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Amanda Valdez


Markmakers Masterclass – 5 Tips on How To Make It As An Artist

Amanda Valdez lets us in on the tips and tricks that will help young, budding artists trying to make it.


Art can take a number of different forms, whether it’s print, drawings, craft, paintings, sculpture or mixed media (to name just a few), but no matter your discipline, there are a few guidelines to follow that can help you make the most out of your ever-expanding portfolio.

We caught up with artist and MarkMaker Amanda Valdez as she walks us through some tricks and tips that have helped her get to where she is today.

So, Amanda, what lessons can you pass down to other young artists across the world? 

Amanda Valdez

1. Before anything else, you have to focus on the art. Do everything you can to develop and cultivate what you are doing. It's your passport. It's the only thing that matters.

2. Rituals and routines really help me start my studio time, whether it’s in my Brooklyn studio or a studio out in the woods. These routines are physical cues that help me scrub off the city or shift my mind.

For a long time, my rituals included writing and meditating. Then it was dancing and incense.

Amanda Valdez

3. Once you have a significant body of work, get it documented really well. I personally took that upon myself – I learned how to light my work by buying a simple light kit and a good camera. I also learned Photoshop and the specific tools to clean up the images in post-production.

Other friends hire people to come in regularly and document their work for them. When it comes time for applications for grants, residencies, and schools, you have to have great photos of your work. Having bad, grainy, unevenly lit digital images will leave you dead on arrival.

Amanda Valdez

4. Research artists whose work that you admire. So much of the contemporary art dialogue is about the context of the art, like “What conversations is it having with what's come before it and what is being made right now?”

I feel like you can really tell when artists isolate themselves and aren't looking beyond their own horizon. Everything you encounter in life can have an impact on what you’re making – so pay attention.

5. Develop a healthy relationship with rejection. Every year, I send out many applications for opportunities that I want. If I get one out of ten or twenty, it's all worth it.

It doesn't mean that getting all those no's doesn't hurt, but I try not to internalize it. It doesn't mean anything about me. 

I realize that over the last 10 years I have developed a practical toughness to rejection, mainly because I believe there will be a yes somewhere in the garden of no's.

Amanda Valdez