Making Money as an Artist

by | Oct 27, 2008 | Blog | 9 comments

Since I am fortunate enough to be supporting myself as an artist, I am often asked for advice. Here is a list of things I do, not in any special order, but they all help me stay profitable and create a life I enjoy.

(1) Have a Variety of Revenue Streams: Its more stressful to have all my money come from only one source. If I relied solely on painting sales it might put pressure on me to compromise my art. Instead I have money coming from teaching, book royalties, commissions and speaking engagements.

(2) Stay Open for Possibilities: My portfolio is small and portable. I carry it with me everywhere I go. I use the on-line publishing sites to create an inexpensive and dispensible book.

(3) Continually seek New Venues: I am always on the lookout for good galleries, dealers, and agents who are interested in selling my work.

(4) Do the Best I Can: I strive to make the best work I can. Not only with my painting, but all aspects of my business, such as website, writings, my portfolio, showing up on time for appointments, following through with commitments, etc.

(5) Get Advice From Experts: I like to work with specialists involving areas I need help. On occasion I like to hire a coach to keep me clear, focused and expand my current business ideas. Recently I enjoyed a session with art coach Renée Phillips, Here is a link for more info on her coaching:

(6) Stay in Touch with My Dealers: I keep in touch with those on my “team”, people who help sell my work. I like to visit, or at least call or email periodically.

(7) Have a Vision: I recently gained a lot from reading “The Answer” by John Asssaraf, who encourages readers to create a vision. Here is a link for his book:

(8) Stay Positive: This is more work than it sounds. It takes a lot of effort to keep from whining, complaining, getting stressed and being negative. But once I created a habit of positive thinking it gave me an enormous amount of energy, confidence and power.

(9) Meditate: This helps me to stay positive and have a strong focus.

(10) Eliminate TV: By not watching television I am able to get plenty of time to make art and take care of the business end. It is also the best way to stay positive.

(11) Be in Control of My Money: I read Suze Orman’s book “Women and Money”, and followed her plan exactly. I also started putting 10% of all I earn into an emergency account. Here is a link for her book:

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  1. Claudia

    Great advice! Thank you for that. And I relate to the part about the challenges and rewards of staying positive. Your outlook really does control what happens to you. And you won't take any action if you feel down about yourself, your career, or the world in general. That's why I also limit the amount of news I read each week.

  2. make

    I also bought your book acrylic revolution and was very impressed, i havent been able to read the whole site, but i had to commend you for “no tv”, that has been greatest productivity that i have used in recent years myself

  3. wildlifeart

    Great article Nancy – appreciate you taking the time to write it


  4. Maria

    Great advice. It motivates me a lot and I am much more enjoying to be an artist.

  5. Charles Fazzino

    Thanks for the list, very useful.

    Here’s one more tip: Create art and then donate it.

    I’ve made a big effort to be open to donating examples of my“ REL=”nofollow”> 3D Pop Art to worthy causes for fundraising purposes. Not only does this give me a chance to give back to the communities which help sustain us, but it also helps to get name recognition and brings in“ REL=”nofollow”>private commisions. It’s a good way to keep the circle going.

  6. Fred Bell

    Thanks for the list of financial advice. I liked it all. Something I have been considering is teaching at my home. I have a kind of large room that I have vacated due to heating costs. Now I look at it and see an asset. I teach a continuing ed class at a university that is 20 miles a way. Maybe there are students in my neighborhood.

  7. Erich

    Excellent post and advice. I would love to know if you are on

  8. Kyle Kunnecke

    I was at an art supply show in Pasadena yesterday and saw the Golden booth – bought your book Acrylic Revolution (the last one they had) and was SO excited to see all they had to offer… Just wanted to say HI and thank you for what you do… I felt like I knew someone in the company (I do!) – and they were so helpful there… I can’t wait to play more with all the goodies I bought… including experimenting with my painting using your book as a springboard!


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About Nancy

Professional fine artist Nancy Reyner’s blog about art, painting and creativity. Her career spans over 30 years. She lives in Santa Fe in the US. Subscribe below for free tips on art and painting.

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