As it turns out, the starving artist stereotype is not too far off. According to the 2011 National Household Survey and Labor Force Survey, the average income among Canadian artists is $27,600. Compared with an average of $45,400 for the overall labour force, this is a difference of 39%, a significant departure.
Fortunately, for the majority of artists who are unable to land stable positions, the internet offers some hope. With the universal availability of the internet and the rise of e-commerce, a lot of opportunities have opened up for people to earn a living. With that in mind, here are some of the best ways for artists to make money online.
1. Print Selling
You can make decent money by printing out copies of your artwork and selling them online. Art lovers like buying prints because they’re often more affordable than buying original pieces, and artists like selling them because they can make multiple sales off the same piece.
To get started, simply set up a blog, website, or social media page promoting your artwork. Outsourcing printing and DIY printing each have their own advantages and disadvantages, so you’ll need to figure out which method works best for you.
2. 3D Printing
From architecture to toy-making, 3D printing is a versatile medium that is gaining popularity. Figurines, replicas, and sculptures made via 3D printing are all currently hot in online art markets. You’ll need a solid background in Computer-Aided Design or CAD to get started, but once you have that down the learning curve is not too bad.
If selling art online is foreign to you, there are many resources to help get you on the right track.
3. Graphic Design
Freelance graphic design is widespread on the internet. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014), one in five of graphic designers is self-employed and works from home.
There is quite a lot of work available online for those who can design a good poster, package, magazine and other print media. If you know what you’re doing, graphic design can be a great way to make a living off your art.
4. Merchandise Design
With silly doodles and witty phrases, graphic tees are a wardrobe staple that will never go out of style. For artists, they offer an opportunity to earn some solid cash.
Pouches, bags, notebooks and other items that frequently feature graphics provide even more opportunities. Some well-known clothing lines had their start with simple t-shirt printing, so you can’t go wrong here.
To get started, you can promote on your own site or tap into established online markets.
Although the starving artist is not disappearing any time soon, the internet is beginning to offer more opportunities for artists. While each idea listed above may not provide a full, steady income standing alone, diversifying your income stream by pursuing several of them could be fruitful. Even if you don’t make a fortune, the good news is that the internet offers more ways to support yourself through your art than ever before.