Let’s start at the beginning, before you dive any deeper it is very important for you to understand that it is ok to make money for your art. This whole idea about the “Starving Artist” is but a fallacy, nothing more than the glamorization of the broken ego.
Art like others job in our society deserves proper recognition. You do are no better because you do everything for free, and you are no worse because you charge people for your art. In both cases, you are doing what is necessary for you as an artist to produce the quality work only you can produce, and that has merits.
So now that, that’s out of the way, let’s talk about why you should “Sell-out!” and 5 ways to turn your passion into a career. This will not only help you grow as an artist but can also help you go places you’ve never thought possible.
Selling out is nothing more than a slang term (made by very repressed, depressed, and stressed people) for describing an artist making money with their art. We can see the usage of this word in scenarios like the music Industry. Where every hipster kids calls their favorite band a “Sell-Out” because they signed to a record label or perhaps recorded an ad for a store.
However, what these “fans” (and I use this term loosely) often do not understand is that artists require space, time, and peace to create; and in our ever increasing capitalist society, the only thing that grants you such pleasures are money.
- You need money to rent a space to create your art.
- You need money in order to be financially secure to spend time doing the art.
- You need money to take care of all your necessities in order to have peace of mind to focus on your art.
These things in most cases are not free, and in fact in even some harsher cases they can turn into luxuries, preventing would-be artists to perform at their highest capacities.
Making money from your art, in order to further your life and art, is like investing into yourself. Like turning a flywheel, it is you betting for you! You can do this! You got this! And you are so passionate about your art, that you’re willing to hitch your carts to that wagon, and watch it take you through every hill and dirt road imaginable.
Let me tell you. That takes guts! It takes a lot of guts! You are not to be penalized for wanting to turn your dreams into your living. You are to be praised for it!
Now don’t get me wrong, some people never need to sell a painting, or market their art, or create shirt designs, or take a commission, and those people are alright too, but if your ready to take your ideas to the next level, then read on, because I have 5 tips to help you with that.
Make a list and be sure to check it twice.
Christmas is far off in the distance, but like Santa Clause, you need to make a list. That list should include everyone in or around your life that you believe could benefit from your art. Whether it’s your best friend from college, or the guys/gals at the pub or even your Nanny. Who are the people in your life that love you enough and you love them enough to let them into your art journey?
Once you have that list, reach out to those people, add them on social media. Talk with them, catch up, see what they are up to and tell them about your most recent projects. Chances are that as you are invested in their life, they in turn will be investes in your life. Everything in art seems to be a self-maintaining prophecy. Be genuine, be honest, be caring, be kind, and you will see that these people in your life will become like champions of your endeavors.
My list is composed of
- and a wide list of artists, musicians, beatboxers, and overall just kind people I’ve met throughout my life.
All these people have my support one way or another, whether it’s a yearly happy birthday message or a like on their photos, or a text every so often, or donations to their projects. They know that I will be there for them one way or another. Build those connections first! These people are worth more than 10,000 CEO’s you might meet at a networking event.
What are you offering to the world?
Ok so you got your list, now what. Sit down and think, long and hard. What are you offering to the world? Think bigger than just “Oh, I want to sell my paintings.” You need to define exactly why people would give you their hard-earned dollars. The easiest way to find this out, is to look for the things that art making gives you. It’s been set, that a really great painter can transmit their emotions into their creations. Think about that, emotional content has been known to be a driving force behind sales. So what emotions are you eliciting from yourself and others in your paintings? Is your art dark and scary? Or is your art happy and care-free?
In the art world everything is allowed. Including nonsensical art, like taping a banana to a museum wall. So it really doesn’t matter what you make, as long as you are doing it from the bottom of your hear. If you are enjoying it, your art will be able to magnetize liked minded people that will also enjoy it.
Knowing what your art evokes will also help you promote it to the right people and in the right places. Imagine a happy go lucky clown in a mortuary, seems very out of place; but at a dying rose in the waiting room and you got yourself the perfect Death cometh vibes. There is a place for everything, but it needs to be honest, genuine and real.
Look at your recent paintings, and take note of 3 things they evoke in you. What emotions do you feel when you look at them? What thoughts sprout in your soul about them?
Pricing is not Everything
- Take into consideration what you spent on making the art
- Set an hourly rate that is good for you
- Pitch 1.5x to 2x your rate, to account for scope issues and problems that may arise
- Plan for savings, health-care and a retirement plan
- Consider other artists’ prices in your market.
All in all, what you set your prices at will be entirely dependent on your specific circumstances, intentions and future plans. However you go, wether it’s high or low, do it because you have made the proper research and not because someone pressured you into it. Your art is valuable, and it’s real value can only be determined by you. Take it from someone that’s gone from selling full color caricatures for $5, to closing thousand dollar art projects. Pricing is relatively, just be confident and happy with your prices and you’ll be alright.
Reach out frequently
People want to be engaged, and they absolutely love having artistic friends in their lifes. We offer a respite from normalcy with our creative ideas, notions, and fashion styles.
Go back to the list you made earlier, and reach out to people. Do not pester them though, and don’t try to sell them anything. Just make sure they are in the know of what you’re up to. Use social media to your advantage. Post your latest works of art up on Instagram, talk about your experience making one of your creations on Facebook, or live tweet the whole process on twitter, or even better blog about it here on WordPress or on Blogpost. If you want to stretch out your video editing skills, try making a timelapse video on Tik-Tok.
Whatever platforms you choose, make content that is both fun to make and appealing to you as an artist. In a way each piece of art marketing is art in itself and you should be treating it like that. The fact that you will delivering it to the right people (people that already appreciate you), will inevitably result in actions taken. Whether it’s people singing up to your newsletter to know more about your art, or making straight up sales.
Take for example a recent event that happened to me. One day, I was feeling tired of my usual freelancing work, so I took about 5-6 pictures from close friends of mine and I turned them into caricatures. Then I took those pictures and posted them on social media. The response was gangbusters! The close friends started using the art as their profile pictures (some still do, weeks after the fact) promoting my work to their own network, and other people that saw those caricatures started inquiring on how they could get their own. A few minutes after the initial post, I had already made 100’s of dollars selling caricatures. It was crazy. In two weeks I ended up doing 40+ caricatures, probably more than I’ve ever done in my life. All because I drew my friends, and then told my other friends about it. That’s a result of showing the right thing, to the right group of people. I now know that if I ever feel like I need some extra money, I can offer those services and I know that there is a market for it, and I know exactly where that market is. Do this with enough projects of your own, and you’ll see the cumulative efforts return positive in your art career’s growth.
It’s a give and take relationship
I’ve mentioned it several times now, “Everything in art is a self-maintaining prophecy”. You make art to make money, you pay that money to get more paint, you use that paint to make more art that will make you more money, and on it goes.
Well everything is like that. You support artists around you, and they will support other artists, and those artists will support you. This is a very important concept, have it right in the soul of your art career. Trust me when I tell you this. You are not alone. There is a community of artists that is bigger than your wildest dreams, people are making all sorts of crazy creations. From murals to scholarships and grants, to tattoo artists aliances and discord chats. The art community is closer and bigger than ever, and I assure you there is a community for you out there. Give to it and watch it give back to you.
Yeah that’s all for today’s blogpost, I hope you’ve enjoyed it.
What other things would you recommended as a working artist and if you’re not a working artist yet, tell us more about why not. What questions or fears do you have about monetizing your art?