What every college art student really needs to know.

What every college art student really needs to know.

I graduated from college back in 1981. That is 34 years ago! Yikes, time flies. I loved my time in college taking fine art classes. Yet looking back on it now, I know there was a lot missing from my art education.

One of the things missing was a class or two (or three) on art marketing and business. I did take a class on advertising but that did not even give me the basics on art marketing.

I have a fine art degree specializing in graphic design but no where was there a class on art marketing or how I was supposed to sell my art or skills. How is an artist supposed to make a living without knowing how to market their art?

I’ve had a dual career in making fine art and doing graphic design/production art for most of my art career. I’ve pretty much had to figure out the business side of making art myself with self-education and taking seminars and classes and doing lots of reading. This article will concentrate on the fine art side of making art.

I think every college art student needs to know how to create a business plan and how and where to sell their art.

Here are some basics to think about that every art student needs to consider.

First, start with naming the top 5 things that you make and would like to sell and where to sell them.

For example, it might be original paintings, prints, clay figures, earrings, wall calendars that you sell online, or in a brick and mortar shop or gallery or all of the above!

Of those 5 products, which one do you like doing the best and want to spend most of your time making and selling? For me, it is painting. Which one is second? For me, it is fine art prints. So I mainly make original paintings for sale and when they are finished, I scan them and create an electronic file that can be used to sell my art as prints.

Artists I know, including myself, need to have multiple income streams so you might want to consider the different things you can make to sell.

Then you need to consider, how much money do you want to make per year from your art?

For example, if it is approx. $40,000 a year. That would be $3,333 per month or $833 per week.

Now how many pieces of art do you need to sell per week to make $833?

There are other things to consider too such as your costs. How much are you spending on art supplies? How much time do you spend and how many miles do you drive to get the supplies? How much are you paying yourself per hour to make your art and get your supplies? Here is a link to a free craft pricing formula calculator so you can figure some of this out.

There are also shipping costs and supplies and time involved to package and mail your artwork. Sometimes you can hire someone else to do that for you. There are also drop ship companies that can make prints of your artwork and send it to the customer but they will charge you to do that.

So all these costs need to be taken into consideration. Don’t forget 15.3% of what you make goes to pay your self-employment tax too.

Here is a document to help you keep track of your monthly expenses for when you do your taxes.

This is simple math but never was this taught in my college classes! It’s hard to believe that figuring these things out was not part of the curriculum.

Then there are also marketing costs. Where will you advertise your art? Will you use blog ads, have an etsy shop and use their advertising, use Facebook ads, send out postcards, use Craigslist or social media?

For social media, you could use the below outlets to get the word out about your art. Many of these are free to use.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Tumblr

Make sure you know how to use these social networks effectively otherwise you are wasting your time. I recommend reading a couple of good blog posts about how to use them. Read some articles like this and this to figure out what to do.

Your marketing plan is just a small piece of a larger business plan.

A good business plan is essential.

So if you are seriously thinking of making a living with your art, look for some help with a business plan. I say read this and this or try the right-brained-business plan by Jennifer Lee.

You’ll need to establish an advertising budget and figure out who your ideal client is. This is a great post by Lisa Jacobs on Identifying your ideal client.

I also can not recommend Marketing Creativity by Lisa Jacobs enough. She is constantly giving out free information that is useful for selling your art. Click here to visit Lisa Jacobs.

If you didn’t get a good art marketing class in college, there is still hope. There are lots and lots of art marketing classes online. Just do a search on Art Marketing for Artists and you will find classes to take. I also recommend Leonie Dawson’s 2016 Shining Year Workbook and biz planner or Lisa Jacobs Your Best Year 2016 Biz Planner for planning with your business goals.

I know this is a simple run down of things to consider but don’t NOT do it. I think it is essential if you want to make art not as a hobby but as a real business.

And if you want to get inspired by making art from your soul, try Flora Bowley’s art e-course.

If you have any other recommendations, put them in the comments below.

Best of luck to you with your creativity and business goals!






2011 SmARTist Telesummit – I'll Be There

This art career event helps teach artists ways to bridge the gap between being an artist and making money from one’s art and having a successful art career and business. I just love all the info I’ve learned in the past from it!

