How do Artists Make Money? 10 Proven Ways in 2024

Jan 24, 2024

So, you're an artist with a passion for creating, but you're wondering, "How do artists make money and turn their passion into a sustainable income in 2024?" If this sounds familiar, you're in the right place!

In this blog post, we'll dive into ten proven ways to make money as an artist, from selling your art online to collaborating with other artists and brands.

We'll also explore:

  • Online and in-person teaching opportunities

  • Essentials for freelance work as an artist, including commissions

  • Passive income streams for artists

  • Art events where you can make money as an artist

  • More creative ways to turn your passion into your profession

  • And the single most important factor in making money as an artist

Let's unlock the doors to a thriving art career together!

1. Sell Art Online: Platforms and Techniques

Professional artist Dimitra Milan selling art on a laptop

Gone are the days when artists relied solely on galleries and art fairs to sell their art. The digital age has opened up a world of opportunities to showcase and sell art to a global audience, including selling digital art. But how can you make the most of these platforms and techniques?

We'll examine how artists make money online, including personal artist websites, print-on-demand services, and social media strategies.

Sell on Personal Websites

A personal website is your online home, where you can showcase your art, build your brand, and improve your online presence. Platforms like Showit, Wix, or Squarespace offer the perfect foundation to display and sell your art, including paintings, digital art, and fine art prints.

Use high-quality images and professional presentation to captivate your audience and turn your talent into a profitable venture.

You can even monetize your website further by offering tutorials, selling digital assets, or partnering with art supply companies through affiliate marketing—all effective ways to make money as an artist.

Utilize Print-On-Demand Services

Print-on-demand services, such as Society6, Zazzle, and Printful, enable you to sell your art on various products without worrying about inventory and shipping management. Simply upload your digital art designs, and these services will handle the printing and shipping to your customers, allowing you to focus on your creative process and sell art online without the hassle of managing stock and logistics.

Leverage Social Media Channels

Social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok offer a powerful way to market your art and create a global reach for your artwork, ultimately earning money from your creations.

Use Instagram's shop tool to promote your work, gain followers, and direct them to your sales page or Sellfy store.

Explore YouTube and TikTok for creating video content and making money through views, Patreon, or even TikTok's sticker-gift feature.

By investing time and effort into building your social media presence, you can unlock new revenue streams to make money as an artist and expand your audience.

2. Teach Art: Online and In-Person Opportunities

Dimitra and Elli Milan teaching art online

Sharing your art knowledge and skills can be incredibly rewarding and profitable. Teaching online courses and workshops and conducting in-person classes can help you monetize your art and start making money as an artist.

Online Courses and Workshops

Creating and offering online art courses and workshops is an excellent way to reach a larger audience and make money as an artist. You can present your knowledge in various formats, such as video tutorials, webinars, or live classes, on platforms like Kajabi, Skillshare, or even your website.

By crafting high-quality courses and effectively marketing them, you can establish yourself as an expert in your field and generate income through course sales and subscriptions.

In-Person Classes and Workshops

Conducting in-person art classes and workshops in your local community can be fulfilling and financially rewarding. You can teach at art galleries, schools, or even your own studio, sharing your expertise with others and inspiring their creativity.

Although in-person teaching comes with some challenges, like organizing materials and finding suitable venues, the benefits of engaging with students face-to-face and witnessing their growth as artists are priceless.

3. Freelance Art Careers: Graphic Design, Illustration, and More

A person creating a portfolio of art

Your skills are in high demand if you're a talented graphic designer, illustrator, or freelance artist. But with so many talented artists, how can you stand out from the competition and attract clients?

We'll focus on identifying your niche, constructing a robust portfolio, and building a faithful client base to prosper in the freelance art industry.

Successful artist Elli Milan selling her artwork online, demonstrating how artists make money in their niche.

Identify your unique skills and niche within the art industry to set yourself apart from the competition and attract the right clients and projects that align with your strengths. Whether you excel in logo design, character illustration, traditional art, or digital art, honing your craft and mastering your style can make you more attractive to clients seeking your specific expertise.

A strong portfolio showcases your best work and demonstrates your competence to potential clients. One way to kickstart your art portfolio is by taking the 100-painting challenge. If you need more inspiration, watch Jake's art portfolio journey, including how he sold a piece before he finished it!

To build your client base, you can:

  • Promote your services through social media, networking events, and online platforms like Behance, Dribbble, or Etsy.

  • Consistently update your portfolio with new projects.

  • Actively seek client feedback to help you refine your skills.

