This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration BradHallArt.com


Making money from your art


One of the most common things that I've heard people ask me is how they can make money from doing art? And since I made my living as a commercial artist before I started teaching, I can answer them, and most often I can tell that it seems to make no sense. I will try again here.

You can define "art" any way that you want to. Most people just think of artists as people who draw and paint, but an artist is anyone who does a creative act. It includes musicians, dancers, that sort of thing. It could be someone whose artistry is performing magic, or doing back flips. And when you see that, you realize that there are a LOT of people who are artists out there. And art can be their life without being their livelihood. That is, they can live for their art, enjoy their art, be awesome in their art, and never earn any money from it. Making money from art is not what makes someone a great artist. Think about it, you know that there are some really awful artists out there who have made a ton of bucks, right?

So, as an artist, you have to separate your art from how it can be commercialized. Just practicing your guitar all of the time won't do much towards getting you money for it. And I've seen the exact moment when a "light bulb" goes off over someone's head, and they make the connection between art for art's sake, and art for commercial purposes. And suddenly it becomes a question of thinking about dealing with clients, dealing with contracts, setting up gigs, promotion. And money.

Now waitaminute, I'm not saying that there aren't people out there who are so fabulously talented that all they had to do was their art, and the world came running towards them, throwing money. But it's such a tiny percentage of the people out there, that I often say it's about the chances of winning the lottery. If you want to increase your odds, you have to think commercial. And when I see people wrinkle up their noses at the thought of it, I know that they have greatly reduced their chances of commercializing their art.

Personally, I enjoyed learning about it. When I got my Fine Arts degree, I also studied Marketing. My plan was to own an advertising agency someday (which I never did), so I learned basic accounting, sales, that sort of thing. I did freelance work, so I learned to meet with clients, to work on assignment, to meet deadlines. I learned how to send out invoices, and how to follow them up with statements. But it was a LOT of work, aside from doing the illustrations, and when I landed a full-time job as a Graphic Designer, I could relax. All I had to do was design work, and all of the other stuff was handled by other people. I just did my art, and got a paycheck.

Overall my success as a Commercial Artist came from listening to people. I've always worked on assignment, and over the years I've done pretty good job of figuring out what my clients want, and in exchange they give me money. And this is my artistry - designing and drawing for clients who have envisioned something, and added my own special magic to it. I just love doing this.

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