BEST BUSINESS IDEAS FOR ARTISTS

Business ideas for artists

 

For many artists, the prospect of starting a business can be daunting. After all, you’re relying on your own artistic abilities and marketing skills to earn a living. Nonetheless, for centuries, musicians, painters, architects, sculptures, poets, and a myriad of other artists have used their skills to enrich the world and turn a profit at the same time.

In 2017, the global art economy grew to over $63 billion. Small businesses and freelancers make up a large chunk of this market, whether they are selling art, offering classes, or lending their artistic services to clients. If you have a passion for art and have a niche that suits your skillset, consider one of the following ideas for creating your own art business. We’ve broken down our top business ideas for artists and evaluated each one based on startup costs, required skill level, and earning potential.

BUSINESS IDEAS FOR ARTISTS

ADULT COLORING BOOK COMPANY

Startup Costs

Skill Level

Earning Potential

Coloring books are a popular creative outlet for adults, and companies have even begun designing and marketing coloring books directly to a more mature demographic. To start an adult coloring book business, you should have knowledge of vectors, design, and ideally some experience or connections in publishing. It definitely takes a creative type to consistently produce fun and interesting coloring book ideas for adults.

Startup costs are very low and are primarily tied up in computer software and printing services. These costs increase with the size of your initial print, however, they will remain relatively low since coloring books do not require a lot of material. Adult coloring books are generally priced anywhere between $7 and $20, so with a high enough volume, you can greatly expand your earning potential.

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CARTOON SERVICE

Startup Costs

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Earning Potential

Cartoon drawings and designs offer a wide range of business opportunities for artists. Whether you want to sell your own series of comic books or work for clients producing animated ads, there are plenty of opportunities for a talented cartoonist. Needless to say, a successful cartoon service will require one (or more) cartoonists with years of experience creating visual art.

It doesn’t cost much to run a cartoon service; you just need a computer and animation software. Like most cartoonists, you can work directly at home and market yourself using an online portfolio. Earnings will vary depending on your abilities, the medium, and your clients’ budget. However, cartoonists can generally make a very healthy living with little overhead.

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CALLIGRAPHY BUSINESS

Startup Costs

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Earning Potential

Calligraphy is the art of decorative writing. Many artists begin learning calligraphy as a hobby, and then develop their skills to the point that they can market their services to clients. Though the need for calligraphy services is somewhat limited, it is still extremely popular for couples planning a wedding. Most professional calligraphers market themselves directly to this demographic, providing the decorative writing for invitations, place settings, and signs.

Your calligraphy business does not have to limit itself to one niche market, though. You can teach classes, sell custom products, or make commissioned designs. This business does not require a large upfront investment, however, costs can increase if you wish to teach classes or rent a workspace. Earning potential is dependent on your ability to successfully market your services and discover the right avenues for acquiring new students and clients.

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CUSTOM PORTRAIT BUSINESS

Startup Costs

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Earning Potential

Custom Portrait Businesses are perfect for artists who are able to accurately recreate people using a variety of mediums. This can even be done on the spot, like an artist who sets up shop in a busy area of a city to make fun or interesting portraits of tourists. If you prefer less face to face interaction, you can also have clients contact you and order a portrait using a photograph. In either case, you will need to be a skilled artist to start and grow a custom portrait business.

Materials will make up the bulk of your startup costs, though you may also want to invest in a quality website. Most custom portrait businesses are able to get up and running for under $1000. Your rates will be based on the cost of materials and the time invested, so earnings can vary. However, long-term earnings tend to be on the lower end of the spectrum. New businesses can expect to charge somewhere between $20 to $40 per hour, so with a steady stream of clients, your earnings can more than make up for the initial costs.

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ILLUSTRATION BUSINESS

Startup Costs

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Earning Potential

Much like cartoonists, illustrators have many avenues for creating and selling their work. You can create web content for clients, work for ad agencies, or even work in a niche market like medical or fashion illustration. You will need to have a passion and talent for designing unique images, as well as a knack for marketing your talents in order to start your own illustration business.

The startup costs are reasonable but tend to be higher than many other artistic endeavors. You will need a fair amount of high-end hardware/software, physical art materials, and an online portfolio. There are many different niches within illustration, so costs and earning potential can still vary to some degree. Depending on the type of work and the budget of the client, professional illustrators can make anywhere from $25 to over $100 per hour. Finding well-established clients with which to form long-term contracts is one of the best ways to maximize your earnings.

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BRONZING BUSINESS

Startup Costs

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Earning Potential

Bronzing involves encapsulating objects in a bronze metal for the sake of preservation. It is not exactly a growth market, but the recent closure of a few of the largest bronzing businesses has opened the door for smaller businesses to fill this newly-formed gap in the market. Bronzing services typically appeal to parents or grandparents who want to save mementos, like their children’s and grandchildren’s baby shoes.

