How to earn a living as an artist

Art gallery: abstract paintings by artist Claire Desjardins.

Many aspiring artists dream of making a living from their creative pursuits, but the path to success can often seem challenging. However, with dedication, strategy, and a dose of entrepreneurial spirit, it is possible to turn your artistic passion into a sustainable career. Here are some essential tips on how to earn a living as an artist.

Abstract artist, Claire Desjardins, in her painting studio.

Hone your craft

Continually invest time and effort into improving your artistic skills. Attend workshops, take courses, and experiment with different mediums and techniques. Developing a unique and recognizable style will help you stand out in a crowded market. Find your own voice!

Build an online presence

Create a professional website and showcase your artwork through high-quality photographs. Leverage social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to engage with a wider audience, share your process, and build a community around your work.

Diversify your income streams

Relying solely on art sales can be challenging. Explore additional avenues such as teaching art classes, creating commissioned pieces, licensing your work for merchandise, or participating in art festivals and exhibitions. This diversification helps create a stable income and expands your reach.

Abstract artist, Claire Desjardins, teaches a painting workshop at an Anthropologie store.

Network and collaborate

Engage with fellow artists, curators, gallery owners, and art enthusiasts. Attend art events, join art associations, and actively participate in local art communities. Collaboration can open doors to new opportunities and expose your work to a broader audience.

Embrace marketing and business skills

While artistry is crucial, understanding the basics of marketing and business is equally important. Learn about pricing your work, creating compelling artist statements, writing effective press releases, and managing your finances. Consider partnering with a gallery or hiring a business manager if needed.

Claire Desjardins abstract art exhibition at Harmony Gallery, Sarasota

Seek grants and funding

Research and apply for grants, fellowships, and residencies that support artists. Many organizations and institutions offer financial assistance, studio spaces, and exposure opportunities that can bolster your career. Artist residencies can bring sometimes come with a grant — a nice perk, plus one gets to meet like minds!

Earning a living as an artist requires dedication, persistence, and adaptability. By continuously refining your skills, building an online presence, diversifying your income streams, networking, and embracing the business side of art, you can increase your chances of turning your artistic passion into a fulfilling and sustainable career. Remember, success may take time, but with perseverance, your artistic dreams can become a reality.

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Hi Claire!
Do you have any classes in New England in the near future? Preferably in Stowe🥰. How much space do you need? I have a boutique with a lot of extra space…just hoping to entice you

Jennifer Lawson

Love this blog – I’m going self employed from January…daunted but sooooo excited!


Love this blog – I’m going self employed from January…daunted but sooooo excited!


Great post Claire! It is a juggling act, that’s for sure.

JoAnn Godenir Godenir

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