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Eight Essential Steps for Achieving Success as a Freelance Artist
Pursuing a freelance art career is an exciting prospect for creatives looking to make a living solely from their artwork. The ability to be your own boss, set your own schedule and devote yourself fully to your artistic passion is an appealing lifestyle for many artists. However, building a financially sustainable freelance art business takes much more than artistic talent alone. It requires just as much skill with marketing yourself professionally, finding paying work consistently, and handling the legal and financial aspects of running a small business.
The good news is that with proper dedication and smart strategy, it is possible to develop a fulfilling, financially viable career as a freelance artist. This article outlines the key steps needed to go from artistic hobbyist to professional art entrepreneur. Whether you work in painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, digital art, or other mediums, these steps will set you on the road to success as an independent artist making a living from your creative talents.
1. Develop Your Artistic Skills
The foundation of a successful art career is strong artistic ability. Spend time refining your skills through formal education, online tutorials, books, and practice. Experiment with different mediums and styles to find your niche. Consider taking classes to build skills in drawing, painting, digital art, sculpture, or other mediums. The more well-rounded your abilities, the more freelance opportunities you can pursue.
2. Create a Distinctive Artistic Style
As a freelance artist, it’s important to have a consistent artistic style that’s uniquely your own. This gives art buyers something to latch onto and helps them recognise a piece as your work. Study techniques and styles you admire but put your own spin on things. Over time your distinct style will emerge. Consider developing a niche like pet portraits, geometric abstract art or landscape watercolours to further define your artistic brand.
3. Prepare a Professional Portfolio
An impressive portfolio is essential for attracting freelance art clients. Curate 15-20 quality pieces that showcase the range of your artistic skills and style. Get high resolution digital images or professional photos of your artwork. Build a website to display your portfolio online or create both physical and digital portfolios. Bring portfolios along to networking events and potential client meetings.
4. Market Yourself as an Artist
Once you have a portfolio, it’s time to actively promote yourself as a freelance artist. Create business cards, print promotional postcards, and have a press kit ready to go. Reach out directly to local businesses who may need artwork. Utilise social media by creating artist profiles on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other sites. Look for opportunities to get exposure via local art exhibitions, festivals, and events.
5. Set Your Rates and Policies
Pricing your work appropriately and defining policies are key business aspects of freelance art. Research standard rates for different media and levels of experience. Factor in costs of materials and time spent. Set hourly, per-project and per-piece rates. Define your terms regarding deposits, payments, revisions, copyrights, and more. Outline policies in a contract to protect yourself and set client expectations.
6. Find Freelance Art Opportunities
There are many paths to finding work as a freelance artist. Seek referrals from other artists and contacts in your network. Check job boards and online marketplaces. Apply to participate in local art fairs and shows. Contact nearby galleries to ask about representing your work. Reach out to businesses who hire illustrators or need artwork. Explore public art commissions from local government agencies.
7. Manage Your Freelance Art Business
Running your freelance art business professionally is crucial for success. Stay organised with bookkeeping, records, invoices, and taxes. Manage your schedule effectively around projects and commitments. Set long-term business goals and work methodically towards achieving them. Continue networking, marketing yourself, and expanding your client base. Consider working with an accountant and solicitor to help handle legal and financial aspects.
8. Keep Growing as an Artist
To sustain a long-term freelance art career, make sure to keep growing creatively. Stay inspired by visiting museums and galleries. Take workshops or classes to keep building skills. Experiment with new directions artistically. Connect with other artists for support and inspiration. Consider residencies, retreats, or travel opportunities to spark new ideas. With dedication, creativity, and smart business management, you can thrive as a freelance artist.
Developing your artistic talents, defining your unique style, marketing yourself professionally and managing the business side of freelancing are all key steps to building a sustainable career selling your artwork independently. With passion and diligent effort, you can establish yourself as a successful freelance artist.