Learning to bronze can be done with a simple kit and a bit of practice, so the barriers to entry are low, both in terms of costs and required skills. However, earning potential is also markedly low compared to other artistic endeavors. Marketing to the right audience will be the key to getting your bronzing business running with a steady income.

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GLASS BLOWING BUSINESS

Startup Costs

Skill Level

Earning Potential

Glass blowing involves blowing air into a bubble of molten glass to create beautiful decorations. The practice has been around for centuries, and artists have been using their skills to turn a profit since the very beginning. A glass blowing business requires a certain degree of experience working with glass, as well as a creative eye for designing figurines and ornaments.

Unlike many other artisan services, glass blowing requires a great deal of space and equipment. A studio space, furnace, and other tools will make for a sizeable investment. Though the earning potential is relatively low, people are generally willing to pay more for something that was made with a great deal of skill. With the right marketing, a small glass blowing business can more than make up for the initial costs.

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QUILT BUSINESS

Startup Costs

Skill Level

Earning Potential

Quilting is the art of stitching together different patches of fabric to form a larger design. While you may think of quilting as a hobby from a bygone era, it actually remains quite popular and potentially lucrative. Creativity is key in quilting, and you will need a good eye for design if you want to start a quilting business.

Startup costs are on the lower end of the spectrum. The primary tools of the trade are a sewing machine and materials, so getting your business off the ground is fairly inexpensive. Quilts are generally sold individually, and the rate you charge will depend on the cost of the materials and the time invested in the project. Considering the low startup costs and overhead, it is relatively easy to turn a healthy profit with a quilting business.

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SCRAPBOOKING BUSINESS

Startup Costs

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Earning Potential

Scrapbooking is the art of preserving memories or creating elaborate visual designs in a special book or folder. While anyone can pick up scrapbooking as a hobby, it takes a creative personality to turn the fun activity into a viable business. Many people elect to do their own scrapbooking, however, for more formal events like weddings, anniversaries, or other important milestones, a professional scrapbooking business can help add a special touch.

Scrapbooking is a low-cost business. You’ll only need materials and a website to get started. However, acquiring some of the better-paying clients will hinge on your marketing skills, and finding an inroad with bridal shops or other venues for young couples is a great way to maximize your profits. This industry brings in over $4 billion every year, so building a successful scrapbooking business is definitely within reach.

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SCREENPRINTING BUSINESS

Startup Costs

Skill Level

Earning Potential

Screenprinting is the practice of impressing designs onto fabric and other materials. It is particularly useful for making custom clothing and accessories with funny or interesting designs. The Internet has made these kinds of businesses very successful, with many online retailers giving customers the ability to create their own designs on the website.

In order to start a screenprinting business, you will need to have a background in graphic design and the ability to create dozens of interesting and marketable designs using photoshop. The startup costs are relatively high. You will need a specialized printer, clothing, accessories, and the necessary hardware and software. While this will be a considerable upfront investment, the continual overhead is minimal. With enough bulk and specialty orders, you can earn a high salary and grow your business.

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SEWING BUSINESS

Startup Costs

Skill Level

Earning Potential

A sewing business is a perfect way to turn your fashion knowledge into something profitable. Sewing businesses are primarily focused on altering or customizing clothes, though a talented seamstress with an eye for fashion can also design their own clothes from scratch. The market for custom-made clothing and non-label outfits is growing, so there is a lot of potential for growth.

At the start, a sewing business is very cheap. While hiring employees or renting a workspace will naturally increase your startup costs, most sewing businesses operate out of the home with just a sewing machine and some fabric. If you want to create your own designs, you can market your services to retail stores and boutiques, which can greatly improve your earning potential.

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CHILDREN'S BOOK BUSINESS

Startup Costs

Skill Level

Earning Potential

Children’s books are often shorter and simpler than books written for adults. They also focus on stories or lessons that are relevant to children, often with accompanying illustrations. In recent years, children’s book sales have been higher than ever, selling over two and a half billion books per year. Needless to say, if you have a passion for children’s stories or a talent for illustration, a children’s book business could be an extremely lucrative proposition.

Your startup costs will have drastic variations, depending on whether you plan to self-publish or take your work to a traditional publisher. For self-published writers, you need to spend a great deal of time on marketing and printing. If you need to hire an illustrator, this will also add to your expenses. Your earning potential, while very high, is completely dependent on the popularity of your books. Therefore, the creative stages of your writing and illustrations are just as important as your marketing.

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SCREENWRITING BUSINESS

Startup Costs

Skill Level

Earning Potential

Screenwriting is the practice of writing scripts for film or television. While the film industry is notoriously difficult to enter, dozens of talented screenwriters have their scripts made into film or television series every year. If you have experience writing fiction or a film school background, a screenwriting business could be a great way to turn a solid profit and get your name on the big screen!

