How to Start an Art Business: A Beginner’s Guide

Starting an art business can be a challenging yet rewarding endeavor. Whether you're a painter, sculptor, photographer, jeweler, or any other type of artist, turning your passion into a profitable business requires careful planning and execution.

While it may seem daunting at first, with the right guidance and resources, you can successfully start and grow your own art business.

One of the first steps to starting an art business is to define your art practice. This involves identifying your niche, developing your artistic style, and determining your target audience.

By doing so, you can create a clear vision for your business and establish a unique brand that sets you apart from other artists.

Once you have a clear understanding of your art practice, you can begin to develop a business plan.

This plan should outline your goals, strategies, and financial projections. It should also include a marketing plan that outlines how you will promote your artwork and reach your target audience.

By creating a solid business plan, you can set yourself up for success and ensure that your art business is sustainable in the long term.

Defining Your Art Business

Before you start your art business, it's important to define what it is that you want to do. This involves identifying your artistic medium, target market, and competition. Here are some steps to help you define your art business:

Choosing Your Artistic Medium

One of the first things you need to do is choose your artistic medium. This will help you focus your efforts and create a cohesive brand.

Consider your skills, interests, and the market demand for your chosen medium. Some popular artistic mediums include:

  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Sculpture
  • Photography
  • Printmaking
  • Textiles
  • Jewelry
  • Pottery
  • Crocheting

This is something I still need to work in.

It's just that I love experimenting with different types of art that it is hard to just choose one. Maybe I should just settle for branding myself as a mixed media artist who loves to use anything sparkly and with a magical feeling (which is why I keep pushing for my fantasy theme in most of what I do).

Anyway, this is not an easy task! It takes time to discover what you really like and it takes practice, practice, practice to master it!

Keep playing and experimenting with different forms of art until you find something you absolutely love!

Identifying Your Target Market

Once you've chosen your artistic medium, it's important to identify your target market. Who are the people that are most likely to buy your art?

Consider factors such as their age, gender, income, and interests. You may also want to consider the geographic location of your target market, as this can affect your marketing strategy.

Assessing the Competition

Finally, it's important to assess the competition in your chosen artistic medium and target market. Who are your competitors? What are they doing well, and what could they improve on? 

Google is your friend here! Search for keywords related to your type of art and see what comes up. Join Facebook groups related to what you want to do and get familiar with who posts in the groups. 

Go to Facebook ads Library and search the ads to see which competitors of yours are creating ads and what they are selling.

Consider factors such as pricing, marketing, and quality of work. This will help you identify opportunities to differentiate yourself from the competition and create a unique brand.

Creating Your Business Plan

Developing a business plan is a crucial step in starting your art business. Your plan should outline your goals and strategies to reach those goals. Here are some key sub-sections to consider when creating your business plan:

Developing a Marketing Strategy

Your marketing strategy should focus on identifying your target audience and how you will reach them. This includes defining your niche market and understanding what sets you apart from competitors.

Consider using social media, email newsletters, art fairs, galleries, and other outlets to promote your work.

For example, I have a Youtube channel but it is not because I want to become famous on Youtube. I consciously created it to bring traffic to my website.

I also have a Pinterest account which I use to drive traffic back to my website.

I never post just for the sake of posting or to just go viral. There is always a purpose behind everything I do. It is all connected to my strategies and all these things work together to reach my goals!

Setting Financial Goals

Setting financial goals will help you figure out how much revenue you need to generate to cover your expenses and make a profit.

Consider creating a budget that includes your startup costs, ongoing expenses, and projected revenue.

Use this information to determine your pricing strategy and sales goals.

Establishing Your Brand

Your brand is how you present yourself and your work to the world.

Establishing a strong brand can help you stand out from competitors and attract customers.

Consider developing a unique name and logo, and creating a consistent visual identity across your website, social media, and other marketing materials.

Remember, your business plan should be a living document that you revisit and revise as your business evolves.

By taking the time to develop a solid plan, you can set yourself up for success in the competitive world of art business.

This is something that I constantly revisit and work on as I keep evolving as an artist!

Setting Up Your Business

Choosing a Business Structure

One of the first things you need to do when starting an art business is to choose a business structure.

You have several options to choose from, including sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation. Each structure has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to do your research and choose the one that best fits your needs.

For most artists, a sole proprietorship or an LLC is the most appropriate choice.

A sole proprietorship is the simplest and least expensive business structure to set up, but it offers no personal liability protection.

An LLC, on the other hand, provides personal liability protection and has a more formal structure, but it can be more expensive to set up.

Obtaining Licenses and Permits

Before you start selling your art, you'll need to obtain any required licenses and permits.

The specific licenses and permits you need will depend on your location and the type of art you're selling. For example, if you're selling art on the street, you may need a vendor's license. If you're selling art online, you may need a sales tax permit.

It's important to research the requirements in your area and obtain any necessary licenses and permits before you start selling your art. Failure to do so can result in fines and legal problems down the road.

Setting Up Your Workspace

As an artist, your workspace is an important part of your business. Whether you work in a studio or at home, it's important to create a space that is comfortable, functional, and inspiring. Consider investing in high-quality equipment and supplies to help you create your best work.

