So many times, I am asked this very question...
Can I make money from my art?
I get asked this question so many times, it’s almost as if artists don’t believe it really is possible to earn a living doing what they love, but as an artist and owner of an art gallery exhibiting our own artworks, the resounding answer is yes!

However it’s not as simple as sending emails to galleries asking them to display your work. I regularly receive emails, phone calls and letters from budding artists wanting my advice, hints, tips and recommendations on how to market their work. There are many hopefuls out there who dream of the day that they are ‘discovered’ and catapulted onto the world stage, adored by critics and wealthy beyond measure.

The amateur artist dreams big, possibly living an unconventional life embracing the idea that fame is about to come knocking at the door, while the professional artist understands the importance of being organised and disciplined in their life in order to be bold and daring with their work.

The sad reality is that, actually, only a chosen few will experience resounding success in their lifetime so for the rest; it’s imperative to spend a good deal of time on the ‘Business of Art’, marketing your work, building and maintaining relationships with your fan base as well as critics, galleries, agents and other experts in the field.

Karen with ‘Harlequin’ by Peter Pharoah

It’s important to connect with your fan base, meet your buyers and admirers, engaging with them and allowing them a glimpse into your life as an artist.

Instead of hoping for a big break or winning the attention of art critics, focus on building up your own fan base and sell directly. But, be warned, this approach is NOT for the fainthearted, it will require dedication, a fair amount of risk and an awful lot of hard work. If you have sufficient finances available, I would recommend appointing a marketing agent who can assist with managing your social media as well as writing press releases and using other methods to generate exposure for your work. It’s important to point out though, that when dealing with clients there is nothing better than meeting them yourself. There are many questions that prospective buyers may have about the creative process and what inspires you, so be sure to make yourself available to engage with your fan base.

The Pharoah Gallery in Wilderness displays artworks by Peter Pharoah

Another fatal flaw in many would be artists’ business plan… is not having one!

Let’s face it, artists are not noted for their business acumen… Even Van Gogh died penniless despite being one of the most talented artists to share his magic with the world. So it’s imperative to put goals in place and have a clear idea as to how you intend to achieve those goals. If you have any funds available, then allocating budgets to different aspects of your business is a great idea and once the plan is in place be sure to analyse it regularly and adjust accordingly.

A business plan should be a flexible tool providing a guideline to the road ahead. Think of it as a map, sometimes you can deviate from the route and discover a hidden treasure but you need the map to get you in the general direction in the first place.
Peter Pharoah at work in his studio in Wilderness, South Africa

Do you know what your art is worth?

Now we come to the second dilemma facing every artist… pricing your artworks.

Again, quite simply, an artwork is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. However in determining a price for your art, there are a few basic considerations that influence the price of your piece; the size of the piece, medium, your level of experience and whether it is an original or not. Obviously when you set about pricing your work it’s imperative that you factor in the costs of your materials and time to create it. If you are planning to make a career as an artist, you will need to consider your monthly cost of living when determining your rate per hour then apply that to the number of hours that you used to create the piece.

Most importantly don’t advertise the piece at a high price then sell it for significantly less.

Be confident but realistic in your pricing and conduct some informal research into this issue.

Art is about desire, for most people it’s considered a luxury not a necessity and they are far more likely to spend money on curtaining than art…

Ultimately, the only way to know if your art is good enough to sell, is to try to sell it and with modern technology building a portfolio to share with the world is just a click away, however, you should be wary of falling into the trap of building a cheap or free website… these sites often promise the world and deliver very little in terms of conveying a professional presence.

Creative concept, layout and copywriting for your website are key elements to your success and it’s important to consult a professional when creating your site content and overall look and feel. Building a home-made website implies that you are not taking your business seriously and can be detrimental to your career?—?allocate funds to developing a professional presence that provides you with the ability to add new artworks without having to consult the developer but be sure to involve them in the rest of the development of the site to be sure that a professional image is conveyed and that all the necessary structures are in place to assist in achieving great rankings on the search engines.

Finally, self-doubt is probably the number one fear holding back any creative professional. The world is filled with many talented and creative individuals who, despite fame and success, are still riddled with feelings of insecurity and self-doubt. Probably for any artist, the biggest challenge is to face up to your own self-criticism and pick up the brush and begin again.

Perfection is an illusion that will consume you if you allow it; each new artwork is just another step along the road, an opportunity to reinvent yourself, to try a new approach, to explore new techniques and experiment with new aspects of the creative process…

So if you’re ready to become a professional artist, stop procrastinating and start building the roadmap to your success.

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” ~ Edgar Degas

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