In a series on inspiring careers and how to get them, award-winning entrepreneur Jessica Elliott speaks to professionals at the top of their game to find our how you can get their dream job.
Contemporary artist Lincoln Townley was raised in inner-city London, where he fell into a life of addiction in Soho. But he never lost sight of his dream to find a career as an artist, and in his late thirties he overcame his addictions partly by focussing on his artistic vision.
Townley is now a celebrated international contemporary portrait artist, and is BAFTA’s Artist in Residence in Los Angeles, painting a host of glittering Hollywood A-listers from Al Pacino to Quentin Tarantino, in his now trademark style.
He recognises the art world is still heavily stacked in favour of those from privileged backgrounds, and he campaigns to support the rights of all young people to have the same opportunities, regardless of family situation, particularly in the arts.
These are Lincoln Townley’s top tips for breaking into the art world:
Know and believe in your own passion
“Firstly, understand that the art industry is one of the most competitive you will ever enter, and simply being highly talented isn't enough. People only make it as professional artists if they have the talent, but more importantly the dedication to make sure you never miss out on an opportunity. I strongly believe that you can only achieve this if you have absolute commitment to your goal, so know what it is, and make every day a mission to achieve it.”
Knock on doors
“There’s no other way of looking at it - to get a chance to show your art professionally, you need to knock on a lot of doors, from agents and management, to galleries to simply show your work. Hint - most will decline when you ask them first time, even if the work is good, but you’ll get a sense of great satisfaction when that same gallery comes back to you when your name has been made, particularly if you are able to decline them.
"I never advise simply knocking on a door, though - do whatever you can to knock that metaphorical door down."
Be your own PR
“These days you need to be seen to stand the best possible chance of persuading that first person to take a chance on you and pay you money for your work. The best way to do this is to consider yourself both an artist and your own publicist, so get out there on social media, and consider what you can do to get talked about in media that will build your own brand.”
Lincoln is running a Pledgit fundraising campaign for Oasis UK - an inspiring charity supporting disadvantaged schools and communities, and supporting social mobility.
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