Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The starving artist trope is alive and well. Creatives and artists have been told from a young age that they will have to “grow up” or “find other ways to make a living.” The truth is, though: It’s entirely possible to make a living — and build a successful business — as an artist.
Of course, building an art business doesn’t come with a handbook. On top of that, few traditional business-building practices apply. What’s more: As creatives, we often think of ourselves as right-brained (creative and intuitive) and not equipped with left-brained analytical or planning abilities. Most artists don’t view themselves as entrepreneurs, and we don’t see many examples of artists who’ve supported themselves through their art.
They exist, though. Every day, artists make a living from their art — without sacrificing their passion or their creativity. Following the five steps below, you can build a successful art business that supports you and your creative spirit.
Related: How to Realistically Make Money From Your Passion
1. A great product
It’s the same for any business: You need to have a solid product that people want to buy. While “great” is subjective in the art world, there are still standards for any medium. Potters need to create usable pottery, painters need to consider composition, and composers need to write music with certain notes in mind.
Your craft is critical when selling art. While you are an artist, and the raw talent is there, you also want to make sure that the art you’re creating is the best possible version of itself. This means potentially investing in art training, practicing your craft and even learning from fellow artists.
Learning from other artists, however, is not the same as emulating other artists. When we start to think about selling our art, it’s normal to start looking around to see what other artists are creating or selling. This isn’t the way to create our strongest art that people want to buy, though. Creating “honest art” is, however.
Honest art is the art that’s true to you and your skills. Honest art is the art only you can create. The more true to your skills and experience, the more likely your art will draw eyes and buyers.
2. A business plan
Most artists will avoid “planning” like the plague. It sounds too structured, too rigid and too detailed. Generally, artists are visionaries and dreamers, not planners.
The good news is: Your art business plan does not have to be an 18-page typed document that you submit to the bank or investors …….