I’ve taken the SmARTist Telesummit for two years in a row now and I’ll be there this year too! It’s coming right up, starting on Jan. 13th and 14th (2 MasterMind Panel Days) and on the 17th through 21st (5 days with 12 Keynote speakers).

I will admit I was sitting on the fence and wondering if I should spend the money. I remember feeling this way last year too. But then, just like last year, I started thinking about how much I’ve enjoyed it! In fact, how much I LOVE it!

And I started thinking about how much I learned. How it helped get me excited about my art career. It’s like a booster shot of enthusiasm just at the perfect time of the year when I’m writing down new goals, putting together my marketing plan and dreaming up art ideas for the new year!


There is sooo much information given by art experts at this Telesummit and I love having the CDs to reference later! It is almost mind boggling how much info there is to take in and one can’t do it all at once. You need to have the CDs to go back and listen to everything. That’s when you get to be thoughtful and start implementing things step by step and seeing the results of the Telesummit! That is what makes it worth it!

So I decided the investment in my art career was worth spending the $ on. I am so glad! Now that I signed up for it, I’m so excited for it to start!

Take a look at some of the things that we will learn:

Selling Your Art To Corporations – Demystified! by Barbara Markoff
Take Charge, Skip the Galleries, and Sell Your Art Directly: by Daniel Grant
Get a Second Life!…and Another Stream of Income: by Jeremy Lipsky
More Patrons Than You Ever Dreamed Of – Learn the Secrets of Being Successful at the Nation’s Juried Fine Art Fairs: by Constance Mettler
Vertical Markets: Become A REVENUE GENERATING ARTIST: by Jodi Walsh
Sell Like a Pro – Inside Tips from a Gallery Owner on the Delicate Process of Turning “Tire Kickers” into Collectors: Jason Jorejs
Art Licensing: Learn to Talk the Talk, Walk the Walk and Get Paid Multiple Time for the Same Art! by Tara Reed
Art Pricing Secrets: How to set, negotiate, and raise your prices form maximum impact throughout your career: by Molly Gordon
Transform Your Website Into the Art-Marketing Machine You’ve Dreamed About! by Daniel Tardent
Giclee Printing: A New Frontier for Artists: by Stanley John Bowman
Discover Success in the 2011 Giclee Print Market: by Barney Davey
And a rare appearance by the @ArtCareerDeva, Ariane Goodwin, where she will be giving one of the presentations: The Three “C”ecrets of a Successful Art Career: Courage. Commitment. Completion.

1. Selling Your Art To Corporations – Demystified! by Barbara Markoff

2. Take Charge, Skip the Galleries, and Sell Your Art Directly by Daniel Grant

3. Get a Second Life!…and Another Stream of Income by Jeremy Lipsky

4. More Patrons Than You Ever Dreamed Of – Learn the Secrets of Being Successful at the Nation’s Juried Fine Art Fairs by Constance Mettler

5. Vertical Markets: Become A Revenue Generating Artist by Jodi Walsh

6. Sell Like a Pro – Inside Tips from a Gallery Owner on the Delicate Process of Turning “Tire Kickers” into Collectors by Jason Jorejs

7. Art Licensing: Learn to Talk the Talk, Walk the Walk and Get Paid Multiple Times for the Same Art! by Tara Reed

8. Art Pricing Secrets: How to set, negotiate, and raise your prices for maximum impact throughout your career by Molly Gordon

9. Transform Your Website Into the Art-Marketing Machine You’ve Dreamed About! by Daniel Tardent

10. Giclee Printing: A New Frontier for Artists by Stanley John Bowman

11. Discover Success in the 2011 Giclee Print Market by Barney Davey

12. Sell Yourself, Sell Your Art: With a Social Media Blueprint for Artists by Lori McNee

Plus The Three “C”ecrets of a Successful Art Career: Courage. Commitment. Completion by the @ArtCareerDeva, Ariane Goodwin

And then there are a bunch of freebies one gets for signing up.

Bonus #1. Your “Stay-on-Track” Workbook (a $114 value) I’m looking forward to having this and keeping track of my goals.

Bonus #2. A Lifetime Discount to all future smARTist® Telesummits (a savings of more than $370 over the next 3 years alone). That is sonething definitely worth considering!

