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Money: Are You Making Enough Art for a Profitable Art Business?

Four Factors and a "Wild Card” 

Estimated reading time: Two minutes

“How much art work do I need to make each year to make a decent living?”

There is no blanket answer to this question.

The possible answers depend on many factors – and the combination of factors affects each artist in a different way.

I challenge my artist clients to produce 100 pieces each year of market ready mid-sized two-dimensional work. These artists may make more or fewer pieces, but my challenge gives them a number to aim for until they arrive at the size of body of work that makes sense for their goals and the type of work they create. 

The five most obvious factors that determine how much art you produce are:

1. Your level of art skills and the quality of your tools and materials. 

The better your skills, tools and materials, the faster you can make quality work. 

2. Your productive work habits, consistency and systems.

The more you work, and the more systematically or consistently you work, the more reliably you can produce a certain number of artworks in a certain time frame.

3. How much money you have to invest and how much you need to make. 

Your only resources are time, money and energy. The more of those resources you have to invest, the greater the possibility of a high return. Determine the income you want and divide that number by the average price of work sold. Now calculate the cost to make that inventory.

4. Deadlines and choices.

Deadlines are a great way to focus your mind and to call on the stamina and adrenaline you need to complete work you started for a future exhibit. 

Deadlines are also a matter of choice. If an exhibit is coming up or a commission is due by a certain date, you can decide to say yes or no. But if you say yes, have your work ready to deliver. 

5. The "wild card" of creativity.

Even if you use these factors to come up with a number of artworks to create, your creative process is the "wild card" – hard to predict. 

There are days when it’s hard to get started in the studio, or when your confidence is down — about your art, or life in general. 

Some days, nothing may turn out the way you want. Other days you amaze yourself. 

Sometimes your muse will come when you call. Other times you have to wade through the muck without boots to find her.

Michelle Sirois-Silver does intricate time-consuming work in textile arts. 

“It takes me two years to create a body of work for a solo exhibition, which is challenging because I am always evolving my art but I constantly reference the original concept and early pieces in the series.  

"Preparing for the two solo exhibitions was a rite of passage. They created the opportunity to develop a strong work ethic because I went on to make twenty hand hooked pieces over an eighteen-month period, which is no small feat."

She made fewer than 100 but she stretched beyond what she’d originally thought possible. 

What about you? Where have you set the bar for your art production? Is that enough, too much or just right?

I understand the challenges of art production – just one of many kinds that we face as artists and members of the human race. Let me know how I can help you get your art and life going in the direction you want to go at your pace. The first 15 minutes is on me.

The Productive Artist: How to Be More Productive Without a Magic Wand 

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Reader Comments (1)

Great article.

June 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDarryl Edward

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