How to Make Money as an Artist: 12 Cool Ideas

how to make money as an artist

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Are you struggling to learn how to make money as an artist?

You’re not alone! It’s actually very difficult for beginner artists to make a career these days.

Never mind regular work opportunities — which are fought for tooth and nail by those with experience and connections. Even the freelance or self-employment opportunities available are hard to come by.

If you don’t want to become a typical starving artist, you have to find a solution on your own!

As for that, don’t worry! We’ve worked hard to compile some of the most effective ways of making money as an artist in the article below:

12 Ways to Make Money as An Artist

What are the best ways to make money as an artist? You can read the following and fuel your career as a creative entrepreneur:

1. Sell Art Through Online Art Marketplaces

One of the easiest ways to earn money as a professional artist is to directly sell art online through online art marketplaces.

That’s it. Nothing too complicated about it. It’s all about finding a reliable shopping platform and putting up your arts & crafts for sale. The advantages of doing this are that it doesn’t require too much capital and you can get started right away.

After all, online art marketplaces have an existing consumer base — making it extra convenient for emerging artists without much reputation to connect with a wider audience. If you want to give selling to a creative market a try, examples of such online platforms include:

  • Etsy
  • eBay
  • Shopify
  • RedBubble
  • Saatchi Art
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This type of direct selling is usually more popular with those who sell crafts. Things like art prints, sculptures, ceramics, knitted products, fiber arts, etc. are easy to sell on most online platforms as they can be bought as decorations or collectibles.

As for selling original artwork or fine art through an online platform, it’s not recommended. You can still sell it, but it’s unlikely to be sold at the price you want. It’s better to sell premium products through more prestigious platforms (i.e., galleries).

2. Sell Designs to Print-on-Demand Services

Want to know how to make making money as an artist even simpler? Well, there’s a way!

You can upload your designs to a print-on-demand middleman to promote and sell, allowing you to sit back, relax, and focus on creating art whilst all the business aspects are handled by the middleman.

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An example of a “middleman” is RedBubble. RedBubble is a popular online marketplace for artists and creatives. More importantly, however, RedBubble offers convenient print-on-demand services for artists and creatives who want to sell their graphic designs.

The platform takes care of everything from production of high-quality prints to promotion, and shipping. This means that, aside from the first step of uploading high-quality images of your art to the platform, all you  really have to do is sit back and wait for the passive income to roll in!

What’s even better is that they offer 70+ product types for you to ‘print’ your art on. Whether it be prints, t-shirts, wall art, mugs, stickers, hats, phone cases, etc. potential buyers have plenty of options to choose from.

3. Sell Digital Art Commissions through a Creative Market

If you’re worried about finding a place to sell digital art online, don’t leave just yet!

Nowadays, the most popular art commissions are in digital art form. After all, making digital art saves the hassle of having to find a reliable scanner or camera required to produce high-quality images of traditional art. It’s also easier to make revisions later, should the client require it.

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If you’re interested in this path to making money as an artist. You can check out the digital art commission platform, Artistree.io! Selling digital art commissions on artistree.io cannot be more simple.

All you have to do is sign up, decide whether to rely on the platform to finalize payment, set up an art commission post, and wait for potential clients to make their commission requests. Simple and easy. Extra suitable for graphic artists who are just starting out and don’t have much presence on social media platforms.

BTW! Although we specified digital arts here, art commissions are of course not limited to digital arts. You can also sell original work through commission work. But you have to study more aspects (e.g., preservation and shipping) so that your art can get to your customer in perfect condition.

4. Sell Art at Art Fairs & Festivals

Our next recommendation is to sell art at art fairs and art festivals! This idea will definitely require more effort and time than most of the other methods that we’ve suggested thus far.

For example, you need to sign up for the art fair, prepare products for sale, travel to the fair, set up an attractive sales booth, and then sell paintings to potential buyers face-to-face (for many artists new to selling their own art, this is undoubtedly the most difficult!)

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But setting up a booth at art fairs and festivals has its own benefits. For one, participating in art fairs will allow you to get a little closer to the art world. You can meet other talented artists and art enthusiasts who share the same passion for art as you.

For another, this new connection to the art world can open many avenues for selling art in the future. After all, having a one-to-one with a client at an art fair is always more personal than selling art online.