The costs to start a screenwriting business are almost non-existent. You just need a computer and the ability to write compelling stories. After that, the future of your business will depend on the quality of your scripts and your ability to sell them to directors and producers. Though most screenwriters start out making very little money, the potential earnings from selling scripts and accumulating residuals are extremely high.

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YOUNG ADULT BOOK BUSINESS

Startup Costs

Skill Level

Earning Potential

The popularity of the YA genre has grown in recent years, with some book series having been adapted to film. This has pulled many readers and moviegoers into the genre, expanding its market appeal. However, a young adult book business should still try to appeal to its target audience by catering stories, themes, and even illustrations to teenagers. A successful YA author would be helped by connections in the publishing industry, but the primary skill you will need is the ability to write a captivating story that appeals to a specific demographic.

For writers of just about any genre, startup costs are generally low, however, you will probably want to hire an illustrator. Creating an interesting cover for your book is one of the best ways to draw in new readers, so this will be your highest cost starting out. While the earning potential is quite high for this business, it hinges on the popularity of your books. Since the YA book market is saturated, your writing will really need to stand out to get people’s attention.

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PHOTO EDITING BUSINESS

Startup Costs

Skill Level

Earning Potential

A photo editing business helps individuals and businesses touch up or alter their photos for special occasions, business events, social media, or publications. Most local businesses need the help of a photo editor, so there will almost always be a market for photo editing services in your community. In order to start a photo editing business, you will need to have a working knowledge of lighting, composition, basic photo editing techniques, and photoshop.

The costs of starting a photo editing business are generally low. To being, you will just need a computer and editing software. Beyond that, you will want to invest in marketing your services. Your rates will vary depending on your skill and the complexity of each project. However, photo editors who have made connections with small businesses usually have a steady stream of clients.

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PHOTO RESTORATION SERVICE

Startup Costs

Skill Level

Earning Potential

Photo restoration involves editing and improving old photos to fix damage caused by time and light. By changing old physical photos into a digital format, you can correct imperfections and then reprint the new and improved images. This service is mostly used for old family or historical photographs. A photo restoration service is perfectly suited for anyone who is a stickler for detail and has extensive knowledge of photo editing. A background in photography is also a plus.

In order to begin restoring old photos, you will need to make some heavy investments upfront. You will need a high-end computer and digital scanner, in addition to software like Photoshop, Lightroom, and Apple Aperture. Once these initial costs have been accounted for, ongoing expenses are reasonable. The earning potential is average, as you will need to find a large number of clients to sustain a higher income. However, you can make a very good living with the right marketing strategy.

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PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS

Startup Costs

Skill Level

Earning Potential

Photography is the art of capturing moments in time using still images. There are many different specializations in photography, so finding your niche is helpful for growing a successful business. Most photographers fall into two categories: client-based or freelance. Naturally, a passion for making and editing photographic art is a must for either group. No formal training is required, but a degree or coursework in photography is a great start.

Though startup costs are reasonable, you will need to invest in a good camera, computer, and editing software. Depending on your niche, you may need a studio space and lighting equipment. Otherwise, the ongoing expenses for a photography business are very low. Whether you want to work for one publication or freelance, there is always a market for talented photographers, so your business has the potential to turn a healthy profit. Some seasoned photographers charge as much as $500 per hour.

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GRAPHIC DESIGN BUSINESS

Startup Costs

Skill Level

Earning Potential

A graphic design business creates visual compositions for signs, advertisements, websites, or any kind of digital content. This can be accomplished through logos, color, typography, and general layout. Graphic designers need to have a great eye for how images complement each other, as well as an understanding of visual appeal from a marketing standpoint. Most graphic designers also have a degree in their field.

Many graphic designers choose to work from home, so startup costs are not generally high. As with most businesses that create digital content, you will need a good computer and editing software. However, it can take time for graphic designers to build a portfolio, so you will need to plan for low income at first. Nonetheless, once you acquire a few clients and market your skills to the right people, you can grow your business and maximize your earning potential.

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MURAL PAINTING BUSINESS

Startup Costs

Skill Level

Earning Potential

Muralists paint beautiful works of art on walls, the sides of buildings, floors, or any large surface that will accommodate them. Most mural painters work freelance and are able to acquire clients from a wide variety of sources. Any individual or business that has a physical location could use the services of a mural painting business. Needless to say, if you want to be a muralist, you will need to be a skilled painter with an impressive online portfolio.

Startup costs are low, and generally include supplies, a website, marketing, and travel expenses. How much you charge your clients can vary between projects. Some muralists like to charge by the hour, while others prefer to charge a certain rate per-square-foot. In either case, your earning potential will depend on your ability to acquire new clients and your reputation as an artist.

