Art Need to Know (NTK)

Ever thought of a list of things as an artist that you need to know? Maybe not as an art student but as an artist not trained in how to be an artist, not a professional, and not pedigreed with an art education but blessed with a bit of God-given talent that there are so many things you (and I) need(ed) to learn, and LEARN FAST!

So, as a creative person, you have a product you are trying to make - for the joy of it, for the hobby of it and/or for the sales. Your first client, your Mom, has posted all your created art on the refrigerator for years, now you want to see where that talent will take you.

I am not going to list here “HOW TO” do any art technique or medium. That part is really what you should mostly have down and your creativity is your own. Besides, with all the various mediums and mixed mediums and/or other arts and crafts out there, that isn’t what this outline / article is about.

Do: Research, research, research. Take classes where and when you can and look for all the FREE ones of interest!
Side Note: This page was started in early 2021 and will be updated as time, knowledge, and additions occur. Visit back because we all need to start somewhere and I wish I had this list early on! - last update August 1, 2021.

Quality of Equipment

We need to start somewhere of course, but do get the best materials you can afford if you want them to be long lasting, sturdy, and do the job you intend for them to do. Be creative though, I recently heard of a lady that bought a child's white board/black board easel at a yard sale dirt cheap. That with a chair that can be adjusted up and down has been her go to easel for large canvases!

Quality of Supplies

Again, start with the basics and the best you can afford - usually quality in your art supplies beats out the cheap stuff for a lot of good reasons. That being said, remember the old adage of "dress for the job you want, not for the job you have"? You can sort of do that with your art supplies too. 

For instance, when you start being able to hang your artwork in various places, rules may start applying on how it is hung (wired), surfaces (types of canvas), finished (are the sides finished), etc. So make sure your work is "up to the standard" of where you are wanting to display it.

