If you have not made any contacts in the art and design sectors, then things will simply ‘not just happen' for you. To earn a living in the visual arts a change of mindset has to be realised. In order to legally sell artworks, products, services or undertake commissions you have to register as self-employed.
Many artists and designers make a living from a mixture of sales, commissions, workshops, teaching, arts administration, residencies, and other creative work such as freelancing. Establishing yourself and gaining recognition is aided by being a bona fide business.
You have nothing to fear from self-employment if you take time to understand how to go about it and keep appropriate records. Many artists and designers find themselves better-off gaining self-employed status as it allows them to grow a business and apply for short-term opportunities.
Organisations such as local authorities, arts organisations, creative firms, agencies, shops, galleries, schools and colleges cannot legally pay artists and designers unless they have self-employment status.
An added bonus to being self-employed is that you can claim back a huge amount of expenses against your tax bills by simply recording expenses, in the form of receipts and invoices when purchasing materials and services necessary to your business activities.
In the early years or in difficult times you might end up not paying any tax at all on your self-employed income. Indeed if you have a job and make a loss on your business activities you can ‘off-set' any trading loss against tax paid on your employment and thus receive a welcome reimbursement in the form of a cheque from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, HMRC.