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Art is a unique profession. It takes an incredible amount of skill, a large helping of passion, and a healthy dose of courage. It is one thing to create art as a hobby or an outlet for emotion. It is another thing entirely to put your work out into the world for everyone to comment on like that of an artist for hire.
However, if you truly feel called to be an artist, you have another conundrum. Making money as an artist is not an easy path to travel.
But if you are determined to become an artist for hire, take heart—in the digital age, there are more options than ever for getting your work out there and earning an income doing what you really want to do.
Which type of artist for hire are you?
The term “artist” brings to mind classical paintings or marbled sculptures, but in reality, the title is as varied as the people who carry it.
There are different mediums, sure, but there are also many different platforms artists use to make money. Deciding which avenue is going to be fulfilling for you is the first step in becoming an artist for hire. Here is a handful to consider:
1. Independent Seller
Indie artists have always existed, but the internet has made selling work on your own easier than ever. As an independent artist for hire, you can sell your work through established marketplaces like Etsy or Amazon Homemade, or set up your own online site and try to market yourself.
Independent sellers have complete control over their schedule and what kinds of projects they do, as well as how much to charge. It also gives you enough freedom to maintain a full-time job and sell your art on the side, if that is your preference.
2. In-House Artist
Another route is to find a company that needs a full-time artist for hire to create graphics, marketing materials, music, videos, illustrations, etc. You may be surprised to find how many corporations have these kinds of professionals on staff.
Working as a full-time employee may restrict the type of art you are able to do since all of your pieces will relate back to the business you are working for. However, the steady paycheck is very attractive to some artists.
Passing your love of art onto others can be a very very fulfilling way to be an artist for hire. Grade schools and high schools all over the world hire art teachers who get to experience the joy of seeing kids learn about art techniques for the first time, and give teenagers a positive outlet for their emotions. Universities, too, hire art professors, although that will most likely require some sort of graduate degree.
If that isn’t the lifestyle for you, many artists are also making a steady income offering small in-person seminars, online workshops or email courses. These take time to build but can be a great way to generate passive income that gives you more freedom to work on your passion projects.
4. Agent Represented
Some artists have the talent, tenacity and luck to find an agent willing to represent them. An agent can open doors to galleries, special events, licensing deals, and commissions.
Having an agent takes the pressure off of you to sell your work. An agent will typically handle the business side of things, leaving you free to explore the art that moves you. However, agents take their cut and having one is expensive. You should only consider an agent if you are an established artist with consistent sales.
5. Stock Artist
Somewhere between an independent seller and a corporate artist, stock artists generate images that can be purchased by the general public for personal use, marketing materials, education or anything else you can think of.
Creating stock art can be an easy way to become an artist for hire, since once you create the initial work, you simply lease, sell or post them to a stock library and wait for purchases to roll in. You can even use art you have already created, provided that you own the copyright.
If your work is accepted by a large site like Shutterstock, you may have no trouble generating sales. However, selling stock images on a smaller site or independently can be time-consuming, since you will need to market the work yourself.
How to become a top artist for hire
You’ve got the talent, probably some education (formal or informal) under your belt, and you are ready to become an artist for hire. How do you go about doing it? It will take hard work and tenacity, but the process is actually pretty straightforward:
1. Build a portfolio
You can’t sell art until you have art to sell. You can build up a strong portfolio on your own, or get inspired by asking your network of family and friends to commission pieces from you.
2. Get feedback
It is critical to find out what others think of your work as you move towards becoming an artist for hire. Meet with the local art community, enter contests, talk to old teachers or professors and take in all of the constructive criticism you can.
Use what is helpful and throw out what is not. You have to strike a balance between being open to change and improvement while staying true to the style and spark that make your work unique.
3. Find your niche
To become a professional anything, you have to find the right market. Beyond just your personal art style, you have to find the niche audience that can benefit from what you have to offer.
Is your artwork a good fit for educational settings, children’s books, businesses, formal events, political groups, or something else?
Narrowing your focus doesn’t necessarily mean you are limiting yourself to only that consumer group, but it does mean that you are tailoring your work to those most likely to purchase it.
4. Learn about marketing
Whether you choose to become an independent artist for hire, seek an agent or apply for full-time jobs, you’ll need to do some marketing of your work. You need basic knowledge of how to photograph your art, create a website, design business cards and present yourself as a true professional.
5. Go for it
Once you have created a brand for yourself and catalogued your portfolio online, the only thing to do is get started. Submit your work to agents, an online marketplace, or a stock photography site. If you aren’t accepted at first, don’t get discouraged! Take an online class, chat with your peers, make changes and try again.
Not an artist? Here’s where you can find an artist for hire
Art is essential to humankind. Businesses, decorators, homeowners, marketers, event planners, doctors, scientists—anyone, really—are likely to seek out an artist for hire on occasion.
Here are four sites where you can find an artist for hire:
Etsy has been an established marketplace for creators since 2005. Through their site, you can find artists from all different backgrounds with an amazing array of styles. Browse the gallery, choose one that is a good fit for your project, and communicate directly with the artist to commission the piece you need.
Hire an Artist is a UK-based business started by a student wanting to make commissioned artwork more accessible. You can either search through existing artwork to determine who you want to work with, or post your project publicly and sift through submissions. Either way, you should be able to find the artist for hire you are looking for easily.
Upwork is a freelance market where you can find almost any type of skill you need, including an artist for hire. Through Upwork, you can solicit bids from thousands of artists and choose the right fit. You will likely be able to find bargain prices here, but beware that many freelancers who are working for rock-bottom rates are inexperienced or unskilled.
Fiverr allows an artist for hire to post a service they are willing to do for a given amount. Alternatively, you can solicit proposals for a specific project. Be sure to read the reviews for an artist before selecting them for a job, and be clear in communicating your needs.
Start earning as an artist for hire
Whether you are seeking out an artist for hire or hoping to become one, the modern market is an exciting place for art. The internet has made it possible for millions of people to pursue a career that in the past may have avoided because it was not thought to be financially viable.
With the opportunity to turn hobby art into an actual business without leaving their day jobs, artists everywhere are creating some amazing work and making it available to others.
If you are a creator, don’t underestimate the value of beautiful or provocative art. You have every right to earn money from the things you produce. Set goals, work steadily towards them, read all you can about marketing yourself and then just start. You can only become an artist for hire if you take that first step.
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