3 Steps To Making A Living As A Modern Day Artist

Make a living as an artists in 3 steps

How To Make A Living As An Artist

Step One: Focus on your art.

Step Two: Build an audience.

Step Three: Be ready for sales.

Follow those three steps and you will make a living as an artist. But it is very important that you follow them in order.

Let’s break it down:

Focus On Your Art

If you want to make a living as an artist you must honor the art above everything else. Before you can think about gallery shows, awards, prizes,  and sales, you have to only think about the art. Pour yourself into it.

The work must be the single most important thing in the artists life.

Being a professional artist is first a quiet agreement made between you and your craft. No one else. It may take some time before the world knows you are a pro but all that matters is that your art knows you are committed and always seeking to get better.

Build An Audience

Now that you’ve made the decision to be a professional artist and you’ve been working hard at it the next step is to begin to build an audience. I know you’ve spent a lot of time in the studio and I know you need money but it is not the time to be focusing on sales yet. First you need to get your work out there and in front of people.

These days this begins on the internet. Deny and resist this at your own peril.

Be Ready For Sales

I mean that both figuratively and literally. If you’ve worked at your craft and you’ve been building an audience then eventually someone is going to ask to buy your work. Be prepared for this mentally and also be prepared with things like business cards and sales receipts.

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13 Responses to “3 Steps To Making A Living As A Modern Day Artist”

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  1. I’m so excited to hear about your strategy and am really looking forward to your new focus on internet marketing. I appreciate your voice – it’s simple, easy to understand and readily applicable. Thanks for all your hard work in putting these posts together. I’ve been a big fan of Art Palaver for quite some time now.

  2. Helena says:

    Thank you, it’s a great post! I need more self confidence to get into public, and starting from internet is a great thing. I was wondering about the receipts, if they are really needed, on the other hand, some people do ask a certificate of authenticity from an artist, when they buy a piece of work. Always a good thing to include it :)
    Looking forward your other posts :)

    • Daryle says:

      You’re welcome Helena. Confidence comes as we take small steps in areas outside of our comfort zone.

      And as far as receipts and such go I believe it is a good idea to be prepared with such things just in case a buyer would like them. And a COA is just good business and marketing strategy.

  3. Deb Raguso says:

    Thank you also! I formed a artist collective almost a year ago to do pop up art shows. We have the conviction that artists should not pay to share their gifts. Our web site is even a free site WordPress. http://Www.motion eleven.WordPress..com. I have spoke with you on the phone before and appreciated your generosity

    • Daryle says:

      Hello Deb! Thanks for hanging in there with me. Happy to see your comment here. And great to hear about the pop up art shows you’ve started. Things along those lines are a nice trend I am seeing in the art world and I believe the world needs more of them.

  4. Great advice! It’s so easy to get distracted by marketing; sometimes I forget that the main thing I need to focus my time on is creating artwork. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Daryle says:

      You’re welcome. I believe it is something we all need reminded of because there are so many things to distract us from doing the real work of being an artist.

  5. Deb Raguso says:

    Yes this may get buried in posts reply but here’s a shot. The group Motioneleven.wordpress.com is strong as we spend time on the internet and in real face to face life. The hardest thing is the internet. I started this to get work “out there” . Too many places where the operative is making money off the artists to show their work. I am building the group and networking live as much as I can. I like the way you concider the artist first and formost in all your dealings since you started art palaver. Keep up the good work.
    One problem I have found is an example from last night. The internet gives us an idea what is going on and when I received and invitation from a show that wanted 35$ per slide to reivew I said my usual no way, but it was local and I liked the idea (nude art) but I still would go kicking and screaming if I had to pay to submit my work. I was glad the deadline was done. I went to see the show and they had about 75 artists in a warehouse with a band , selling beer/wine etc and 5$ valent parking. The place was packed and it ran for 3 days. They wanted to charge me 20 to get in. I was all the way there and did not go in. I hope this does not catch on more and more.

    • Daryle says:

      It can be a challenge finding ways to get the work out there. Artists all over the world are coming up with creative ways to take control of this and make it happen though. Maybe I should do a article series on getting work out there?

  6. Yan says:

    I think having a website is a must but selling paintings online for more then 300$ is yet to be proven.

    What I fpund out was that my biggest fans were the one selling my art!
    There the ones that talk about my art and praise the vision.

    Never underestimate a small Gallery it might be your best bet!
    I was astonished to see 5 paintings selling in 2 days by the owner of that gallery.

    That generated 3400$ in 2 days versus 2000 $ spent on online marketing and 1 sell in a year.

    Art is bought in visual real matter yet can be tasted online but not eaten unless in physical space…


    • Daryle says:

      You are correct Yan. For many artists their online efforts boost their offline sales because it builds social proof.

      Cars are a great example of this. No one hits the “buy now” button on a car manufactures website but those companies invest a lot of time and money into their internet marketing because they know it helps reach consumers even before they walk on a lot.

      Artists can do the same to connect with folks before they walk in a gallery.

  7. Deb Raguso says:

    Yes that would be interesting. You certainly have built up an audience- it would be good. I for one will keep you up to date on what is going on with my group motion xi com pop up roving gallery. Thank you for saving me hours and hours of time going to a seminar on crowd funding. I just got to stay in my studio and read your article. Are you going to record or podcast some of your info:-)