By Jane Hudson
Only one in 10 art school graduates go on to make a living from their art. While this may be the reality of a challenging career, it is still possible to turn your passion into a profitable source of income. Once you have begun to feel comfortable in your craft and have built a small portfolio, there is no reason not to be rewarded financially for your hard work and creativity. Have pride in your talents, and plan strategically to turn your hobby into a real career.
Sell Your Pieces Individually
Artwork is made to be seen. When you share your work with the world, you may be surprised how well people respond. First, try selling your work on an online platform, such as an e-commerce website or an online dealer. Don’t be afraid to use your own personal social media to promote your work. Your next buyer may be someone in your established social circle.
Although it may seem intimidating, consider seeking representation from a local gallery. Galleries want great artwork, so there’s no reason they wouldn’t want to know about an exciting, up-and-coming new artist. Send in postcards of your work or emails, and attend in-person gallery openings to get to know curators and gallerists better and to enhance your art career.
Start A Small Business
There are many ways to make money off your art beyond selling individual works. Consider how your artistic skills could be translated to another service. If you’re a photographer, think about expanding into wedding photography or high school senior portraits. If you’re a painter, think about offering your services for pet portraits or other personal commissions.
Once you’ve identified your market, treat your career and business seriously, and it will grow. Build a professional-looking website, and consider offering your services for free to friends in order to build a portfolio. As you grow, make sure you get smart about finding customers using online and in-person marketing, and soon you will have a steady flow of clients.
Over time, your career in business may grow large enough to hire and take care of a small staff of employees and consider all sorts of new responsibilities, including workers compensation insurance and healthcare, needed to protect your team in the event of illness or injury. With the proper care and business-savvy approach, your small idea can turn into a lifelong source of income.
Develop Your Teaching Skills
If you have a passion for art-making, one way to monetize that passion is through teaching. In addition to providing a source of income, teaching is a great way to stay inspired and motivated to work on your own practice. Reach out to local art centers and community colleges to see if they would be interested in having you run a class or shadow a current teacher.
Additionally, consider offering online tutorials via YouTube or Instagram to refine your skills and grow an audience. Your art-making practice can be more than just a hobby. There are many ways to monetize your creativity and efforts. Think strategically about the best pathway for you, and take action to turn your art into a career.