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How to Make Money from Your Artwork

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Making money from your artwork can seem daunting, especially when you're just starting out as an artist. However, with some dedication and clever marketing, it's possible to generate an income from your creative talents. Here are some tips on how to monetise your art in today's market.

How to Make Money from Your Artwork

Sell Your Work Online

One of the easiest ways to make money nowadays is through online sales. You can open up your own online store or sell through an existing marketplace like Etsy. This allows you to reach a wide audience from the comfort of your own home. When pricing your pieces, research similar works by other artists so you can competitively price your own. Make sure to factor in all costs, including materials, labour, shipping and fees from the platform. With a good social media marketing strategy, you can direct traffic to your online store and make steady passive income.  A good tip is to search for your type of art on Etsy, such as original paintings, to see the most popular items for inspiration for photography, listing descriptions and titles.

Approach Local Businesses and Galleries

Look out for coffee shops, restaurants, office spaces or other venues that showcase artwork in your local area. Offer to display some of your pieces for sale in their space. This gets your work seen and introduces it to a new audience. You can ask for commission from any pieces that sell while on display. Local galleries are also worth approaching about hosting a solo exhibition of your latest collection. Make sure you have enough high-quality pieces to fill the space. Promote the event on social media and through any press contacts you may have. An opening night, perhaps with a free glass of bubbly,  is a great opportunity to make sales and interact with future customers.

Lino Bird Greetings Card Etsy

Lino Bird Greetings Card on Etsy

Sell Art at Local Markets

Setting up a stand at local markets, craft fairs, and community events is a tried and tested way for artists to sell affordable works. This can include reproductions of your art, like prints, postcards, and other merchandise. Greeting cards of your designs are quick and easy to produce. Handmade crafts are also popular sellers, like jewellery, ceramics, textiles, candles and soap that feature your designs. Face-to-face interaction with customers allows you to showcase your creative process and talent. Make sure to bring business cards and talk enthusiastically about your art.  Get a feel for which markets would be most fruitful for your work by visiting them as a customer first to see the types of products on offer and whether the market is popular.  Timing is also a great tip here such as before Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Christmas, when you know people will be looking for gifts.

Offer Art Classes

If you enjoy teaching and have skills in a particular medium, such as painting, photography, or pottery, consider offering your own art classes. You can find students through community centre noticeboards, event listings websites, or social media. Teaching allows you to impart your technical skills while gaining exposure and finding new collectors of your work. Make sure to display some of your own pieces as examples during classes. Provide pricing sheets for students who wish to buy them. Building relationships within your community can lead to referrals and word-of-mouth sales.

Sardine Fish Painting on Etsy

Sardine Fish Painting on Etsy

Collaborate with Other Artists

Partner with other local artists to hold joint exhibitions and events. This allows you to share resources, costs and a wider network. Sponsor a creative workshop day with different stations showcasing your respective skills. For example, you could hold a portrait painting class, mixed media collage session and textile printing booth. Split profits and promote the event through collective marketing efforts. Collaborating on bigger projects can also get your artwork seen by more people.

Create Reproductions and Merchandise

Generating reproductions and merchandise based on your artwork can create a lucrative passive income stream. This includes prints, postcards, calendars, clothing, homewares and more. Sites like Redbubble allow you to upload designs, which they'll print on demand on products ordered by customers. You earn a commission on every sale. Beautiful graffiti art featuring your signature style could end up on phone cases globally. Similarly, upload your portfolio to stock image sites like Shutterstock, where your work can be licensed for books, magazines, websites and advertisements. This earns you royalties when your images get used commercially.

Ceramic Paintbrush Holder on Etsy

Ceramic Paintbrush Holder on Etsy

Get Creative with Commissions

One of the most profitable ways to make money from art is through commissioned work. This involves creating custom pieces for specific clients based on their requests. Popular commissions include portraits, pet paintings, landscapes of favourite travel destinations or illustrations for books. Corporate clients may hire you to design branding and murals for their offices or merchandise. Custom sign painting is also in high demand. Use your technical art skills while accommodating the client's vision. Make sure to arrange payment and terms upfront through a contract. Building a strong portfolio of commissioned work can keep you in steady paid work.

Final word

Making a living through art requires grit, ingenuity and persistence. But armed with talent and wise business sense, it's possible to earn income through your creative expression.

Before you go…

Perhaps your artistic talents could lead to another career such as tattooing?  If this sounds interesting then check out my article on how much money tattoo artists make to see if it’s lucrative enough for you!

Ot if you love writing and websites, learn how to make money blogging in my helpful article!