How To Make It As An Artist?

Hi Everyone, below is a post I sent out a few years back and in looking back at it I realised so much. This is the post:

“I didn't mention this, but I'm doing an online course on how to market your business. As with every course, you get homework and we were given homework this weekend to approach 3 people to talk about our product (my art) and get them interested. Well I didn't even try doing that because, firstly I couldn't think of who I could approach that I didn't know and then having to tell them about what I do!!!!! Urrrrr!!!! Please note I'm not shy and it's not that I'm anti-social. I just didn't want to approach a friend. But low and behold I happened to go into one of our popular art supply stores "Arnim", with my daughter and as we purchased our item, a gentleman who came to collect some paintings (they also do framing and matting ), as we were leaving he called out to me. I was a bit wary as I didn't know him and wondered OK what was he up to. He asked if I painted? I said yes. Then he suggested that I become a member of a group called "Women in Art". Well I was thrown, because my art teacher moved to Canada, the art group disintegrated., so I had no other artists to bond with.

I was looking for a group to join so I could learn and join in the activities that are so enjoyable in this art world. This gentleman, out of nowhere, suddenly answered my need. He gave me all the details of who to contact and I thanked him profusely. What timing...Ha Ha of course I called immediately, arranged to pay and become a member and was invited to submit 5 pieces for an exhibition they were having in Tobago. Yea!!!!! You must understand....the more your work is out there, the more people will recognise you and you build a client base. So I immediately went through my work to pull out 5 pieces that fit the criteria and wrapped them up and they will be on their way to the exhibition on Monday. I can't wait to get feedback from the gentleman......get this....... who happened to be the Gallery Owner that was hosting the exhibition. Huh!! Just Amazing!!!! I don't meet gallery owners or other artists, so this was blow mind for me. Soooo excited. Even if none of my pieces sell at least they were on display and all of this is a great learning experience for me.

These are the pieces I submitted. Hope you like them as well. So I'll tell you more next week. Hope I have good things to share.”


Yes, one year later and I can say that that went nowhere. I joined the group but you’re surrounded by so many artist that are just as good as you or better and you feel like your work just doesn’t get seen. The group was a bit disorganised and even though I submitted work for that event nothing sold and nothing sold for the 3 other events I sent submissions. Then at the last event I got soooo pissed with them…I may have done a blog on how I felt, that I decided that I wouldn’t be staying as a member, it just wasn’t working out for me. What made it worst was that it was a group for women…See what I mean? Remember my post on whether Women really help each other or not?...I rest my case.

So I asked myself the question…outside of my Development Business where I made my living, was I making or could I make a living from my Art? And the answer is NO!!! NOT YET. Yes there is the point that I wasn’t putting 100% into my Art as a business but I was putting at least 50% of my time. What helped me make money with my art were the following:

  • The Upmarkets – I was able to sell small pieces but not enough to be able to have lived comfortably monthly.

  • My Own Exhibition – this helped me make more money but the cost to set it up varied. The first time I did an exhibition I made a nice change of about $15K. My second exhibition was smaller and more of a POP-UP shop and I partnered with my cousin and a friend and I stood the venue cost. Here I broke even.

  • Selling through Social Media – I hired my daughter to deal with Social Media for me and although I et a lot of followers (mainly local Trinis) I don’t get a lot if international followers and I’ve never gotten a sale straight off of Instagram or Facebook.

  • Converting My Office into A Gallery – Great idea as I can let my clients see my work as they come for their sessions but I’ve only gotten one client sale from the Gallery and several friend sales from the gallery. One of my great friends is my biggest fan and she buys quite a few of my pieces. Gotta love her. And I do. Will always be grateful.

  • Selling PRINTABLES on my sites – this too I’ve received nothing and despite following all the advice from the successful youtubers I am still to see any results, but I enjoy blogging and creating freebies and creating PRINTABLES SO I will continue despite the lack of income.

What all of this says to me is that to make a living from my ART I need to continue with the following:

  • Do Exhibitions

  • Continue to create new pieces

  • Continue with the printables and blogging

  • Continue with the Upmarkets but choose the times wisely

Now I’ve put together the different thoughts from individuals online on this topic.

Is it possible, in the current economic climate, for someone working in the creative arts to make a living from it? Unless you have the good fortune to be a Damien Hirst or a JK Rowling, the answer increasingly seems to be no. For artists who are already faced with low job security and the absence of company benefits such as pensions or paid holidays, the impact of the global financial crisis has been keenly felt.

The statistics make for uncomfortable reading. Almost a third of visual and applied artists earn less than £5,000 a year from their creative work, according to a survey conducted last year by Artists’ Interaction and Representation (AIR); 57% of the 1,457 respondents said that less than a quarter of their total income was generated by their art practices and only 16% of them paid into a private pension fund, raising questions about how professional artists will support themselves once they reach retirement age.

In other countries, there are different approaches. In Denmark, selected artists are awarded life-long annual stipends. In Sweden, the government offers five- and 10-year arts scholarships. Interestingly, however, the majority of people I spoke to in the UK prefer to maintain their artistic independence rather than taking money from the state.


