Andy Warhol once wrote, “Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.” Warhol became one of the most iconic artists of the 20th century, known for his business savvy and his artistic talent. Artists who want to make money from their work can explore a variety of creative ways to sell their art. Learn more about how you can make money with your own art.
How to make money as an artist
- Create an online store for selling artwork
- Explore online marketplaces
- Attend art fairs
- Compete in art contests
- Display your art in a gallery
- Teach art classes
- Accept commissions for original work
- Apply for grants
- Sell merchandise featuring your artwork
- Launch a YouTube channel
- Use social media platforms
- Start a blog
Here are some of the ways that artists can make money with their artwork and skill set:
Create an online store for selling artwork
Creating an online store gives you one central place for selling original artwork to customers online. Ecommerce platforms like Shopify make it easy to create an online store with customizable themes, attractive product pages, and automated sales reports.
- Online stores are simple to create, and they allow you to present your artwork in a professional light.
- Having a store allows you to direct customers to one location where you sell art online.
- You don’t have to pay commission fees to galleries or other websites for featuring your work.
- Creating an effective digital marketing campaign to drive traffic to your store requires resources.
- Launching an online store requires enough art inventory to give your customers options.
Explore online marketplaces
Consider selling art through an online marketplace like Etsy, eBay, Amazon, and Shopify’s Shop app. Using online art marketplaces can give you access to a wider audience willing to pay for digital art and high-quality prints.
There are a wide variety of marketplaces to consider—be sure to take the time to choose marketplaces that seem like a good fit for your specific work.
- Online marketplaces have a low barrier to entry, and you can easily upload your digital work.
- Marketplaces include a built-in audience searching for artwork to purchase.
- Online marketplaces are a good way to sell digital copies of your original work.
- With so many artists selling their art online, it can be challenging to stand out from the crowd and find your niche in a marketplace.
Attend art fairs
Art fairs are conventions where curators and artists rent booths to feature and sell their original art. Art fairs can be large-scale and global or more modest events primarily featuring local artists. Artists who want to sell art at a fair must rent a booth.
- Art fairs are a great place to meet other talented artists and curators.
- Art fairs expose your work to a wide range of potential customers looking to purchase art.
- Art fairs require an upfront cost to attend.
- To make money at an art fair, you need to sell enough art pieces to make a good profit margin.
Compete in art contests
Apply for international, national, and regional art competitions. Art competitions can offer financial prizes or give emerging artists the chance to show their work in professional gallery settings and meet curators and collectors in the fine art world. Research art contests and apply to any that fit your sensibilities and style.
- Art competitions may offer financial rewards to winners.
- Art contests can help new artists meet more experienced artists, curators, and collectors.
- Feedback from art competitions can help artists learn and grow.
- There can be upfront application fees when applying for art contests.
- Art contests are highly competitive and are a one-time, unreliable source of income.
Display your art in a gallery
Once you’ve built a good reputation as an artist, you can try showcasing your work at an art gallery. Research local art galleries, identify ones that seem suited to your style, and write a letter of inquiry. Highlight your previous successes, such as online sales and art shows; this can increase your chances of placement.
- Creating art featured in an art gallery can raise your profile as an artist.
- Galleries may sell artworks at higher prices than art fairs or online marketplaces.
- Art galleries are good places to meet experienced curators and collectors.
- Art galleries are difficult to get into, especially if you’re an emerging artist.
- Galleries tend to favor traditional art forms like painting and photography.
- Galleries usually charge a commission on sales; 40% to 50% is standard, but can vary depending on the type of art.
Teach art classes
You can teach art classes to students, either in-person or through online courses. Popular visual arts classes for children and adults include painting, drawing, animation, photography, and graphic design. Research art teaching positions available in your local area. You can also consider putting together theoretical art courses that explore topics like art history and art criticism.
- Helping students learn how to make art can be rewarding beyond adding to your income.
- Teaching art classes can become a learning experience for you as well and help you fine-tune your own creative process.
- Offering art classes in-person or online allows you to elevate your profile and meet other artists or potential customers.