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POTTERY BUSINESS

Startup Costs

Skill Level

Earning Potential

Most people see pottery as a fun way to make useful creations like dishes, ornaments, and even sculptures. However, pottery can also develop into a strong business model with the right combination of talent and business know-how. A potter should be able to design, create, and market their wares to the public.

Well-made pottery products are extremely popular, but they take a sizeable upfront investment to produce. Startup costs can vary depending on where you set up shop, but you may need equipment like a wheel throw, kiln, and other tools of the trade. These costs can easily be justified with the right venue and creative talent, as your skills and local market will be the primary factors for calculating earning potential.

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STAINED GLASS BUSINESS

Startup Costs

Skill Level

Earning Potential

Stained glass can be used for a myriad of projects and structures, from small decorations to elaborate cathedral windows. However, stained glass is not easy to make. This business requires a great deal of knowledge concerning glass production and design.

Though you will need a large workspace and a variety of glass-cutting tools, the startup costs are not very high. Additionally, consumers and clients are willing to pay higher rates for specialty skills. If you are able to create beautiful works of art and can find a high-traffic venue to sell them, then a stained glass business can be extremely profitable.

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JINGLE COMPANY

Startup Costs

Skill Level

Earning Potential

Jingles are short slogans that help draw attention to brands, products, or companies. They generally come in the form of short, catchy songs that play during television or radio commercials. Writing these songs takes an understanding of the brand or product in question, as well as the ability to think of attention-grabbing lyrics and melodies. Jingle writers need to be able to read and write music and edit audio files.

If you have a passion for music and a computer, you can start a jingle company. You will need to invest in special editing software and sound mixing equipment, but otherwise, the startup costs are very low. Depending on the type of clients that you can find, the ceiling for potential earnings is very high. Some jingle writers report earning as much as $20,000 for a single project.

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TATTOO PARLOR

Startup Costs

Skill Level

Earning Potential

Tattoos are an extremely popular form of art and self-expression. The US tattoo industry is valued at approximately $1.5 billion, with new tattoo parlors opening all the time. However, creating high-quality tattoos requires a unique skill set with a strong foundation in drawing. Most tattoo artists begin their careers apprenticing for an experienced artist before starting their own tattoo parlor.

While every tattoo parlor needs basic equipment, the startup costs can vary depending on your location. Some artists work out of their home, however, this is not always possible depending on the health regulations in your state or city. As a result, it is most common to rent a space that gets plenty of foot traffic to drum up new business. Tattoo artists generally charge a high hourly rate or a variable rate per project. In either case, tattoo parlors have a lot of growth and earning potential.

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ART LESSONS BUSINESS

Startup Costs

Skill Level

Earning Potential

Art lessons are a fun way to teach your craft and earn a living at the same time. It is a business that can be operated out of your home or a rented space. You can also take your skills on the road and travel to your students for a higher fee. While just about anyone can conduct art lessons, it is best to already possess knowledge related to various art styles. A degree is also a huge plus, as it will give you more credibility with your students.

Both startup costs and ongoing expenses are low. If you choose to rent a workspace, this will greatly increase expenses. Otherwise, you will just need to buy a variety of art supplies and advertise your services. Though it will take time to build up a large pool of students, classes with high attendance numbers can bring in thousands of dollars per session.

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ACTING CLASSES BUSINESS

Startup Costs

Skill Level

Earning Potential

Acting can be a lucrative career, but good actors need a lot of talent, practice, and the ability to take constructive criticism. Acting classes offer children, aspiring adult actors, and even seasoned veterans a chance to hone their skills for the stage or screen. You don’t necessarily need a degree to teach acting classes, but you will need to prove yourself to your students. Regardless of the acting niche that you want to teach, you will need to have experience and/or connections in the industry.

Startup costs are difficult to gauge because some acting teachers work out of their home with minimal equipment, while others rent theater space with professional props, lighting, and sound. Nonetheless, you can start teaching classes from home and simply invest in marketing your services. The earning potential is not stellar, but it can be greatly increased based on your credentials and the investment you put into the venue and marketing.

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MUSIC LESSONS BUSINESS

Startup Costs

Skill Level

Earning Potential

Much like acting lessons, music lessons are a great way for amateurs to learn how to play or for experienced musicians to perfect their craft. Music teachers can specialize in any number of techniques or instruments, from beginners piano lessons to advanced music theory. No matter your area of expertise, you will need to have years of experience as a musician or music teacher to start a business.

Startup costs are low, but if you teach lessons with an instrument, you will need to pay to purchase and maintain it. Other costs include music stands and sheet music. Because you are training people in a particular skill, you can charge anywhere from $30 to $60 per hour for your services. With enough regular students, you can make a decent living. The key is to develop connections at a school or similar institution where you can draw from a reliable pool of students.

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