Bonus #3. A 14-Week Follow-up Program (a $495 value) I love this!

And then there is the online community where you can meet other artists and discuss the Telesummit, as well as access all the recordings and handouts. This alone is worth tons! Sharing ideas with other professional artists and making connections and networking is really a wonderful thing!

If you’re interested in signing up for the SmARTist Telesummit 2011, go now and do it! Don’t miss this unique art event! You are worth it and you won’t be sorry! See you there!

Part 2: One Artist’s Journey – 10-20 yrs old

Continuing my 5 part series on my Artist Journey…

13yrsBeach girl.

This is me at 13, I dug a big hole at the beach and put a great big log into it. I can’t remember now what I was building but I remember everyone was pretty supportive. I was pretty lucky growing up. Most of my creative endeavors had my family’s support.


Can you tell I grew up in the 70’s from these paintings? I loved creating art in junior high and high school. I graduated in 1977.

We had lots of art books around our house. The big coffee table kind. We would flip through them and see amazing art! I was impressed by all the great art masters. I liked colorful art. I liked the abstract and surreal art.

I mostly loved making fantasy art! I made my first set of greeting card designs when I was 19. I didn’t know how to market them back then though but a lot of my relatives bought them. Thank goodness for family.

Fantasy Greeting Card Designs
Fantasy Greeting Card Designs

I had a vivid imagination. I liked to think up characters and draw them. I used pen and ink, graphite pencil, watercolor, sometimes acrylics. Looks like I had a fascination with aliens.


LGG-Alien1-lowMaybe it was the stories I had heard about flying saucers and alien abductions. I remember there was talk about that back then. Maybe I was feeling a little alien myself as a teenager.

I also kept small sketch books and filled them up with line drawings. In fact, I had journals of all kinds.

I started my dream journal in 1977. I still have it! It’s a pretty big, thick, green notebook. I would record my dreams and sometimes try to interpret them with what I called my “day notes”, trying to see if I could tie what happened during the day with my dreams. I was trying to make sense of life. Isn’t that what one’s teens are all about? Figuring stuff out. It would be what spurred my interest in studying psychology and dream work when I got older.


I also was given my first “empty book” during this time. It was 1975. Inscribed on the front inside cover, my parents wrote, “This book of blank pages is given to our daughter….we know that her creativity will make it a thing of beauty and inspiration.” I thought it was a pretty cool idea. A book of blank pages, that I was going to fill up!


I’ve collected 6 of these books over the years. I filled them with writings, collected quotes and sayings, line drawings, cool song lyrics, collage, sketches, painting titles, anything that inspired me. I still have one going to this day. If you have a creative child, I totally recommend giving them an “empty” book.

In later years, I would start a “grateful” journal.  Sarah Ban Breathnach who wrote the Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude says, “if you give thanks for five gifts every day, in two months you may not look at your life in the same way as you might now.”  I love the idea of transformation and being grateful. I like to take pause and remember what happened during my day that I am grateful for and give thanks!

I’m in love with this idea about nurturing the creative spirit. Finding ways to improve myself and also be inspired and create! I heard someone say though, they don’t like to be inspired because when that happens they’re distracted and not creating. They were saying, being inspired is overrated. When you’re too busy being inspired, you’re not creating. I disagree, for me, I love being inspired and I think I create best when I have books and photos and art around me that bring me joy and beauty and inspiration.

A great book about nurturing the creative spirit is Kelly Rae Roberts’ book Taking Flight, inspiration and techniques for giving your creative spirit wings. I love the stories and this book is the story of a creative artist who will inspire you, give techniques, inspiring quotes, pages for journaling, all to help your creative spirit soar!

I also started some larger sketchbook journals during my teens. You could call me a journal geek. Do you have a journal? What kind is it and what do you put into it?

I remember winning an award as a senior in high school for one of my paintings. A landscape of ocean dunes. I was thrilled to have my art acknowledged by more than my family and friends. I thought maybe I wanted to be an illustrator or maybe a graphic designer. I was sure I wanted to be some kind of an artist and go to college. And I did. I’ll write more about my college years and my twenties in Part 3 of my Artist Journey series.