Are you wondering if there are different income streams for artists these days? The answer is yes, definitely! If you’re stuck thinking ‘how can I sell my art’ or ‘where do I start selling art’ then read on. Contrary to popular belief, there are loads of different income streams for artists!
Hopefully by now, everybody is aware the whole starving artist thing is a myth and it’s more of a mindset than anything. It’s an idea that got carried forward over the years, because it used to be so much harder to get your artwork out to customers and income streams for artists were more limited. We used to have to create the work, find gallery representation, graduate with a first class degree, etc etc and then hope that they found success. Their future, their destiny, was in somebody else’s hands. But that’s not the case anymore. We’re in control now! Hooray!
With the rise of the Internet and social media, we now have direct access to our customers. You can still use galleries for representation if that’s a route you want to go down and that’s absolutely fine – it can work really well! When gallery representation was the only option, however, you had to rely on local footfall to go to a gallery or to come to a show. With only local footfall however, out of say a thousand or ten thousand people that live within a traveling distance, only a certain proportion of those are going to like your style of art. So all the time the numbers are dwindling and the size of your market is more restricted.
With the Internet and social media, you can find your ideal customers in a very, very targeted way, and you can find them not only locally, nationally, but internationally, too. You can use Facebook ads or Google ads to showcase your work to a specific customer profile, showcasing your work all over the world to tens of thousands of potential customers.
Things have definitely changed (for the better!), and that’s why it’s not necessary at all to have the whole starving artist mentality any more!
The other side of that as well is that the scope of products and services that we can do has also increased significantly as well. There are still the “traditional” things that you can do such as original paintings, artwork commissions and prints, but there are so many other income streams for artists available now.
There are print on demand companies that will link with your website, so you don’t have any up front printing costs. You basically only pay for prints once a customer has paid you. The orders are processed automatically and sent direct to the customer.
You’ve also got licensing opportunities, where you put your artwork onto products that then get sold with retailers.
There are wholesaling opportunities, and there are so many online, wholesale opportunities, now coming up with big internet companies that sell fashion or homewares. These larger companies are looking for independent artisans and craftspeople to give something a little bit more unique then the usual high street offering – this could be you!
You’ve got classes, workshops, courses and again, you don’t have to have a degree in that subject to be able to teach it. As long as you know more than the audience you’re teaching, you’ll be fine! As an example, you might have a particular style of watercolour painting, or you might have a particular way of capturing light. If somebody wants to learn that from you, you can just do a mini 30 minute workshop and teach them how to do it. Say you sold that workshop for £27 – if you sold 100 of those in a month (which is not a lot at all, when you’re talking internationally) that’s £2,700 a month. Just like that!
It can be overwhelming when it comes to deciding which is the best avenue to go down to earn income as an artist. It can be difficult to decide opportunity is the best to pursue. A few points to consider:
What aligns with your interests?
Which align with your interests, the things you really love doing? Remember, I am very very much about building our businesses that are sustainable and that get us excited. I want our businesses to get us jumping out of bed in the morning because we’re like “yes, I can’t wait to get started on this collection!” If you are making something that you are just making because you think it will sell, you will soon burn out and you’ll soon get fed up with that. Even though you might be making money, it will not be fulfilling at all, and life’s too short to be wishing for more!
What type of personality do you have?
If you are the kind of person who is extroverted and loves to teach others face to face, you might consider live workshops, or online classes. You have to be doing things that you enjoy though, so don’t go arranging workshops if you are very introverted and you really don’t like socialising that much. If public speaking makes you anxious, try other avenues instead. Maybe focus on original artwork, or selling prints online. There are plenty of opportunities for you to make money as an artist that don’t require you to turn up in person!
What skillset do you have?
Are you comfortable with video technology, so you could create online tutorials? Are you happy to deal with print on demand companies, or sell digital prints? Do you prefer a less technological approach, so would prefer to host in person classes? Think about your skills and what you feel comfortable with doing.
What does your ideal customer want from you?
So, let’s say you create pet portraits. Your ideal customer is going to want things that relate to their pets. They’re not necessarily going to want very bright colourful landscapes, or architectural studies.
If you paint a lot of things to do with nature, then perhaps you could look at the example of Sophie Allport. Her ideal customer is the kind of middle class housewife who loves cooking and baking. Her customers love little bees and dragonfly prints on oven gloves, coasters and other homewares, so that’s the direction she goes in, and her products sell really well.
So, it’s all about thinking, what interests me as an Artist? Also, does that fit with my work and my ideal customer? So does it all kind of fit together really nicely in terms of a product mix, and will it be desirable for them? Whatever avenue you explore, it should work for you as well as your client.
I know quite a lot of you that have come into The Thriving Artist Business School Facebook group, have said “I don’t know what art to sell”, and “I don’t know where to start selling my art”, or “I don’t know if I can make a living from my art”. My answer to that is, if you are only selling original pieces of art, and you’re kind of jumping all over the place (one’s a watercolour, the other one might be an oil still life, and the next one might be a picture of somebody’s dog) then you’re going to really struggle to make a living as an Artist. You haven’t found your voice, your kind of niche, what you’re interested in – therefore it’s not clear for your customers.
Imagine you have a customer that likes that lovely oil still life. When you suddenly come to do a watercolour sketch of a dog, they’re completely thrown and they don’t know what to expect from your artwork any more. You end up having to chase every single sale, because they’re all completely different audiences, and you end up spreading yourself too thin. Always, always, always start with what you love. Think about who your ideal customer is, that magic person out there who’s going to engage with and want your work, and then find out what their ideal kind of wants, needs and desires are. Think about what they’re missing and how your art can enhance their lives
I hope this has given you some ideas for ways to earn money as an artist – there are so many things you can do to make money from your art!
As a huge thank you for checking out this blog post, I’ve got a freebie for you! I’ve packaged two things together that I think you’ll like – two freebies for the price of one!
The first one is the ‘12 Ways to Make Money from your Art‘ and that just gives you some ideas on how to make money from your art – exactly what it says! Inside you’ll find 12 easy ways to monetise your art, with each one having an idea as to whether it’s a long term or short term opportunity.
The second freebie is an Artist’s Roadmap. This will show you how to get started selling your art and to help you decide which path to take to diversify your income.
If you’d like to learn more about how to make money selling your artwork, register for the Free Online Masterclass masterclass now!