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What You Need To Start Your Art Business

Are you ready to start your art business but feeling overwhelmed? This post will give you some helpful tips for getting started as a beginning artist. 

I am an acrylic painter, but these tips work for almost any type of art. 

This blog post will cover some of the basics of starting an art business that every beginner should know about before they begin their art journey, no matter which medium you use. 

**This page may contain affiliate links to products I have used or recommend. If you purchase something from this page, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. For more information click here.**

How to Get Started with Your Art Business

1. Pick a Niche

There are a variety of things that you need to consider in order to pick the best niche for your artistic endeavors, whether you want it to be more creative or commercially lucrative. 

What kind of audience most interests you? What style do they like? Do they prefer realism or abstractionism over impressionism? How much would people pay for artwork with these qualities on auction sites or at galleries.

If you want to learn more about the different styles of art, have a look at my post about finding your art style.

Whatever you choose, be consistent. This will ultimately be what you are known for and can build your brand on.

painting collage of white horse going through a frame with a yellow chair and black umbrella

2. Decide How You Will Market Your Art

There are many different ways to get started with marketing yourself as an artist.

If you’re looking for ways to promote yourself as an artist, try some of the following:

1. Create a website for your art business to showcase your artwork. Collect email addresses of people who are interested in what you have created, so you can contact them when new pieces come out or events take place.

2.  Use social media sites like Facebook and Instagram where other artists, and potential buyers might see your work. Post pictures of your work, your studio and your inspiration to get yourself seen and known. 

You could also use platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter for potential opportunities for networking purposes too.

3. Set up a YouTube channel to show in progress work and explain what your artwork is about. Link your YouTube channel to your website so buyers can purchase your artwork.

4. Show your work in galleries, art shows, exhibitions and even in your local craft stores and malls. Anywhere where there is an opportunity to have your artwork seen.

5. Have some business cards made with your email and web site address and drop them anywhere you can.

6. Sell at local art fairs, flea markets, and craft shows. Local shows help to get your name out there, especially when you are starting off.

3. Use Professional Materials

Make sure the materials you use are professional grade artist materials. Your paints, canvases and any other materials you use to produce your work should be archival, meaning they will stand the test of time and won’t fade quickly.

Using craft paints and cheap dollar store canvases will lead to a bad buyer experience. These materials can fade or degrade in a very short time, sometimes within months.  

If you want to be seen as a professional artist, spend the extra money to purchase professional materials.

4. Determine How You Will Price Your Art for Sale

Pricing is always a controversial topic. You don’t want to undersell yourself, but you also don’t want to go too high since you are an as of yet unknown artist. 

There are two ways of arriving at a reasonable price.

  • First, you can decide what hourly wage you would like to give yourself. Multiply that by the number of hours it takes to do the painting and add the cost of materials. This should give you a fair price for your work.

    For example, if you spend $30 on a canvas and other material, spend 10 hours painting and want to get $15 per hour you would charge $180 for your painting. ( 10 x $15 + $30 = $180 )
  • Second, you could charge a price per square inch. The generally accepted price is $2 to $3 for a beginner painting. You can increase this price as your work gets more known.

    So if you paint an 8 x 10 canvas and charge $2 per square inch you would charge $160 for the painting. ( 8 x 10 = 80 square inches x $2 = $160)

As I said, pricing is always a controversial subject, especially for new artists. You worry if you are overcharging or undercharging? Will you end up working for less than minimum wage? Is it worth all the time you put into the detail of your work?

One of the best articles about pricing art that I have read in a while is this one by Melissa Dinwiddie written for The Abundant Artist website. It really made me look at pricing differently and feel good about what I charge. Well worth the read. 😊

artist reading in her business office

5. Prints

If you are a painter, decide if you want to make prints from your artwork. Prints can be sold much cheaper and in greater volume and therefore can be more lucrative for your business. 

You can sell the prints matted or unmatted. Matted prints would of course sell for a higher price. Matts will protect your prints from being bent and damaged.

You should also purchase some archival clear bags to present your prints for sale or shipping. The bags offer another layer or protection for the print.

Don’t forget to include the cost of matts and bags in the price for your print. 

6. Taxes and Legalities

While I do have a background in bookkeeping and tax preparation, I recommend you consult with an accountant to be sure you have your business set up properly from the start. 

Tax and business laws vary from country to country and even among states or provinces within a country. It is best to consult with someone who is familiar with the rules and regulations in your country.

That being said, here are a few simple tips to help you get organized and have everything ready to take to your accountant or bookkeeper.

An art business is like any other business. You have to pay taxes on your profit and you have to keep records of revenue and expenses.

While you can purchase accounting software like Quickbooks to help you, when starting off and money is tight a simple Excel or Google Spreadsheet is fine to record your transactions.

Record all of your expenses including supplies, professional fees, website costs, shipping and printing costs and studio expenses, even if your studio is your dining room table.

When recording your revenue make sure you record the actual selling price, not just your profit on each piece.

Most governments require you to have a business license of some type. Check with your local and state government to make sure you have all of the necessary licenses to operate your business. 

Open a separate business account at your bank to keep your business profits and expenses separate from your personal transact. 

Some banks require you to have an actual business bank account while others are ok with a personal checking account. Talk to your bank about what’s best for you.

These are just a few things to help you get organized when you first start. You will develop your own system of recording as you go along.

Some Questions New Artists Ask

artist working at her desk surrounded by paints, easels and paintings

1. How do I know if I am ready to start selling my art

Ready to Sell Your Art?

You’ve been working on your art for quite a while now. It’s time that you showcased it in the big wide world beyond family and friends, right? 

You know you are ready to start selling your beautiful prints or originals when you are proud and confident in your finished pieces and you have started to develop your own style.

