Making money as an artist is never easy. While top artists make top dollar, the vast majority barely make ends meet. After talking to various artists, painters, actors, musicians, I realized that many just want to perform or paint, and if they sell something, good, otherwise, they’ll take any minimum wage job to pay the rent. I don’t think you have to be a fabulous artist to make a living, you just have to know where to get enough money for your art. Think about it. You are already working at a part time job waiting tables or teaching music for kindergarteners. On top of that, you spend a good part of your days improving your art with few people noticing you. Spending a little more time on self promotion can go a long way instead of looking for alternative ways to earn money.
Market yourself online
This is a big world out there, and it has never been easier to set up a personal site, or join a bigger one to get some exposure. If I were a painter or a musician, I would have a personal page with my name and surname in the URL so that people can easily google me and find samples of my work. One page for a quick bio, one for upcoming events I will perform at, and most importantly a “Hire me” page with the things I can do, like play for your wedding or paint a family portrait.
Then I would try to sell my art online. There are online galleries, from the world famous to the small neighborhood ones, that may accept after a pitch to promote your art on their website. They usually take a big cut but are well worth it if you are starting out and need to get known. Those are places where not only amateurs will shop, but also talent scouts and art fair organizers, who may invite you to be part of an exhibition next year.
Finally, I would publish local ads, offering one time services on Craigslist or Gumtree, from piano lessons to art workshops, and browse the section of people looking for artists to paint a wall in their house or perform at the school’s graduation.
Since you are now a public figure, you should be careful with your online image, google yourself and remove anything that could hurt your image, like Facebook pictures of yourself at a frat party 10 years ago…
Use your network
I have written previously about the power of using your network to find some assignments, from baby-sitting gigs to full time employment. The same goes for artists. And if you are family, or a friend of a friend, people will be keener to hire you.
So keep your ears open. Tiffany is getting married? Does she have a DJ? Who will be the photographer? Can your friend Mary do the cake? By referring your own network of friends (and making sure they know you sent the customers!) you are encouraging people to vouch for you and send you some work in return.
Leverage bigger platforms
You want the world to know you, but on your own you are still pretty small. So take advantage of bigger platforms to get known. It could be your art school organizing an exhibition and offering alumni a spot. It could be that big company offering a pittance to print your art on their Christmas cards, but they will send them with credits to you to their 10,000 customers. It could be playing for free at the town’s spring sale in the park, where half the town will meet you. Or trying to get on a shared project with a better known artist.
Say you have access and market yourself to 100 people, try to get close to someone who can reach 1,000. Do your best work and they will spread the word.
Pursue an Art Degree
If you have a passion for sharing your artwork, then perhaps it is time to start looking at art schools. There are numerous art-related majors out there, and a quick look online might point you in the direction of a potentially rewarding career in the field. Discover your art school today that fits into the interests and goals you have for the type of work you wish to produce. Whether you want to go to school online, at a physical university, or to combine the two, you’ll easily find what you’re looking for. Plenty of like-minded individuals are landing excellent art careers, so you can only benefit by viewing your available options.