21 Creative Business Ideas for Artists to Start in 2023

For artists and creatives looking to turn their talents into a sustainable business, identifying the right opportunity tailored to their skills and interests is key. With the proliferation of digital platforms and monetization models, there are more possibilities than ever for artists to generate income from their passion.

This article explores creative and practical business ideas that artists can try to monetize their skills and artwork. As a small business consultant who has helped numerous artists successfully build businesses from the ground up, I‘ll also share important legal, financial, and marketing tips worth considering.

Digital Products and Services

The internet has opened up many new avenues for artists to directly reach and sell to a global audience. From your laptop or home studio, you can offer your artwork, teaching services, or creative products to customers worldwide.

1. Print-on-Demand Products

Sell your unique designs on everyday products like t-shirts, phone cases, and home decor through sites like CafePress and Redbubble. They handle printing and order fulfillment – you simply add your artwork and promote your products.

2. Digital Downloads

Sell your art, brushes, tutorials, or eBooks as digital downloads through your own website or platforms like Etsy and CreativeMarket. No physical inventory required!

3. Live Workshops and Classes

Share your skills through live-streamed workshops or pre-recorded online classes on platforms like Skillshare, CreativeLive, and Udemy.

4. Virtual Commissions

Offer custom digital portraits, pet drawings, caricatures, or other commissioned artwork. Use sites like Fiverr and Upwork to find clients.

5. YouTube Art Channel

Start a YouTube channel sharing speed paintings, tutorials, industry tips, and more. Monetize your videos through the YouTube partner program.

6. Instagram Collaborations

Partner with aligned brands or influencers to co-create Instagram content highlighting their products using your art skills.

7. Freelance Graphic Design

Use your illustration and design skills to provide services like logo design, web/app design, book covers, marketing materials for clients.

Brick and Mortar Businesses

If you prefer direct interactions and a local presence, starting a physical business can be rewarding. Some ideas:

8. Art Gallery

Curate and display collections of artwork from various creators, taking commissions on pieces sold. Host regular opening nights and community events to drive foot traffic.

9. Art School

Offer regular multi-week art classes for adults and kids. Develop curriculums focused on teaching core artistic skills and different mediums like painting, pottery, jewelry-making, etc.

10. Art Studios

Rent out studio space and tools for independent artists and crafters. You can also generate income through memberships, material fees, or commissions.

11. Craft Shop

Sell your handmade crafts, artwork, home decor items, jewelry and more at a physical retail storefront. You can also hold classes.

12. Artisanal Bakery

Combine visually creative cake decorating and baking skills to start a boutique bakery selling cakes, cupcakes, cookies and custom treats.

Services Leveraging Artistic Skills

Offering your specialized services is another profitable way to monetize artistic abilities, either locally or remotely.

13. Murals and Sign Painting

Beautify homes, offices, restaurants, and more by painting stunning custom murals and signs.

14. Face and Body Painting

Bring some whimsy to events and kids parties by offering creative face and body painting.

15. Caricatures

Draw hilarious exaggerated portraits of people at venues like parks, weddings, and corporate events.

16. Home Staging

Use your design aesthetic to stage homes for sale to look appealing to potential buyers. Charge a flat fee or hourly rate.

17. Interior Design

Combine art and functionality to design beautiful, livable spaces for residential and commercial clients.

18. Landscaping Design

Create customized landscapes for clients‘ homes, businesses or public spaces through plans, models, and drawings.

19. Event Planning and Design

Use your creative vision to design awe-inspiring events, handling details like venue selection, decor, catering, entertainment and more.

20. Jewelry Design

Create and sell specialized jewelry made from materials like metals, gems, resin, found objects, etc.

21. Art Restoration

Restore damaged or aging artwork professionally through services like canvas mounting, cleaning, retouching, and varnishing.

Key Tips for Turning Art Into a Business

Define Your Goals and Ideal Client

Determine what success looks like to you. Do you want financial independence, flexible schedule, or to impact others with your art? Also identify who you want to serve.

Handle Legalities and Finances

Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to form a business entity like an LLC, obtain licenses, open a business bank account, secure insurance, etc.

Create a Strong Brand Identity

Develop a recognizable visual brand with elements like logo, color palette, typography, and messaging that reflect your personality and style.

Build an Online Presence

Have a professional website to showcase your art and business offerings. Promote your business consistently through email, social media, SEO and paid advertising.

Network and Collaborate

Partner creatively with complementary brands and artists to expand your audience. Attend industry events, join associations, and leverage your network for referrals or exposure.

Focus on Continuous Improvement

Take business courses, read books and articles, attend conferences, and stay on top of latest best practices to keep honing your skills.

Maintain Passion and Integrity

Stay true to your artistic vision as you grow your business. The joy you find in your work will translate to satisfied, loyal customers.

With some strategic planning and commitment, you can build a thriving art business doing what you love. Determine an idea matching your strengths, handle logistics diligently, and promote your offerings creatively to get your venture up and running. Wishing you the best of luck as you embark on this fulfilling entrepreneurial journey!