

Deirdre A. Fox 
This is your work? It looks nothing like your work… (Nothing wrong with experimenting)

Kim Laurel 
“Never deny the talent”… said by me and I’m sure many others. Its all about appreciating others and what they have to offer and allowing your competitors be part of your success. You push each other along, learn from each other, acknowledge influence.

Marcos Raya 
Marcel Duchamp stopped painting at the age of 22. And said he could teach a monkey how to paint. After you pick up a technique. You become so repetitive. Artists today don’t even want to be call painters

Luis Sahagun 
Feelings don’t make good art necessarily, you can make good art totally without feelings quicker than you can make any art based on feelings.

Brianne Miskie
I tell my students “expect to make mistakes all the time. All of the best artists sucked at first.” they like that…and to me when Theaster Gates said “Remember why you make.”

Bruce A. Niemi 
Don’t give up!

Camille Iemmolo 
Embrace your mistakes and just be yourself in all you do –

Ken Boe 
Transcend the idiom.

Paula P. Martinez
What would you do and where would you be with out having art

Brock Hardnett 
“A lot of anything looks cool.” And “Work your ass off.”

Richard De Pirro
“Listen to Pavarotti have great passion and paint from the heart ” (George Barford)

Larry Green 
Produce, produce, produce!!!!!: John Laska my High School art teacher.

Steve Sherrell 
Stan Brackhage- The great abstract filmmaker always said “Success in the arts is survival” You can read that two ways.

Jane Georges 
“I dont want to see work you made five years ago. I want to see new, now. There are no excuses to not create. I know what you are capable of.”

Reed W Kirst
Good artists create, GREAT Artists steal!;-)

Corinne D. Peterson 
“Follow the light!”

Josiah Abbott 
Keep humble and stay on your grind for the fire of passion of learning new skills to change and shape old ideas into new ones ! For your never to old to learn new old tricks to adopt into your own ideas ! Other words … Fresh look … Old ideas becoming new again with a twist!

Satadru Sovan 
Gorgeous by heart

Robert Stone
A haiku from a couple of years agao:
To look back and see
how far not stopping takes one:
simple but profound.

Anne Farley Gaines 
At a critique in college, a much-remembered and quoted professor said “do what belongs to you.”. He was concerned that sometimes students would not recognize the strengths of their own style — what was emerging already in their work– and would go off on experimental tangents that took them away from the CORE of who they really were. This was not to put down experimentation — it is necessary — but it was to make an art student/emerging artist see the value of what was beginning to ripen in them and to expand on it.

Gary Bergman 
Be true to thyself. When you create, you are that much closer to the Divine. Don’t chase it, let it come. All day, every day, twice on Sundays.

Jude Gries
Your art is worth something, don’t give it away.

Keith Brown
Make more, read more, and talk to more people about it than everyone else. That’s my advice.

Tom Billings
Learning predicated by failure is the best learning experience one can get by creating art …

Maribeth Coffey-Sears 
A good artist has to make a lot of shit- Roger Blakely

Jason John
Be nice to people

Laura Gomel
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Life is a series of happy accidents.

Jenny Tiner 
The best and simplest from a fellow family member that is an artist as well. “Be honest.” When I let it all out, stopped hiding, everything changed. Becoming honest in spite of fear, the millions of artists possible fears; no easy task.

Dan Addington 
Don’t try to make masterpieces…just leave evidence.

Lisa Pressman 
You are not making bombs….just paint

Tony Gilbert
Don’t just do something, stand there.

Tony Gilbert-Davis
Pay attention.

Ellen Holtzblatt 
It’s only paint.

Oswego Visual Arts
“The artists is the child who survived.”-Linea Christina Skura

Ruth Santee 
You gotta make a whole lot of bad art before you can make any good art- William Harsh

Anke Korioth
Be yourself! Don’t copy anyone

Mary Strasevicius
There is only one you.get in touch w/your Real Self and be original. meditation helps

Paul B. McBride
I’ll know it if i ever see it!

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1 thought on “128 Artists Share the Best Advice They Ever Received

  1. I had just begun to show my work publicly. I was (or so I thought) lucky enough to have been selected to be a part of a Midwest based group of artists’ of color. We were told directly, in a most demeaning and disdainful manner by an overbearing white exhibition director of a very prominent art institution that, “We don’t want to see black work on our walls, whites don’t give a damn about your work, white people don’t want to see black faces in their homes, we are just now beginning to deal with the Indians.” This a VERY brief summary of what took place.

    This individual was in charge of a project which involved collaborative groups of artists’ of color from different states. I remembered something that my grandmother had said when I was a small child, “Are you going to let that stop you, one monkey don’t stop the show!” That insight clicked a switch and what this malicious statement and other prejudiced/discriminatory actions did for me was to make my work as an artist, activist and cultural worker absolute and passionately committed to creating and facilitating an initiative and annual exhibition of artists work as well as my own. I simply refuse to let anyone or anything hinder what I do and have garnered a number of accomplishments.

    Everyone is not going to fall head over heels with your work, so what. I create for the driven joy of creating and all of the pleasure that it brings to me, then I share that joy by exhibiting this work. If someone is taken by what they see enough to purchase it, then I’m thrilled.

    My advice: Always be open to learning, creativity and it’s makings are all around us. Be you … always. Experiment, learn new skills, techniques and continually create work, grow into the artist that you want to be.
    Don’t ever be afraid, don’t let anyone threaten or interfere with your goals, nor let them steal away your success. See it as I have from the onset of my journey and move on; One monkey don’t stop the show.

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