How Artists Can Add Multiple Streams of Income

New sources of earning can even out income and help your bottom line.


Selling Pottery at an Art Fair


There are many ways for artists to sell their work. Typical ways are through selling retail, wholesale or on consignment. Artists may also take commissions, teach a class, license their work, or bid on public art projects. Sales may take place in person, through galleries, or online.

The global marketplace is now within reach, and it offers so many possibilities that it can be hard to decide where to start. But those possibilities mean that any artist who is serious about building a sustainable income through their creative work has options.

One reason for cultivating more than one method of earning is to keep your income steady throughout the year. If you only retail at fairs and festivals, winter can mean a real money crunch happens unless you travel to shows in warmer climates. Other methods can help. For example, if you also wholesale your work, repeat sales throughout the year can fill in those valleys where retail income is slow.

Another reason for adding more streams of income is passive earning. If you pursue licensing your work through contractual agreements with manufacturers or art publishers, you can create an ongoing stream of quarterly royalty payments for the length of those contracts. Licensing can provide that passive stream of income, and also frees up your time to work on current projects while you earn.

Internet platforms that help you sell your art online are growing by leaps and bounds. These providers may offer another outlet for exposure and sales, such as a traditional gallery-type site. Or, you may choose to expand the variety of products you sell by using print-on-demand providers, which is a form of licensing agreement. That can put your art on clothing, cell phone cases, notecards, mugs and many other products, at no investment to you.

Online forms of income may also involve teaching skills if you are so inclined. Education is rapidly moving to the internet, and many platforms have opened up where you can offer a course on making art, designing and inspiration, business skills or other topics where you have knowledge that others may find useful.

What income streams will work for you? Pursuing too many directions at once can be distracting and actually slow you down. Take a good look at your options. What do you realistically see yourself doing? How much time do you want to devote to an additional income stream? Can you be profitable with that method of selling?

You might be trying to avoid burnout, reduce the need to travel extensively for fairs and festivals, or you might want to reach a new audience altogether. We suggest your first move should be to identify potential streams of income. Do your research and choose those that will be a good fit for what you enjoy doing, and offer the highest potential sales growth for your particular business.



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