With potential cuts to the arts at the forefront of artistic concerns today, artists are freaked. Rightly so; art education and support have always struggled to receive any degree of equality with STEM counterparts, whether it’s through education or through career opportunities.
I have a bachelor’s degree in English, and I’m pursuing one in Game Design right now. It’s safe to say that, with all the art present on this site, I’m pretty passionate about the field. I’ve taken to different routes to support myself with my art, and while I’m not there yet, the concern of being able to support yourself while working as an artist is a big one, especially in the current climate.
So, let’s brainstorm! We’ll start by distinguishing the two types of support I’m talking about here: emotional and financial. As an artist, you really need both, and they can both be hard to get.
Emotional support here is finding a place in the art community where you feel like people believe in you, your art, and art as a whole. It’s hard to find in some places, but it’s out there, and you can get it. This is not an exhaustive list; this is just what works best for me.
- Find a social media platform you like. There’s no point in using ones you don’t care about; the time sink is wasteful, and the climate might not be for you. I personally don’t care for Reddit or Tumblr, but I love Instagram and YouTube. It varies depending on the person, so find one you like first and foremost.
- When you’ve found that platform, post often! People will need to get to know you, so you’ve got to share your work. Whether it’s WIPs, or finished pieces, or even pictures of what you’re drawing, try sharing as often as you can. Once a day is a great rule of thumb for something like Instagram.
- Support others! You can want support, but if you’re not following other artists, or chatting with them, or letting them know what you think of their piece, it won’t help. Joining a community means being a part of a community, so take this opportunity to make some friends and join in the chat.
- Be kind, but honest. If you see a piece of art that you think might need a little work anatomically, you can let the artist know, but be kind about it. Criticism should be constructive. How would you react to what you’re saying to them? Is it helpful? Does it give them something they can learn from?
- Share art with friends and family. Post it on your Facebook, or your blog. Send pictures and ask what they think. It means a lot to have the support of someone who loves you and cares about you, and sometimes all you have to do is share the picture!
Financial support is where you earn money from your artistic pursuits and creations, and it is the golden goose. It’s hard to get, hard to maintain, and terrifying to rely on until you’re fully established. But, there are ways to make it happen.
- Get an Etsy. Start selling some of your work online. Make sure you’re pricing it fairly and marketing it well (two topics I won’t cover here, because they’re very depthful). Etsy is a great platform with a solid search engine, so it’ll get seen as long as you’re using it right.
- Try art fairs. Be wary of farmer’s markets or craft fairs, because they might not always be very lucrative, but you can check into art shows or art specific fairs to see other artists and sell your work locally!
- Conventions! I’ve done one as an artist and I’m hooked. It was damn near profitable, which is insane for an initial con, and I know I can do better at bigger cons with more prep. Make sure it’s within your budget, but if you’ve got the right variety of merch, you can make good money at a con.
- Patreon. I’m new to this one, but you can see my initial set up here. It’s a nice way for followers to support you monthly or per project, and you give them perks in return. It’s been very successful for some, but it does take time to gain a following.
- Look for gigs. I’ve used Craigslist in the past, and I’ve gotten some good temporary art jobs there, designing game art or creating short illustrations. This probably isn’t the best way for a long term job, but it’s good for some quick interim projects that pay and give you experience.
Keep in mind, I’m still working on developing my own support system, both financially and emotionally. It takes a looooong time. It’s worth it, though, especially when you realize that if you’ve got the emotional support, you’re prepped mentally to do the hard work to get the financial support.
Leave a comment if you have other ideas, or have had experiences to add to this list!