Remember, a satisfied client can lead to repeat business and valuable referrals, further expanding your client base.

4. Art Licensing and Passive Income Streams

A person signing an art licensing contract. Photo by Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash

Art licensing is an attractive opportunity to create passive income streams with your artwork. By granting companies or individuals the right to use your work in exchange for a fee, you can maintain the copyright to your work while generating passive income from your creative talents.

An art licensing contract is an agreement between you and a company or individual that allows them to use your artwork on various products in exchange for payment. It's essential to clearly understand copyright rules and regulations to protect your work and maximize the benefits of licensing contracts.

Be sure to research potential partners and carefully examine the terms of each licensing contract before signing an agreement.

To identify and secure licensing opportunities for your artwork, you can follow these steps:

  1. Research companies in your niche that seek artwork.

  2. Attend art licensing trade shows to network and showcase your work.

  3. Connect with other artists and industry professionals to learn about potential opportunities.

  4. Explore online platforms like Artwork Archive, Artists&Clients, or ArtCorgi to showcase your work and connect with potential licensors.

By actively seeking out licensing opportunities, you can create a reliable source of passive income and expand your art career.

5. Participate in Art Fairs, Exhibitions, and Festivals

An artist participating in an art fair

Participating in art fairs, exhibitions, and festivals can be an exhilarating way to showcase your work, connect with potential collectors, and network with fellow artists—all ways that can lead to making money as an artist.

With so many events to choose from, how can you ensure you pick the right art fair and prepare for success? Let's explore how to choose the most suitable events for your art and objectives, and how to design an appealing display to draw attention and sales.

Consider the following factors to determine which events best suit your art and goals:

  • Location

  • Audience

  • Competition

Research events that cater to your ideal collector and evaluate the venue's reputation, size, and location. Also, consider the event's marketing efforts, reach, and potential for networking with industry professionals, fellow artists, and potential collaborators.

By thoughtfully evaluating these factors, you can prioritize events that align with your unique needs and aspirations.

Once you've chosen the right events, prepare for success by creating a captivating display. Some ways to do this include:

  • Selecting a color scheme

  • Utilizing props

  • Ensuring your artwork is properly lit

Bring materials, display equipment, business cards, and promotional materials to maximize your experience.

Network with attendees, exchange contact information, and engage with potential buyers to maximize your exposure and sales opportunities.

6. Art Commissions: Create Custom Work for Clients

Artist Jake Dunn creating custom art for a client

Have you ever considered making money as an artist by offering art commissions to create custom pieces for clients? Art commissions can be a fantastic source of income, allowing you to tailor your work to the specific desires of your clients.

The realm of art commissions includes things like promoting your services and managing client expectations to guarantee a seamless and successful collaboration.

To effectively promote your commission services and attract clients, you can:

  • Showcase your work on social media and note in your bio that you're open to commissions

  • Attend art fairs, exhibitions, and festivals to network with potential clients and gain exposure for your work

  • Reach out to your existing contacts and let them know you're available for commissions

The more people who know about your services, the more likely you will receive inquiries.

Clear communication and managing client expectations are essential for success when working on commissioned projects. Be transparent about your capabilities and ensure commissions align with your style and approach. Set realistic goals, provide regular updates, and be open to feedback.

By proactively setting clear expectations and maintaining open communication, you'll create a positive experience for you and your client.

7. Collaborate with Other Artists and Brands

A person collaborating with other artists. Photo by Windows on Unsplash

Collaborating with other artists and brands can open up a world of possibilities, help broaden your reach, boost your visibility, and create fresh growth opportunities.

The relationships you build with other creatives and brands can lead to exciting new collaborations and projects. For inspiration, discover how John and Elli Milan collaborate on art pieces.

Consider the advantages of collaborative exhibitions, projects, and brand alliances. Collaborating with other artists on joint exhibitions and projects can:

  • Increase exposure

  • Create new opportunities

  • Combine unique skills and talents to create a captivating art experience

  • Attract a larger audience

  • Network with fellow artists and make valuable connections

  • Lead to future collaborations, expanding artistic horizons

Partnering with brands can provide an incredible opportunity for increased visibility, reaching new audiences, and potential financial rewards.

Collaborate on unique art pieces, promotional campaigns, or product designs to create a mutually beneficial partnership.

Research potential brand partners that align with your values and artistic style, and reach out to explore exciting collaboration opportunities.

8. Apply for Grants and Compete in Art Contests

A grant application checklist. Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Applying for grants and competing in art contests can provide financial support and recognition for your art career. These opportunities can fund your projects and art supplies and even cover living expenses while you focus on creating and making money as an artist by selling your art.

