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From Selling Prints to Licensing: How Artists Make Money

We have all heard of the “starving artist,” but after years working as an art coach and interviewing numerous artists on the podcast, I️ am here to set the record straight. You can turn your passion into a career and today I️ am going to show you exactly how artists make money doing what they love. In this article, we'll explore some of the different ways that artists can make money and build a sustainable income from their art.

*This post contains affiliate links. Please know I️ link to products that I️ use and or strongly believe in.

Sell Prints and Original Artwork.

One of the most traditional ways for artists to make money is by selling prints and original artwork. This can be done through galleries, art fairs, online marketplaces, or even directly to buyers. It's important to price your work appropriately and market it effectively to attract potential buyers. Building a strong portfolio and establishing a recognizable style can also help increase demand for your work. This is where most artists start, but it is just one of the many ways artists can make money from their skills.

Learn more about making and selling prints through my friend, Laurie Anne's course Art to Print.

Offer Commissions and Custom Work.

Another way for artists to make money is by offering commissioned work. This involves creating artwork specifically tailored to a client's needs or preferences. This can include anything from portraits to murals to illustrations for books or magazines. It's important to establish clear communication with clients and set expectations for timelines and pricing. Offering this type of service can not only bring in additional income, but also help expand your portfolio and reach new audiences.

Before taking on a commission client, I️ recommend checking out my contract for commissions here.

Work with galleries, shops or home stores.

Another way for artists to make money is by working with galleries, shops, or home stores. These businesses often have a need for unique and original artwork to display or sell, but they also might sell products, prints, or other pieces that you create. This is a great way to increase your audience fast and get in front of like-minded buyers. Reach out to local galleries or shops and inquire about their process for accepting new artists.

Galleries typically take work on consignment and take a 40-50% commission. Stores might work this way or might purchase your work wholesale. Be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully to ensure you’re getting a fair deal before jumping in to working with these types of partners.

Partner with designers and decorators.

Partnering with designers and decorators is a great way for artists to sell more work to high end clients as well as get great photography of their work in beautiful home. Working with professionals like these can also boost your credibility and even allow you. to raise your prices over time as your work’s perceived value increases. Reach out to local designers and decorators and offer to collaborate on projects or provide them with a portfolio of your work. Learn more about working with designers through my free webinar.

Collaborate with other artists.

Collaborating with other artists can be a great way to expand your audience and create new opportunities for monetizing your work. Consider partnering with artists in complementary mediums, such as a potter and a painter working together to create unique pieces. You can also collaborate with artists in your own medium, such as creating a joint exhibition. This is a great way to get in front of more people and expand both of your audiences while also pushing the boundaries on your own craft.

Participate in Art Fairs and Exhibitions.

Art fairs and exhibitions are great opportunities for artists to showcase their work and potentially make sales. These events attract art enthusiasts, collectors, and industry professionals who are looking for new and exciting pieces to add to their collections. Participating in these events can also help artists gain exposure and build their reputation in the art world. It's important to research and carefully select the events that align with your style and target audience, and to have a strong and cohesive body of work to present. It is also important to factor in costs like booth fees, tent costs, setup costs, travel costs and more before signing up for any show. To learn more about art fairs, listen to this podcast episode.

License Your Artwork for Products and Merchandise.

Licensing your artwork involves allowing companies to use your artwork on their products or to use in reproduction of the work itself. In exchange, you receive a percentage of the sales or they might pay a flat fee to purchase the rights to the original. Licensing can be a great way to reach a wider audience and generate passive income, as the company takes care of the production and distribution of the products. It's important to carefully review and negotiate the terms of the licensing agreement to ensure that you are receiving fair compensation and that your artwork is being used in a way that aligns with your values and brand.

Want to learn more about licensing? Check out this amazing course that will teach you everything that you need to know!

Teach Workshops and Classes.

Another way for artists to make money is by teaching workshops and classes. This can be done in person or online, and can cover a variety of topics such as painting, drawing, photography, or even marketing for artists. Teaching can not only provide a steady source of income, but also help to establish yourself as an expert in your field and build a community of students and followers. You can advertise your workshops and classes through social media, your website, or by partnering with local art organizations or schools. In this digital age, classes don’t just have to be in person anymore. Singing sites like Skillshare, you can share your zoom course to people worldwide and reach a wider audience. There really is no limit to how much can be made from courses and online classes.

Create a membership or course.

Many artists have found success in creating membership programs or online courses. This allows them to share their knowledge and skills with others while also generating income. For example, a painter could create a course on painting techniques or a graphic designer could create a membership program that provides access to exclusive design resources. These types of offerings can be sold on platforms like Teachable or Patreon, or even through your own website.

I️ hope you found this list helpful and you can see exactly how artists make money through turning their passion into a career.


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