If you want to become a successful artist, there is one thing you need to understand first: You need to understand you’re building a business. And like any other business, you have to be focused and put some effort into it. It also includes marketing yourself, putting yourself out there, and generally doing all the boring stuff that doesn’t happen magically.


If you want to learn how to make money as an artist, there are two paths you can go down:

Step #1: Find an idea

First, decide what you want to specialize in.This could depend on your training and education (perhaps you took a class in graphic design or minored in photography) or simply your passion and hobbies (maybe you love animating in your free time). But for now, here are some great freelance commercial artist jobs with plenty of gigs out there:

  • Illustrator. This entails taking ideas and concepts from managers and turning them into fleshed out illustrated images.

  • Graphic designer. This role encompasses a variety of roles including website and logo design, product packaging, and brand production.

  • Photographer. Freelance photogs can find work snapping shots for magazines, media organizations, companies, or even weddings.

  • Video editor. With platforms such as Vimeo and YouTube, many companies are beginning to embrace video as a means to get across their message. They need someone to shoot, edit, and produce those videos. Could that be you?


If you want to go into fine art, you should already have an idea of what your medium is, whether it’s painting, sculpting, photography, whatever.

No matter what your hustle idea is, you need to remember one important tenet: Do good work.

It might seem obvious but people sometimes forget this when they jump into a creative pursuit.

From Antrese

“It seems so obvious but you have to spend time developing your craft and creating work that you’re proud of,” Antrese says. “You need to be super proud of it. You can’t just put crap out into the world and expect people to like it.”

This is the “If you build it, they will come” idea of creating a side hustle. If you create good, high-quality work, people will come to you. It doesn’t matter what your artistic medium is. You should always be in the pursuit of doing good work. “It’s great for the mind-set too,” she says. “If you’re doing work you’re excited about, you’re going to be motivated to keep on doing it.”

I don’t care if you’re a freelance programmer or if you’re selling your paintings on the side: everyone gets confused at pricing their products when they start out.

“I think artists who are just starting out and aren’t familiar with the market yet tend to either price their pieces too low or too high,” Antrese says.

And while you can arbitrarily price your work until you hit on something that sticks, Antrese has a good framework that can help any beginner out: Brutal honesty.

“The simplest way to do it is to be brutally honest with yourself and evaluate your own work,” she says. “For me, I know who paints like I do, who has a similar skill set, where they’re showing, what kind of galleries they’re in, and then you go and look where they’re showing their work and how much they’re selling it for.”

This way of pricing is also known as the “Do what the other guy does” technique. By looking at yourself and others in a similar situation as you, and seeing how they price their products, you can come up with an educated guess as to how you should be pricing your work.

Step #2: Don’t quit your day job (yet)

While it might be tempting to march into your boss’s office and put in your two weeks’ notice the day after you sell your first painting or get into a gallery, you should be judicious at first.

From Antrese:

“When they start selling their work, it is tempting to quit. They think ‘If I can sell X with a full time job, I could 10X that if I just had more time to paint. I need to quit my job.’ Sounds logical enough.

What they don’t understand is what happens in their heads when they no longer have a steady paycheck. Even if they were smart and put cushion money aside, the mindset inevitably shifts from ‘I’ll create the best painting I can, if it doesn’t sell right away, it doesn’t really matter’ to ‘I worked hard for that savings and every day I don’t sell, I’m a day closer to losing it all. This painting HAS to sell.’

That’s a lot of pressure and the perfect environment for creative paralysis. Instead, Antrese suggests you resist temptation and keep your job — at least, until you can feasibly sustain yourself on your craft.

“Keep your job,” she says. “Take a ‘pay cut’ and live only off the profits from your art. Can you pay all your bills? Are you comfortable?

Step #3: Think of Different Ways to Monetize Your Art

It’s critical to think of different ways to monetize your art in order to achieve both creative and financial success. Before just diving in, you’ll want to evaluate your skill sets and what makes you most comfortable.

Whatever it is you decide to try, remember that everything is an extension of your brand as an artist and you need to ask yourself if the path you’re on will lead you toward your bigger goals. So, get ready to think outside of the box and diversify your revenue streams with some creative ways to monetize your art.

8 Alternative Ways to Earn Money from Your Creativity

Sell Prints of Your Work. The obvious way to make money is to sell your artwork itself, but it can also be very lucrative to sell prints of your work to earn a little passive income.

  • Take it to the Streets. Upmarkets.

  • Teach an Online Course.

  • Create a Membership Site.

  • Write a Book. Ebook, How To Book etc.

  • Write a Blog.

  • Do an Art Exhibition

  • Private Commissions

According to a survey in Art Business Today, these were the top 10 best-selling subjects for paintings in the UK:

  • Modern or semi-abstract landscapes.

  • Figure studies (excluding nudes)

  • Seascapes, harbour, and beach scenes.

  • Impressionistic landscapes.

8 Best Places to Buy and Sell Art Online

1 Amazon.

2 eBay.

3 Etsy.

4 deviantART.

5 500px.

6 Zazzle.

7 CafePress.

8 Redbubble.


  • Can you make any kind of living as an artist? By Elizabeth Day


  • 8 Innovative Ways to Make Money From Your Art by Jessica Stewart

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Hi, I’m GaFra

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