As for what to sell, it can be anything from original artwork, art prints, art merchandise (e.g., mugs, t-shirts, tote bags, etc.), and more.

5. Sell Your Work at an Art Exhibition

Next, it’s time to talk about art exhibitions! If you truly want to be a part of the art world, then participating in an art exhibition is a must. Especially in the realm of fine arts! This is a practice that is widely recognized in the artist industry and has been around for centuries.

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You can set up an art exhibition for yourself — if you’re brave enough! The first hurdle can stump most brave warriors, which requires one to rent an event space or gallery to host your exhibit. After which, you have to spend some time planning the event. Including the layout, exhibition program, refreshments, merchandise, etc.

Of course, if you’re not quite ready for that step yet, you can also participate in a themed exhibition set up by a group of artists who share a similar art style with you. At worst, even if your art doesn’t get sold right then and there, you can gain exposure and attract potential buyers to your art business.

6. Sell Your Work at an Art Gallery

Next idea! If you don’t want to go through the trouble of setting up your own art exhibition, you can get your work into art galleries.

If you’re new to the art world, then you might be feeling as confused now as I was back when I was first starting out. For years, I thought that exhibitions and galleries were the same thing. BUT, in fact, they’re completely different.

There are many types of art galleries out there, but they all share the same purpose. That is, an art gallery is a space where exhibitions can be organized.

Such art galleries are run by private businesses that act as middlemen to sell artists’ works. In exchange for their time, effort, and resources, the money made from the sale of the work is shared with these middlemen as a commission — ranging from 30-60% of the final sale.

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It sounds simple, but getting your work into art galleries is actually not as easy as it seems. You have to write a formal letter including your name, background, available works, artist’s statement, website, and why you think your art is suitable for exhibiting in their gallery.

In the art industry, the words, “Art speaks for itself” is widely known. But, even so, if you can’t beat other artists when marketing yourself and your art, you may never get the chance to get your work in a formal gallery.

7. Teach Art Classes or Record Online Courses

Teaching classes may seem a bit of a leap for beginners, but it’s actually not.

Many of the emerging artists today started by teaching ‘art classes’. Rather, for a while there, it was quite popular to record art tutorials for their YouTube channel. Some of the artists that emerged from that period went on to become more and more famous in the art industry, and many young artists are eager to follow in their footsteps.

It’s also because of this trend that the popular online courses platform, Skillshare, came to be.

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If you take a look there now, you’ll notice that the other artists posting online courses on the platform may not necessarily have better skills or more experience than you. Some of them are definitely still considered beginners.

BUT! What they teach is not necessarily complicated anyway. It’s just what they’re good at.

So, if there’s any artistic talent you are particularly good at. Consider recording art tutorials and posting them on your YouTube channel or Skillshare account.

8. Set Up an Art Workshop

Similar to teaching an art class, you can set up an art workshop and invite like-minded artists to create art along with you.

As for how to make money as an artist through workshops, it’s all about fees!

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Any artist that participates in your workshop is additional income. After all, as the host of the art workshop, you not only prepare the place, the lesson plan, and the lesson materials but also other extraneous things like refreshments.

The fellow artists participating share the burden with you by paying for the effort and resources used to set up the workshop. So, as long as you are able to invite the right amount of people, you can definitely earn back the money and make some profit by the way!

Note! This option may not necessarily be the best for making money for aspiring artists. BUT! It’s great for personal artistic practice and getting in touch with other local artists in your area.

9. Sell Collectible Art Prints on Your Own Website

Speaking of artists who are popular on YouTube, you might know about @Kelogloops, who is quite popular for his fine art watercolors.

As a popular artist, he makes money as an artist mostly through the sale of collectible art prints and other art merchandise. To this end, he even has a complete video tutorial on selling fine art prints. He details all the important parts in the video carefully.

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If you’re interested in selling prints, it’s highly recommended that you watch his video!

As for why we didn’t recommend selling art prints like this earlier and talked mostly about selling cheap merchandise through print-on-demand services, it’s primarily because there’s a lot more involved when it comes to selling prints than you’d think.

Never mind the process of printing the art prints itself — which includes photographing/scanning of the original work, contacting print-on-demand services, adding embellishments, etc. It’s also recommended that you have your own online store or a pre-prepared platform for selling prints.

