Interview: The Business of Doing Art
Q1: As a full-time artist, how have you managed to monetize your art?
Monetizing my art did not come naturally to me. A good friend talked me into selling her an ‘art print’ of my drawing and after selling it to her I received inquiries from other people who wanted to commission me for drawings. But I was so attached to my work and also too insecure and inexperienced in the industry to demand appropriate prices. So I would sit for 20-30 hours on a drawing, then pay a print service for a high resolution scan, a canvas print and for framing of the artwork and then ended up selling it to customers at near cost price while keeping all original work to myself. I was not making any money, but the excitement of having people interested in my creations fulfilled me more than money. It took me a long time to better understand the value of my work. I figured that if I wanted to make a living out of my passion, I had to start treating it as a business instead of the hobby that it was for most of my life.
Q3: Tell us about a typical day: Do you have a set routine?
My day typically starts early with responding to social media inbox messages and comments that have accumulated over night. I then start painting at about 9am or 10am and finish by 6pm. It's very important to me to stick to a 'classical work day' schedule to feel productive. I find that if I 'overdo' it and work very late nights I get drained much faster and don't feel balanced. I listen to audio books while I paint, it keeps me focused and stimulates me mentally during those long hours of sitting still and painting. I take short breaks for my eyes every two hours and also stretch my body during those breaks. I typically fit in an hour for emails and admin in the evenings and the most important thing of my day is my exercise routine that I follow religiously. Sitting still for so long would be physically and mentally impossible for me if I didn't workout at least 30-60 minutes every day.
Q2: How do you promote your work?
I try to use every channel available to me to sell my art. Exposure is the key of having your work seen and attracting potential clients. Galleries and agents obviously take a big cut off the sales price of an artwork, so I try to promote myself as much as possible and focus on my social media presence. Almost all my commissioned work was ordered through my Instagram page where people all around the world are able to view my portfolio. In my opinion, social media is by far the most important asset to this business.