Art Business: 3 Things Every Professional Artist Needs to Know
by Michael Damico
Whether you’re a budding artist who is toying with selling your work or a seasoned professional, there are just some things every artist should know for success. These tips apply to those who want to start an art business. That is, those who want to turn their art into profit. But it’s also great information for those who simply want to make a little extra to fund their hobby.
One trick is to start thinking like a professional artist. But don’t worry. Just because you think like a pro doesn’t mean you’ll lose your love of what you’re doing. In fact, following these guidelines tends to make artists even more passionate about their work. So, let’s jump right in!
1.) Pricing for Sustainability
As a professional artist and a business owner immersed in the world of fine art, I am regularly asked how much to charge for artwork. Most people think this is a really tricky process, but I promise it isn’t. I’ve developed a formula that I’ve been using to price my own artwork for years. In fact, I also created a calculator to help me work with all the variables. I shared this information in a recent post, including the calculator. Make sure to read it to get a better understanding. Because, at the very least, you want to make sure your art business isn’t losing any money.
In short, the idea is to:
- Consider your costs, including materials and overhead
- Factor in a profit on your costs
- Make something for your time
- Combine the values of cost and time
The point here is to develop a sustainable art business model. I’m not referring to social and ecological concepts. “Sustainable art” is a different topic that can certainly be incorporated into this business model. Rather, for now, I want to help you maintain a level of business savvy that ensures you’re not losing anything. And ultimately, I want to see you move from sustainability to thriving. That brings us to our next step.
2.) Develop Relationships
I really encourage artists to change their mindset. You see, most people want to know “how to sell my work.” But I challenge you to see this a bit differently. That is, think about it in terms of developing collectors of your work. You do this by building relationships with people. Think, for example, about the emotional connection you have to your own art. Or even the art you have from others. People collect art because they have some emotional tie to it, whether they can define it or not. So, you want to find people who feel an emotional connection to your work.
This is more than just posting your work on Instagram and getting a lot of “likes.” It’s meeting people, showing them what you do, getting to know them, and letting them get to know you. Now an investment has been made. I also encourage building relationships for the sake of collaboration and getting involved. I expanded on this more at workshop about art business that I conducted last year. Here is a link to that part of the transcription regarding the topic of building your market through relationships.
3.) Consider the Print Market
This is a really big opportunity. I am drawing your attention to it because not all artists think about this option. To be clear, when I say the “print market,” I’m talking about scanning and printing your artwork. We are a frame and print shop. That means that we scan your work – photography, paintings, illustrations, etc. – and then print it for you. It can be printed on paper, mounted, and framed. Or there is the giclee option where we print your work on canvas. Actually, there are plenty more options too. Our customers use these services to sell their artwork online, in art shows, and much more.
Furthermore, this can be part of keeping your art sales sustainable. There are so many options here with a broad range of price points as well. We’ve laid out the basics of our pricing structure here. You no doubt have questions that apply to your specific situation. Just give us a call at 615-815-6015 and let’s discuss your scanning and printing needs. Even if it’s something you’ve never thought about doing before, we’re happy to tell you more about it and what we’ve done to help other artists like you to become thriving professionals in the art business.