How do beginner artists make money?

Art Review
15 March, 2023
How do beginner artists make money?
Being an artist is a fulfilling career path that allows you to express your creativity and share your vision with the world. However, it can be difficult for beginner artists to make a living off their work, especially in the early stages of their careers. In this article, we'll explore the best ways for beginner artists to make money in 2023.

Best Ways to Make Money as an Artist in 2023

Due to the ongoing global pandemic, the art world has seen many galleries and exhibitions operating at limited capacity or closing down entirely. As the world gradually adjusts to new protocols, the art community is still not fully back to its pre-pandemic state. In response, artists have been increasingly turning to online and remote avenues to sell their artwork, which has proven to be effective even during times of limited physical access. In this article, we will explore the most popular and cost-effective ways for beginner artists to make money in 2023.

Sell Your Artwork Online

In today's digital age, there are many online platforms where artists can sell their artwork. Websites like Etsy, Society6, and Redbubble allow artists to upload their designs and earn money from each sale. Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook also offer a marketplace for artists to sell their work.

One great option for selling your art online is through Jose Art Gallery, an online art marketplace that connects artists with potential buyers from all around the world. 

  • The platform allows artists to sell both original paintings and copies (prints) of their work, providing a wider range of options for potential buyers.
  • Jose Art Gallery provides a range of tools and resources to help artists market and sell their work effectively, including personalized artist pages, marketing campaigns, and analytics to track the success of your sales. 
  • By utilizing online platforms like Jose Art Gallery, artists can reach a wider audience and sell their work without the need for traditional galleries or exhibits.

Participate in Art Fairs & Exhibitions

Art fairs and exhibitions are great opportunities for artists to showcase their work and make sales. These events attract a large audience of art enthusiasts and collectors, providing artists with exposure and potential sales. As a beginner artist, it's important to research and finds events that align with your style and medium.

Being represented by an agent is considered the most prestigious way for an artist to sell their work. However, it is not always attainable for every artist. A good agent can make a huge difference in an artist's career, selling paintings and negotiating prices on their behalf. However, finding a trustworthy agent who doesn't take an exorbitant commission can be challenging. Alternatively, an artist with good connections can get by without an agent by networking and attending other artists' exhibitions to get noticed. While Covid has made art exhibitions scarce, in regions with relaxed restrictions, artists can try to exhibit their work in galleries to gain exposure while the situation allows.

Create & Sell Merchandise

Another way for artists to make money is by creating and selling merchandise. This can include items like T-shirts, tote bags, phone cases, and stickers that feature your artwork. Merchandising is a great way to monetize your artwork and increase your reach, as people can wear or use your designs and spread the word about your work.

sell art

Offer Commissions

Offering commissioned artwork is a great way for beginner artists to make money. This involves creating custom pieces of artwork for clients based on their specifications. This can include portraits, illustrations, and other personalized pieces. Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook are great places to advertise your commission services and attract clients.

Commissioned work is a popular and timeless method of making money as an artist, but it requires a high level of patience and flexibility. Portraits, in particular, are always in demand, but the price will vary based on the customer's personality and budget. To simplify this process, you can also offer customized items such as greeting cards, plaques, or other similar items for special occasions and holidays. One of the largest online art communities, Deviant Art, offers commission work for such items, making it an excellent platform to showcase your talent and generate income.

Create & Launch Online Courses

Launching online drawing courses is an excellent way to make money as an artist in 2023. It requires a significant initial investment in terms of equipment and expertise, such as good filming equipment and lighting, and knowledge of video shooting and editing. While you can learn these skills through online courses, it is best to collaborate with experts to create high-quality content.
The next challenge is finding the right platform to host your online course. Fortunately, there are plenty of options available today. You can post your courses on your website, which you can easily create with a monthly subscription fee. You can also leverage online course platforms like Udemy, Skillshare, and Coursera to reach a wider audience. With a well-planned marketing strategy, you can earn passive income from your online drawing courses while reaching a global audience.

Some of the most popular platforms for online course creation and hosting include Learnworlds and Teachable, with minimum packages starting at approximately โ‚ฌ29 per month. However, while these minimal packages provide a good starting point, they are limited in functionality and may not meet everyone's needs. Therefore, it is advisable to budget for around three times the minimum package amount for a more comprehensive solution.
๐Ÿ“Œ Creating and releasing an online course is one thing, but selling it is a more complicated task. As with selling paintings, having a large audience and knowledge of marketing and sales can help, but it's not always enough. An alternative is to post your courses on popular platforms such as Udemy or Skillshare, which already have a wide user base. Keep in mind that these platforms usually take a percentage of your course sales.
While launching a course on these platforms increases its visibility, the competition can still be tough. Many platforms offer promotional services for an additional fee to increase the visibility of your course to potential customers. Investing in these services can make all the difference in making your course stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Develop Social Media

Let me give you an example of how you can make money through social media platforms such as YouTube or TikTok. On YouTube, you can earn money based on the number of views you get, but you need to have at least 1,000 subscribers. You can also set up a Patreon account to receive additional support from your subscribers.
Similarly, you can monetize your content on TikTok by going live once you have 1,000 subscribers. Users can support you by sending stickers, which can be exchanged for real money. However, creating quality and trending content regularly and being constantly active is key to success.
๐Ÿ“Œ Social media platforms are also great for doing reviews and affiliate marketing for art products and services. But you need to be careful and make sure that the products and services you advertise are relevant to your audience. Becoming a brand ambassador for art-related products is a good idea.
To grow your audience, you need to engage them with exciting content on a daily basis. Make use of the "story" feature on social media to give your followers behind-the-scenes access to your creative process. You can also take them along on trips to art galleries and exhibitions or give quick art tips. As an influencer, the more you showcase your personality and artwork, the more interested your followers will be.

