The Bad News About Art and Money
Here's a shocking idea: artists are not destined to be poor. If you're an artist, you can actually make money from your art, feel good about it, and build up a following to support your independent career.
The problem is that many artists don't know how... and that leads to the bad news. The bad news is that most artists will fail to make a living with their art. Every year, more than 30,000 artists graduate from art school in the United States alone. Despite the strong talent and ambition of many of them, only a small fraction of artists manage to support themselves in the career they are passionate about. Worldwide, it's the same story -- a few people make it, but most don't.
Naturally, not every artist wants to make money. Some are interested in art as an introduction to another career, and others pursue art as a passion or hobby. There's nothing wrong with that, of course -- but the point is that many of the 30,000 chose to obtain professional training in the arts so that they could be professionals and make a living. This unfortunate fact raises the question:
Why do so many artists fail in their quest to earn a living through their art?
The good news is that most artists fail NOT because they lack talent but because they have not been properly trained in how to represent themselves, build a customer base, and actually sell their great artwork.
The good news is that most artists fail NOT because they lack talent but because they have not been trained to represent themselves, to build a customer base, and to actually sell their great artwork.
See, the old way for achieving fortune and fame as an artist (or at least a working income) was all about receiving the favor of gatekeepers. Beginning with the patronage system in Europe and continuing with the galleries and museums of modern times, the old way was all about groveling for the endorsement of outsiders, who then took a huge percentage of the artist's income in exchange for the "privilege" of representation. It was very effective... for the gatekeepers.
The old way still works for a small minority of artists, but the problem is that it's a zero-sum game and hard to break in. Thankfully, there is a clear alternative.
The clear alternative (the new way) involves taking your art and your future into your own hands.
Instead of hoping for a big break or the favor of art critics, the new way allows artists to build up their own fan base and sell directly. The new way won't work for everyone (don't believe anyone who promises success for the whole world), but it will work for most people who are willing to take risks and work hard.
My collaborator and I created this project for artists interested in going to the next level of sales -- regardless of where they're starting from. If you're an artist, the Unconventional Guide to Art and Money will help you sell more of your art without selling out.
Introducing the Unconventional Guide to Art and Money
Building on the knowledge of successful, working artists, the Unconventional Guide to Art and Money offers a range of materials to help you supersize your career in the arts (if you want one) or begin earning money from your art.
All materials are delivered immediately after purchase by electronic download (no shipping charges) and will work on both PC and Macs. The product includes:
- 55-page PDF guide
- 3 MP3 audio interviews with artists who actually make money
- PDF transcripts of each audio interview
- Continuing Email Updates
(There are two versions of Art and Money - one for complete beginners and one for artists with some initial experience behind them. Keep reading for all the details)
From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
Art and Money is designed to help artists at all levels go to the next level. Generally speaking, artists with the desire to make a living (or at least create some kind of income from their art) fall into three categories:
Stage 1: Not Making Any Money
The Goal is to help you take the first steps and begin making sales right away (within 60 days for most people)
Stage 2: Making Some Money - (but not much)
The Goal is to create dramatic improvement to set you up in a real business.
Stage 3: Already Financially Successful
The Goal is to increase revenue without increasing stress.
What Kind of Artists?
We've focused primarily on visual artists for the case studies. Painters, illustrators, photographers, sculptors, and crafters. To a lesser extent, Art and Money is all about helping artists of all kinds. You may have heard the saying, "We are all artists, even if we don't know how to draw."
Many of the principles in the product are relevant to anyone interested in creating a career or expanding their online network. In other words, if you define yourself as some kind of artist -- or if you'd like to -- Art and Money is for you.
(Read the free 279 Days to Overnight Success manifesto to learn more about building an independent career through writing.)
What You'll Learn
- Figure out your priorities and map out a personalized long-term action plan
- Set prices that respect the value of your work and still cater to a wide range of buyers
- Draw new and repeat customers simply by connecting with cool people and telling stories
- Attract traffic to your site with a dynamic blog
- Create an online gallery space that feels just right for you and your work
- Create a fan base through social media
- Earn extra income by creating work that can be sold again and again
- Expand your online presence without overwhelming yourself
- Find new opportunities to promote your art without wasting your time
What You Won't Learn
- Anything about your specific media (that's what art school, lessons, books, and other resources are for)
- Anything about gallery representation. If you can get represented by a gallery, good for you. Most artists can't, and my view is that you can probably do better on your own anyway
- The magic formula. In other words, if you don't like hard work, this isn't good either. To learn about working hard, go read The War of Art
Authors & Interview Subjects
That's me. I publish the Art of Non-Conformity site and travel around the world. I write for free and help people with specific needs through products like this one.
