Earning a Living until your Art Sales Pay the Bills

By admin in Art Business Advice > General Art Advice


Most artists don’t make it big right out of the gates. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that all of us have to work very hard to get to the point where we can rely on our artwork to pay the bills.

Until that time comes, we often find ourselves in jobs that don’t necessarily suit us, just to make ends meet, and while almost any job will do, finding one where you can use your unique skills as an artist will always be more rewarding.

Many artists turn to teaching, and some even hold their own art workshops in arts and crafts stores. If you feel qualified to teach others, contact a local art supply store and see if they’re willing to host a weekly art session.

If teaching adults is too scary, you might see if the elementary schools in your area are looking for any part-time art teachers, either for during the day, or for an after school art program.

You can also tutor children individually, and teach basic drawing skills like perspective and shading.

Teaching isn’t for everyone, however. You could also apply to work at art supplies, craft, or framing stores; and many artists also find employment in galleries or art museums.

Other jobs that require an artistic sensibility would be photography, interior decorating, landscaping, and wedding planning. If you’re really adventurous you could even start your own company in one of those areas.

Whatever job you do have, don’t hide the fact that you’re an artist. No matter where you’re working, there will always be opportunities for you. Just meeting people that you normally wouldn’t can lead to any number of things – freelance illustration work, layout or design jobs, even gallery showings.

Case in point: an artist I know who worked for Nordstrom was allowed to have a gallery show right there in the store. As a result, she got to sell some of her artwork and used her “real” job to further her artistic career.

Unfortunately, when you do have a job, it can be difficult finding time to create. And if you’re like me, art isn’t necessarily easy or relaxing – it’s hard work!

The best thing I can recommend is to keep a clear barrier between your work and your personal life. If your job is intruding into every part of your day, seriously consider finding a different one that doesn’t. On the other hand, if you really want to make the best use of your time, spend your lunch breaks at work planning out your next work of art.

Then when you finally have time on the weekends to pursue your creative vision, you can get started quicker and get more accomplished in less time.

Whatever you do, don’t get bogged down so much that you forget your true calling as an artist. Set goals and stay the course – in the end, your perseverance will pay off more than any job you ever had.


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