Everyone always asks me just how much money I make as a professional artist. The thing is, it always depends. Should you be picked up by a company, you will be paid a set wage. However, since I am now freelance it is much different.
Each job is different and therefore the quoted price is different. There are always different factors that need to be added up. For example:
Number of commissions
Size of comission(s)
These are all important in giving a fair and accurate quote.
My answer to the question of how much I make?
'Never enough.'The truth of the matter is that you can never make it a main occupation when you begin. You do not have a stable customer base and the art world is always changing. What is popular one month could be out the next. Do not go into it with any misconceptions. You will not be an instant millionaire.
Will I Need Qualifications?
Yes and no. For a job at a studio or a company they will generally require qualifications. Unless you know someone in the company, it can be quite difficult to get in.
For freelance work, it's not needed. Though clients will prefer to see that you have qualifications over not having any. Every little helps, after all.
What Qualifications Do I need/Should I Get?
It all depends on what you want to do. It always helps to study fine art and art history. Design is always a good option as well. Some find that places offer an illustration course and if this is the sort of work you are interested in, by all means go for it. Technical drawing is not needed, but it can open up more opportunities.
How Do I Make Money Then?
Ah. Yes. Let's get down to business. Firstly, you will need to have a game plan. What soret of art are you producing? Who would you say is your best target audience? How much are you spending on supplies? And what are your future goals?
I will now post a list of basics that will hopefully help you get started.
This is one of the most important things for an artist just starting out. It would be best to have an online and offline portfolio. And online portfolio can be on an art site, but it looks much better when on your own site. You can use the readily availible site builders out there to create a stylish site in minutes. (I recommend wix.com and webs.com)
The site should be simple, easy to read and understand and have clear directions to your portfolio gallery. You should also have a contact page and an about page. Be sure to list any relevant info on your about page. (IE: Qualifications, age, history with art etc.)
An offline portfolio should be a folder that you can carry with you when you need it. It should have a mixture of various types of work. If you do digital art, print out examples. Sketches should also be added to give an idea of the stages of your artwork as it takes shape. Should you be a painter, print out shots of your work, rather than toting the canvas in the folder. It would damage too easily.
Another option is to purchase USB memory sticks. Only small, cheap ones are needed. There is no need to go overboard on cost. Then you can upload an array of art on that and hand it to potential clients, or gallery owners. (This is not required, but it can't hurt.)
The best way of going about pricing your commissions is to provide personal quotes. However, if you would prefer set prices, I would recommend using a percentage system. Work out how much your art supplies cost, for example, and create a percentage based on that + hours spent. You can also create an hourly rate, but I do not recommend this for starters.
Protect Your Work
Remember to keep your work safe. Never hand over the finished product until payment has been received. Should you need to show examples, make sure to watermark them if didgital and send photos of traditionally created art. This way, your client can't scarper with the finished product and skip out on paying.This also applies to all portfolio shots. Watermark and sign them whenever possible.
Base Of Operations
You can choose to either trade via email (Which you can do via your website), sell finished work or commissions on sites such as Ebay and Etsy, or you can create a shopping cart section on your site. (For offline info, see 'Advertising')
It's a very common thing for creative people to have their fingers in too many pies. Sometimes you can't resist giving a new idea a chance and it can lead to heaps of unfinished projects. This is why you need to stick to your guns. Choose the art type you want to be selling and stick to it. When you are more secure and have a good customer base, THEN you can try your hand at other types of art (IE: Sculpture, jewellery, etc.) Stick to what you are best at.
You can never advertise too much! Get yourself online and set yourself up on sites. Add yourself to artist listings and art related business sites. Another good way of getting known is to have a business card. You can find places who print them out for reasonable prices and they are of a decent enough quality. (For UK people, I recommend Vistaprint. For US try Zazzle.com!)
One way of getting into the swing of things is to vist local galleries and art shops. Hand over your cards at as many places as you can. Visit shops that you feel may have a customer base that would be interested in purchasing art. Get talking to people. Gather interest.
Also, I highly recommend signing up for sites such as LinkedIn. That way you can network with people who may be able to help you. (You can find me here: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/meltycat)
Another site would be Skillpages.com. This is a site where people post jobs and people can apply for them. Some are paid and some are unpaid, but it looks GREAT on the old CV. You can also add these to your portfolio information.
Another way of getting noticed is to offer other sites and artists an affiliates program where you post a link to their site on yours and vise-versa. This can often help more than you may think. Should the artist be quite well-known, then your link will be seen by all of them. And it is a form of endorsement.
It may sound really stingy, but never pay for something you can get for free! Advertising is one of them. While paid advertising can be good, free listings can also be just as effective!I hope this has helped some. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask in the comments.
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