AND! Most importantly, you need to have enough reputation on social media platforms and the like to attract buyers to purchase your prints specifically. After all, selling prints is different from selling original art pieces — the amount of money made is much smaller, so you need to up the quantity and sell more.

10. Sign-Up to Become a Freelance Artist Online

If you prefer a more rigorous way to make money as an artist, then you can consider freelance work. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, you can consider selling vector designs or find prospective clients who require vector designs on freelance platforms like UpWork:

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Platforms like UpWork offer a place where you can earn money safely online by allowing you to get in touch with individuals, groups, or businesses that require services in areas you’re good at. It can be illustration, graphic design, animation, etc.

All you have to do is sign up, upload your resume, include some samples of your best art pieces, and wait for jobs. Of course, you can also approach potential clients directly through their job posts. All you have to do is apply and send a message explaining why you are the most suitable for the job.

It should be said that making money as an artist doing freelance is not very stable. It’s a bit difficult to find job opportunities and even more difficult to compete against other artists for those opportunities. But, if you want to get a semi-regular salary, freelance work is definitely one of the best options.

11. Start an Art Blog or Art Vlog

Another way to get passive income as an artist is to start an art blog or an art vlog.

Nowadays, art vlogs are more popular than art blogs. But there’s definitely still room out there if you’re more interested in sharing your experiences in art in written form or if you’re not particularly fond of being in the camera.

As for starting an art vlog, it’s actually not that complicated! Any aspiring artist can start one  with just their mobile phone and their art supplies. That’s all you need!

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If you like, you can do a comprehensive art vlog that covers everything like the popular YouTuber @DrawWithJazza or you can be more simple and post art tutorials or speedpaints.

The latter option is suitable for anyone — even for those who are too shy for the camera! After all, the focus of speedpaints is the art, so you can completely exclude yourself if you want. No need to show your face. And no need to even speak if you like. Some viewers prefer to watch silent videos to immerse themselves in the study of the creative process, so don’t worry!

12. Compete in Art Contests

Although art competitions are not set up specifically for artists to earn money, they usually offer monetary rewards. So, if you want to earn money as an artist, you can compete in art competitions regularly.

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Aside from earning money, art competitions are great for improving your skills, gaining exposure, connecting with fellow artists, and more. So, if you find an opportunity in your local area, definitely go join!

How to Set up a BIG Art Business?

If you want to set up a BIG art business with both active and passive income, the most important thing is to set up a strong foundation and open different avenues for selling your art little by little. As for how to do this, continue reading to learn more:

Step 1. Define Your Artistic Vision

Before you start a business in art, it’s best to clearly define your artistic vision. This includes your art style, your preferred medium, your favorite subject matter, etc. Put another way, you have to decide what kind of art you want to create. As for why?

We’ll talk about it in more detail later. Just know that it’s important to create a public profile that is easily recognizable — or, in other words, a strong brand identity.

Step 2. Research Your Market

Now that you’ve decided on your artistic vision, it’s time to have a look at your market.

To start, take a look at the demand for your type of art, how much they usually go for, and the various competitors in the same niche.

Even better, analyze your target audience. What is their age group? How about their purchasing power and behavior? Once you know these things, you’ll be better off when deciding how to approach them later.

Step 3. Set Your Business Goals

For this next step, you have to decide what you want to achieve with your art business.

set your business goals

Having set goals is crucial for setting up an orderly business plan. If you don’t know where to start with this, you can ask yourself questions like the following to get started:

  • How much money do you want to make?
  • What is the number of artworks you want to produce during a given period?
  • How many art commissions do you want to take on per month?

After answering the bigger questions, break them down into smaller questions until you can create a list of goals of things you want to accomplish.

Step 4. Develop a Strong Brand Identity

Finally, it’s time to get started with starting a business! As for where to start, it’s all about developing a brand identity. How to do this?

Well, you have to create recognizable trademarks or identification for yourself. These include:

  • Logo
  • Business Card
  • Professional Portfolio
  • CV
  • Press Kit

Basically, you have to finetune everything that will serve as your identifier in business. It’s best that it reflects your art style and personality so that your audience can recognize you through it.

