How to become an artist in Fort Collins

Julia Trowbridge

From photography and glass blowing to painting and sketch drawing, the local art scene in Fort Collins is large, and the community of artists is supportive. But, becoming an artist can sometimes be difficult in such a competitive industry.

Kathi Dougherty, a fused glass artist in Fort Collins, showcases her art during the First Friday Gallery Walk at Trimble Court Artisans. (Julia Trowbridge | Collegian)

Here are some tips from local artists who have successfully turned their passions into careers:


1. Create art

Cassandra Hammer, a budding pencil sketch artist who focuses on drawing wildlife, said the first step in becoming an artists is to create art and do it constantly.

“I love doing art as it gives me a chance to have time to myself and to appreciate the life we see in the world,” Hammer said. “The biggest thing I’d recommend for others to get involved in art would be to practice it every day, and make it your own piece of work.”

David Clack, owner of Illustrated Light, Fine Art and Photography, showcases his photography and others in his Old Town gallery.

“I’ve always loved photography,” Clack said. “Creating an image and the satisfaction that comes from it is wonderful. I just feel the need to create.”

Kaylee Cordell, an artist and cake decorator in Fort Collins, showcases her art at Mugs coffee shop. Mugs is one of the local coffee shops that showcases the art of local artists (Julia Trowbridge | Collegian)

2. Connect with other artists

Jim Fronapfel, a local artist who specializes in figuring drawing, said the best thing an aspiring artist can do is get connected. Fronaufel pursues art as his full time career, and he participates in figuring drawing at the Downtown Artery and has spanned connections all over the state of Colorado.

“I’d recommend finding a group of artists,” Fronapfel said. “There are groups for every type of art, and it’s a good way to get your name out there and create connections.”

3. Showcase your art

Clack advises showcasing as a means for getting your name out there to buyers.


“The art business is pretty competitive,” Clack said. “But, it can be done if you persevere. Showcasing, on the other hand, has plenty of opportunities.”

Local coffee shops, like Mugs Coffee Lounge and The Bean Cycle, are good places to showcase. For example, The Bean Cycle’s art showcase is set up on a monthly rotation, But, the important part, according to Fronapfel, is making sure your art gets out into the world.

Encouraging people to get involved in art, the Old Town Art and Framery puts on a collaborative art piece during the First Friday Gallery Walk, a free art gallery event that happens on the first Friday of each month. (Julia Trowbridge | Collegian)

“The first thing I did was handing out cards with my art on them,” Fronapfel said. talking about speaking on a panel for commissioned work. “Make sure people see your art. Talk to people about your art. Share your art. That’s how you make a business of it.”

Collegian Reporter Julia Trowbridge can be reached at or on twitter @chapin_jules.