Overcoming Financial Struggles: 5 Tips for Artists
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


  1. Diversify Your Income Sources
  2. Budget and Plan Financially
  3. Sell Art Online
  4. Apply for Grants and Residencies
  5. Network and Collaborate

As an artist, you may have realized that your passion and creativity don't always align with financial stability. It's an old story – the struggling artist trying to make ends meet. But it doesn't have to be your story. Overcoming financial struggles as an artist is possible, and we're here to help you navigate this journey. Here are five tips that can enable you to transform your artistic journey into a financially rewarding career, starting with diversifying your income sources.

Diversify Your Income Sources

When it comes to overcoming financial struggles as an artist, diversifying your income sources can be a game-changer. Just like an investor spreads their investments across various assets, an artist can also create multiple streams of income. This approach not only provides financial stability but also allows you to explore your creativity in different ways.

Teaching Art

If you're good at what you do, why not share the knowledge? Teaching art—whether it's painting, sculpting, or digital design—can be a great way to earn extra income. You can conduct workshops, take on private students, or even offer online courses.

Thanks to the internet, selling your art has never been easier. Print-on-demand services like Society6 or Redbubble allow you to upload your artwork, which they then print on various products—from T-shirts and mugs to phone cases and wall art. Best of all, you retain the rights to your work and earn a commission on each sale.

Licensing Your Work

Ever considered that your art could be on a book cover, album cover, or even a billboard? Licensing your work allows companies to use your art, and in return, you get paid. It's a win-win situation. Companies like Adobe Stock or Shutterstock can help you get started with licensing.

Remember, diversification doesn't mean spreading yourself too thin. It's about finding different avenues to monetize your skills and creativity. As you explore these options, keep in mind that overcoming financial struggles as an artist isn't an overnight process. It requires patience, persistence, and a lot of trial and error. But with a diversified income, you're one step closer to making a living from your art.

Budget and Plan Financially

While it might not be as exciting as creating a new piece of art, effective budgeting and financial planning are key to overcoming financial struggles as an artist. It's all about understanding where your money is going and making smart decisions about spending and saving.

Create a Budget

Starting with a budget can help you gain control over your finances. Here's how you can do it:

  • Track your income and expenses: Write down all your sources of income and all your expenses. This will give you a clear picture of your financial situation.
  • Identify needs and wants: Needs are things you can't live without, like rent and groceries. Wants are things you'd like to have but can live without, like that fancy new paintbrush set. Knowing the difference can help you prioritize your spending.
  • Set financial goals: Whether it's saving for a new art studio or paying off debt, having financial goals can motivate you to stick to your budget.

Plan for the Future

Financial planning isn't just about managing your money today; it's about preparing for tomorrow. Consider these steps:

  • Start an emergency fund: Life is unpredictable, and an emergency fund can provide a financial safety net.
  • Save for retirement: As a self-employed artist, it's up to you to plan for your retirement. Even small contributions can add up over time.
  • Get insured: Health insurance, disability insurance, and even insurance for your artwork can protect you from financial hardship.

As you begin to budget and plan financially, remember that it's okay to start small and make adjustments along the way. And while it may feel daunting at first, taking control of your finances can provide a sense of security and freedom, allowing you to focus more on your art and less on overcoming financial struggles as an artist.

Sell Art Online

Another effective strategy in overcoming financial struggles as an artist is leveraging the power of the internet to sell your art. The online market offers a vast, global audience that's always just a click away. Here's how to make the most of it:

Choose the Right Platform

The internet is full of platforms where artists can sell their work. Your choice depends on your style, medium, and target audience. Here are some options:

  • Etsy: A marketplace for handmade goods, vintage items, and craft supplies.
  • Redbubble: Redbubble allows you to sell your art as prints, T-shirts, phone cases, and more.
  • Saatchi Art: This platform caters to more high-end art collectors and includes a wide range of mediums.

Market Your Artwork

Listing your art online is just the first step. You also need to attract customers. Here are some strategies:

  • Use SEO: Optimize your listings with relevant keywords to help potential buyers find your art.
  • Share on Social Media: Platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are visual by nature, making them ideal for showcasing your work.
  • Build an Email List: Collect email addresses from interested buyers to keep them updated on your latest pieces and special offers.

Selling art online doesn't mean you have to abandon traditional venues like galleries and art fairs. Instead, think of it as an additional revenue stream, one that's open 24/7 and accessible to art lovers around the world. And remember, as you navigate the world of online sales, always keep working on your craft, because the better your art, the easier it will be to overcome financial struggles as an artist.

Apply for Grants and Residencies

Overcoming financial struggles as an artist often means seeking external support. That's where grants and residencies come in. These opportunities can provide not only funds, but also valuable time, space, and resources to create.

Understanding Art Grants

Art grants are funds given to artists to support their work. They can come from governments, foundations, or private organizations. Here's what you need to know:

  • Research is Key: Look for grants that match your medium, style, and career stage. Some are open to all, while others target specific groups.
  • Pay Attention to Deadlines: Grant applications often have strict deadlines. Miss it, and you'll have to wait until the next cycle.
  • Plan Ahead: Most grant applications require a proposal detailing what you'll do with the funds. Make sure your idea is clear and compelling.

Exploring Art Residencies

Residencies offer artists a place to live and work, often in a supportive community of peers. Some also provide stipends or materials. Here's how to find the right one:

  • Know Your Goals: Some residencies focus on production, others on research or community engagement. Choose one that aligns with your artistic goals.
  • Location Matters: From urban studios to rural retreats, residencies can be found worldwide. Consider where you'd be most inspired.
  • Read the Fine Print: Understand what's included—and what's not—before you apply. Some residencies cover all costs, while others only provide space.

Remember, applying for grants and residencies is a competitive process, but don't let that discourage you. Every artist faces rejection. The key is to keep refining your proposals, keep applying, and remember: every "no" brings you one step closer to the next "yes". It's all part of the journey of overcoming financial struggles as an artist.

Network and Collaborate

Another great strategy for overcoming financial struggles as an artist is to network and collaborate with others. This not only broadens your opportunities but also exposes you to new ideas and techniques that can enrich your work.

Making Connections

Building a solid network is about creating mutually beneficial relationships. Here are some tips to help you connect with others in the art world:

  • Be Genuine: People can tell if you're only interested in what they can do for you. Show genuine interest in their work and ideas.
  • Be Proactive: Don't wait for opportunities to come to you. Attend art shows, openings, and workshops. Join online art communities and engage in discussions.
  • Be Helpful: Offer your time, advice, or skills to others without expecting anything in return. It's a great way to build goodwill and establish strong relationships.

Collaborating with Others

Collaboration can lead to amazing results, expanding your creative horizons while sharing the costs and rewards. Here's how to make it work:

  • Find the Right Partner: Look for someone who complements your skills and shares your vision. They might be another artist, a curator, a writer, or even a scientist.
  • Set Clear Expectations: Discuss upfront who will do what, how costs and profits will be shared, and how decisions will be made. This helps avoid misunderstandings later.
  • Stay Open-Minded: Collaboration is about blending different ideas and perspectives. Be willing to compromise and try new things.

In the end, networking and collaborating are about more than overcoming financial struggles as an artist. They're about enriching your artistic journey, growing as a person, and contributing to the larger art community. So, reach out, team up, and see where it takes you!

If you're an artist looking for ways to overcome financial struggles, don't miss the workshop 'A Freelance Artist's Guide At Making Finances Make Sense' by Kelsee Thomas. This workshop will provide you with valuable tips and strategies to help you manage your finances effectively as a freelance artist and ensure a stable income in the long run.