How to Start an Art Consulting Business

Art consultants serve two separate (but related) business functions. They may work with artists to help them find their best target audience and to promote the artist's work to increase sales. An art consultant may also work with collectors who wish to acquire specific kinds of art or galleries who wish to commission specific work from specific artists. Either way, a consultant is an important way for a community's artistic presence to grow and thrive.

You may also be interested in additional low cost business ideas.

Learn how to start your own Art Consulting Business and whether it is the right fit for you.

Ready to form your LLC? Check out the Top LLC Formation Services.

Start an art consulting business by following these 10 steps:

  1. Plan your Art Consulting Business
  2. Form your Art Consulting Business into a Legal Entity
  3. Register your Art Consulting Business for Taxes
  4. Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
  5. Set up Accounting for your Art Consulting Business
  6. Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Art Consulting Business
  7. Get Art Consulting Business Insurance
  8. Define your Art Consulting Business Brand
  9. Create your Art Consulting Business Website
  10. Set up your Business Phone System

We have put together this simple guide to starting your art consulting business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.

STEP 1: Plan your business

A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:

Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.

What will you name your business?

Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Art Consulting Business Name Generator

If you operate a sole proprietorship, you might want to operate under a business name other than your own name. Visit our DBA guide to learn more.

When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:

  • Your state's business records
  • Federal and state trademark records
  • Social media platforms
  • Web domain availability.

It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.

Want some help naming your art consulting business?

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What are the costs involved in opening an art consulting business?

One of the best things about an art consulting business is that it takes very little money to start. Functionally, you will often be working from home, on the road, in an artist's home, or an art gallery. That means that you don't need to lease a separate space or pay for special supplies. You can effectively start this business for $2,000, with $500 of that going towards the design of a professional website and $1,500 going towards a mixture of traditional advertising (such as local newspapers, radio stations, and possibly cards and fliers at relevant art venues) and online advertising.

What are the ongoing expenses for an art consulting business?

Aside from paying for any of your travel expenses and providing more marketing for yourself (both of which are variable costs), your only real ongoing expense will be the hosting upkeep of your website (about $100 a year). The low cost of starting and maintaining this business means that it can function well as a part-time job for someone to try before they make it their full-time gig.

Who is the target market?

The target market varies based on the clients. For instance, art gallery demographics can vary wildly based on the tastes of the art director and their own specific niche. For art collectors, a surprisingly growing audience is affluent millennials, as they are likelier to see art purchases as an investment rather than a luxury. As for the artists themselves, they will typically be young artists who are fresh out of art school and looking to make a name for themselves.

How does an art consulting business make money?

Typically, art consultants make money by charging different fees for their different services. For instance, you may charge a flat fee for acquiring works of art for collectors, or you may negotiate a percentage fee in which you receive a certain percentage of its overall price. Similarly, in promoting the works of artists, you may charge a flat fee for particular services (demographic research, marketing consultation, and possibly marketing design), or you may function more like an agent who receives a certain percentage of profit from sales.

How much can you charge customers?

The amount you charge clients depends on the service you render and who the client is. For instance, if you are helping an artist or gallery to sell a work, it is reasonable to charge them between ten and fifteen percent (like a typical agent) as a commission. If you are helping a collector to procure a work of art, it is reasonable to charge them between fifteen and twenty percent as a commission. Typically, you will negotiate a rate by considering the intended price of the work of art and calculating how much time it will take you to buy or sell the item, allowing you to insure you are properly compensated.

How much profit can an art consulting business make?

Obviously, the exact profit of this business depends on how many clients you have and how many works of art you help to sell for artists and procure for collectors. For the related field of “Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers,” the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average income is $127,650. Your initial years will probably reap far less than that, but once you have a steady array of clients from whom you are getting ten to twenty percent commission per artistic work, it's easy to develop a steady cash flow.

How can you make your business more profitable?

Don't ignore the social aspect of your job. Organizing community events for artists and art lovers (such as a happy hour at a trendy bar or an informal exhibition at a coffee house) can help you grow your network and expand your influence. Consider helping young art majors put on their first exhibitions and sell some of their first major woks: this allows you to discover talent early and possibly become their representative for many successful years. Finally, consider expanding your sphere of influence: as many of your customers (both artists and collectors) will be millennials, they are likely to be comfortable working with you remotely. This allows you to help people throughout the nation and across the world, greatly increasing your chances of developing steady (and affluent) clients.

Want a more guided approach? Access TRUiC's free Small Business Startup Guide - a step-by-step course for turning your business idea into reality. Get started today!

STEP 2: Form a legal entity

The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.

Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your art consulting business is sued.

