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The business of being an artist today

Updated: Apr 3, 2021

I am writing this blog from the viewpoint of a person that has no formal training as an artist. As a signwriter, I found brush control, colour mixing, composition and design the tools I needed to eventually become a full-time artist. I was able to also take the knowledge I had built up on running a business to help me to build my art business.

After many years of painting, changing and developing to find a style the point comes when you feel love for your work, the enjoyment of making the paintings is like nothing you've felt before. This is when you know you can truly go forward and focus on the business of your art.

Not only do we need to create our art we have to become entrepreneurs. Learning to use the software options available to keep control of the different aspects of our businesses but trying to keep our overheads down. YouTube and Google searches are there to help you learn and research all you need to know.


Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to keep an eye on cash flow. Creating a formulated spreadsheet that records how much you spend on materials and advertising for example makes sure you budget well. It is so important to know your figures your growth relies on being in control of your income and spending.


Making a brand that suits your personality that encompasses your reason for making art is where to start. Your design will form continuity and recognition where ever you place it.

The software I have used for many years to design the branding, flyers and marketing materials is Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop I have tried to find free alternatives but nothing is as powerful or fluent as these programs. I use them for editing the images for my website and submissions to exhibitions these programs are usually open on my computer ready for me to use for so many things.


Apart from painting my work marketing is the next time-consuming activity I do.

Since the pandemic hit finding new ways to promote yourself and your art has created a massive learning curve for most artists. Being seen online directly, on social media or art platforms and on art gallery websites have been the only way.


Having a website is a must these days. Thankfully, there are very powerful online web building templates you can use to build your website. Wix, Square Space and WordPress are some of the best. These can be set up using a simple format for free. Unfortunately, as you add more features to your website paid upgrades are usually required.

I have been made aware that just building a website is not enough. Understanding SEOs, Google algorithms, keywords, blogging and social media posts linking to your website are important to raise your listing when visitors are searching for your art.


Adding video to your repertoire is another fun thing to do. I was fortunately asked to make a video for Horatio's Garden to share how I make my art. Here I had to learn how to film myself using firstly my phone then my camera. I used Open Shot video editing software to make the video flow. Vimeo is the software I use to upload the video for linking to my website and other platforms.


I didn't realise the importance of a mailing list until I began to focus on marketing. As I mentioned earlier after finding your voice and creating your art you need to tell the world. You have built your website with the best SEO categories in place with a subscription to the mailing list included, now you need to write regular newsletters.

I love connecting with the people who are interested in my work the newsletter is the next best thing to talking to your audience. Wix does have the facility to create newsletters but I use Mailchimp. Here I can design the newsletter advertising future exhibitions and events, new work and promotions and post it out to my mailing list and social media with a chance of more subscribers and followers.


Writing a plan for going forward will be the icing on the cake. Knowing yourself and where you want to go in the next year, five years and maybe ten years is a powerful thing. There are many resources on the internet that can guide you through making a plan.

Most of us fumble our way through trying this and that listening to the advice of others who are further down the art road. As you write your plan you find out what you want and your capabilities. You concentrate on clear goals and figures that are achievable. Once the business and financial plans are completed you can put a marketing plan in place. Now just follow your plans tweaking here and there.


With the opening up of society from this dreadful virus, we can now plan to get our art out live and in the flesh. There are many different places we can do this. If or when you write a business plan you can research these different options below to identify which suits your practice.

Art publishing companies | Gallery representation | Open exhibitions |Competitions

Online platforms | Art fairs | Website | Social media | Art trails

This is just an example of how I work with my art for an income thankfully, I love business as well as creating paintings. Everyone's circumstances are different and will have other resources to fulfil their goals.

Thank you for reading, I hope this has been an informative blog.

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