Turn your art into a business

Abstract B&W art

If you want to learn how to turn your art into a business, the first step is to structure yourself in a manner that will make it easy for your clients to collaborate with you.

If you are starting a new project, or in the process of expanding your activities it is important to consider how you will reach your clients and what are the steps to take in order to make it easier for your customers to consume your art. For this, you need to learn how to commercialize your art as a business.

Art hobby/Art business checklist :

Do you have a clear vision of what your art represents?

Like it or not, people seek comfort in categorizing most things. In your work, what it is that stands out the most and what are the things that stand out the least. For example are you a mixed media artist, or a specialist in a particular medium such as digital, pencil, oil paint, sculpture ect… Perhaps you have a particular subject or passion that repeats itself throughout your work. This form of repetition can create a niche following. Finding your clear path will make it easier for you to reach out to the right audience.

Have you thought of your artist statement and are you able to write one?

Your artist statement should include a short description of you, followed by your research topic and work process. Think of this statement as an extension of what you are showing your viewers to add to their experience of your art. In a few short paragraphs, your artist statement should engage a viewer in your work.

It is important to remain consistent with your visual content and written content. Your artist statement should evolve as you grow to understand your work, so keep this in mind as you define further your artistic practice.

Your artist statement can be as short as 100 words and up to 400 words depending on your research and process. Generally, a short concise statement is easier to digest than a lengthy essay.

What is your niche market? And how will you reach them?

Identifying a niche market can be as simple as positioning yourself as a leader in a particular style or subject. For example, if your art is all about horses and horse riding, then your niche market will be focused on people who also like horses and horse riding. Knowing who your niche market can save you tons of time when it comes to your marketing strategy. Finding your place within a niche market is much easier than selling your work to an open network where you are more at risk of a hit and miss scenario.

Once you have identified one or perhaps several niche markets, the contact time to reach potential clients is much faster. If you have friends and or competitors in the same niche markets then you might decide on collaboration opportunities to increase your exposure. Knowing if and what niche market you are in will put things into perspective to help you make decisions that result in better sales for your business.

How to find the right audience for your work? 

Just like in every industry, it is important for you to find your market and where your work fits the best in order to generate more consistent sales from your art. Identifying your buyer profile can take time especially if your work is constantly evolving.

Don’t guess about your pricing. Do your research first.

Pricing to sell your art does not have to be complicated. Find out what other artists in your community and niche market are selling their work for. Then align yourself sensibly based on the industry-standard practices. This will give you a practical approach to enter the market. If you have doubts, then consider testing the market with a variety of prices to see where you have the most success.

How should you be pricing your art?

If you haven’t already clicked this link, then I suggest you do so now. Understanding the basics of how and why you are pricing your art will go a long way when it comes to finding your market and long term audience. It is no point rushing towards high prices until you have established a clientele that will follow you throughout your career as an artist. Pricing high may have a psychological effect on the buyer if that person sees something special in the painting. Avoid the risk of burning your candle too soon by doing some research before setting your prices. A long term following is more sustainable than gambling on a few overpriced paintings.

Have you registered yourself as a company or Brand?

Consider registering yourself as a company or sole trader instead of trading as a sideline activity. Your business name can simply be your name. if you are serious about making art your business. Setting up a professional system for invoicing and good bookkeeping will give you the confidence to push for more sales and find new clients. Potential buyers will take you and your work more seriously if you take the first steps to do so too.

Consider studio, production, material and gallery costs?

To turn your art into a business, you will likely need a place to produce and keep your work. If you have a big enough house you might consider making your studio from home. In the case of the latter, you will need to factor in the cost of rent and your operational expenses. It will come across to your potential clients as more professional when they visit your studio rather than your garage. Something to keep in mind.

More production will result in more initial expenses. You will need to acquire a certain amount of stock to keep up with a consistent flow of work. Try not to let high expenses hinder your creativity and block you from working and pushing your art. Some initial planning can go a long way when it comes to managing your cash flow in the initial set up of your new art business.

Below are a few links with more information on how you can learn how to commercialize your art as a business, and create a steady revenue stream through your passion.

How to make better art in 3 easy steps

Too often overlooked by most of us. Artists tend to focus more on the details rather than getting the big picture right from the start. The result of this is creating an abundance of art that relates to the same subject matter and often with similar techniques. Breaking away from the traditional applications will automatically release a feeling of freshness and originality in your work. Generally resulting in unique experiences by your viewers. Keep this in mind the next time you are stuck for ideas. Try painting or drawing from your imagination. Experiment with one new technique or medium, try a different surface texture or scale.

Find a support network

Find someone or several people who can give you constructive support and motivation. Participating in workshops and group gatherings is a way of sharing support together.

Give your art a voice and be prepared for any job interview or gallery selection process. Align your style to suit your market and make the sale.

Turn your art into a brand and promote yourself like a professional. Get access to tools that will grow your network and learn how to use them.

Price your art correctly the first time by knowing where you fit in your industry. Develop multiple revenue streams and diversify your creative activities.

Here is an example of a plan you can put into action and get started today.

  1. Give yourself 6 to 12 months to implement your plan or program.
  2. Get a portfolio evaluation from a few artists, galleries, friends and acquaintances.
  3. Identify your style & audience based on the feedback you are given.
  4. Start a new body of work that encompasses your findings and feedback. During this process, try to stay true to yourself. Your art needs to remain authentic.
  5. Think about creating a brand around what you are doing. This could be a personal brand, or you could create an art and design company, maybe a retail company. Either way. It is important to be registered as a business because you are planning to sell your art commercially full time. This will make it a lot easier for you to track your activities, your revenue and expenses, and progress while keeping your personal accounts separate from those of your future art activities.
  6. Consider putting into place a marketing plan to start sharing and promoting your work and services. This may be a short term or long term plan depending on your goals.
  7. Do a competitive analysis report. Simply put, figure out what other artists are doing and how they are selling. This will help you to understand the local market so that you can find your place.
  8. Next, Prepare your pricing guidelines and test the market with your new body of work.
  9. Look for ways you can have access to networking opportunities and do your best to be present or participate in things that interest you.

Wrapping this up

There are obviously countless other ways that you can develop your art practice. Some of which you will discover along the way and others that might come from your encounters and experiences. If you want to learn how to commercialize your art as a business then first you have to ready to commit to a step by step process. Secondly, you must be aware and accept that it will not happen overnight. And lastly, consistency and determination will eventually give you the rewards you are working towards.


David Lagesse