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How To Make Money as an Artist

By Edited Feb 28, 2014 1 1

If you are someone who has always been very passionate about art, then you've probably heard this before.  You were likely told at a young age, particularly if you live in America, that you cannot make a lot of money from being an artist.  As you went through high school, you were likely reminded time and time again that this is not a valid career option.  And if you were stubborn and continued working with art into college, then you underwent the jokes and were told to be prepare to be poor for the rest of your life.

This stereotype about the "starving artist" does not have to be true.  It's correct to say that many artists do struggle to make money and pay the bills.  But you don't have to be like many artists.  If you truly have a passion for art, it is possible to make a lot of money from it.  Even if you are working another job now, that's okay.  You can still learn how to make money as an artist, and create a revenue stream from it just like you could other side hobbies.

Getting Yourself Out There

Putting you and your art work out there is the first big step to making money with art.  However, it can also seem like a confusing or scary experience.  It really doesn't have to be though.  In the beginning, you have a few options.

The first option, which everyone should try, is to put together a simple website with their art for sale.  You do not have to know coding or anything about website development.  It is very easy to start a basic Wordpress website with big, high-resolution pictures of your art, attached to a store.  Everything can be done using basic plug and play add-ons.  You have to start somewhere, and this is a great first step.  Buyers may not be rolling in, but you now have an understanding of the process.

painting supplies

Your other major option is to sell your art work through a third party website.  There are a few options here.  The first is Etsy, which is very easy to sell on.  However, you need to have your manufacturing in order.  Make sure you have the capability to handle multiple orders.  This can be expensive if you don't have the equipment, means, or money.

Luckily, sites like Fine Art America exist and have very pro-artist interfaces.  All you have to do is upload a high resolution picture of your artwork, and they are able to sell it on different mediums.  Buyers can purchase your work in different sizes, and Fine Art America will print, create, package, and send it to them.  You don't have to worry about anything, they just send you money!  Obviously they take a commission, but once you have your work out there, it's almost like passive income because they handle everything, and you just collect the money.

Building an Audience and Forming Connections

Chances are you've heard about some artists whose work was not appreciated until after their death.  This probably doesn't need to be said, but those artists were not too financially successful.  So we want to make sure that your art is appreciated while you are still around to pick up the checks.

In order to do this, you need to build up an audience.  Unfortunately, this is not as easy as putting yourself out there, and requires more time.  This is because in order to build up and audience, who will help you make money from your art, you need to form a connection with them.  Artists often know people pretty well, so you will understand that connections are not formed overnight.  This will take time and hard work, but will be well worth it.

The best way to form a connection is to start a blog.  This is why I recommended starting your own website above.  Even if you don't attract a lot of buyers from it, you can start informing readers and website visitors about you.  Because at the end of the day, the artist matters a lot more than the work itself.  I will further elaborate on this below when we talk pricing.

What do you talk about on an art blog?  Well... anything goes really.  Art is a very personal thing, so there's no reason that you should not be able to share parts of your life that are important to you.  If you are really strapped for ideas though, you can just talk about the art you are currently working on.  Let people know what is going on in your head, and what emotions you are feeling as you create the work.  Think of the blog as a diary or journal, almost like a place for self reflection when it comes to your latest project.

How To Price Your Art

Unsure of how to price your art?  Want the short answer?  Look at what other people are charging.


Seriously, browse Etsy or Fine Art America or other independent blogs that sell their works.  Find people who are creating the types of work you enjoy and strive to create.  See what prices they are using, and you can get a feel for what your stuff is worth.  Obviously if they have bigger audiences factor that in accordingly.  After all, part of what makes a Picasso valuable is knowing that it was created by Picasso.

This is what I was referring to earlier- it's more about the artist than it is the art.  As you grow your blog and get more visitors to your website, your prices can inflate too.  It's not a bad thing, so do not feel guilty about charging more.  You are just doing what every other professional does.  Someone playing minor league baseball has a smaller asking price than someone in the majors, it's just the way these things work.

Remember, the emotional connection that your audience has with you, and experiences through your work, is more important than anything else.  It may feel strange to share such a big part of yourself, but that is what it takes to succeed in making money with your art today.  People want to feel connected, so give them what they want.



Mar 23, 2014 2:40pm
@Alex Gopson

My neighbor paints murals for baby rooms. While not fine art, it adds pleasure to the new parents and supplements his income as he creates more gritty/creative pieces. He finds his work by simply mailing a flyer to new homeowners with a few photos of his work.

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