The term, “starving artist” has been in the conversations of the art business world for waaay too long.
Accepting that title as a right of passage or as a badge of honor and saying that ‘art and money don’t mix’ is the trap that can leave you broke and dry up your dream to create faster than you can blink your pretty, creative eyes.
Think about this: What are some things you like that need money? Do you like to buy food? Need money. Do you like to buy food for your furry friend? Need money. Like to drive? Need money.
Get the idea?
Money is NOT the bad guy, it is simply the means to exchange what you have for what you need and want. That’s it. It’s just paper and metal. The energy and emotions around it are where you need to focus, sort through, challenge and make your own beliefs about.
There’s nothing wrong with being broke, but there’s also nothing noble about it either, it doesn’t make you more real, smarter, or more human.
Money takes creativity to make, so really, artists are naturally in the prime spot to make money! You’re already creating and flowing ideas and figuring out solutions to creating, just apply those same skills to making money. Pretend it’s green paint that you need – how would you get it?
Some cool things you can do if you have money:
- Buy more art supplies
- Take a trip to the location you want to paint.
- Give to that non-profit you want to help.
- Help a friend who needs a little extra.
- Pay your rent or even lease or buy a space to show your art.
- Invest in your business, your art or your skills.
Here are 10 things you can do right now to go from broke to stoked and quit starving and start thriving:
Get the clutter out: Clearing out your space signals a fresh start and you will feel full of energy from the release of the extra stuff around you and each day after, you’ll wake up energized to keep on track and get moving on the important things. How to start? Take a tip from Marie Kondo’s, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and start with your closet, then books then move on throughout the house to your work space and studio space.
Get clear: Set your vision on what you want, why you want it and when you want it. If you need money now, then target the next 30 days with a short vision and break out the steps to get there. Then expand it out to beyond 30 days and the steps you’ll continue to take and what you need to fully nurture and care for yourself and those you love. Take a look at this infographic from Mindvalley on Successful Mindset.
Say NO: Stop everything that’s draining your energy. Whether it’s people, situations, environments, activities or habits – there is an energy around everything and if that energy is draining you instead of filling you up, then right now, you need to say NO.
Take back your time: Be honest and track your time that’s wasted. Are you spending it on social media, watching TV, re-re-re-researching? Start by setting a limit to those extra activities. Set a timer for 15 min on Facebook, 30-60 on TV, 30 on research and so on. Also, review your volunteer time. Helping others and causes is great, but when it’s not recharging you and worse, draining you, it’s not great. Do a review of where you’re giving your time and pull back where it’s being wasted.
Connect and follow-up: Do you have a stack of business cards or notes from people who loved your work or want to connect with you? There is hidden money in there so sit down and send them an email or call them up and leave a message. Have a lot of follow-up and too overwhelmed to do it? Get their names on the list and send out an email campaign saying, ”Hello, here’s what I’m working on…” Reach out and let them know you’re still in business. Do you have real buyers that have invested in your work? Send them an email with a link to your latest pieces or a note to tell them what you’re up to and where you’re showing. Follow-up is one of the most important tasks you can do. Set time to do at this at least weekly, so it doesn’t get out of control.
Get it on your calendar: You’ve heard this, “if it’s not written down, it’s not happening.” Write down on your calendar, time to focus on making money and growing your art business.
Cut it out: Figure out where you can cut expenses. Pull back on eating out, make your coffee or green smoothies at home instead of buying them, turn up the air, down the heat, wash your own car – make your list and trim it tight for 30 days. You can loosen whenever you want, but get focused about this NOW.
Pick a focus: Review your art inventory and process. Are you all over the place with doing whatever inspires you at the moment? For the next month, pick a focus (one subject or style or media) and work only on that. Pick a focus on where you’re selling too (all efforts to market your online site, your art in the cafe, in a gallery) While you’re in this crunch time, put all your focus into only a couple of areas and go all out on it.
Get support: Start with friends and family and move outward to find someone who can keep you accountable. Trade work where you can (someone to help you clear clutter, do your graphics, stretch your canvases). If money is a lifelong trouble spot, consider getting professional help to work through it and face those areas that keep tripping you up.
Go bigger: Take a hard look at where you’re creating too small in size or too closed off from people. Are you only doing small watercolors on paper? Small canvases because you don’t think the bigger ones will sell? Go with your best work and create a larger piece. Jump on that commission that you’ve been talking about, a mural project, offer to do a live painting at a local coffee shop and sell work while you paint.
Bonus Tip On Pricing:
If your work isn’t selling, take a close look at what you’re offering. Are you only creating and pricing work that is $50 or $2,000? Making a shift in your pricing can shift the flow around your work and invite new buyers to look and purchase. For example, creating a $10,000 piece can bring in a buyer who only looks at larger works and higher price points. A more expensive piece will also help your mid and lower range works to seem more affordable.
Play with pricing, within reason. For example – if you’re only pricing your work at $50, upgrade your best one to $100. Stagnant at $2,000? Review your prices and drop ones you want to move to $1,500. or a bit lower. AVOID discounting. Take an honest look at what’s selling or not and price your work to move so you can create new work.
Not sure how to price?
Use a formula or retailer pricing as a starting point until you figure out your sweet spot.
For formula pricing, take the cost of materials + hourly rate = price. If you don’t know what your hourly rate is, start with $20/hr for now). For retail pricing, double the cost of materials, add on any gallery fees to get your sales price. Check out this post and download the pricing worksheet.
Many artists price by the square inch and that is a good starting point, however, you have to adjust it as small work may be priced too low and large work priced to high.
Make a price list and quality tags for your work and be confident when you talk about your prices. Remember any pricing structure you choose, that it’s a guideline and it’s not set in stone. Keep aware of the market, pieces that you’re selling or not selling and adjust as you need to.
What are your best tips for thriving as an artist? Share them in the comments and let’s start the conversation!
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