How to Make Money as An Artist
Many artists are searching for ways to make money from their work. This post will discuss some top ways to do that online and offline.
There is a lot of mystery around how artists earn a living, and especially when you are starting out or thinking of transitioning to being a full-time creative, it can feel overwhelming and even terrifying. In this article, I want to explain how to make money as an artist and give you a wide range of options and ideas to support you and your family. Just as there is no single path to being an artist, there are no limits to how you can bring in income, and the possibilities are endless. There is no shame in keeping a day job if it supports you and works for your lifestyle and goals. However, when it comes to being self-employed, there are tons of other options available for you.
Since starting my journey back in 2016 and leaving my day job, I have experimented with multiple ways of supporting myself through various income streams. Some of them worked, and some were a flop. Many took years to develop and finesse. These days, I have the pleasure of interviewing and observing incredibly diverse, talented artists and creators and have witnessed numerous ways artists make money. The most critical observation has been that what we are excited about or enjoy doing is usually the most sustainable option. It’s hard to show up and promote something we don’t care about, right? So, when considering your next income stream think about what you love doing and what drains you, and then make a list of options. Consider if you need to invest in a course, licensing, or certifications to get started.
Here are a few common and profitable income streams to add to your portfolio and make money as an artist.
Selling Original Art
This is the most obvious option, but where most of us start. Selling original paintings, collages, ceramics, and other unique works makes the most sense since we enjoy creating our art. You can sell directly from your website or work with a gallery or dealer to find new homes for your work. Keep in mind expenses such as the cost of materials and shipping when establishing your pricing.
Prints and Reproductions
Because we only have a limited inventory of original works, this can be an incredible option if your art permits you to create prints and reproductions. You can offer prints through on-demand printing sites such as iprintfromhome.com, Saatchi art, and others. Make sure you get a few samples before putting them up for sale to ensure the color and quality fit your standard.
Breaking into art licensing and receiving royalties for your art and design can be a great way to supplement your income and grow your audience by working with more prominent brands. Licensing can include textile designs, iPhone cases, cookware, prints, and more. Our designer, Victoria, wrote a great introductory article on how to license your art that you can check out to learn more.
Creating custom art for patrons and collectors is a great way to charge a premium and focus on being in the studio. Commissions can include a variation of your work, portraits, and the client’s vision. Make sure you take a deposit and draft a simple contract to protect yourself. Here are six more tips on offering art commissions.
Murals and Public Art
If working large-scale if your thing, learning how to create murals and public art projects is a great option and offers a significant pay. This work can be gratifying if you are willing to be outdoors in sometimes grueling temperatures and long hours. You can research mural organizations in your city and see how you can become involved, or get started with this in-depth interview with Kate Lewis, where she shares behind-the-scenes advice on how she lands major mural projects around the country.
Education and Workshops
Art education and workshops are a great way to support yourself by sharing your skills, knowledge or unique technique with students. You can offer online recordings and webinars or create in-person events. In addition, online education can create passive income so you can spend more time in the studio.
Coaching and Mentoring
Coaching is a great way to pass on your expertise and insights to clients if you love working with people. This type of work is more intimate and requires commitment. This may be part of your financial portfolio if you love empowering others.
This can be a lucrative gig if you can fulfill a client’s vision by creating graphics, designs, and more. Design work can include building websites, stationary, logos, and graphics, but endless possibilities exist.
Though grants are not a consistent income, you can get support from private organizations and government funding for specific projects and opportunities. Search for artist grants in your area and see if you qualify. Grants can be based on merit, skill, or a particular requirement. Search for local organizations and state funding to get started.
I hope this was a helpful overview of all your options as an artist to earn income. Don’t be afraid to use your gifts and passion to put yourself out there and start making money whether you are looking for a side gig or to go full-time in your career.