Top Tips for Making a Living From Your Art Later in LifeNov 17, 2023
Many people discover their passion for art later in life, myself included, and, when I was first starting out, it was hard to find relatable information on how to become a full-time artist when you already have a full-time job, children, a mortgage to pay for and so many other things to juggle. I therefore wanted to share a bit about my art journey and what worked well for me, particularly in terms of pricing and starting out on social media.
I started drawing with coloured pencils in 2016 after my daughter bought me a colouring book and pencils for Christmas. I hadn’t done any art in almost 30 years since leaving college and in May 2016, my friend asked if I would draw her dog. I was a little bit scared at first but I shared it on my Facebook and a few of my other friends started asking if I would do drawings for them. Before I knew it, more and more people started asking, which was an amazing feeling!
I spent as much time as possible drawing and very quickly started to progress and get more commissions, so much so that by October 2016 I had decided I wanted to become a full-time artist and make a living from my drawings.
Now I’m not a particularly organised person, but if I make a plan then I will stick to it. So that’s what I did! I got an A3 piece of paper, drew out a plan of what I wanted to do and went for it. I was married at the time with three children and a mortgage to pay so I knew that I needed to make this work.
My previous career path meant that I knew I wanted to teach at some point, but to start with I just focused on commissions. I was originally only charging £40 per portrait and quickly realised that if I wanted this to be my full-time job, then I needed to come up with a pricing strategy that would allow me to be able to pay my mortgage.
I went full-time on 1st January 2017 and upped my prices to £200 per portrait and every time my commission books were full for 2 months, I upped my prices. Not huge amounts but by doing this it meant within around 2 years I was then charging £500 per portrait.
I always made sure I had a goal in mind and kept reaching for that goal, which I think is really important and definitely recommend you do. There are multiple pricing strategies out there and there is no right or wrong, it’s just what works best for you! My prices now start at £1200 and I book my commissions a couple of years in advance. So many artists undersell themselves and I completely understand it can feel a little bit like you’re putting a price on yourself but there is a huge amount of time and skill that goes into creating a piece of art and you don’t want to end up only paying yourself the equivalent of £1 per hour.
Social media is such a great tool for getting yourself out there and making your art known. I started my Facebook page for my business in September 2016 and then started Instagram in 2017. I actually set Instagram up at the same time, but I had no idea what I was doing on Instagram so initially focused on Facebook. I started sharing my drawings on my page, with friends and in some of the groups I was in. I also ran some targeted ads which really really helped get my work seen and increase the number of people engaging with my content.
Posting in groups, such as some of the equine and dog groups I was part of, really helped me get some commissions and they started to increase over time through word of mouth. When it comes to posting in groups, make sure you’re checking the rules because different groups will have different rules about what you are allowed to share.
My main tip for social media is to post consistently and regularly and always be unapologetically true to yourself!
If you want to hear more about how I started my business and more tips for how to turn your coloured pencil passion into a successful career, watch the video at the top of this page!
Ignite by Bonny Snowdon
...is the ultimate membership for those wanting to improve their Coloured Pencil Skills, increase their confidence and realise their dreams!
Sign up below to join the Ignite Waitlist
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.