5 Things to Avoid When Monetizing Your Artwork

Thinking about these 5 things early on in your artrepreneurial journey will help you avoid time-wasting mistakes.

1. Undervaluing Yourself

As you start to think about asking for money for your artwork, it can be hard to place a dollar amount on your value. But doing so is one of the first steps to monetizing your artwork. It’s important to strategically price your artwork–learn about how to do so here.

If you’ve never charged for your art before, it can be easy to undervalue yourself. You might sell your first oil painting for $300 and realize later that it was worth at least $1,000. A mentor once told me to start high to test the market; if people won’t buy my product because it’s too expensive, then lower my price. Do this until they finally purchase, and you’ve found your sweet spot. Unfortunately, lots of artrepreneurs (myself included) do the opposite. We price too low and gradually increase as we realize the value that we’re really providing. Save yourself some time and lost money, and make sure you are valuing yourself and your artwork fairly.

2. Undervaluing Others

Artrepreneurs are often “solo-preneurs”–people who are building a business on their own. As a solopreneur, its easy to undervalue the help and support of others. You might think that it’s easier to do things on your own, but have you tried working with someone else to accomplish the same goals? Of course, working with others isn’t always easy, but the power of teamwork makes the collaboration worth it. Instead of trying to do things all on your own, start off your artrepreneurial journey with others on your side.

3. Not Thinking About the Customer First

Being an artrepreneur is unique because artwork is often more important to artrepreneurs than other products like, let’s say, toilet paper or toothbrushes. Artrepreneurs are so connected to their artwork, that they often forgot to think about their customers first. Remember: As an artrepreneur, you are creating for other people, not for yourself. The customer must be the core of your creative business. Your art-based product or service is made for them.

4. Only Creating for Money

However, artists also need creative time that is not restricted by product limitations or the wants of the customer. As an artrepreneur, remember to take time to create for yourself, not only for your customers. Become dedicated to working on art for your business AND art for yourself. If you forget to create for the sake of creating, you risk losing the joy of creating artwork for others by burning yourself out.

5. Not Asking for Feedback

Depending on the creative product or service you offer, you may have a close interaction with your customers or you may not. Regardless, you must find a way to ask for their feedback. Understanding the experience of your customers will:

– Help you ensure that your product or service is of quality
– Help you improve the customer experience in the future
– Help you identify important changes that you might need to make to your business model
– Help you develop trust with your customers

Whether you create a standardized digital survey, informally ask your customers about their experience in person, or do something in between, getting feedback from your customers and your partners can mean the difference between building a sustainable creative business and not. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from others; its purpose is to make you more successful in the future.

Thinking about these 5 things early on in your artrepreneurial journey will help you avoid time-wasting mistakes. But also remember to revisit each of these points as you grow your creative business. All are important to your continued artrepreneurial success!

Peace, Kayla

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Funding Sources for Artrepreneurs

Looking for funding as an artrepreneur can be overwhelming. Start by learning about your options.

Depending on your business model, you may or may not need a cash infusion to start up your art-based business. For example: If you need a certain machine to create your product, or you need a physical location, you might be looking for sources of funding to help you get started. Let’s talk about some options.

Remember: Successful funding is reliant on your ability to pay back the money you borrow, with interest. In order to do this, your business must make money–enough to pay back debts and still make a profit. That’s why its so important to understand your business model and ensure that you will make the amount of money you think you’ll make.

Note: The word DEBT is a four-letter word to many people. But, it’s not always bad. If you can make enough money to pay back what you’ve borrowed and still make a profit, debt is really a tool you can use to help build your business. However, if you don’t do your due diligence to ensure that you will be able to make the amount of money you think you’ll make, debt can become your worst enemy. Preparation is so important in artrepreneurship. Before taking funding of any kind, make sure you do the prep work needed to ensure it’s a good decision! (If you’d like to read about how to do this prep work, let me know in the comments section below!)