ZoŽ is a self-employed writer currently based in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Artist interviews and the primary writing for this project were completed by ZoŽ, and you can check out more of her work in the guide.
ZoŽ and I are both self-employed writers, so we understand basic concepts about working for yourself and attracting an audience. However, we're not visual artists - so to get the perspective of painters, illustrators, photographers, and crafters, we went to the source.
Here are some of the experts we interviewed for this project:
Leah Piken Kolidas
Leah is a mixed media painter who sells her art at her own Bluetree Art Gallery and blogs at Creative Everyday. Leah began her art career as an independent artist with a day job, and she became a full-time independent artist about two years ago.
Karen quit her job as a lawyer in fall 2008 and became a full-time independent photographer and writer. Karen has a portfolio of her projects and a blog at Chookoolonks.com.
Michael draws, makes books, and blogs at MichaelNobbs.com. Michael became a full-time independent artist in late 2008 and is steadily expanding his art career through the internet. Among other things, he has built a wide network on Twitter.
Soniei is a painter who shows her work and blogs at Soniei.com. Soniei began her independent art career in 2006, after leaving a string of unfulfilling jobs to finally focus on her genuine passion.
Dan is a painter who runs Empty Easel, a value-packed resource for independent artists. Dan also created the art-selling service Foliotwist after being disappointed by the options available to artists selling online.
Hazel is a conceptual artist who displays her work at Hazel Dooney.com and blogs at Self Vs. Self. Hazel abandoned the traditional gallery system in 2004 and built a highly successful art career by representing herself online. (Warning: Hazel's art contains some mature material. Her income is also highly provocative, since she earns more as an artist than most professionals do.)
Shannon embodies the artist-entrepreneur, creating knitting patterns, writing and publishing knitting books, and running a collective of fellow fiber artists — among many other things. Shannon’s home base is KnitGrrl.com, where she connects with her large community and links to her various artistic projects.
With one exception, each of these artists is earning a full-time or substantial part-time income with their art. The one exception uses art to supplement an existing income - another valid goal we look at in the product.
Note: A couple of other artists were also interviewed, but asked to remain off the record. You'll benefit from their input (and in some cases, also see who they are) if you get the guide.
The Art and Money guide is designed to be affordable to working artists. Despite the fact that more than 70 hours of work went into production, the product is offered at a budget price.
You'll get 15,000 words of excellent content, at least 3 MP3 audio files, and an additional email update series that arrives over time. You have two options for your purchase:
$39 - Basic "Starving Artist" Version
Includes the 55-page guide, 3 recorded interviews (MP3 + transcripts), and free updates for six months
$58 - Upgraded "Picasso" Version
Includes everything in the Starving Artist version, plus these additional materials:
- An additional 20-minute "8 Most Important Lessons Learned" Interview with Chris and ZoŽ. This interview focuses on income maximization and will help if you've already made some money with your art but want to pick it up.
- An additional interview with Sandra Miller, a Portland artist who does photography and jewelry with an unconventional twist
- An additional interview with Joseph Szymanski, another artist who offers a completely different perspective from the other advice
Wondering about which version to get?
Either one will rock your world. If you're just getting started or only want to create supplemental income, the Starving Artist version will be just fine. If you want to go further and create a full-time career, or if you're already having success with selling your art and need to take it further, get the Picasso version.
You'll receive a minimum of 5x-10x the value from this product. The valuation is determined entirely by YOU. I like to sleep at night, and don't want money from anyone who doesn't love what we've put together -- so take as much time as you need, up to an entire year, to evaluate the guide and decide for yourself.
That's it. No hype and no hard feelings if this isn't for you, but if you're an artist who wants to learn more about selling your great work, I'd love to help you do that with this great product.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. Whatever you decide about this offer, be sure you spend some time this week taking your art seriously. That's the most important thing, right?
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