How To Make Money With Your Art

There are so many ways to make money with your art. I am going to tell you the 5 ways that have worked for me and how you can find these kinds of opportunities yourself. 

It’s important as an artist to have many streams of income. Pick at least a couple to try out.

Live Painting

I absolutely LOVE live painting. Live painting is great for getting your name into the world. People love seeing artists in their element. Also, it’s interesting to watch! Especially, if you do live painting that is totally free style. It’s so fun and you’ll never know what you will create.

Live painting at Doobie Nights in Santa Rosa. Pants made by my partner @izzy.tha.great

When I paint live in public, it is so helpful for me. I meet lots of people and I get immediate feedback from strangers about my work. Negative or positive, when I get feedback from strangers I learn a lot. It makes me feel like I might be a good artist if lots of strangers tell me they like my work. PLUS you can make tips depending on the location. Some grocery stores will let you paint in front of their store and have a tip jar. In some areas you will need to get a street performance permit to be able to accept tips while painting live in public.

You can also charge for your live painting services for events.

How to become a live painter: 

Practice painting in public 

Document and timelapse each piece you make to establish credibility for being a live painter

Add it to the services page on your website (make that sh*&% official)[example in photo below]

Create or find opportunities to paint live for events or in public 

  1. Places that host live music are great places to get a gig and be able to accept tips. If you live in Sonoma County, Oliver’s Markets are a great place to start. Send them a portfolio of your painting live and ask if you can paint there. They are super nice! 
  2. Look for local events and apply as a live painter, like a place would apply for a booth.
  3. Post an ad on craigslist and social media saying you are looking for live painting opportunities.
  4. Ask around, talk to strangers about your goal. People are wise. 

TIPS FOR LIVE PAINTING

  • Prepare really well!
  • If you have to paint a specific image, prepare necessary things for that at home. 
  • Think creatively about what you need to do beforehand. 
  • Pack all of your paints and supplies the day before

I always pack:

  • acrylic paints 
  • brushes 
  • jar For water
  • water
  • paper towels
  • gloves
  • scissors
  • painters tape 
  • acrylic markers 
  • random pens pastels, or charcoal for fun 
  • random stuff that looks good from in my studio
  • easel 
  • small palette 
  • sometimes a mobile wall to display my work
  • stickers and business cards to hand out
  • some small artwork I can give away for free if anyone seems particularly interested in my work 
  • portable speaker (for playing chill beats)
  • phone battery pack and charger
  • pencils 
  • a bag with a bin in it 
  • food
  • a sign (mine is a chalkboard sign)
  • chair, for sitting sometimes and to hold some supplies 
  • plastic to protect the ground 
  • panels or canvases (the larger the better)
  • Thrift stores have good deals on old canvases. Gesso that b*&% up and get to painting. Or incorporate the art from the image like this piece I did below. 

To learn how I got interested in Live painting checking my post “Live Painting – What It Is – Why I Love It + Tips for Starting Out”

Sell @ the Farmers Market

This option takes a lot of prep work but could be so worth it for you depending on what you make. 

To sell your art at farmers markets you have to research your local farmers markets. They all have different criteria and requirements. For my local market, they required that I have a business licence, a sellers permit, a 10ft by 10ft tent, and pictures of my booth and set up.

Getting the licence and permit is time consuming but important for many other opportunities too. It’s good to get all the legal details worked out for selling your art anyways.

Other good things to send to the farmers market after you fulfill all their requirements are: 

  • letters of recommendation or a list of 3 references.  
  • A qr code of a video talking about your art and why you want to sell at the market. 
  • A qr code to a video of your booth totally set up.

If you have a lot of big work, the market may not be for you. People at the market aren’t usually coming for art, just food, so a big art purchase is less likely to happen. I have had success selling small pieces. Stickers would be a great idea also. 

One really important part of my setup is my standing wall. It was expensive but so worth it because I can put up my art as if it was a wall. It stands out.

Taking off the sides of your tent is a good idea so people can notice your booth better.

What I use in my booth set up:

Sell @ Local Stores

Reach out to local stores for selling small pieces of yours or stickers. Local stores that specialize in local goods are best.

My art at Made Local Marketplace in Santa Rosa.

To reach out to local stores you have to: 

  • Do your research, some stores have online applications you can submit.
  • You will need to obtain a business licence and sellers permit.
  • You can send a digital portfolio of your works or works you would like to sell at their location. + a nice email talking about why you want to sell there. Get creative and be yourself. It’s important to look credible if you do this. Maybe make a video explaining why you want to sell at their location so they can get a feel of you as a person. People trust people who are passionate. Sounds passionate, it goes a long way. It’s important to have a nice website and social media to send over to look credible.
  • Walk into local businesses that look like a good fit for your art. Show them small samples of your work and propose that they could take 50% commission for selling your works. It would look professional if you had an inventory list of your works. Most places will want an inventory list if they want to sell your works. It’s helpful for keeping track of everything for both parties.
  • It’s typical for stores to take 50% commission to price accordingly. Smaller cheaper works sell the most. Stickers may be a good thing to sell. Smaller profit but it’s easier to sell more. People love stickers.

Make an effort to get to know your community. Local businesses like promoting local businesses as well. Even if they don’t accept your proposal, maybe they have another opportunity for you. You never know unless you try. Reach out. You can do this!!

Offer Your Services

What services do you have to offer? Could you paint a mural? Design a logo? Make commissioned work? Whatever you think you can do, offer it as a service. Add services to your website.

To gain credibility offer some services for free or as a donation. This will help you build your portfolio for service work. It may even be wise for you to have picture examples of your service work. After you do some service work for free you could ask for a written review that you can post on your website under “testimonials.” Three to five good testimonials can go a long way.

Sell Stickers Online

For this one, having some kind of following online really helps. It is also helpful to have a drawing tablet but it’s not necessary.

Create some cool designs and order cheap samples from Sticker Mule. Sticker Mule is awesome because you can buy samples, most places don’t offer that. It’s about $9 to order 10 samples and sometimes they give you extra stickers.


If you don’t have a huge following do a sticker collab with another artist on instagram. 

I collabed with @the_wallooner on this collaboration and we were able to sell them. Check out there work. It’s so dope.

You can make a Big Cartel website for free to use as the place where you sell your stickers. It’s super easy, takes about an hour to set up but it’s worth it.

I hope these money making ideas were helpful for you. Good luck! I believe in you.

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