- Developing the materials for a useful educational program takes time and hard work.
- Teaching positions for more formal art classes may require previous teaching experience or specific degrees.
- You need a good digital marketing strategy to attract students who are willing to pay for an online course.
Accept commissions for original work
Offer your artistic services to clients who want to pay for commissioned work. Create your own personal website that features your work as a freelance artist. Make sure your website includes a clear call-to-action button so prospective clients can request a commissioned work. Creating custom art for clients can be especially lucrative for graphic designers who create digital assets for companies.
- Creating commissioned work for clients can become a meaningful source of income over time.
- Accepting commissions can expand your skill set by requiring you to create artwork outside your comfort zone.
- You won’t have complete creative control over the art you make through commissions.
- You’ll need an impressive portfolio to attract potential clients willing to pay for your art.
Apply for grants
Art grants are funds from public or private institutions given to specific recipients for creating a project or for rent, supplies, and other living and working expenses. Art grants are very competitive and often have strict requirements. Research local art grants in your area and see if you would be a good fit.
- Art grants can give emerging artists free exposure for their work.
- Some art grants include mentorship opportunities for recipients to learn from experienced artists.
- Art grants are usually one-time endowments for a specific time period and therefore an unreliable source of income.
- You might need to pay an upfront fee to apply.
Sell merchandise featuring your artwork
Create merchandise that features your unique artistic style on items like t-shirts, stickers, coffee mugs, and phone cases. Selling merchandise that features your artwork can give you another source of income, especially if you have a solid follower base. Research print-on-demand services that can manufacture your merchandise designs quickly.
- Selling merchandise featuring your artwork can help you expand your audience and reach new customers.
- Merchandise can become a lucrative way to make money, especially if you are a skilled graphic designer able to create designs for a variety of products.
- You may need to spend money upfront to create your merchandise with a print-on-demand store.
- This strategy works best if you have an existing audience.
Launch a YouTube channel
Your YouTube channel could focus on art tutorials, art history, reviewing art supplies, or more personal vlogs about your life as an artist. To build an audience, post high-quality videos with descriptive titles that use YouTube search engine optimization (SEO) to rank higher in search results.
- It’s free and easy to start your own YouTube channel.
- YouTube channels can increase awareness about your artwork.
- If you build a loyal subscriber base, you can make extra money from affiliate marketing by promoting brands’ products and services.
- Creating original and compelling YouTube content takes time and skill.
- To grow your audience, you need to post new videos regularly.
Use social media platforms
Artists can use social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest to promote their work and drive more traffic back to their online store. With enough followers, artists can also earn money through affiliate marketing strategies like promoting art supply brands they respect.
Make sure to post high-quality images of your artwork and include clear call-to-action buttons that direct traffic toward desired actions, like buying a piece of art or signing up for an online class.
- Social media platforms allow you to promote your work while redirecting traffic to your store.
- Promoting your art through online platforms is a low-cost way to advertise your work.
- Posting social media content can become a full-time job without full-time pay.
- A large amount of social media followers doesn’t always translate into sales.
Start a blog
Write and publish your own art blog. Create posts where you interview other artists, explore your inspirations, and discuss your artistic practice. Use digital marketing strategies to gain organic readership. You can monetize your blog in a few ways, including participating in affiliate marketing, writing sponsored content, promoting your own work, and featuring ads.
- Starting a blog can help you learn about your own process while reaching more potential buyers for your art.
- An art blog can give you a reason to reach out to fellow artists and expand your artistic community.
- Making a significant income from a blog can take a long time.
How to make money as an artist FAQ
How do beginner artists make money?
There are many ways for beginner artists to make money from their art, including selling pieces at art fairs, selling online through their own website, and promoting their work on social media platforms like Instagram or Pinterest.
What is the fastest way to make money as an artist?
Some of the fastest ways to make money as an artist include selling prints at art fairs, uploading your work to online marketplaces, and teaching art classes in person or online.
How can I promote my work as an artist?
Some of the most effective ways to promote your artwork include posting on social media platforms, writing your own art blog, and selling merchandise featuring your original artwork.