The Art Of Just Doing It: Becoming A Working Artist


You will never be the best at what you do at any point in your life. While there is no denying talent, there is no such thing as being the best. Artistic talent will always be subjective. While art is subjective it is important to hone and perfect your craft. You must be the best version of yourself regardless of your perceived competition. The most successful artists are the best versions of themselves. They have a decisive nature about their work. Picasso is Picasso, Michelangelo is Michelangelo, Hayao Miyazaki is Hayao Miyazaki, and Beyonce is Beyonce. To be truly competitive you have to offer what cannot be replicated. The desire to be a working artist is alluring. 16-27% of people actually fulfill their childhood dream and work in a field they love. To work in art full time requires a certain level of fearlessness. The most successful artist decided to “just do it” at one point. What I want people to understand is “just doing it” is different for everyone. At any level of life it will require sacrifice. No matter how prepared you think you are, you will never truly be prepared.  

Just Doing It:

Just doing it doesn’t take privilege (economic or social) into account. Just do it ranges for everyone. Sometimes it requires being financially unstable, losing your sense of security temporarily, leaving your family, moving to place where you don’t know anyone, and having nothing to eat at times. Most of your favorite artist will detail extremely great sacrifices. If you are in a position of privilege (economic or social) your path is a little more clear in certain directions. It won’t necessarily be easier but you are at an advantage. It is important to recognize ANY and ALL advantages you have while pursuing a career in art.

While I have worked hard to obtain my goals, I was afforded the best education and training all my life. I have always had doors open because my parents had the ability to assist and uplift me. While I’ve been afforded these privileges I’ve worked extremely hard in other ways. My sacrifices weren’t on the financial front but I’ve dealt with sacrifice in different ways. The path to being a working artist isn’t linear. Looking at another artist and taking the steps they took won’t necessarily work for you if you don’t know their TRUE background. You can’t copy anyone's path, it’s assuming you have 100% of the same opportunities that they have. Artists reach out to me constantly for advice and guidance. While I can explain my journey and tell you the steps I took it may not be applicable to your situation. My goal as a mentor is to always be truthful. I don’t feed kids/peers pipe dreams.

The Grand Plan:

Having a plan is extremely important. Taking time to develop and perfect your craft is extremely important. I think the biggest shock for people is perfecting their craft for years and never having any doors open for them. The linear process most artist believe in is save money, build a portfolio, study, produce content, network, and then move. A lot of people fail to figure out what truly makes them special during this time. So you’re moving to LA because you're good at what you do and your passionate? Okay well so is everyone else in this city. Hundreds of artist are doing the exact same thing as you right now. What makes your process, ability, and talent any different from others? It is entirely possible to be at the best point of your artistic career but never book the job you want.

Humans thrive on having a grand plan. We want to be prepared, we study the paths of artist we love, and we imitate what we think is a linear path. Being a working artist isn’t linear. The structure of student to master is sacred. I truly believe in being a student and studying as much as possible. The path to becoming a “master” is different for everyone. Being a master at your craft is always subjective as well. Your grand plan has to end in you knowing yourself and knowing what you bring to the table besides good art. Personal development is just as important as artistic development. Bringing good work to the table is not enough. Being good at what you do is not enough. You must bring something to the table that isn’t already sitting there. You have to figure out what is going to fulfil you. You have to realize you won’t be everyone's cup of tea. Being financially stable and good artist won’t protect you from rejection.  You have to be sure of your work. You have to be blind to rejection. Being a professional artist requires a high level of fearlessness.

When Should I Move?

A lot of artists live in the development stage for too long. Training and studying are important but hands-on experience is undeniable. Jump in at a local level. Don’t be afraid to apply for an internship you don’t think you will get. Don’t be afraid to present your work to friends. Don’t be afraid of critique. Be open to any and all opportunities! Most importantly don’t seek validation. Your work will resonate with someone. The right time to move is when you know what fulfils you beyond your art. Your art will constantly develop and change. Many artists think fulfilment will come from booking the big job. Fulfilment and happiness come from really loving the product you put out there. I know so many artists that have achieved amazing things but feel empty. Find out what within your art fulfils you. I’ve worked with some of the best in the industry. While I love what I do, I realized art connected to activism makes me feel fulfilled.

I would love to open my inbox for discussion. If you have art you want to share, need advice, or just want to talk email me:


Create The Work You Want To See In The World.

Irene Ashu