So you’re thinking about quitting your day job to become a full-time artist. Congratulations! It’s an exciting step towards a fulfilling career, but just like any jump towards a new job, you need to think about some key aspects about the nitty-gritty business aspect of it.
Yes, art is a business: you are the producer, your artwork is your product, and just like any business, you’re going to want to consider some financial factors before you jump right in. Here are some things to think about when you’re quitting your day job to become an artist:
Take a Look at Your Finances Before Starting
Yes, art is exciting, wonderful, and so much more fulfilling than your corporate 9-to-5. But also: the art world can be just as vicious and unforgiving as, say, being a stock market trader, and financial success isn’t always guaranteed.
Before you make the jump from cubicle worker to full-time Edward Hopper, take a good, hard, and honest, look at your current finances: do you have enough money for capital? How much do you have saved up? Is it enough to make ends meet while you get your feet off the ground?
As with any new career, you’re not going to make it big in your first six months or year, so you’ll have to find a way to pay the bills while you flex your paintbrush. Consider getting part-time work or a temp job while you’re building up your reputation as the next big Banksy.
But while you’re in that train of thought, also consider: do you really need to quit your day job? Can you make commercially viable art while working your 9-to-5? If you say yes to the latter, then there’s no reason to put yourself in dire straits: keep your corporate grind and make art in your downtime. Who knows, you might even be able to use your day job as inspiration!
Learn How to Market Your Art, And Yourself
Again, your artwork is a product, and just like any product, you’re going to need to learn how to market it to the right audience. But in the art world, the artist also needs to be marketed. After all, the story of the artist adds value to the painting, especially if the buyer knows that they’re purchasing something that was made with heart and soul.
The best way to do this? Learn from the masters. Read up on successful artists, figure out how they marketed their art and themselves at the beginning of their career. What did they do differently from their peers and competitors? There’s no shame in copying certain aspects of their marketing strategy, so long as you’re able to evolve and create one of your own later on.
Next, leverage social media platforms. The Age of Aquarius is over: we’re now in the age of social media, and it’s high time you learned how to market yourself on online platforms and make yourself relevant on people’s social media feeds. Remember: the digital world is just like any business space, so make your mark!
While you’re at it, make a website. This serves as your online portfolio and it makes you easier for people to access, and it makes your artwork that much more noticeable to a worldwide audience.
Strategize Your Price Points
Listen: there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for pricing your artwork. The most basic formula, however, is to add up your equipment costs (i.e. price of the paint you used, brushes, electricity, etc.) and add an X amount of percentage for profit. This works surprisingly well, but consider diversifying.
Think of luxury goods: high-end brands will often have different kinds of products that they price differently so that they can have a stake in every market. Challenge yourself to create different artworks that would fall into low-range and mid-range prices so that you can cater to every corner of the art world.
As for your signature pieces, well, that’s the one you price the most. After all, these are the pieces that will define who you are as an artist, and will be the type of art people will remember your name for.
Starving Artist? That’s So Passé
Art is a business, a way of life, and a career. There’s no real need to be a ‘starving artist’, unless you do it for the image. Remember: you need to make ends meet, you need to eat, take showers, drive to galleries, wear decent clothes, etc. Just because you make money out of your art doesn’t mean you’re a “sell out”, so don’t worry too much.