9 Ways to Make Money as an Artist

Updated on May 15, 2020
Blond Logic profile image

I meet with business owners both locally and internationally and share what I learn to help readers generate more income.

An artist paints on glass. Discover some ideas for selling your artwork, from drawing caricatures to designing t-shirts.
An artist paints on glass. Discover some ideas for selling your artwork, from drawing caricatures to designing t-shirts. | Source

How Do You Sell Your Artwork?

Do you have artistic skills but can't seem to sell any of your designs? Check out the suggestions below for some ways to capitalize on your talent. The world is full of people who have ideas, but without artistic ability, they are waiting for someone like you to speak to them and turn their ideas into reality.

The best person to spread the word about your work is you. Blow your own trumpet, show people your artwork and designs, get the word out there. There are many artists but not all are making money from it. Why? Because they don't promote and push their work. You may be the most talented artist the world has ever known, but if people don't see it, they can't buy it or enjoy it.

Take a look at the ideas below and also ask your friends' and family's advice. Have a brainstorming session with them. However, there will be people, young and old, that think you can't make money using your skills as an artist. Sometimes these are people very close to you. Do not invite them to your brainstorming party; you don't need negative people involved.

Ideas for Making Money From Your Art

  1. Make Designs for Tattoos
  2. Draw Caricatures
  3. Sign up for Online Job Markets
  4. Design Your Own T-shirts
  5. Make Artwork for Restaurants
  6. Do Sidewalk Drawings
  7. Create Branding and Design Logos for Small Businesses
  8. Paint Store Windows
  9. Give Talks at Schools

A butterfly tattoo design.
A butterfly tattoo design.

1. Make Designs for Tattoos

Have you ever wondered where all those designs have come from at the tattoo shop? Someone like yourself has designed them. If you have something new or unusual, take it to the shop and show them. They may be interested in using that particular one or they will give you an idea of what they are looking for.

The tattooist is an artist but may not have the time to design his own work. Choose items for men and women. Use your friends as a sounding board as to which type of tattoo they would prefer.

Or consider becoming a tattooist. The boom in the number of people with tattoos means this is a growing market and you can capitalize on this.

An artist offering caricatures.
An artist offering caricatures.

2. Draw Caricatures

Drawing caricatures of people is always a fun way to make money. Either in an open air venue or in a shopping mall. Have displays of others that you have drawn and watch the customers stop, smile and hopefully ask for a sitting.

Another possibility is during parties, offer your services as "a party artist" to capture the likeness in caricature form of the guests. Wedding receptions, bridal showers, and birthday parties are all good places to start. For this you have to work quickly, people don't want to sit for long.

3. Sign up for Online Job Markets

There are several websites such as Upwork, Fiverr, and People Per Hour where you can sell your skills. On these sites you can either promote yourself and your skills or look for work through the jobs section. Many are for different types of artists.

Whether it is designing a logo, or drawing pictures for a book, the sites cater to a global market and so today you could be designing something for someone in the UK and next week it could be for someone in Peru!

Selling Art Online: The Creative Guide to Turning Your Artistic Work into Cash - Second Edition
Selling Art Online: The Creative Guide to Turning Your Artistic Work into Cash - Second Edition
No longer are you having to wait for someone to come by a gallery or fair where you have your work displayed. The whole world is now a potential customer. Finding the best places online though, can be tricky as you don't want to get lost in a site competing with cheap imports from China. Dave Conrey is an artist with a business mind. He cuts through the garbage and logically tells you what works and what doesn't. It gets your art in front of the right people and after all, isn't that what you need when you are trying to sell a piece.

4. Design Your Own T-shirts

On Zazzle you can put your own design on everything from t-shirts to bumper stickers. There isn't the hassle of buying equipment to place the design yourself, they do everything for you. They also offer discounts when you buy in bulk.

Once you have your t-shirts you can sell at craft fairs and other venues that offer places for artists to show their work.

The great thing about Zazzle is you can earn money when other people sell your design. They too will earn a small commission that is NOT taken from your share. It is like having your own marketing team behind you. You just do what you are good at, designing.

Restaurants may need artists to design their menus.
Restaurants may need artists to design their menus.

5. Make Artwork for Restaurants

Restaurants are often changing their menus and the décor of their restaurants. If you have artwork that would be suitable for these things, take it with you. You could even take a sample menu of what you would plan to do for them. Have the costings of what you want in return for your artwork and tell them you also can do special orders.

3-D Pac-Man Chalk Art
3-D Pac-Man Chalk Art | Source

6. Do Sidewalk Drawings

You may have seen these before. People normally use chalk and the sidewalk is their canvas. Often when people gather round, the artist will be there to collect a small amount from onlookers. Some will pay, others may continue walking. Providing something special like this is impressive and most people appreciate the work that went into it and will part with a bit of money for the pleasure it has brought them.

Before doing this, you should ask for permission at your local council office. A permit may or maynot be needed.

7. Create Branding and Design Logos for Small Businesses

The variety of small businesses and boutiques is huge and as such they are well worth approaching. Tell them you can design logos, to be used on signs and business cards and correspondence. Perhaps they have an idea but not the artistic skills needed to create it. Help them with their branding.

There are websites which have artists from around the globe but many people still prefer the personal touch.

Christmas city decorations often include painted store windows.
Christmas city decorations often include painted store windows.

8. Paint Store Windows

One of my favorite times to window shop is during the Christmas season. In America, there are often painted window displays of Christmas scenes. I knew an artist who used to take her allocated vacation time from her office job to paint Christmas scenes on store windows. She thoroughly enjoyed it and made a tidy sum in the process.

It doesn't have to be about painting though. Shops get stuck in a rut with their window displays. Speak with the owner/manager about changing their display. If your display brings people into the store, they will have you back often to create new window displays.

9. Give Talks at Schools

Although schools are usually on a budget and may not be able to pay you, it is still a good idea to approach them to give talks about art and design. If you are uncomfortable speaking to groups of people, you may find it easier to speak in front of children. Not only will this help you gain confidence in speaking but doing charitable work always looks impressive on a resume.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2011 Mary Wickison

I Hope You Found Some Interesting Ideas to Try

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    • rdsparrowriter profile image

      Rochelle Ann De Zoysa 

      14 months ago from Moratuwa, Sri Lanka

      Interesting and valuable information for an artist :) Blessings !

    • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Wickison 

      8 years ago from Brazil

      Hi Lipnancy,

      Always good to hear from you, thank you for the comment.

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 

      8 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      All wonderful ideas to get your work out there.

    • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Wickison 

      8 years ago from Brazil

      I'm glad you found it useful. Sometimes, an artist although talented, is the best at marketing their work.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This is very useful information. Thanks for sharing.


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