Overcoming the Struggle of Making Money from Your Art

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The life of artists has been romanticized too much. We have the movies on Vincent Van Gogh, Jackson Pollock, and of course, Frida. All of them had a pain worthy of Hollywood. All their paintings cost a fortune now.

If you’re an artist, you know how difficult it is to live on the sales of your work alone. You could say you can relate to Van Gogh, who had difficulties selling his style and only posthumously became popular. But there’s one thing about this starving artists’ dilemma. They don’t seem to realize that if they want to make their living from art, it’s not just about talent. It’s all about marketing.

There is a notion that once you market your art, you are hindering your creativity. As a true artist, creative expression is of utmost importance. But creativity and business don’t need to be enemies. You have to be comfortable with both. Here are a few things you need to do if you seriously want to make money from your art.

Find funding institutions

Art institutes provide funding for projects. From established to budding artists, there are different opportunities for you. Some private individuals also offer residencies. Even if they don’t offer you money for your works, they will provide you with a place to stay while exploring your creativity.

Find a grant-writing coach to help you out with your project proposal. You may be good at what you do, but you might not know how to articulate what you want to do.

‘Brand’ yourself

Some artists went through the phase where they copied other artists’ work. But for sure, you’re not just good at copying. You have your style, and your art has a distinct feel. Give it a good package. How do you define yourself as an artist? What is your ultimate dream project? What makes you unique? Saying that you do surrealist or hyper-realist art is not enough. Too many artists are doing those types of art as well. You need to project an image of yourself to the world so that they would identify you separately from others. Your brand is your personal story.

Join art groups

Most artists love working alone. Some even think that art groups are just for those who are not serious about their art but are just looking for social relations. Or maybe they are artists who want to pat each other on the back, to assure each other that they are creating art and not some random absurdities.

Some art circles might be like that, but not all. Some have been built as a support group for struggling beginners or create a community where artists can exchange ideas and friendships. Artist circles could help you network. Group exhibits would also give you exposure while you still aren’t big enough to hold an individual exhibit.

Invest in a website

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People are more pulled in by what they could see rather than what they only hear about. While one or two paintings in some group exhibits could give them a taste of what you’ve got, they would want to see what else you’re working on. If you’re generous enough, you could offer some works to online resources that allow people to use the images for free.

Even if you might be a recluse, having one social media account would be good for more exposure. Instagram is a good platform to share ideas, projects, and inspirations. The personal account of Paul Smith shows his assorted collections and random photos of things and scenes he gets his inspirations from. This kind of account gives your audience the feeling that they’re going behind the scenes and would allow them to imagine a connection with you and, consequently, your art.

Create mass art products

Paintings don’t sell every day. Although one painting may tide you over for a month or two, you never know when you could sell. What budding artists do is they put their art into gift items that could easily sell. Print postcards of your paintings. Print them on shirts, bags, mugs. These are affordable art for the masses. Not only will they earn you some money, but they will also widen your reach. You won’t want to do this if you don’t want your art to be mass consumed.

Many times if you’re still starting, customers will haggle. You might be tempted to agree to earn something. But having a set rate and being steadfast about it means you know your worth, and you’re not compromising with it. That is the value you feel is owed to your work, so don’t waver. Otherwise, people will also get the impression that your works are worth less than what they are.

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