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15 Ways to Make Money with Your Art

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15 Ways to Make Money with Your Art with Bonnie Christine

Being an artist in today's world presents both challenges and opportunities. Over the years, I've not only found numerous paths to monetize my creativity as a surface pattern designer, but I've also been deeply invested in debunking the "starving artist" myth.

One of my recent projects, the "60 x 60", encapsulates this vision. I reached out to 60 accomplished artists, each sharing a unique way they've generated income from their craft, all within a 60-second window. The result? An inspiring compilation that showcases the diversity and potential within the art world.

As these artists shared their stories with me, I began reflecting on my own journey, and the creative avenues that have resulted in income for my business—So I’m sharing my top 15 below!

15 ways I've turned my passion into profit as a surface designer and creative entrepreneur: 

  • Licensing: Licensing my designs has granted businesses the permission to use them, expanding my reach and ensuring consistent royalties. While it takes time to create a body of work and pitch to companies, once the ball gets rolling, it picks up momentum. I've licensed my artwork for various products, from fabric to wallpaper.
  • Art Prints: Offering art prints has allowed direct sharing of my creations with a dedicated audience, in addition to licensed work.
  • Commissioned Work: Word of mouth has led to unique projects like logos, brand packages, or websites. This can be a rewarding collaborative process that generates income without formally advertising your services.
  • Digital Goods: Anything delivered digitally, from e-books to printable art. Over the years, I've explored different digital offerings like clip arts, fonts, and sewing patterns.
  • Print-on-Demand (POD): Partnering with POD platforms has streamlined the selling process, making it efficient and user-friendly.
  • Handmade Markets: These markets have provided a tangible setting to connect directly with my audience.
  • Online Shop: A curated space for enthusiasts to delve into my diverse creative offerings.
  • One-on-One Coaching/Mentorships: Through personalized sessions, I've guided budding artists on their unique paths. 
  • Portfolio Reviews: An opportunity to give constructive feedback and nurture emerging talents.
  • Speaking: Sharing my experiences at events has deepened my connection with the broader art community while sharing my journey.
  • Articles: Writing has provided another dimension to my creativity, allowing me to share knowledge and insights while increasing traffic to my own website and building industry authority.
  • Teaching: Workshops and classes have been platforms for sharing and learning in tandem. Though I never set out to teach, it has been just the most incredible and joyful pivot that I never saw coming. Teaching has been a way to not only increase revenue, but also increase the development of the entire industry. 
  • Memberships: A decade ago, a simple conversation sparked the inception of "Flourish." What began as a humble venture, priced at just $5 a month, has blossomed into a robust platform that's been a cornerstone of my creative journey. While it's provided consistent income, the true beauty of Flourish lies in the vibrant community it's nurtured. Over the years, it's evolved from resembling a paid newsletter to a comprehensive membership with a dedicated portal and an array of content. Every interaction, every piece of content, is a testament to the love for the community and the craft. To emerging creatives, I urge you to consider the power of memberships. It's a sustainable avenue, not just for revenue, but for building and nurturing a like-minded community.
  • Affiliate Marketing: While the term might sound commercial, it's merely recommending products I genuinely love. From art supplies to tools, I've shared my favorites, earning a commission for each sale made through my recommendations.

The "60 x 60" project and these 15 avenues are testament to the fact that creativity, with the right strategies, can indeed be a sustainable career. In this era where art and commerce intertwine in novel ways, it's an exciting time to be a creator. My hope is that my journey, along with the insights from the "60 x 60" project, inspires artists everywhere to explore the myriad opportunities that await.



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