However, if you don't have the space or resources, don't let that stop you! Personally, I create my artwork in my kitchen counter and use my dining table to dry my art. I have another small table and a rack in that same dining room where I put even more of my supplies.

AND...

because not everything fits there, I used up some space in two of my closets to store even more canvases and art supplies.

Yes, it gets cluttered and it's not ideal, however, it's the best solution I have found for my current circumstances. So do what is best for you!

You may also want to consider hiring an accountant or bookkeeper to help you manage your finances and keep track of your business expenses. 

Again, you don't have to start all fancy! Currently in my business, it's just me me who runs EVERYTHING! It's a lot, I get it! But just know you can bootstrap your way to success until you can hire someone to help you with a few tasks. 

If you have the money to hire someone, then go for it! This will help you achieve success faster as you will be able to do double the work.

Finally, make sure you have a system in place for managing your inventory and keeping track of your sales. This can be as simple as a spreadsheet or as complex as a dedicated inventory management system.

Managing Your Art Business

Managing Finances

Managing finances is a crucial aspect of running any business, and an art business is no exception. It is essential to keep track of your expenses and revenue to ensure that you are making a profit.

Keep a record of all your expenses, including art supplies, studio rent, marketing costs, and any other expenses related to your business. Use accounting software or hire an accountant to help you manage your finances.

It is also important to set prices for your artwork that are both profitable and competitive. Research the prices of similar artwork in your market and adjust your prices accordingly. Don't undervalue your work, but also don't overprice it.

Building a Client Base

Building a client base is essential to the success of your art business. Start by identifying your target audience and creating artwork that resonates with them.

Use social media and other marketing channels to promote your artwork and attract potential clients. When marketing your artwork, don't just post "Art piece for sale". That is lame! 

Instead, tell stories about how your art pieces came to be... what inspired you to create them. What is the meaning behind a certain piece of artwork. Stories can create powerful connections between you and your audience.

When someone purchases a piece of art from their favorite artist, they are not just looking to buy a piece of art that they can hang on their wall, display in their home, or wear themselves.

What they truly desire is to impress their friends and family when they walk into their homes and see a beautiful piece of art on the wall, or to be transported into the magical lands of a fantasy piece every time they look at it, or to feel beautiful in their wedding reception when they are wearing the jewelry piece they purchased.

So when you market your artwork, add that human touch and story to it!

Offering excellent customer service is also essential in building a loyal client base. Respond promptly to inquiries and deliver artwork on time. Consider offering discounts or other incentives to repeat customers to encourage them to continue buying your artwork.

Networking and Collaborating

Networking and collaborating with other artists and professionals in the art industry can help you grow your art business. Attend art fairs, exhibitions, and other events where you can meet other artists and potential clients.

Join art organizations and online communities to connect with other artists and share your work.

Collaborating with other artists or businesses can also help you expand your reach and attract new clients.

Consider partnering with a complementary business, such as a framing or printing company, to offer bundled services to clients.

Expanding Your Art Business

Diversifying Your Offerings

One way to expand your art business is by diversifying your offerings. This can include creating new products or services that complement your existing ones, or branching out into new niches or markets.

Consider conducting market research to identify areas of opportunity, and brainstorm ways to leverage your existing skills and resources to meet those needs.

Another option is to collaborate with other artists or businesses to create joint ventures or cross-promotions. This can help you reach new audiences and tap into new markets, while also sharing resources and expertise.

Scaling Up Your Business

If you're looking to grow your art business on a larger scale, you may need to consider scaling up your operations. This can involve investing in new equipment or technology, hiring additional staff or contractors, or expanding your physical space or online presence.

Before making any major investments, it's important to conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis and assess the potential risks and rewards.

You may also want to seek out advice or mentorship from other successful art business owners who have experience with scaling up their operations.

Click the image below to check out how thousands of artists, craftsmen, and specialty small business owners have achieved success following David Emmons' training.

Staying Relevant in Your Industry

In order to stay competitive and relevant in your industry, it's important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices.

This can include attending industry conferences and events, following relevant thought leaders and influencers on social media, and regularly seeking out feedback and input from your customers and clients.

You may also want to consider investing in ongoing education and training to expand your skills and knowledge base. This can help you stay ahead of the curve and position yourself as a leader in your field.

Personally, seeking out advice and mentorship from other successful art business owners is one of the things that I wish I had done earlier in my business.

It's great to just go out and learn everything you can on your own, however, there is a great benefit from having a mentor by your side that has been where you are now and can point you in the right direction. His/her years of experience will help you prevent so many costly and time-consuming mistakes and help you reach your goals faster!

Now, I invest in courses and mentorship programs because I know that I am investing in my future! 

Each of the courses I've invested in has helped me reach new milestones in my business.

If you really are determined to achieve success faster, I personally recommend you learn from someone like Dave Emmons who has been in the art industry for more than 35 years and knows the ins and outs of Facebook and social media marketing. 

His strategies for finding your perfect audience and selling art are proven and solid!

Check out this free online training that he has put together for artists like you and me.

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