Where can I get money?

As well as earning a living from a job, there are lots of different ways for an artist to make a crust.

Every artist makes up their total income in a variety of ways, but there are some general trends and options that can be summarised.  How you decide to make a living depends on the kind of work you make, the assets and skills you have, how far you’re willing to go to make an honest buck, family circumstances, and whether or not you want to make money out of your practice or earn an income separately.  Most artists will use a variety of ways to make money – developing their own personal portfolio of artist’s income. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks around the time they take, the control you lose over your practice, or ways they can make you money while you don’t have to do anything.

Earn money through your practice

Sell your work

  • through a dealer or on your own, at open studios, online through your own website or marketplace, sell to public or private collections

Earn money through fees

  • for residencies, talks, workshops, exhibition fees, commissions, public art, renting equipment or subletting studio space

Use your intellectual property

  • make and sell editions of your work, selling designs or concepts to companies, selling workshop plans or projects that can be repeated

Use your transferable skills

  • photographing events, web design and development, graphics, workshops, project management, creative consultancy, fundraising

Teaching

  • in art school, secondary or primary education, private tutoring, education workshops in galleries, the critical skills of an artist, practical creative skills, professional development skills

Artist-led organisations

  • setting up an artist-led studio space and using the income to cover your own studio space, setting up a gallery and curating some shows and hiring it out some of the time, selling consultancy or skills learned through setting it up

Grants and funding

  • research, find and apply for public and private funding opportunities for projects

Crowdfunding and microdonations

  • instead of applying for one big sum of money, ask lots of people to donate small sums towards a project

Credit, loans, investment and financing

  • approach private lenders, credit unions, venture capitalists, venture philanthropists, your family and friends for money to support a project

Work on the cheap

  • make work with low production costs, barter or exchange your skills with other artists, rely on peer support, build up relationships with materials and services suppliers and negotiate discounts, get your materials sponsored for specific high-profile projects

Earn money outside of your practice

Get a well-paid, possibly part-time, job outside of the arts

  • and make time for your practice while not at work

Independent means

  • use family money or inherited wealth to support you, or income from investments, shares or savings

Retirement / pension

  • typically retired people expect to have low or no rental / mortgage expenditure and have the time to devote to their practice

Other income

  • like taking in a lodger or tenant if you have a spare room
This article is from the Artlaw Archive of Henry Lydiate's columns published in Art Monthly since 1976, and may contain out of date material.
The article is for information only, and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.
Readers should consult a solicitor for legal advice on specific matters. Artists can get free online legal information from Artquest.