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Be a Freelance Illustrator

Earning a living as a freelance illustrator is possible through various means. One way is to research and reach out to book publishers with your portfolio. Alternatively, you can create a profile on a freelance website and showcase your portfolio, which may lead to prospective clients offering interesting projects. Popular freelancer platforms such as Upwork and Freelancer offer a range of categories and services to choose from.
However, competition in the industry can be tough, so it's important to differentiate yourself from others, maintain consistent performance and gather good client reviews. Pricing is also a crucial factor to consider, and you can get an idea of industry standards by browsing art and graphics categories on freelance websites before setting your rates.

Create Prints & Patterns for Fabrics

Making money as an illustrator is not limited to just freelance work. You can also create beautiful patterns and upload them to Patternbank, where they may be purchased by big companies. There are various options for selling your designs on Patternbank, such as non-commercial use, commercial use, and premium exclusive use, where the buyer takes ownership of the design once purchased. In the case of exclusive use, you receive a one-time fee, which is usually priced higher to reflect the buyer's exclusive rights to use the design. For non-exclusive categories, you're entitled to a 50% commission on all sales made through Patternbank. This can be a great way to earn passive income, as your designs can continue to generate revenue long after they're created.

Sell Images & Illustrations

Shutterstock is a highly popular site for artists to earn additional passive income by uploading high-quality and popular art pieces. After creating a contributor account, the process to sell on Shutterstock is simple - just choose the prints you want to sell, upload them to the platform, and wait for customers to purchase and download your work.
If you want to sell digital prints, you can digitize your art pieces and sell them through your social media pages. However, you will need to invest in a high-quality printer, special paper, and picture frames, and decide on a delivery method. If you lack the funds to purchase equipment and materials, you can approach local bookstores or home dรฉcor boutiques to propose a sales agreement where they will sell your art for a percentage of the profit.
๐Ÿ“Œ You can also sell your art prints on sites like Jose Art Gallery. These sites offer a wide range of print options, from pillows to coffee mugs, and customers can choose designs to be printed on them. You will receive royalties for the use of your prints, giving you the opportunity to earn money while showcasing your creativity.

Conduct Live Streams & Personal Consultations Online

Streaming platforms like Demio or Vimeo offer an opportunity for artists to earn money through paid streams, webinars, and live broadcasts. Even if the price is low, a significant audience can still bring in good income. Artists can use this method to live stream tutorials, workshops, and webinars, and interact with viewers for immediate feedback or content requests, making their streams more engaging and informative.
๐Ÿ“Œ Additionally, live streams can range from art classes to "ask me anything" sessions, or even just casual coffee talks about tips and tricks. For active social media influencers, paid streams are an excellent way to promote various pages where people can contact them for projects or purchase their artwork.
In-person consultations and training can also be conducted using tools like Zoom, which have become increasingly popular today. Artists can provide art consultations and use their expertise to help others source specific artwork or enhance their home or office with art. Potential clients who may not have access to an art expert can seek guidance on how to purchase art, order custom artwork, or get expert opinions on techniques and sourcing materials for their art projects.

Offer Offline Art Workshops

Offering offline art workshops to aspiring artists can be a fulfilling way to earn a living. It involves conducting regular lessons for both adults and children, and even traveling to different locations to teach. This approach allows for a change of scenery, exposure to new and interesting people, and the satisfaction of passing on knowledge to eager students. However, this method requires a significant investment of time and effort in the beginning, as you need to secure a venue, purchase materials, form groups, and handle administrative tasks. It's worth noting that the earnings from conducting workshops may be limited, as it's not guaranteed that all workshop slots will be filled or that you'll be able to run them on a daily basis.

how to sell art

Apply for Grants & Take Part in the Contests

Many organizations and institutions offer grants and residencies for artists, providing financial support and resources to help advance their careers. These opportunities can help beginner artists build their portfolios, gain exposure, and develop their skills. Researching and applying for grants and residencies can be time-consuming, but it can be a valuable investment in your career.

While it can be challenging for beginner artists to make money, there are many opportunities available in 2023. By utilizing online platforms, participating in art fairs and exhibitions, creating merchandise, offering commissions, and applying for grants and residencies, beginner artists can earn a living doing what they love. It's important to remember that building a career as an artist takes time and persistence, but with dedication and hard work, it's possible to succeed. Don't forget to take part in the contests for artists

Create Your Art Blog 

๐Ÿ“Œ Creating your own blog can be a powerful tool to promote yourself, your talent, and your products. You can use free blogger sites like Wix or WordPress to get started, but be aware that blogging takes dedication and consistency to stay relevant and keep your audience engaged.

Through your blog, you can share content about your art, give insights into your life, publish how-to articles and tutorials, and showcase completed works that are available for sale. Additionally, you can monetize your blog through affiliate marketing and product promotions. To do this, you can look for art-related affiliate programs to become associated with, which can help you to grow your audience and earn passive income from ad clicks and promotional articles. Some great art-related affiliate programs to consider include Amazon, Creative Bug, Blick, and Creative Market. These platforms offer decent affiliate programs that can help you to earn extra income through your blog.


Selling art may not be an easy task, but luckily there are numerous options to explore. Consistency and improvement are crucial for any business, including art. The higher quality of your work, the more interest it will generate. It's also wise to use multiple outlets to promote and monetize your talent. Have some doubts about your art, by the way? Then this article can help you:

The internet offers endless opportunities for artists. To begin, consider your desired niche and what style inspires you. Factor in your time availability to determine which route to pursue. Remember to focus on developing your unique style and technique. While there are many artists out there, only you can produce work that is truly one-of-a-kind! Create your Business Plan and be successful! 

Author Bogdana Nosenok
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