empty pocket no money

Perhaps you are in the fortunate position of not needing to worry about making money from your art. That is terrific – and unusual. Most working artists want to at least cover their expenses or need to make a living of making art.

“Knowing how much money you invest and how much you earn from your art, and exactly how much of that is clear profit, is critical to your ability to remain in business.” ~Aletta de Wal

Which of the following is true for you?

  • You Are Making Art for Play, Not for Income

There is great value in “playing with art” as a source of relaxation, creative expression or therapeutic catharsis. In this case, art is both the main event and result. Artists who decide to make a living making art must choose to invest time, effort and money beyond making art, and in tending to business activities to sustain an art business that will also sustain them.

  • You Don’t Need To Make Money As An Artist

If you don’t care about making money, that’s no problem. There is nothing wrong with making art for personal pleasure. Stop reading this article. Go make art.

  • You Only Want To Cover Your Art Expenses

If you don’t need to support yourself, but want to cover your expenses, keep reading. Some artists are at a stage in their career where the primary income objective of their business is to simply pay the costs of making art and basically to be able to make art “for free”. This is a valid objective.

  • Someone Else Is Supporting Your Art Career

If someone else is supporting you and providing the financial backing, you’re a very fortunate artist. As long as the boundaries and expectations are clear, there are no professional downsides, but there may be personal risks in this situation.
Unless the boundaries are clear about what is expected in return for the backing, this can be very tricky. Your “backers” may feel that they are entitled to participate in all decisions.

They may want to influence what you create, how much you create each month, or how well it is finished for presentation. In other words, they could behave like your boss. If they do not understand what is involved in marketing art, they may want you to skimp on important details like framing, sending postcards, or building and maintaining a good web site.

One emerging artist who contacted me told me her husband had been supporting her art, but had given her an ultimatum to make $50,000 in the next 12 months or get a real job. I told her that this was unrealistic at her career stage. Her options to remain an artist were to renegotiate the time frame with her husband, get a part-time or full time job and keep working on her art in her personal time, or get a new husband (said in jest, of course).

  • You Must Earn a Living With Your Artwork To Survive

If you are an artist who must earn a living from your artwork, you will need to put your art business on the solid foundation required to succeed at this. It is possible to earn a living from your artwork. Many artists do.

Make no mistake about it, it is not an easy path, but neither is it easy to take a corporate job and live a life of unfulfilled creativity. Would you rather work hard for someone else doing something you dislike, or strike out as a professional artist and pursue this career path with all your passion and energy?

  • You Want to Make a Healthy Profit With Your Artwork

Most artists have fluctuating sales and the range of income is from sporadic to wealthy. Once you reach a steady income, you still need smart marketing and consistent visibility to keep producing income or to do even better than you have.
A handful of artists make considerable money. Becoming a wealthy artist is exceptional, and takes years of hard work along with an astute business mind.

Knowing how much money you invest and how much you earn from your art, and exactly how much of that is clear profit, is critical to your ability to remain in business. If you use art to support yourself and maybe also your family, you must have come to terms with the role of money in your vision and the lifestyle you want to create. Money is just one metric that shows your level of success in marketing your work – it is by far not the only one.
How do you balance earning income with the other activities in your life that bring you satisfaction and the quality of life you desire?


 Guest author: Aletta de Wal  Thank you to our popular guest contributor, Aletta de Wal. Aletta is an Artist Advisor & Art Marketing Strategist for Artist Career Training.

(PS. I’d enjoy meeting you on TwitterFacebook and now on Google Plus  http://gplus.to/lorimcnee ~Lori)

Here are some other informative posts by Aletta:
When Are You Ready to Call Yourself a Professional Artist?
How to Overcome 3 Common Barriers to Success as an Artist 
How do You Define Success as an Artist?
5 Common Traits of Successful Artists
…and here are a few more helpful articles:
Is the Social Media Bandwagon Right for You?
“You Are in Charge of Your Art Career”
3 Reasons to Start a Creative Blog for Your Business
The Visual Artists’ Challenge: Balancing Self Promotion & Gallery Representation
Commissioned Art – Tips to make it a Success!
Create a Powerful Portfolio
The Right Art Gallery – How to Find One
How to Bring Out the “Mona Lisa” in Your Own Artwork

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