Opportunities for Artists
Updated: Jan 25, 2022
"This post might include affiliate links, cause I need to pay my bills."
Does it matter where you’re from or is it just a marketing game?
As an artist, you just want to make art that inspires. Maybe show off your work to others and down the line also maybe make some money from it. But given the location, it depends on what an artist can and can’t do. Nowadays where everything is more or less online it seems that artists have more opportunities and chances of success.
But is it really true? Can an artist from let’s say Mumbai be as successful and have the same opportunities as an artist from London or NY? There are limitations to online access. Even more so when the artist does traditional art only. Not every place in the world has cons, exhibitions, galleries, art allies, or even supports art and artists. And not all artists especially now have the luxury of traveling to places and dragging all their art pieces with them.
But going back to digital artists. There is a sea of young and old digital artists that post their art online on social media. They do webcomics, illustrations, commissions, art trades, art prints, they have their online art portfolios, and still, they are struggling to get noticed.
Why? Where is the ketch?
The thing is when you are trying to join in and turn your hobby into a freelance business, you need to have a definite business plan otherwise you won’t sell anything. Even if your art is the greatest masterpiece of all times if there isn’t a demand for it you just have a great art piece that is just sitting there collecting digital dust. Being an online freelance artist isn’t just doing art and that’s that. It means much more. You need to know a thing or two about marketing, promotion, business etiquette. How to do taxes, as well. And as a beginner artist, you can’t afford to pay someone to do all those things for you. You have to do all of those things and at the same time, you need to focus on producing high-quality art.
When you’re trying to compete online especially on social media platforms, because of the algorithms you need to be producing art pieces daily. Making posts, daily. Promoting your art, daily. All that takes away time for you to make art, all of those trivial yet very important tasks can along the way lower the quality of your art. Because you start to focus more on management and marketing and forget the actual art.
To top it off most beginner artists are doing art as a side hustle, meaning they don’t have all the time in the world to promote and do art at the same time. They have bills that need to be paid, so they have jobs. Creating a drawing or an illustration isn’t fast. Most people think oh you just click a few buttons and make a few lines and the program does the rest for you. Then you do it and let’s see what kind of art you’ll create if the program does all the work.
But the problem also lies in the language barrier. Yes, not everybody is fluent in English. The issue is if you want your art to be seen worldwide and have more chances of getting commissions, sales, or a job you need to speak English. Otherwise, you are limited solely to the countries that speak your language. If that circle is small, and you are not business savvy good luck selling anything. You could make a sale here and there from your family or friends, but it won’t pay the bills. And let’s face it art is a commodity, a luxury, and not everyone can afford or appreciate it. Thus, the circle of buyers gets smaller and smaller.
Now, if you move to the bigger market, worldwide, you have more chances of making sales, but you also have more competition. Because now you’re competing with all the artists from the whole world. And again, it comes down to being a good marketer, promoting your art so people notice it and possibly buy it.
This is why most artists have multiple income streams. They don’t just sell art because it’s not enough to survive. They have YouTube channels to get viewers and buyers, they post their art on POD sites, sell through Amazon, make commissions, sell stickers and art prints mostly on Etsy, sell their knowledge in a form of tutorials and courses, and much more. They are also affiliates and promote other people’s products and courses. They do sponsorships. And all of these things didn’t come to them within a month of being online or 6 months. It took years of constant promotion, marketing, and making their name. Years of not being paid at all for their art until they established a name for themselves and became big enough to get noticed.
"I come from a small country where art is not really that valued and being a freelance artist or entrepreneur is still a new thing. We don’t have art allies, getting into an art gallery is not so easy, comic cons don’t exist here. It’s not even considered a regular job. You can get a status of an artist, but your art needs to be critiqued by 3 renowned artists, and you need to be featured in a magazine, and some other criteria as well. That is why most artists do it off the radar and still have full-time employment at the same time. Because any type of art doesn’t sell here unless you have connections, and you already have a big name. Even performers (musicians and actors) have 9 to 5 jobs to survive. Doing art is just a side hustle."
The thing is by promoting just in my language and in my country wouldn’t get me anywhere. Art isn’t a thing here. It’s starting to open up, but not enough. And having lots of people supporting my art and pushing it for others to see, even squeezing that like button, is mostly nonexistent. I get more support from strangers from across the globe online than from the people I know. When I made my first sales they were from USA and UK. And only one person asked me to do an art piece from my own country for payment. Even when I talk to artists from my country, they all say the same, sell worldwide, do multiple things. Doing just art doesn’t pay the bills. Even if I would want to connect to companies and get sponsorships, nonexistent in my country. I would have a greater chance of getting that from a foreign company than a Slovenian one.
I did get an offer once, but the pay offered didn’t even cover my electricity bill and they wanted me to illustrate the whole booklet of 15 pages which would take at least a month or two to finish and yet, on the other hand, a company from Germany paid me at least minimum wage for 5 illustrations that took me two weeks to make.
Does it matter where you’re from when you’re doing art and when you’re trying to sell your art?
It is one of the biggest factors that play a role in your success as an artist, offline or online.
But does that stop you from trying?
Go for it and make it work. It can work, others have done it, and they started from zero as well. It might take a while but with a great business plan and approaching it strategically you can make it as a beginner artist no matter where you come from.