Like most creative endeavours, it’s difficult to make a living right off the bat. Often, it takes time (several years or more!) to build up enough money to risk transferring your Artistic pursuits to a full-time job. As an artist who has firsthand experience in taking my Abstract Expressionist paintings into a permanent studio and gallery space, with regular exhibitions, read on to find out how I managed to do it!
Be Honest with Yourself
Is now the right time to become a full-time Artist? Set a goal for an end date on your current day job. Make sure to look before you leap; are you prepared if things go awry? Do you have a solid foundation? Have a base established first, whether it be a solid client circle, financial support from other areas of income, or friends and family to turn to for personal advice. You can do this, but you must plan beforehand!
Make sure to market your brand
What is your artistic style? Who is commonly interested in it? What is authentically ‘you’? Don’t be afraid to see who else is similar in your field! As Plato once said, “there is no harm in repeating a good thing” but make sure to give it a personal flair. You still need to be easily recognised! What will make you stand out? Ask family and friends how they see you and your art style. Often it’s easier to get advice about yourself from those who know you best (if not better) than yourself.
Define your client base
Be as specific or as broad as you’d like, but make sure to be able to easily define them! This is crucial because there is a particular market for your brand and you must know who it is. In fine art, only 2 – 5% of society buy pieces, and it’s a similar case in performing arts and music. Target that market and then look at who else they follow, whether it be notable companies or charities. Start small and then begin to branch out!
Write up a clear and easy to follow a business plan
Speak to a bank or financial advisor and get their advice on establishing a small business. Speak to other local artists and creatives on how they started full time. Write out all your ideas for your business to find both the strengths and weaknesses involved. Estimate the cost of renting a space, materials to create business cards and artwork, as well as an overall general budget. With expenses all written down in front of you to see, there will be a clear number in what you need to sell and for how much, making sure you have a profit left over.
Find multiple ways to make revenue
Take inspiration from previous jobs to branch out your business. Selling artworks should be one of a few ways to make money. Part of my career was established while being the education officer at Western Plains Cultural Centre in Dubbo. Art making while working with children is a real passion of mine and I’ve recently begun “Art Gang”, which is an after-school art program that promotes individual creative growth and expression through the joy of art. Various sales and information channels will boost your visibility in the community and allow you to reach your full potential as an artist and a business!