Find Grant Opportunities

To find grant opportunities that provide financial support for your art career, explore online databases, attend grant-writing workshops, and consult grant-writing professionals.

Research the various types of grants available, such as government, private, and foundation grants, to identify the best options for your unique needs and aspirations. Securing the right grants can fuel your artistic dreams and propel your career forward.

Participate in Art Contests

Participating in art contests offers numerous benefits, such as:

  • Increased exposure

  • Motivation

  • Potential financial rewards

Submit your work to various contests, ensuring it meets all the requirements and guidelines.

Invest time and effort into researching and preparing for contests, as this can significantly improve your chances of success.

Remember, winning an art contest can boost your visibility and provide a sense of accomplishment and validation for your hard work.

9. Create a YouTube Channel or Podcast

The ArtSocial YouTube channel

Creating a YouTube channel or podcast is an excellent way to share your art knowledge, experiences, and tutorials while monetizing your content. By producing engaging and informative content, you can:

  • Build a loyal audience

  • Generate income through advertising

  • Secure sponsorships

  • Utilize affiliate marketing

We'll look at content ideas, strategies, and monetization techniques to optimize your YouTube channel or podcast.

Develop content ideas and strategies for your YouTube channel or podcast that provide value and entertainment to your audience. Here are some suggestions:

  • Share your art knowledge, experiences, and tutorials to inspire and educate others.

  • Consider collaborating with fellow artists or brands to create unique content.

  • Interview successful artists to gain insights into their journeys and successes.

You can attract and retain a dedicated audience by providing captivating and valuable content.

Monetize Your Channel or Podcast

Monetize your YouTube channel or podcast through advertising, sponsorships, and affiliate marketing.

By collaborating with brands and featuring their products within your content, you can generate income through product placement and affiliate links. Additionally, you can earn money through sponsorships or ads by running ads on your channel or podcast or partnering with sponsors.

10. Write About Art: Blogs, Books, and Articles

A person writing an art blog. Photo by DaryaDarya LiveJournal on Unsplash

Writing about art is another fantastic way to share your knowledge and experiences with the world while generating income. By starting an art blog, authoring art books, or writing articles, you can showcase your expertise and engage with a broader audience.

We'll examine the world of art writing and learn how to create engaging content and effectively promote your work.

Start an Art Blog

Starting an art blog is an excellent way to share your art knowledge, experiences, and tutorials while monetizing your content through advertising and affiliate marketing.

Define your art niche, pick a memorable blog name, and select a reliable web hosting provider to create a professional online presence.

Consistently publish high-quality and engaging content to attract and retain a dedicated audience.

You can generate income and expand your art career by promoting your art blog and providing valuable content.

Author Art Books or Articles

Authoring art books or articles can help you establish yourself as an expert in your field and generate income from your writing.

Start by researching your topic, outlining your ideas, and writing the content.

Once your book or article is complete, explore publishing options such as:

  • Traditional publishing

  • Self-publishing

  • Print-on-demand services

Promote your work through social media, networking, and submitting to book review sites to maximize your reach and sales potential.

Frequently Asked Questions

An art studio with a woman trying to make money as an artist by selling original artwork. Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Can beginner artists make money?

Yes, beginner artists can make money by taking advantage of opportunities like online platforms, art fairs, exhibitions, merchandising, commissions, grants, and residencies.

How do artists make passive income?

Artists can earn passive income through affiliate sales, greeting cards, and licensing art. However, like any other form of income, this requires time and effort before the rewards start flowing in.

Is art a good way to make money?

Yes, art is a great way to make money. You can turn your passion into profit by exploring different avenues and connecting with individual clients via commissions. Picture yourself waking up every morning and spending your day doing what you love—being the master of your own success.

What platforms are best for selling art online?

Platforms such as Fine Art America, ArtPal, Etsy, Amazon, Saatchi Art, UGallery, Shopify, TurningArt, Pixpa, and Society6 are great options for selling art online.

The Most Important Factor in Making Money as an Artist

There are numerous ways to monetize your art in 2024. By exploring online platforms, teaching, freelance art careers, art licensing, art commissions, collaborations, grants, contests, and content creation, you can turn your passion for art into a sustainable income.

But before any of these methods will help you make money through art, you need one critical element—art that sells.

Even the most dedicated artists who implement these income-generating strategies can struggle if their art fails to attract buyers. Save time, money, and frustration by learning How to Create Authentic Art That Sells. Download our free ebook now.

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