If you want to become an artist, the first thing that you have to do is to develop your skill. While attending classes or even getting a degree in art is helpful, there are and have been many successful artists who are entirely self-taught. Whether you decide to teach yourself or take classes, the most important thing is to practice your craft on a regular basis.
In order to become an artist, you must practice and develop your skills. You will need materials such as pens, pencils, sketch pads, paints, brushes, and canvases. Some art supplies, especially canvases, can be quite costly. If you are budget-conscious, one thing that you can do is peruse thrift shops and garage sales for inexpensive paintings that you can paint on top of. While this is not ideal, it is one way to get started with your painting practice.
Once you have the materials that you need, try to stick to a schedule. Even if you can only carve out a few hours every week to work on your art, make sure that you do so consistently. Also, use extra vacation days to dedicate to your craft. Many artists and burgeoning artists have to get their careers started while maintaining a day job.
When you feel that you have a body of good work — more than five strong pieces — begin to put together a portfolio to show others. If you know anyone who is also an artist or simply has a good eye, ask for feedback on what you've created. It is important to know that artists of all ilks receive huge amounts of criticism and rejection early on in their careers. It is important to use the criticism that you receive to improve your work.
Be sure to get involved in the arts scene in your town and neighboring towns and cities. Attend art openings and gallery shows. Study the work hanging in local museums. Networking is a wonderful way to meet other artists, develop your own community of colleagues, and learn from other people's work. Again, while taking art classes is not a requirement to become an artist, it is a great way to both improve your work and meet other people in your field.
Finally, a great way to become an artist is to study the masters. While art books, especially those with glossy color pages, are expensive, most libraries have a collection of art books that you can peruse. While you are on your journey to become an artist, spend as much time as you can looking at and learning from masterful work.