Artist's NTK Outline

Again, the purpose of this outline is a basic list of what you need to think about when you have decided to push your art career and to make better art. It is by no means a complete list but something to help you know what you will need to know.
  1. Making your product – use the best you can afford and learn the right steps!
    1. Quality of Materials - typical featuring (my opinion):
      1. Level 0 - Kiddie materials, practice materials, side stapled canvases (Side stapled canvases will need to be framed for hanging in art shows or galleries - IF they are allowed!)
      2. Level 1 – Novice level: thin, light-weight canvases (back stapled, lighter cotton duck), can be a good practice point, basic level. 
      3. Level 2 – Artist Level, archival quality (.75 inch back stapled canvases, medium weight cotton duck, paintable on all 4 sides) - PAINT ALL EDGES!
      4. Level 3 – Professional level quality materials, archival canvases (1.5 inch thick, gallery wrapped cotton duck, heavy duty, paintable on all 4 sides), brushes, paints. PAINT ALL EDGES!
    2. Quality of Supplies
      1. Brushes
      2. Paint
      3. Other
    3. Going Large – the big canvas, will it fit in your car?
    4. Preparing a Canvas - gesso base
    5. Mediums dry time depends on how thick the paint is, layers, heat and humidity...
      1. Painting with Acrylic, allow at least 24 hours if thinly applied before isolation coat.
      2. Painting with Oil, allow at least 6 months after completion before varnishing but may need 1 to 2 years before next steps.
      3. Painting with Watercolor, allow to dry at least a few hours before any next steps.
    6. Preparing to Protect a Canvas - isolation coat (Use if you want to use a removable varnish to help protect the paint and know your curing times)
      1. Acrylic - apply thin coats, allow 24 hours per coat
      2. Oil - 
    7. Protecting a Canvas - varnish (know your curing times)
      1. Acrylic - apply thin coats, allow 24 hours per coat. Spray varnish - 4-6 coats.
      2. Oil - 
    8. Archive EVERYTHING you create back to the stick figures on your mom’s refrigerator
      1. Art Journaling
      2. Art Inventory
    9. SKU – Stock Keeping Unit, your numbering system for your artwork
    10. How are you going to sign your artwork?
    11. What are you going to name your artwork?
  2. Picking a Name for your Business
    1. Business Cards plus any other necessary printed business documents
    2. Website, Blog
    3. Online Presence
    4. Bank Account - separate account from personal account
    5. Logo
  3. Writing an About Me
    1. Goes on your website
    2. Goes out in a short version in articles and blurbs
      1. Long version
      2. Short version
      3. Blurb version
  4. Set up a Studio - where to be creative
    1. Room, space, windows
    2. Furniture - tables, chairs, storage
    3. Easels - table, standing, work outside (travel) and display easels
    4. Studio Lighting - seeing what you are doing
      1. Light affects color
    5. Projector, other equipment
  5. Set up a Business Office
    1. Equipment
      1. PC, tablet, smart phone, internet connection
      2. Printer
    2. Documentation – Business records
    3. Paying Bills
    4. Taxes
      1. Receipts
      2. Travel
      3. Training, Education, Books, Lessons, Classes
  6. Your Art Business
    1. Business License – when do I need to get one and how much is it?
    2. Taking Care of Business – daily, weekly, quarterly, annually
  7. Supplies - what you need to be creative
    1. Paint medium(s)
    2. Paint brushes
    3. Palette
    4. Canvas, painting surfaces
  8. Suppliers - shop your prices and shipping options for best options
    1. Buy art supplies online
      1. Jerry's Artarama -
      2. Blick -
      4. Cheap Joe's -
      5. Plaza Art -
      6. Utrecht -
      7. Arts & Craftsman -
      8. MisterArt -
      9. North Light Shop -
      10. Trekell -
      11. Meeden Art Supply -
      12. Others - Ebay
    2. Local Art Stores - Name brand art store in your area (lucky you!)?
      1. Michaels / Michaels Pro (also online)
      2. Hobby Lobby (also online)
      3. JoAnn Fabrics
      4. Walmart - inexpensive supplies
    3. Buy on Sale
  9. Set up a Shipping Station - sending your product to someone
    1. Learn: How to Ship and Shipping Costs
    2. Weight scale
    3. Containers - boxes, envelopes
      1. Acid-free wrappings
      2. Bubble wrap, tissue paper
      3. Clear bags, backing boards for art prints
    4. Tape, tape dispenser and any Misc 
    5. Label Printer
  10. Storing - where are you putting all the supplies and products?
    1. Safe Storage of created work
    2. Safe Storage of supplies
  11. Pricing - what do you charge for what you created?
    1. Friends and Family
    2. Art Calculators - read some articles, allow for where you are as a beginner to more professional? (We are not all Hunter Biden)
    3. Formulas
      1. By the square inch?
      2. By the hour plus materials?
  12. Selling - how do you get someone to buy your creations?
    1. Making money off a side business
    2. Commissioned Art
    3. Affiliate Links
    4. Illustrate a publication
  13. Art Shows - art fairs, festivals, craft shows, exhibits
    1. Know before you go what may or may not sell (tough one)
    2. Keep track of your inventory
    3. Certificate of Authenticity
    4. Art fees
      1. Cost to participate
      2. Percentage of sale
    5. Juried Shows
    6. Setting up at the fair - Tents, Art Gridwall Panels, Print Racks
    7. Making the sale – credit cards, Paypal, Square
    8. Galleries
      1. Invitations
  14. Sell Art Online - where and which ones are best
    1. Through your own website
    2. Through an art or craft site
      1. Etsy
  15. Being social – where and which ones are best
    1. Facebook / Business
    2. Twitter
    3. Instagram / Business
    4. Pinterest
    5. YouTube
    6. All in One?
    7. Scheduled Posts
    8. Being Found: Links, Consistency, Sharing, Likes, Comments, Keywords
    9. Keep an eye out for the "Next Big Social Thing" - and its value. Things online change so be there if you need to be.
  16. Stats
    1. Google Analytics
  17. Carrying Art Around - getting your art to the location
    1. Portfolio
    2. Things on wheels
  18. Joining Art Society, Art Groups - local artsy-fartsy
    1. Fees to join
    2. Percentage of sales
  19. Art Web Site – do I need my own?
    1. URL - the
    2. Blog
    3. Hosting
  20. Marketing Parts One and Two
    1. 1-Marketing Outside - Promoting you, your site, your art and products
    2. 2-Marketing Online - Promoting you, your site, your blog, your art
      1. Keywords, Tags, Emojis – how people find you online
      2. Being Found: Linking, Consistency, Sharing, Likes, Comments, Keywords
    3. Search Engine Optimization
  21. Photography - Snap a multiple pictures of your artwork
    1. The Best Quality Photography Possible
      1. For posting online
      2. For Art Prints
    2. Smart Phone Camera
    3. Do I need a new camera?
    4. Hire a Pro
      1. Use an Art Print site or local Print Shop?
      2. Hire someone to take pictures of your art
    5. Photography Equipment
      1. Light Kit, Back drop
      2. Tripod
  22. Videos – make a movie
    1. Your Smart Phone
    2. Creating your art, art in progress – editing
    3. Giving lessons and tips
    4. Make a video out of photographs
    5. Video Equipment
  23. Printing – getting prints of your artwork, selling Prints
    1. Paper types, quality
    2. Packaging prints
    3. Do I need a better printer?
    4. Should I outsource the printing?
  24. Who you need to know – patrons, mentor, apprentice
  25. Art Blogs
    1. Writing about what you do
    2. Writing Articles
    3. Promoting your blog
    4. Making money with your blog
  26. Art Commissions
    1. Clear Communication
    2. Form / Contract
  27. Framing Artwork - You've been framed
    1. Do you have to frame your artwork?
    2. How to frame your artwork
      1. Floater frames
    3. How to hang your artwork - wiring your art
      1. Wiring should not be loose, the wire should be taut. Look at videos on proper wiring.
      2. Typically in a gallery or art show, canvases must be wired and do not use those claw hangers.
  28. Things You Didn’t Know You Needed – tools, resources
    1. Copyright free photos, quotes
    2. Sites to show what your art would look like in different environments
  29. Inspiration – keeping the juices going
    1. Nature, family, friends, love - good things
    2. Relax, get away from the studio, the easel for awhile
  30. Health – Taking care of you so you can do what you do
    1. Watch your posture. Get out for walks, make sure you eat - and eat right.
    2. Keep your sanity. There is no need to compare your work to what other people do, only compare your work to your older work to ensure you are heading the direction you want to go.
  31. Grow – learn new things, new mediums, mixing
    1. Challenge yourself
      1. Themed series 
  32. Storefront – when do I open an art store or studio?
  33. Giving back
    1. Teach others
    2. Donate your time for a cause
    3. Donate your work for a cause
  34. Do’s and Don’ts
    1. Art Rules – are there any?
    2. Copycat – copyright stuff
      1. When is it ok?
      2. When it is not ok?
    3. Don't Use: Cheap supplies – side stapled, canvas panels, except for practicing
    4. Do: Finish the edges - unfinished is unacceptable in some galleries / art environments.
Please Share and your comments are welcome! Linking with proper credits is appreciated too.

Article by Donna Liguria, Published July 28, 2021

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