You may have many friends and family members asking for prints or commissioned pieces. Maybe you have won awards at art shows or been asked to do a special piece for a charity. 

All of these are indications that you are more than ready to start marketing and selling your artwork.

2.  What is the difference between a professional artist and a hobbyist?

The most important distinction of the two is their motivation. Professionals have an innate desire to create and grow their art business, while amateurs may only enjoy it as a side-hobby that they do for fun or because someone else asked them too. 

Also on average professionals receive more hours of formal training than those who choose not pursue art professionally although formal training is certainly not a prerequisite to becoming a professional artist.

Professional artists produce work that is more refined and more expensive with the idea of making art their career. They also tend to use professional quality materials.

Hobbyists, on the other hand, are not as serious about their art-making pursuits and tend to do artwork for enjoyment and relaxation. They usually ( but not always ) use cheaper craft paints and materials with an eye to keeping costs down for their hobby.

3. How can I find inspiration for new pieces of artwork?

Artwork can be inspired by anything and everything from people, thoughts, ideas, artworks within themselves. Artists find inspiration from the world around them.

A walk in nature, listening to a song, browsing the internet,… all of these are great ways to find inspiration.

You can even find inspiration from your own artwork. What are some of your favorite pieces of artwork? Do you have any pictures or sketches that you made in the past? Look back at these and see if there is another angle you can try or a similar piece you want to make.

People who create art are always finding inspiration in their surroundings, and there’s no better place to start than with a blank canvas!

4. Should I sell my work online or in person?

I would recommend selling online and in person if at all possible. More and more people are choosing to shop online, especially with everything that is happening in the world today.

You should sell your artwork online because of its convenience for both artist and customer alike. Not only does selling through platforms such as Etsy make things easier but customers are much more likely to purchase pieces they love when browsing their favorite website or scrolling past them on Instagram. 

A lot of people choose to research their purchases online before they actually go to a store to buy. Having your own website or online store makes it easier to reach a larger audience and increases your chances of making a sale.

If you don’t have your own website or don’t want to set up your own store you can sell your work on sites like Etsy, Redbubble and Society6 among others. 

These platforms give artists a way to make more money off their art by selling it in different formats without any upfront costs or risk of losing inventory if the product doesn’t do well. 

The commissions are small, but you don’t incur any production or shipping costs other than your original painting. The money is to be made in the larger volume of sales from more products.

There are advantages to selling your artwork in person too. Selling in person lets you interact with potential buyers and get feedback. Selling art by oneself is an incredibly personal experience. 

You have the opportunity to not only create, but also share what inspires you most through a one-on-one conversation with somebody who may eventually purchase something from you.

It can be difficult to find an art gallery that will take on novice artists like yourself and there is a high chance that you won’t get the proper exposure. But this doesn’t mean it’s impossible! 

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5. Should I take classes on how to become a better artist or just keep practicing on my own time?

To make yourself a better artist, there are some simple steps you can take. 

First and foremost, do not be afraid to experiment with different mediums of art. Experimenting with other mediums inspires creativity. 

Try painting with oils, acrylic, or watercolor or digital art. Try sculpting with different materials, or experimenting with textiles.

I find using other mediums to be especially good for breaking creative blocks. 

Likewise don’t feel pressured into sticking with just the same type of subject matter for your artwork. 

I know people who paint landscapes all day every day but never really show any variation in what they produce because they have mastered this particular genre so much. Learn from them – master something before moving on!

Practice, practice, and more practice! Keep your creativity flowing by trying new techniques and exploring different types of media.

You should also keep up on current art trends so you can stay ahead of the game when it comes to style and technique. 

Attend exhibits and read books about art and design.

Taking classes can certainly help improve your art but choose the class carefully. You and your art teacher may not be on the same page when it comes to style and technique, so find one who shares your creative vision. 

6. What are some tips for being a successful artist?

Here are a few tips on how to be a successful artist:

1) Make art that you yourself enjoy. This is important because it will help filter out what your audience wants from the start and allow them to see more of who you really are. 

2) Be open minded about criticism, but make sure it’s constructive before deciding if there’s anything worth changing in your work or not. 

3) Have fun with art! Don’t just think “I’m making this for my portfolio” all the time–Think ” I am creating something awesome!”

4), Finally, remember why we create anyway: It’s self fulfilling and rewarding

Some Things to Keep in Mind 

  • Make sure it’s your own work. Don’t plagiarize.
  • Use archival materials so your work lasts.
  • Sign your work so viewers know who created it.
  • Always get the money up front before shipping your work to the buyer.
  • Package your artwork well before shipping.
  • Learn about taxes in your area and keep good records.
  • Don’t underprice yourself.

When you’re just starting out, it can be hard to know where to begin. But if you take the time now to learn about what makes a good art business, then this won’t feel so daunting when the time comes! 

The advice provided is a great starting point for any artist looking to get started with their own art business. I hope these points take some of the overwhelm out of setting up your own business. 

I hope you have a very successful career in art!

If you have questions you can leave them in the comments below. You can also join our free Facebook group, Trembeling Art Creative Corner, where you can ask questions, post your work and get to know some fantastic artists from all genres and skill levels. 😊

Thanks for reading.

Digital signature Marilyn with butterfly

2 thoughts on “What You Need To Start Your Art Business”

  1. It sure was interesting that you pointed out that more people are now choosing to shop online because of the convenience for both artists and customers. A friend of mine mentioned that he has artwork and paintings at home from his late father that he is interested to sell. He said that he would need funds for his medical needs as he will undergo knee replacement surgery, soon. I would ask him to have his art possessions to be appraised for him to check their values.

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