Many people dream of turning their hobby into a full-time career. If your hobby happens to be art, this dream can certainly become a reality with the right preparation and mindset. Transforming an art hobby into a lucrative career takes time, dedication and smart strategy. But for those willing to put in the work, it’s an achievable goal. Keep reading for some tips on how to get started.
Assessing Your Skills and Interests
The first step is honestly assessing your artistic skills and interests. What medium do you enjoy working in – painting, drawing, sculpture, digital art? Do you have a particular style you prefer? Pop art (what is pop art?)? Graffiti? Surrealism? What subjects inspire you? Identifying your niche is important so you can market yourself properly. For example, an artist who loves painting portraits in oil paints needs a different strategy than a graphic designer.
Make sure you have strong technical abilities in your chosen medium. Many artists continue developing their skills through classes, workshops, and daily practice. The more skilled you become, the higher-quality work you’ll produce.
Equally important is finding your unique artistic voice. Top artists offer a distinct perspective, style or subject matter. Spend time refining your work so it’s identifiable as coming from you. When people can recognise your art immediately, you’ve created a strong artistic identity.
Building an Impressive Portfolio
An impressive portfolio is absolutely essential for turning your hobby into a career. No matter if you want to sell your art or do commissions, people need to see examples of what you can produce.
Your portfolio should include 15-20 strong pieces that showcase your style and abilities. It needs to appeal visually to catch people’s attention quickly. A coherent theme or colour palette can help achieve this cohesive look.
Update your portfolio regularly by swapping out older pieces for new work. Display it online via a personal website, artist profile sites like Behance, and social media. Bring physical copies to galleries, fairs and networking events. The more exposure your portfolio gets, the more opportunities will come your way.
If you decide to start a personal website, it’s a good idea to have a basic understanding of SEO so that you can rank higher in the search engines and help people find you. For example, you’ll want to keyword-optimise your home page and all of the portfolio pieces you share. To show the search engines that your website is active, you should also consider adding a blog. Your blog can share information about how you work, the mediums you use, and general informational posts such as what is pop art or how to find inspiration from nature. Include keywords in your posts to improve your on-page SEO.
Pricing Your Artwork Effectively
One challenge when transitioning from hobby to career is determining how to price your artwork. Underpricing can make it hard to earn a living. Overpricing can turn off potential buyers.
Research how other artists price their work, particularly those with a style and medium similar to yours. Consider the time spent making each piece and costs of materials. Gallery commissions range from 40-60% so price accordingly. Build your reputation with fair prices that reflect your skills and experience level.
You should also offer a range of price points in your portfolio. Having smaller, low-cost pieces along with higher-priced investments allows collectors to choose based on their budget. Limited edition prints of originals can also boost income.
Getting Your Work in Front of Art Buyers
Hobbyists may be satisfied creating art for themselves and their loved ones. However, a professional artist needs to strategically market their work to sell it.
Local art fairs, open studio events, and galleries are great places to display your work in person. Online platforms like Etsy allow you to sell your art globally. Social media and your website enable you to promote your portfolio and new pieces.
Contact interior designers, art consultants, hotels, restaurants and corporate offices about displaying your art. Partner with other artists to curate shows or organise your own solo exhibition. Look for open calls that provide opportunities to show your work.
The more people who see your art, the greater your chances of making sales. Spread the word about your work everywhere you can, both online and in your local community.
Taking on Freelance Gigs
In addition to selling original art, many artists earn income doing freelance gigs utilising their artistic talent. Freelancing allows you to gain exposure and make connections while getting paid.
Common artistic freelance jobs include:
- Graphic design – logos, ads, marketing materials
- Web design – sites, landing pages, e-commerce shops
- Illustration – books, magazines, album covers
- Murals & signage – businesses, schools, events
- Portraiture – private commissions, parties
Join freelance platforms that match you with clients looking for artists. Promote your speciality services through your website, portfolio and social media. Attend networking events to introduce yourself to potential clients.
Building a freelance career alongside your original art will provide a stable source of income as you work to sell more artwork.
Staying Inspired and Motivated
Pursuing art full-time comes with challenges as well as rewards. Rejection, criticism and inconsistent sales can be disheartening. Financial instability and lack of structure can also take a toll.
Here are some tips for staying inspired and motivated as you build your art career:
- Set regular work hours and stick to a routine. Treat art as your job.
- Surround yourself with supportive people who encourage your talents.
- Make time for a creative recharge when you’re feeling uninspired. Go to museums, go for forest hikes, attend concerts – whatever stimulates you.
- Stay connected to the larger art world by reading art blogs and books, taking classes, and attending openings.
- Set achievable goals and milestones to work towards, like finishing a piece for an upcoming show.
- Celebrate small successes! Recognise your daily progress.
The path from hobbyist to professional artist is an exciting one. With consistent effort and perseverance, you can make a living doing what you love. Stay focused on your vision and take one step at a time towards making art your career.