Types of Funding Sources

Most banks give out business loans. However, most banks only want to invest in “low-risk businesses” (cookie-cutter businesses that are part of secure industries and have proven business models). As an artrepreneur, your creative business, most likely, does not fall into this category. Visit your local Small Business Development Center to ask if your business might be considered a fit for bank loans.
Remember: Lenders are most concerned with your business model (is it sound, will it make money, is there room for growth?) and YOU. Lenders want to see that you have extensive knowledge in your field/industry, that you have good credit, and that you are personally financially stable. Banks want low-risk investments. If you’re credit is poor, or you have a hard time handling your personal finances, banks will be much less likely to invest in your business. It’s important to take the time to improve your personal situation so that funders will be more willing to work with you.

Investors are usually interested in tech/software/medical companies who have high growth potential. As an artrepreneur, your creative business, most likely, does not fall into this category. However, there are investors of all kinds out there. If you can prove that your creative business has potential for high profits and growth, this could be a good path for you. You’ll need to look for investors who have an interest in the arts. A personal connection between yourself and them is always helpful. Again, these investors will be looking at both your business model and YOU. When talking with investors, you must be able to sell your ability to execute the business plan and create a profitable business. Practicing your elevator pitch and understanding your business model will be VERY important.

Many artrepreneurs take to crowdfunding sources to help raise money. Crowdfunding platforms allow individual people to donate small to large amounts of money to businesses. Kickstarter is a popular crowdfunding platform. On Kickstarter, those who donate are guaranteed a gift of some sort in return for their investment, with larger donations resulting in larger gifts.
This funding source is usually most successful when the business already has a strong online following, or their offering is so innovative that people are drawn to it and want to be part of its development.

FFF stands for Friends, Family, and Fools. This kind of funding source draws from your existing network and requires that you convince those you know to join you in your artrepreneurial journey. Like the other sources of funding, those investing will want some kind of return for their investment. They might ask for a percentage of the business, interest on a time-specific loan, or unlimited use of the product or service in the future. Whatever it is, it’s important that you treat these investors like any other… Create a contract! Let them know exactly what you’re asking for and exactly what they’ll get out of the relationship.
This funding source can be tricky because you are involving friends and family (and maybe some fools) in your business affairs. Only work with those you trust–people who can act professionally and take on the role of an investor, not just a friend.

As an artrepreneur, you may have some opportunities to receive grants that are created just for entrepreneurs in the arts. You’ll have to do research to find them. Remember: Just like every other funding source, the money you receive isn’t “free.” In the case of grants, you might have certain limitations on how the money can be spent, or there might be goals you need to accomplish with the money. Make sure to read the fine print to understand what you’re agreeing to before accepting any grant money.

The Business
Depending on your business model, you might not need to look for outside sources of funding. If you’re able to start making profits for a relatively low amount of cash, you can use those profits to fund the next round of your business plan. Think about how you can strategically launch your business so that it can pay for itself. If your business model fits this strategy well, you’ll be happy that you took the time to develop your business in a way that allowed it to become its own source of funding.

We’ve only scraped the surface of each of these funding sources. Hopefully, you’ve identified one or two that might be a good fit for your creative business. If so, now is the time to do more research. Before you approach any of these funding sources, you’ll need to confirm that your business model is well thought out and has potential for profitability.

If you would like to read more about how to approach each kind of funding source, leave a comment down below!

Peace, Kayla

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Should You Still Start Your Own Creative Business in the Midst of COVID?

Coronavirus has brought a lot of uncertainty to our lives, especially for those planning to take the artrepreneurial leap. With businesses closed and consumers running out of disposable income, you might be wondering if now is still the right time to start your own art-based business. Before making a decision, ask yourself the following questions:

Photo by Andy Dean Photography

Does the need still exist?

Hopefully, you’ve been able to work through your business model and you understand the need that you can fill with your creative business. The solution you create to help fill your customers’ needs is your true value. To understand if you should still start your creative business or not, you must think about your value and whether it is still strong enough to move forward. So, if the Coronavirus has completely changed the market you’re thinking about entering, your value might no longer exist.

You must be candid with yourself: Does the need for your product or service still exist? You might want to do some research to understand what’s changed.

How has the need changed?

