Need advice for starting an art business? Most of us do as creators because it’s easy to forget that in order to make a living off of your art, you MUST have some basic business knowledge that you actively apply.
I asked multiple artists the question,
“What advice would you give to an artist who is trying to start a business with their art?”
and the information I’ve gathered is very useful and encouraging. I want to thank each one of them for sharing their knowledge!
You can read their answers below:
Wanda Comrie, Instagram @wandacomrie:
“Learn how to use social media effectively. If you want to sell your art you must get it in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Galleries are not the way forward (unless they use social media effectively and most don’t). Don’t ignore this side of the business. And make work, make art every chance you can and work at your craft to improve your skills.”
Kelly Marie, Instagram @messyeveryafter:
“The best advice I can give for anyone starting a business around their art is to first make sure you’re in it for the right reasons. Being a professional artist is arduous and often feels like you’re making very little progress with sales even if you put in 40+ hours of work a week. Make sure passion is was drives you and never stop pushing yourself to improve.”
Alex Kuno, Instagram @alexkuno:
“I don’t know what professors nowadays are like but when I got my BFA in the ‘90’s, my hippie painting professors openly mocked students for taking business classes and called them sellouts and implied they had no artistic credibility. Now as a full-time artist whose career can best be summed up as the result of decades of terrible mistakes, I can say with confidence that I regret not having taken those basic business classes. That said, one of the liberating and painful aspects about an art career is that there are no clear guidelines to what’s considered a “success” in the field; the tenure or corner office or big promotion are all what you decide them to be.
Whenever I get asked this question I flinch a little because my gut reaction is to respond by saying everything good that happened was through sheer luck. But I’m training myself to look at it differently. I took stupid risks, I made worse mistakes. But I asked questions and I let myself be inspired. I was my own harshest critic and gave the dumbest criticisms and nicest compliments I received equal consideration. I paint during creative blocks. I experiment as much as I can and make those experiments public.
I also got great experience selling my work during local art crawls and first Friday studio tours. I taught myself how to approach people and shake hands and introduce myself and engage people in conversation and listen to people’s comments and interpretations.
I don’t necessarily believe you should go into an art career with a fallback option if “things don’t work out.” It sets you out into the world already feeling like a burden to society and that’s a mentality that absolutely needs to change in our culture. At the same time, I also know from experience that poverty and starvation does NOT make you a better artist. You have your whole life to make better and better work so you owe it to your talents to take care of yourself.”
Mario Henrique, Instagram @mariohenrique.studiogallery:
“Spend half the time painting and half the time promoting your paintings the best you can. You may be a very good painter, but if no one is able to see your creations, then you have a hobby and not a profession. Exhibit in galleries and fairs, post your works online, invite people to your studio, do whatever you can to get your work seen by the largest number of people.
Be humble, but fair. Be kind, but honest. Success will follow.”
Carrie Roberts, Instagram @carriedawaypaintings:
“I would tell them to stay true to their style and not to get discouraged. It is so easy to feel like you’re producing (excuse my bluntness) but complete crap! We all go through that though! Being creative is tough and requires a ton of energy. We all have off days, and that’s perfectly okay 🙂 Just don’t let it get you down for long. Each piece of art is beautiful, so don’t be afraid to share it with the world — no matter how scary! Getting your art in front of people is the most vulnerable and simultaneously best thing you can do. You got this!”