You don't have to be a "starving artist"

Art doesn’t have to be a dead end. You don’t have to be the ever renowned “starving artist” who spends all their money on art supplies, creates a work of art and stashes it in a portfolio or attic somewhere to collect dust. If you like hanging your own artwork around the house, good for you, but what you may not realize is that you could be making some serious money selling your art. And you don’t need an art job or art career to make some income. Sure you may think “who wants my art? And you may not think it’s all that great, but someone out there probably does. You just have to market yourself.

So how do you do this? Well aside from creating the actual work of art you are going to sell, you will need to start off with a few key pointers. Before you do anything, be sure to keep track of the money you are using to create the art. That way you can see how much money you are spending verses how much profit you are making once you get a selling price. Selling price will depend on how much money you think your time is worth per hour, cost of supplies and packaging and any extras such as travel cost and postage. Here is what you’ll need to decide on first: You could either buy and use supplies that are cheap but get the job done, or you can buy and use more expensive supplies that are more durable and will last you 10 times longer, which saves you money in the long run. The choice is ultimately your own, but you may want to consider the benefits and let downs of each.

If you go the cheaper route, you can make the art for cheap and try to sell for more, because you’ll want to be making a profit that is worth your time and your art. But you will always have to ensure it does not look cheap by matting and framing the art. Presentation is everything. If your art looks cheap, you look cheap and not worth the time or money for people to give your art a second glance. And you don’t want to ever drive away potential customers. The cheaper route is for those testing the water, or trying their luck in the market for the first time who want a little reassurance before going full blown cost on supplies and that is okay. Just keep in mind the more effort you put into your art, the more it will be worth.

If you go the more expensive route, this may end up being the smarter choice and here is why: If your supplies are more expensive, your artwork is automatically more expensive. And if you do quality work, all the more power to you because no doubt you’ll have takers  for your art the second it goes out for sale. The more expensive route is for artists with maybe a little more money and time who are confident in their abilities to create more quality artwork they can then sell for a decent amount of money. You could still get a good chunk of change for cheaper artwork, but probably not as much as you would with expensive artwork. You would also probably get a lot more repeat customers with decent quality work. It could turn out being way more worth the money you initially spent. Your profit could be twice to 10 times as much as a cheap piece of art having gone with the cheap route.

After making your decisions about supplies and setting a price for your art, you’ll need to find a way to sell it. Marketing yourself is easier than you think. That does not mean no effort or no work. There is always effort and work involved in making money, and as an artist you probably enjoy what you do, but a little extra work is required if you’re going to sell anything. Sure you could take a couple pictures and post them on craigslist, but chances are, that no one is going to take you too seriously and you probably won’t get repeat customers that way.

A great place to start is by getting your own website. You can get a domain name through sites like or and sign up for hosting as well, which is a small amount of money you only have to pay monthly or yearly, but you can sell your art without anyone taking a cut of the money you make! Another thing you could do is use a site such as to set up an online store for your art. The problem with sites like Etsy is that they get a cut of the money you make, but you have to consider the fact that they already have a predetermined customer base and people will stumble upon your store more frequently than if you had because nobody would know how to find you. And if you want your own domain name you’ll have to do a little more work and maybe write articles for sites that link back to your site, or a smart thing to do, that could be for you, is to set up a goodle adwords account and get more site traffic that way. Social network sites such as facebook, tumblr or twitter, could also help you out a lot as long as you post some of your art there linking back to (or even your Etsy store) And always be sure to tag your posts with important key or subject words so people searching can find your art. These are just a few examples of many ways you can market yourself. A little personal research doesn’t hurt either, especially if your art is one particular style or targeted towards certain age groups.

There is no right or wrong way necessarily. But there is always a better way. Sometimes artists just have to work out which way is better for them. Don’t spend money you don’t have on more expensive supplies if you can’t deliver your product presentably.  Although, investing in yourself is important too. Life is a gamble, but if you’re going to put your money into something, make sure it’s you.