Maybe the need does still exist, but has shifted in some way. Maybe customers could still use your product or service, but your offering would be more valuable if you modified it. For example: Lots of artists are taking full advantage of online classes and online formats to help deliver their value. Consider revisiting each portion of your business model and asking yourself what has changed and what you can expect things to look like in the future.

Are you financially prepared?

Let’s say you’ve decided that the need does still exist, and you’ve thought of ways to adjust your services to match the impacts of COVID-19. There are still a few important questions to ask about yourself: How has your financial situation changed? Do you still have a solid source of income to help you get by in the first few months? Emergency savings? A solid funding source? Re-evaluate your current financial situation to understand if starting your art-based right now is the best choice for you.

Are you emotionally prepared?

Lastly, it’s important to make sure that you are emotionally prepared to take on this already challenging endeavor amidst a global crisis. Becoming an artrepreneur is hard work and building a business takes time. Do you have the emotional capacity to launch your art-based business right now? Entrepreneurs often struggle with putting the brakes on starting a business–but sometimes its needed. Your business will not be successful if you’re not ready to take on the artrepreneur role. It’s okay to take some time to prepare yourself and your business before taking the ‘big’ leap. Remember: Direction is more important than speed.

So should you still start your own creative business in the midst of COVID? It depends on your answers to these questions. Be honest in your dialogue–the success of your creative business relies on your ability to coordinate your vision with reality.

If now isn’t the right time to start your business, that doesn’t mean your artrepreneurial journey is over. Timing is important in the world of artrepreneurship, and you’re doing yourself a favor by evaluating how COVID-19 will affect you and your future creative business.

Peace, Kayla

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Examples of Artists Turned Artrepreneurs

Famous artists of all kinds are using business to bring their art to the next level.

Artrepreneurship isn’t a new concept, it’s just more accepted now than ever before. Let’s take a look at some artrepreneurial pioneers who have proven how important it is to use both art and business to help share your vision with the world.

Andy Warhol

Photograph of Andy Warhol in Moderna Museet, Stockholm, before the opening of his retrospective exhibition. Brillo boxes are seen in the background. Sourced from Wikimedia Commons.

“Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol is known for bringing concepts of capitalism into his famous pop art, as is seen in his Moderna Museet exhibition or his most famous Campbell’s Soups paintings. As a self-declared “business-artist” in the 1960’s, Warhol created a whole new perspective of artrepreneurship that was still yet to be popular or even well-accepted in the art community. To Warhol, building a business and using it to spread his art was a form of art in of itself. To others, using business as a tool was considered “selling out.”

Andy Warhol mass-printed his work and sold it to people across the world, bringing his art to those would have never been able to see it. Using his own warehouse factory created a lot of controversy around Warhol’s name, but helped him gain notice and cash that he otherwise would have never seen. As the idea of artpreneurship becomes more and more popular in the 21st century, do you think Warhol’s experience would be the same, should he have been a modern-day business-artist?

Warhol paved the way for artists to start taking control of their own distribution and utilizing business to share and create their work.

David Bowie

Graphic image of David Bowie. Image by heisan from Pixabay

David Bowie pursued many creative entrepreneurial endeavors during his career. His interest and innovative use of technology led him to successful, and some not-so-successful, artrepreneurship attempts including a “cybercast” concert in 1997 that was ahead of his time. As the first musician to sell a song online, Bowie was known for using technology to monetize his work.

Bowie was always looking for entrepreneurial opportunities, and even launched his own Internet Service Provider in 1998. Although the project wasn’t a huge success, his risk-taking in the realm of business earned him credibility in the entrepreneurial space. In the early 2000’s, Bowie often spoke of a day when artists and musicians would no longer need labels, because they would have full control of their work and it’s distribution, made possible by business.

David Bowie has been credited as a visionary not only because of his music, but because of how he used business to share it.

George Lucas

George Lucas, Photo by Wally Fong/AP Images

Creator of the Star Wars empire and Indiana Jones series, George Lucas is a true artrepreneur. Lucas not only broke into an industry that was saturated with Hollywood-born individuals, but he created a company that would later be sold to Disney for $4.6 billion dollars. The base of this deal came from the beautiful synchronization of art and business that was Lucas Films. Lucas’ imaginative, ground-breaking concepts and top-notch execution would have never been realized without his entrepreneurial spirit and strategic business decisions when forming his company and working with others to fund his projects. Although his concepts would later be considered as some of the best feature-length films ever produced, they did not originally help him gain his empire. It was Lucas’ use of business that helped him share his art with the world, so that it could be recognized in the way it is today.

