How To Make It As An Artist Without Starving

February 12th 2014 | Small Business Tips

Whether you’re just starting out in the art biz or thinking of dipping your toe in the pool, you’ve probably heard that it’s not the best industry for making mountains of money. While this may be true, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the worst industry – and with these tips, you just might find it’s not only doable, but totally worth it.

How To Make It As An Artist Without Starving (Tips From Wix Users)

 

We wanted to thank the artists of this world for making our everyday lives a little more beautiful. That’s why we grilled some top-notch artists to give us their best tips on how to ‘make it’ – and it just so happens that they ‘re proud owners of some pretty awesome Wix websites, too.

Sophie Kahn

Sculptor/new media artist,  New York, NY

Sophie Kahn

Check Out Sophie Kahn’s Portfolio on this Beautiful Wix Site

Is it possible to live entirely off art in this day and age?

I’m sure some artists do, but nobody I know makes a living from sales alone! I’ve found the best strategy is to find a day job that feeds your art practice and keeps you learning. For me, this has been teaching, and more recently, starting a business.

What’s the best tip you can give to an aspiring artist?

Perseverance. I’ve known that I wanted to be an artist since I was 14, so it’s been nearly 20 years now that I’ve been working away at it… You need to be receptive to constructive criticism while keeping faith in yourself, and that’s not always easy.

How can a solo artist capture audience attention?

I think if the work is thought-provoking, visually and conceptually strong, then it will find the right audience. Context is so important in contemporary art, so this means finding the right space to show your work (both online and offline), and finding people to show with and work with who are on the same wavelength. There are a number of great handbooks for building an art career – Jackie Battenfield’s “The Artist’s Guide” is my favorite. She stresses that there are no shortcuts, and that a sustainable career is all about building community and paying attention to relationships.

What are some best practices for creating a good online portfolio?

Really good photos are important – have someone take them if you aren’t sure. If you’re not a net artist and your website is not a conceptual artwork in and of itself, then all you need is a clean, easily navigable layout. Make sure all the relevant information (captions, resume, etc) can be found quickly, but err on the side of showing less work rather than padding a portfolio with substandard pieces. I have no objection to right-click downloads, either; they allow your work to be shared and seen by more people quickly, which is always a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

Luis Martin

Art Engineer Director of Programing and Artist Affairs, Brooklyn, NY

Luis Martin - Brooklyn Brush Studios

Parenthisis Gallery at BBS 203

Is it possible to live entirely off art in this day and age?

Yes! It is totally possible to live entirely off art, but you have to expand your ideas about the role of the Artist. Artists today must be savvy and embrace all of their talents. Curate, teach, design and do anything else that will enrich your creativity while banking on collaborating with other like minded people.

What’s the best tip you can give to an aspiring artist?

Make, create, make, create and repeat – start now and do not stop. The only way to develop your vision and style is by making lots of mistakes and using what you like to create your own visual vocabulary.

What are some best practices for creating a good online portfolio?

Allow yourself to shine. Select a handful of images that you love and have gotten a positive response from other people and artists. You don’t need to put everything you ever made on your site, think of the images on your site as an initiation for the views to want to contact you and learn more.

What’s the best business advice you ever got?

“The harder you work the luckier you get!” This advice gets me pumped as an artist and a curator. No matter what you want to do you will achieve it faster when you are constantly taking steps to achieve your goal. People want to work with artists who are proactive and creating opportunities to show and collaborate.

Ethan Field Williams

Abstract Artist, New York, NY

Ethan Field Williams

Ethan Field Williams – Art Exhibition at the Wix Lounge

Is it possible to live entirely off art in this day and age?

Not yet, but my Wix site is allowing me to reach a broader audience… and will soon help to make that possibility a reality.

How can a solo artist capture audience attention?

Find a way for your audience to connect with your art – either via an online profile or in person. Allow them to engage with your work and be engaged by it. People love to interact with things, so allow them to interact. Use the material to change the form and the form to change the space.

What are some best practices for creating a good online portfolio?

Keep it simple. Create a website that is easy to navigate and conveys your message effectively.

What’s the best business advice you ever got?

Link your tactical work to your overarching strategic objective. If the tactical doesn’t match the strategy, don’t waste your time. Move on to an item that links.

Borbay

Painter, New York, NY. Affiliate website: www.thefuturism.com 

Borbay's Kickass Actors

Borbay’s Kickass Actors – Check His Cool Artwork on this Beautiful Wix Site

What’s the best tip you can give to an aspiring artist?

The best advice I received was this: “if you want to be a painter, paint every day.”  And, realize this is an unregulated market and there is no job description for what you do – so create your own. Be disciplined. Work, work, work, hustle, and work some more. Ensure you live and die by your own brush. Learn contracts. Get comfortable talking about prices. Build your market and sustain it. Turn down offers that are too low, even if you are hurting financially — if you don’t take your market seriously, no one will. Protect your collectors at all costs.

How can a solo artist capture audience attention?

Create great work and share your process. Be prolific on social media. Stay in touch and create new contacts. Nurture your network. Show your work. Be yourself; which if you are an artist, is likely something different/ quirky/ perfect.

What are some best practices for creating a good online portfolio?

Take great photos of your work. If you can’t do this yourself, hire someone. If you can’t afford them – barter for work. Post frequently, but not too often. Speak clearly about your work, ‘art speak’ is not for the people who will acquire your work. “The existential connection between modernity and a psycho-sexual bond created by the rich impasto brush strokes…” is jargon for pseudo-intellectuals, not real people.

What’s the best business advice you ever got?

The business you realize today is the result of hard work done two years ago. This is absolutely true. When I have three commissions booked and a body of work ready to show, I continue to mine for business.

Borbay's 'Kickass Actors' Art Exhibition at the Wix Lounge

Borbay’s ‘Kickass Actors’ Art Exhibition at the Wix Lounge

 

If you’re an artist with a Wix site – we’d love to hear from you! Share your story with us through Wix stories.