Sunday, January 1, 2012

Artists and the Art of Making Money

Artists and the Art of Making Money
Sissy is an artist whose partner’s income isn’t quite enough to cover the bills so she is constantly under pressure to make up the difference. She came up with an on-line gallery in which artists pay a fee to join. It fills the income gap and challenges her geeky, well-developed skills.  For Cathy, it was either get a day job outside the arts industry or figure out how to bring in the art income she had before the recent recession hit. She decided to go into teaching art to adults leaving her time outside of teaching for continuing to create her own art. Mo, a lifetime artist who needed only to pay for his own supplies and $300 a month for his shared art studio sells art, art calendars, and cards every month at the studio’s artwalk.
There are as many ways and needs for income for artists as there are artists. Artists often have to scramble to make ends meet when they’re artists by doing many arts related jobs. If you’re trying to make it as an artist, you better consider yourself half entrepreneur and half artist. There is no getting away from running your own business though many artists wish they could!  
Lucky artists who have another income and don’t need to make money at their art are often still driven by income. We’re a capitalist nation. We take in income from what we sell. Galleries want to represent artists whose work sells, not artists who give their art away to relatives. I’m lucky in that I don’t need the income from my art to support my family but I do run my art as a business and I want my business to be successful for many reasons.

One big reason is that I give 25% of my profits to a local charity so the more I make, the more I give to neighbors who need the extra help. I don’t know of a single artist who isn’t as philanthropic as me. It seems universal that artists give a percentage of their work to auctions. I think last year I gave at least $5000 in paintings to auctions. Did you know that artists can only claim the cost of the materials when they donate art? That means they get to claim $106 for the canvas and materials when the work retails for $900 and they spent 30 hours of work on the piece.

Word to the wise; learn how to run a business and be a marketing major along with learning the skills of becoming an artist. Be generous. Be as creative approaching your business as when you create art. Help others along the way.

                Happy New Year everyone! And let’s hope this recession is behind us!
Painting, "Harbinger", Original 12x16" Oil on board by Joanne Shellan

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