A huge inspiration for myself and my team, George Lucas is one of the most interesting artrepreneurs to study–and one of the most successful.

Artrepreneurship has increased in popularity from the time of Warhol to the time of Lucas, and continues to grow in it’s importance. In the 21st century, artists have more and more resources to help them take control of their artwork, its distribution, and their own brands. Congratulations on finding your way to this article, because it means that you’re asking the right questions about how to use art and business together to help you share your vision with the world. You’re ahead of the herd, if you start building your creative business and brand now.

Follow Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet to get all the information you need to start your artrepreneurial journey!

Peace, Kayla

How to Become the Most Successful Artrepreneur You Can Be (Hint: Integrity)

Want to change the world with your creative business? Here’s one thing you’ll need.

Every person who sets out to start their own art-based business has the intention of becoming successful. No one wants to become an artrepreneur just to fail. But when preparing to become a creative entrepreneur, our research is usually limited to how to build a solid business and how to market and how to sell our product. What’s not so popular is discussing the personal strengths that are needed to become a happy, successful entrepreneur.

In my time of learning through University education and real-life business mentorship, one commonality has remained: Integrity is a critical component to becoming a successful business owner who leads change in their business and in the world.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Integrity can be defined in many ways, but three ways have stuck out to me most:

Integrity is doing what you say you’ll do.

Integrity is about doing the right things for the right reasons.

Integrity is present when you act in accordance with the beliefs and values you say you hold.

Most of us like to think that we are good people who have integrity. And that’s usually true. But let’s talk about some situations where good artrepreneurs are faced with challenges to maintaining their integrity:

Reporting income

As an entrepreneur, you’ll be faced with much autonomy when it comes to reporting your own income, especially if you’re taking payments in cash. It can be easy to write everything off, or report less income than you’ve actually received. I’m not here to tell you what is right and wrong, but I am here to encourage you to think about what choice is right for you. A mentor once told me to make decisions under the assumption that every decision would end up on the front page of the New York Times. Silly, considering that the NYT isn’t exactly following my every move. But helpful, because it got me thinking about the kind of person I want to be. Think about what kind of person you want to be when making these types of decisions.


This one’s tough, because sometimes we don’t even realize we’re doing it. But, there’s a fine line between inspiration and plagiarism. If you make a mistake and realize you’ve plagiarized someone else’s work, just be honest and give them the credit they deserve. This can happen when an artrepreneur brings assistants and other partners in to help with executing projects. Make sure to credit them with the work they’ve done, and be clear about the team that helps make your creative business successful.

How you treat your customers & employees or partners

You’ve probably heard the popular saying that the customer is always right. Obviously, that’s not always true–but customers love when business owners accommodate them anyway. This might look like NOT placing blame on a customer, even when the blame is theirs to take. This might look like being completely honest when you make a mistake, and providing a way to “make it right.” When mistakes happen, entrepreneurs are presented an opportunity to build relationships that will last by showing their customers that they have integrity. Emotions are a huge part of customer loyalty. Appeal to your customers’ emotions by being honest, helpful and genuine.

Another issue that entrepreneurs face is evading the truth or inferring things that aren’t true when they’re in a bind. Sometimes its easier to say nothing than to tell the truth, but this can often hurt your relationship with customers and partners. Again, transparency and honesty are critical for developing and maintaining relationships that are going to help make you a successful artrepreneur.

Integrity is something that’s always growing, with every choice we make. I don’t say these things to assume that you need this advice, or to pretend like I’ve got integrity all figured out. But I’m working on it–I’m committed to choosing integrity. I say these things to give you food for thought that will hopefully help you become an even better artrepreneur.

Peace, Kayla

P.S. Here at Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet, it’s all about giving you straight-up, honest, helpful information about the artrepreneurial journey. Follow below for more honest conversations about finding success in your own artrepreneurial journey!