The first post in this series dealt primarily with the challenges of trying to earn money as an artist, and the second post in this series dealt primarily with sales opportunities beyond just the selling of original artwork.
This third and final post in this series will touch on subjects other than sales.
Earning Opportunities beyond Art Sales
One thing I have learned about earning money as an artist, is that more people are willing to pay for experiences than for products. While many people will hesitate to spend $25 on a print of a piece of art, most don’t have a problem with spending $25 for an evening out with friends, or for a class. So, it makes sense for artists to look for ways to create experiences for people, and then to sell that opportunity. How?
One of the most common and successfully sold art experiences are paint nights, where the artist usually walks people through how to paint a specific painting. What appeals to the customer is that all they have to do is show up, all the supplies and equipment will be there waiting for them, and an artist will be there to tell them exactly what to do. The atmosphere is fun and party like, and lets people try out painting without feeling any pressure to create a masterpiece. Sometimes paint nights will include a glass or two of wine for each participant, other times non alcoholic refreshments are provided by the artist or studio, but always the emphasis is having fun rather than the finished product.
Much like paint night, a private painting party focuses on fun and on having the supplies and instructor provided to walk everyone through a project, they differ mainly in that instead of being open to anyone who wants to come, they are privately booked for a group. Also, it is often the responsibility of the person booking to provide any refreshments rather than the artist, and the artist is primarily providing the “entertainment” portion of the event only. The atmosphere and content of the private parties varies widely depending upon the type of party, because they can be anything from a child’s Birthday party where everyone paints a puppy, to a bachelorette party with a live male model for “figure studies”, and anything in between. Obviously the price, what is involved, what is provided by the artist, and what is provided by the customer will vary greatly depending on the circumstances.
Educational, Instructional Classes
While paint nights and parties focus on fun, there are also a lot of people out there who really want to learn something. They want to learn techniques and skills that won’t just take them through one painting, but that they can apply to their own work later.
Depending on what they already know, they may need to first learn the bare basics of drawing, shading, perspective, and move toward painting and other art forms later. Or they may already know some, and need someone to show them how to apply what they know to their desired medium. They may be quite skillful in one medium, and want just a lesson or two in another medium.
Depending on what they are looking for, and what each artist is comfortable teaching, the pricing structure and class content would differ widely. Some classes may be geared towards children while others focus on adults. If you as an artist are knowledgeable in at least one medium, and can offer instruction in it that would transfer your skill and knowledge to another, then you might want to explore this possibility.
Another avenue of earning is in arranging and organizing events for people who already are skillful, but who are looking for opportunities to make a special day or weekend and set it aside to spend time with other artists creating and socializing.
These can be in the form of plein air outings, weekend retreats, or studio time to collaborate. The artist who takes on the task of arranging the time and place, contacting and keeping track of participants, booking any necessary rooms or obtaining any needed permits, will usually charge each participant enough to cover the cost putting on the event, plus a little extra for their time spent organizing everything.
If the artist planning the even is particularly skilled and is offering instruction as well as booking the event, they can charge more for the instruction as well.
Art Clubs and Groups
Art clubs and groups can combine elements of the instructional classes, the paint nights, and the artist events into regular gatherings where artists and beginners get together and create, learn from each other, share supplies at times, and socialize. The one who hosts the club doesn’t usually charge much, but enough to cover any costs associated, plus maybe just a little more for their time. Even if each person only pays a dollar or two, if there are enough participants this can bring in a little income for the organizer. It also can be an opportunity to share about other events like paint nights, artist events, and the like. Sometimes if a group or club gets official enough, they can also work with local businesses to arrange displays of artists work for no cost, or can share the cost of booths at art shows and fairs.
Of course these things require planning and space, if you are blessed to have a studio big enough to use that’s great, but don’t forget that sometimes parks departments will have spaces for rent and sometimes will even have gazebos and outdoor picnic shelters that can be reserved very cheaply, and private instruction can be done in your or your student’s home. Plein air events will take place in outdoor, public locations, and often you won’t need any permit for this, but it is always good to check with local authorities and make sure first.
Now, I have done some of these things, and I’ve known artists who have done the others, but I’m sure there are other experiences that could be provided which I didn’t think of. Do you know of any experiences you could provide others in order to earn some money? Have you participated in any events like these I’ve mentioned? Do you have any other ideas of how an artist could earn money other than just selling their work? Or do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share about this post? Comment and let me know!