Step 5. Create High Quality Artwork and Products

Next up, it’s time to prepare high-quality artworks and/or products for sale.

create high quality artwork

We recommend developing a wide range of products to diversify your income sources. For example, aside from original artwork, you can produce:

  • Art Prints
  • Embellished Prints
  • Limited Edition Prints
  • Merchandise (i.e., t-shirts, hats, mugs, stickers, keychains, etc.)

Step 6. Set Up Sales Channels and Decide Pricing Strategy

After producing products for sale, it’s time to think about where and how to sell them.

We’ve already given several ideas for sales channels in the list above, so we won’t talk about that further. Just take another look to see which appeals to you more.

As for pricing, this is a hard thing to decide for most artists. You can read this guide for some advice or browse through this book by Stephanie Weaver to learn more.

Step 7. Build an Online Presence and Marketing Strategy

At this point, your business should have been up and running, but if you don’t drive sales, the probability of earning money is too low to get back the costs of all of your efforts thus far.

As such, it’s time to build an online presence and finalize your marketing strategy!

Most modern artists take advantage of social platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter in order to establish the former. They share their art to the world, engage with their audience, and drive traffic to their website or external sales channels to increase income.

build an online presence

If you want to take things a step further, you can integrate your social media activities with your marketing strategy by creating and sharing content that involves the products that you want to sell (i.e., speed paint showing fine artwork, tutorials showing the process of creating crafts, etc.).

In that way, your audience can understand the true value of your art product and be more inclined to complete the purchase!

Step 8. Network in Local Art Communities

Outside of building an online presence, showing your face to local art communities is also quite important. It’s best to attend art fairs, art festivals, exhibitions, workshops, etc. where your fellow artists or art enthusiasts gather.

This will not only help you establish a network of like-minded friends but also enable you to get more exposure to the art world at large.

Step 9. Analyze Performance and Adjust as Necessary

One more thing, business has always been a matter of pushing and pulling. Sometimes one strategy will work. And the next moment, it has to be the completely opposite strategy.

Your ability to analyze the performance of your activities will be the key to whether or not you can truly make a career in the art world. Remember! Don’t be satisfied with staying in one place, it’s best to adjust based on your existing situation whenever there’s an opportunity. That way, your business can continue to improve and increase profits.

analyze performance

FAQs

Do Artists Earn a Lot of Money?

Yes, artists can earn a lot of money. However, it’s impossible for all artists to earn a lot of money. According to 2024 statistics, working as an illustrator, painter, sculptor, etc. may net you $51.2K annually, which is just a little bit below the $59.3K national income in the United States.

BUT! Many professional artists don’t earn a regular salary. Most of their earnings come from freelance or self-employment opportunities — of which the earnings vary significantly. In this way, some artists can, in fact, make a lot of money. However, how much an artist earns depends on their means.

What Type of Art Makes the Most Money?

Paintings earn the most money. More specifically, canvas paintings can be preserved for a long time and are painted with paints that use high-quality pigments. As for what type of painting mediums is considered more valuable, it’s oil paint, followed by acrylics and watercolors.

what type of art makes the most money

How Do I Get My Art Noticed?

The best way to get your art noticed is to publish your work online and regularly communicate with local art communities. It may take some time and effort, but if you want to establish a strong identity for yourself and gain a wider audience, you need to take things one step at a time.

What Makes Art Go Viral?

If you want your art to go viral, you need to create artwork that is relevant to the times. For this, it’s best to keep up with the recent trends — not just in the art community, but in other popular communities with lots of traffic.

How Do I Grow My Art Account?

If you want to grow your art account, it’s best to publish more art and engage with your audience regularly. That’s the slow-and-steady solution. If you want to increase the speed of growth, you can try to obtain a wider audience by tapping into other online communities.

For example, creating art relevant to certain fan groups can help attract traffic from that community.

The Bottom Line:

As a creative person, earning money is actually not all that difficult. It’s just a matter of extra effort. Of course, if you truly want to make it big, you need to have some talent in business.

BUT! As an artist, it’s better to continue improving your skills in art rather than studying the art of entrepreneurship. Saying that, go ahead and get started on leveling up your art skills! If you don’t know where to start, follow this link to the best online art classes available in 2024.

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