Form Your LLC

Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC

Have a Professional Service Form your LLC for You

Two such reliable services:

You can form an LLC yourself and pay only the minimal state LLC costs or hire one of the Best LLC Services for a small, additional fee.

Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.

STEP 3: Register for taxes

You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.

In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!

You can acquire your EIN through the IRS website. If you would like to learn more about EINs, read our article, What is an EIN?

There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.

STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

Open a business bank account

Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.

Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.

Get a business credit card

Getting a business credit card helps you:

  • Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
  • Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.

Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from BILL and build your business credit quickly.

STEP 5: Set up business accounting

Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.

Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.

STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses

Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate an art consulting business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.

Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

Certificate of Occupancy

Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO).  A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.


  • If you plan to lease a location:
    • It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
    • Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to an art consulting business.
    • After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.


  • If you plan to purchase or build a location:
    • You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
    • Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your art consulting business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.

Services Contract

Art consultant businesses should require clients to sign a services agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations, and intellectual property ownership.

Informed Consent Agreement

It is recommended that you provide clients with informed consent agreements to decrease legal liability and encourage transparency.

STEP 7: Get business insurance

Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.

There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.

Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.

FInd out what types of insurance your Art Consulting Business needs and how much it will cost you by reading our guide Business Insurance for Art Consulting Business.

STEP 8: Define your brand

Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.

If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.

Recommended: Get a logo using Truic's free logo Generator no email or sign up required, or use a Premium Logo Maker.

If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.

How to promote & market an art consulting business

In addition to the advertising methods mentioned earlier (including newspapers, radio, website, and online advertisements), you should create social media pages for your business on platforms such as Facebook and even Instagram. The art world is a visual medium, and social media helps you reach your ideal demographics while also giving you the perfect venue to highlight the work you are helping young artists sell.

How to keep customers coming back

In addition to advertising, you might consider becoming a member of local art clubs and to familiarize yourself with any local university art scene and galleries in the city. This gives you a chance to pinpoint talented artists who will need representation to get noticed. To find art collectors, one solid method is to visit the same kinds of art shows, auctions, and galleries they are likely to attend, which gives you a chance to break the ice in an easy and familiar setting.

STEP 9: Create your business website

After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.

While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.

Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:

  • All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
  • Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
  • Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.

Recommended: Get started today using our recommended website builder or check out our review of the Best Website Builders.

Other popular website builders are: WordPress, WIX, Weebly, Squarespace, and Shopify.

STEP 10: Set up your business phone system

Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.

There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.

Recommended Business Phone Service: is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.

Is this Business Right For You?

Needless to say, this job is best for those with an artistic background. This includes practicing artists and those with a formal education in subjects such as art and art history. This provides the necessary background to understand both how the art world and artists themselves function.

Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?

Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!

Entrepreneurship Quiz

What happens during a typical day at an art consulting business?

Because of the multiple roles an art consultant plays, any given day may be different from the one before it. For instance, you may spend some days conducting demographic research and coordinating with advertising firms to help promote the work of an artist. On other days, you may spend a lot of time browsing online and offline art auctions in order to acquire specific works for art collectors. On other days, you may be contacting artists on behalf of art galleries and negotiating the commission of unique works of art.

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful art consulting business?

As mentioned before, any experience in studying, creating, and selling art is invaluable in this business. Aside from the raw experience, any existing networks you have of fellow artists, art directors, and art collectors can help provide you with resources to get things started quicker. Finally, your own experience collecting art can be a big help, as you will already know an assortment of tips and tricks to find the best works of art at the most competitive prices.

What is the growth potential for an art consulting business?

The growth potential for this business is modest. While the Bureau of Labor and Statistics does not track art consultants specifically, related fields such as “advertising, promoting, and marketing managers” are projected to grow by nine percent between 2014 and 2024. Combined with the fact that you have three different types of clients (artists, collectors, and galleries), your business can safely diversify and grow in whatever area is more profitable at the time.

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Take the Next Step

Find a business mentor

One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.

Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.

Learn from other business owners

Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.

Resources to Help Women in Business

There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:

  • Funding
  • Events
  • Guides
  • Support

If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.

What are some insider tips for jump starting an art consulting business?

One way to help your business take off is to pick a particular niche to focus on. For instance, the world of decorative art is very different from the world of corporate art, which itself is very different from the world of art galleries. While being able to work for different kinds of clients is a strength of this business, you will have an easier time focusing on one niche and then expanding. Another way to hit the ground running is to reach out to your existing network of artists and art collectors to see if they need your services or if they know of someone else who does.

How and when to build a team

Art consultants typically work on their own. This helps reduce your overhead, maximize profit, and underscore the personal relationship you have with clients. If you ever choose to build a team, it should organically come from your own success, meaning that you now have more clients and prospective clients than you can reasonably handle on your own.

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