Start an Art Business 101

By: Kara Pixie

Art is a business.  

Beyond the colorful canvas, the numerous paint brushes and personal studio there is quite a bit to account for.  

Check out these strategies to make you the best artist, and entrepreneur, that you can be!

Manage your time wisely.

 Image courtesy of Kara Pixie

Image courtesy of Kara Pixie

Time management must be priority, because the best work might necessitate lengthy days in the studio, deliberating the finer details to make it the perfect piece suitable for the buyer.

Keep those purse fillers, AKA receipts!

As an artists, it’s crucial that you carefully keep track of what you spend, as art supplies are costly. Advice from experience and a wonderful idea from @Qbhome: when running a small business, use the jar technique.

This is a great way to keep track of expenditures in a way that works nicely with the artist’s style, sometimes scattered yet ALWAYS creative.  

On her Instagram @Qbhome suggested a receipt jar. It is as simple as getting a cute jar and labeling it with the proper month and fill it with receipts.  The most common receipts that slip by without notice for artists is the table space at markets.  These can be last minute decisions made with excitement, and the receipt tends to be the last thing you think about, especially since the payments for the space is usually with cold hard cash.  At the end of the month open the jar and organize it for your record.  If you are techy unlike me, add it to a spreadsheet.  If computers aren’t your forte, scan each paper to keep on file.  Keep everything accounted for to stay on budget, including taxes for your business if applicable,


Determine your worth. Multiple by three.

  Available for purchase  (Artist: Kara Pixie)

Available for purchase (Artist: Kara Pixie)

Once your masterpiece  is done, how do you price it?  $20 or $200 might be a common dilemma before it heads off to its new rightful owner. Accounting for those questions is a must when it comes to the business of art.  Simple it is not!

This is the million dollar question for artists. What do you charge for your work? It is so personal. No one can tell you what to charge for your blood, sweat and soul (yes that is what art work is to us artists) but here are a few questions for you to consider as you tackle this challenge:

Look around, what are other artists around your level on Etsy and Shopify selling at?

What style are they painting and what are they charging? Always consider the cost of supplies as baseline for your price point. I was once told at an art fair to think of what you are willing to sell a painting at, then to triple it.  People will buy!

Wrapping up

Being an artist isn’t just about following your passion and spending your days painting away the time. If you want to turn your passion into a profitable business, remember the basics:

  1. Manage your time wisely.
  2. Keep track of inventory.
  3. Keep those purse fillers, AKA receipts!
  4. Determine your worth. Multiple by three.

And remember, do what you love and love what you do. There is art all around us, all we have to do is open our eyes and let our hand paint the rest.

A New Yorker in every sense of the word, Kara Caroccio began her professional career after graduating from Seton Hall University with a B.A. in Biological Anthropology and Fine Arts. Her background includes experience in the non-profit and art space, as well as a position as Executive Assistant to the Chairman at IMG Media. She is an active member of her community, involved in the local church and volunteer work for her alma maters. She is an activist for lyme disease and children with learning differences. She explores creative ways to match art, fashion and philanthropy by participating in local community events. In her free time, Kara can be found trying out new restaurants with her fiancé, exploring local art exhibits or painting alongside her bare-eyed cockatoo, Buddy. Follow her adventures at @KaraPixie on Instagram.

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