Anyone who has a passion for creating art knows the concept of the starving artist. It’s an often romanticized part of being an artist, but when it comes down to it, it’s something that really hinders many people from becoming full-time artists. Lots of people look down on the concept of quitting your day job to do what you love most, because it can be very scary to lose your main source of income. It’s never an easy jump, and it’s almost always something that people will look down on.
Despite that, it is definitely possible to financially sustain yourself as an artist, even when you’re not an internationally acclaimed superstar artist. The biggest difference between those who just dream about the possibility of being an artist and those who actually successfully do it can often be pared down to just having a little more financial knowledge.
If you know how to use your money effectively, you too can find ways to do what you love without having to sacrifice too much of your safety and security. As long as you know which moves to make, you can have a successful career as an artist.
Live on a Budget
The first and perhaps most important part of being financially responsible is living on a budget. This is a critical part of making sure that you have enough money for the important things while still living comfortably and safely. It takes a little bit of preparation and discipline to successfully pull off, but as long as you put in the time and effort to financially stabilize and prepare yourself, your financial and personal security will be thanking you for years to come.
You want to know roughly how much money you both take in and spend every month. This means taking a long hard look at your income, as well as expenses. You need to be realistic and honest with yourself, even if what you find means there need to be some changes in how you spend your money.
A good foundation for people who make lower amounts of money is a concept called the “50/30/20” rule. This is the idea that out of your income, you should be 50% of it towards “needs,” such as your housing, utilities, insurance, transportation, and groceries. These are necessities that you can’t live without. After that, you should put 30% of your income towards “wants.” These are things that you don’t necessarily need but definitely make you happy, such as eating out, shopping, your hobbies, art supplies, gear, and other things that aren’t the bare necessities for life.
The remaining 20% should all go into savings. It can be hard to put a whole fifth of your income into savings, but when a rainy day comes, you’ll be glad you have all the extra money you’ve been saving up. This way, if you have a medical accident, a family problem, or any other high-priority need, you don’t need to go into debt to solve the issue. This can be a huge lifesaver for anyone, and you definitely shouldn’t neglect to save, even if your income is lower than you’d want.
For a real-world example, if your monthly income is $2000, following the 50/30/20 rule would mean you put $1000 to your rent, insurance, groceries, and other needs, $400 straight into savings, and the remaining $600 into however else you’d like to spend it.
Of course, everyone’s situation is different. You might be able to get by paying less for your needs, and that’ll allow you to put more money into savings and wants. However, you should always make sure to put at least 20% into savings; that could quite literally be a life-saving decision.
Don’t Forget to Save
Speaking of saving, that’s probably the second most important thing to focus on when working on your personal financial planning. If you don’t have anything saved up, you’re not alone; almost 70% of Americans have less than $1000, if anything, in a savings account. But just because you might not have anything saved up now doesn’t mean that it’s too late to start saving.
It can be difficult to have any kind of sizable sum of money and not do anything with it. Who knows when the next exciting car, or dream vacation, or the guitar that you’ve wanted forever will show up? Even if it’s almost painful not to spend money on something you love, make sure to keep your savings money in your bank account and not let it go unless you absolutely need to. There will always be exciting things to spend your money on, but when an emergency or accident happens, you’ll be much happier if you have a way to cover it without going into debt.
Another good option with savings is to invest your money. There are several platforms online that make investing easy, simple, and fun, so put some time into finding those places. Find a bank account that has a higher interest rate. Use a stock investing app like Acorns or Robinhood. Maybe go out on a limb and invest some of your money into the next crazy cryptocurrency.
Whatever you do, make sure to diversify your investments, and don’t put in so much that if the stock market gets too volatile in the wrong direction, you end up losing too much money. It’s always a risk, but sometimes, it really pays.
Learn How to Make Money from your Art
Another way to give yourself greater financial security and income as an artist is simply to find more ways to sell your art. In the online market, there are countless ways and platforms where artists can find new audiences for their art and new buyers for the things they create. Don’t let yourself get caught up in the diminishing old-fashioned ways of being an artist, and really lean into the new way that art is sold online.
If you are a visual artist, you should definitely check out our platform, Canvas Cultures. It’s our goal to make sure that artists are able to worry as little as possible about the business side of being an artist, so they can consistently only have to worry about creating the best art possible. We take your artwork and market, manufacture, and distribute it, so all you have to do is keep on creating the art that truly inspires you. If that sounds interesting to you, check out our page on becoming a new artist. Working with independent artists is our passion and specialty, and if that sounds like something you would be good with, reach out to us!
For visual artists, as well as artists working in other mediums like music and writing, a good way to get more work is by getting more exposure. Being intentional about the way that you use social media will pay dividends when you’re trying to pay your rent.
Increasing your audience and reach is one of the best ways to increase your sales and income. You can do this by posting high-quality content, posting consistently, and revealing more about yourself and your story via social media. You don’t need to truly expose yourself if you don’t want to, but the more personal your artwork is, the more likely people are to connect with it and hopefully buy it too!
If you need any inspiration for what it means to be financially secure as an artist, check out the motivational selection of canvases on our website. If you want a reminder of the taste of luxury, check out our selection of independently designed and manufactured canvases that champion the value of luxury.
You may have to grind and hustle your way through financial life for a few years, but as you grow your notoriety and business skills as an artist, you’re sure to find more firm financial footing in the world. Just remember that being successful as an artist doesn’t mean having a consistently overflowing bank account; all it means is that you can make it through, while making what you love. It’s an attainable goal for anyone with a little financial knowledge.
When it comes down to it, being financially stable and safe as an artist isn’t always easy. Especially for those starting out in the art world, it can seem like a daunting task to create a budget and stick to it, save your money, and find more avenues for your art to be found. But even if it’s scary, with a little bit of help and research into the ways that you can help yourself financially, you too can escape the stereotype of being a starving artist!