Artists tell us that money isn’t their main concern; many artists don’t get into the arts to make a lot of money. But we all need to pay the rent and bills, go on the odd holiday, develop and sustain our practices, make new work, travel to see exhibitions, save for the future – everything that anyone earning a living has to think about.
Make sure you master your money so it can help build and develop your career and allow you to make the work you want. From our research with visual artists, we’ve found five key themes to consider:
- Keep your costs low. The less you need to spend, the more choice you have in spending what you’ve got.
- Pay the right amount of tax and claim any benefits to which you’re entitled
- Exchange your skills with other artists to avoid spending when you don’t have to.
Know your budget
- Understand how much money you need to survive – pay the bills, rent your studio, buy materials, pay debts – and how much more you need to turn a profit and develop your career.
- Find out what funding you’re eligible for at different stages in your career.
Make the most of your assets
- Understand what you can sell – time, artworks, skills, studio sublets – and for how much
- Understand when it’s better to give something away – when to work for free or at a reduced rate – and when you're just getting ripped off
- Know how much you can charge for your time and your work, and how to sell it effectively
Where’s your limit?
- Find the point where earning money from your practice starts to get in the way of your integrity
- Do you want to keep art and money separate – or is it a way to make a living and support yourself?
- Make a decision that’s comfortable for you – but calculate if your practice is costing you money, and make sure you’re happy with the result
Know your options
- Get to know all the available ways you can get money: grants, loans, sponsorship, trading, crowdfunding, licensing, working and microfinance
- Get to know the places you can get money from that are right for you, and what they look for in applications
- Don’t waste your time on chasing money where you’re not likely to get it
Artquest gather information, tips, and trick that artists tell us are useful to plan their finances, make an income, and support their practice. As well as our Funding and Finance Needs of Artists research (see below), our Money Talks community project (2011/2012) allowed users to tell Artquest what you need to know, how you work, and the problems and successes you’ve experienced.