How To Make A Living As An Artist

make a living as an artist

How To make A Living As An Artist With Digital Marketing 

make a living as an artist

Graeme Watson at Art Village, Shawlands Arcade, Glasgow


The question of how to make a living as an artist came up when I caught up with a very old friend recently. I’d heard via Facebook that having been made redundant he had decided to follow his lifelong passion and become a full time artist. I met him in the Southside studio where he is working and showing his work: A mix of new oils and watercolours and a range of work he’s accumulated over the years since we last spoke.

Having last spoken briefly more than 15 years ago we had a lot to catch up on. We find ourselves both close to 50, and having to more or less re-invent ourselves after being thrown on the corporate scrap heap. Although we are both on very different journey’s the obstacles and challenges we face are similar.

With me it’s the challenge of learning a completely new set of skills and building my online businesses, with him it’s working out how to make a living as an artist by selling his work. Both of us have lost a comfortable, steady income and are giving it a go with limited bankrolls and limited experience of self-employment. At times we both have the “maybe I should just try and get another job” conversation with ourselves.

Make A Living As An Artist Or Get A Job? 

make a living as an artist

As luck would have it though we can probably help each other out. Everyone in business these days needs an online presence. That’s something I can definitely help my friend with.The question of how to make a living as an artist is an old one but there are many more answers to the question in the digital world.

The premises he is working from are part of a social enterprise business. The advantage is that he doesn’t pay anything to be there. He has plenty of wall space to display and sell his work and a place to work on new stuff. He pays 40% commission to the gallery on any sales he makes. Surprisingly this is quite generous compared to commercial galleries. Trouble is, as with many social enterprises whose emphasis is on regeneration, the location is less than ideal.

With not much in the way of passing footfalls and a limited budget for printing flyers or other forms of traditional advertising he needs to find other ways of getting eyeballs on his work. This is where digital marketing could really boost things for him. In the digital economy, even for physical products like art work, it doesn’t really matter where it’s made. You can learn how to make a living as an artist by mastering different ways of letting the world see  your work.

Art as we discussed, is a very personal thing. Some people buy wall art simply to match the décor or to brighten up a room. Others are more artistically inclined. With a wide palette of work and prices he has this covered. He does everything from small inexpensive prints and watercolours to very large oil paintings. He also does a line in children’s illustrations. All very sellable but all hidden away in a largely abandoned shopping arcade. To make a living as an artist you need an audience. The bigger the better.

How Digital Marketing Can Help You make A living As An Artist 

With an online presence though a much wider audience could see his work. He could be using websites and social media to reach them. He could be building a list of fans and keeping them informed about new work, exhibitions and events. He could be asking people to share his Facebook page in exchange for a discount on any future sales.

The event side of things with this particular social enterprise is very much on the drawing board. The gallery workshop has a couple of pianos in it and musicians are encouraged to drop in a tinkle the ivories. My self and the other half plan to do some acoustic sets on the evenings when they open late. All of this draws people in. It could help a lot of people make a living as an artist by providing a platform for their work

Backed up by a digital marketing strategy the potential here is pretty amazing. I’m looking forward to helping an old friend with this as it develops. There’s a great vision here that includes plans for a coffee shop and activity area. It could become a superb, multi purpose art zone in time and digital marketing could seriously speed that up. Using digital marketing is a no brainer for anyone who wants to make a living as an artist. You can either employ some to help you – artists have traditionally needed someone to take care of the business side of things so that they can concentrate on the art bit, or you can do it yourself.

Without a set of tools and systems this might be too time consuming and counter productive. As an artist you want to make a living as an artist, not as a digital marketer after all. With a business system that takes most of the time and woerk out of the marketing side though it’s very doable. Learn more about just such a platform by signing up for a free video series on the link below.

make a living as an artist


How You Can Make A Living As An Artist With Digital Marketing 

By Dave Menzies

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