12 Creative Business Ideas for Artists – NerdWallet

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If you want to combine your creative skills with your entrepreneurial savviness and start a business to leverage your artistic skills, then you’re in luck. In this guide, we’ve rounded up 12 of the best art business ideas for you to consider.
A creative art business can take many shapes, but typically when one thinks of a creative business, they think of creation. Writing, music, design, fashion, and food are just the beginning of the countless creative business options out there. Artists, however, will likely want to focus on small art business ideas that make use of their talents in mediums such as photography, graphic design, calligraphy, and textile creation.
How Much Do You Need?
There are plenty of creative art business ideas out there, but some have more potential to be more lucrative than others. For example, while there is an audience for custom mailboxes that resemble your dog, chances are they don’t hold enough universal appeal to make for a booming business. To find good creative art business ideas, you’ll need to be able to apply your artistic skills to a business that has some legs. You should ask yourself the following questions when considering in-person or online art business ideas.
Is there an audience for this business?
Can I make a profit and provide an affordable service or product?
Does this business capitalize on trends without being a passing fad?
How saturated is the chosen market?
Who are my competitors?
Before you launch your creative business, consider these ideas. For some artists, deciding on a business idea will be a no-brainer, but others may need to take some time to figure out how their skills can translate to a successful business model. Either way, this list should give you some entrepreneurial inspiration.
Let’s start with an artistic business almost as old as time. Painting and sculptures are two very traditional art forms for which there will always be a market. After all, we all have blank walls and empty mantels that need a bit of decoration. In today’s day and age, it is easier than ever to sell your art to the masses. Expensive gallery and studio spaces can be swapped for a savvy social media presence or online portfolio, for example. Thanks to the internet and global shipping options, you can easily sell your art online to anyone—which means your potential customer base is truly limitless.
With the right design and copy, greeting cards can be a work of art. Not to mention, the average person buys multiple cards throughout the year for a myriad of occasions. Take your flair for design and your sharp wit and create a line of unique and special greeting cards. Not to mention, starting a greeting card business can be very cost-effective too, as your supplies will be on the cheaper side compared to other art forms. Depending on your business model, you may not need to create them until the order comes in, so you don’t run the risk of unsold inventory. If you can make your customers feel something when they look at your cards, you’ll have them clamoring for more.
A true artist can appreciate the beauty in all of our five senses. Smell is just one way you can contribute creatively. Consider starting a candle business that combines beautiful glassware with irresistible scents. A good candle expertly mixes style, design, and scent in a way that can transport a customer. Be warned, this is a saturated market, so you’ll really need to tap into your creative side if you want to stand out amongst the crowd.
Technical skill is not the only way to make use of your creative side. If you don’t want to create art yourself, why not use your taste to your advantage? There are always customers looking for special vintage decor and art pieces, but not everyone has the time or resources to uncover antiques. By starting a business that curates antiques, whether in a store or online, you can do the fun, but sometimes dirty, work of digging through thrift shops and estate sales to find the best pieces. Your customers will be willing to pay for the convenience of you using your good eye to find the right styles.
Similar to curating antiques, you can use your taste to build a business while pursuing your passions. Art consultants help customers find the right art pieces for their personal collections. They have to be art experts (we’re looking at all you art history majors) and have a pulse on what’s happening in the art market. Word-of-mouth marketing will be an important aspect of promoting this type of business, but once you have a few happy customers, you can look forward to your business gaining momentum from there.
We live in a digital world, which means digital art is equally important. Starting a graphic design business is a great way to flex your creative muscles while also providing a valuable service to businesses. You can work on branding campaigns by creating logos or social media graphics for businesses, help design products, refresh websites, or sell design templates you create. From super fun and creative projects to B2B focused sales materials, there is no shortage of work for graphic designers to apply their creativity to.
Beautiful penmanship is one thing, but calligraphy is a next-level skill that not many people have bragging rights to. Calligraphy is used in many art forms, as well as products such as wedding invitations and place cards. Both consumers and businesses alike need beautiful calligraphy services, so consider starting a freelance calligraphy business to serve these various needs.
Did you know that the tattoo industry brings in $3 billion dollars a year? Tattoos continue to gain popularity and people are willing to spend a good chunk of change for a high-quality tattoo. Of course, being a tattoo artist requires some major skills and a very steady hand—it’s an art form through and through. So, if you have the skills and want to create artwork that will stay with a person for their entire lives, this may just be the art business idea for you.
The title art director can encompass a variety of jobs. Some art directors help create films, others design magazine layouts, some plan massive marketing campaigns, and others oversee the entire branding for a company. These are just a few of many examples of jobs that art directors do, but what most have in common is they plan the overall design for a project, whatever that may look like. If you have a passion for styling, photography, graphic design, and typography, then being an art director may just help you combine all of your creative interests.
Photography has long been considered an art form and it’s one that is increasingly appreciated in our social-media-obsessed age. If you’re interested in starting a photography business, you have a range of options. You can sell nature or travel photography to media outlets or tourism boards; photograph events, such as weddings, birth announcements, parties, and more; or you can work for a product-based business to photograph their wares to use on their website or promotional material. Your options are varied, so this creative business can be a great fit for many types of artists.
Every business needs strong branding if they want to send a clear and memorable message to their customers. While many larger businesses have branding experts in house, smaller businesses may need a little help in the branding department. Like many creative business ideas, branding consulting can combine design, photography, and copy skills—so this is the perfect career for someone who likes to work on the complete picture of a creative project. By helping businesses make a name for themselves, you can make a lucrative career in the arts.
If you have any of the creative skills mentioned previously in this list, then you can also consider spreading your knowledge by teaching them to others. Whether that be hosting a still life painting class with 30 pupils or tutoring students one-on-one in the art of calligraphy. You could offer digital art classes or create educational social media content. You may also create courses that other teachers can use in their classes. Find the teaching method that works for you and spread the word about your new business.
About the author: Jacqueline DeMarco is a freelance writer and editor. Read more
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