How I Make Money as a Full Time Fine Artist

Dear art friends,

Today I am going to share with you the specific revenue streams I have built up inside my business and discuss the pros and cons of each. Let’s dive in.

Original paintings I sell myself

This is essentially the original paintings I list and sell on my Shopify website. I’ve built up a nice client list over the past few years and am grateful every time a new sale comes in. It is the best feeling.

The pros of this income stream are that I get to keep 100% of the sale price and I get to have a direct connection to my collectors.

The cons of this income stream are that these sales tend to be more sporadic. And once I do make a sale I have to deal with packing and shipping the work myself.

Originals that other people sell

This category is for the original paintings I send to my galleries and take to local shops. Currently I sell my work in three galleries across the United States and place my work in a couple of local shops.

The pros of this income stream? I love that the galleries and shops work tirelessly to sell my work for me. Plus the extra exposure these opportunities have given me has been great for my own sales.

The cons? Galleries and shops take a 40-50% commission on all sales which I completely understand. They have high overheads and work hard for the money. So I definitely think that they earn their split. But it does effect my bottom line and has to be considered.


I take on a handful of commissions every year as my schedule allows. I get quite a few from Interior designers, and also from collectors. I didn’t always enjoy taking commissions until I figured out a way to make the process low-stress for me. But now I love taking commissions because its guaranteed income, and I can charge a premium for this service.

So the pros of commissions? It’s good money, and 50% is paid up front.

The cons? If you don’t have a good system and contract in place the process of painting a commission can be very stressful, and you can end up making change after change to please them.

I’d love to know if you offer commissions in your art business. And if not, why?

Prints that I sell

I introduced this income stream on my website a few years ago. I offer both small prints that I produce in-house and large prints that I outsource from a print shop. I have found print sales to be better some years than others, but am very happy to have this income stream. This is a great way to both offer art at a more accessible price point and also maximize the potential for income from any given painting.

The pros: with print on demand you can continue making money from a painting long after you sell the original without investing in the prints up front.

The cons: When you print and fulfill these orders yourself it can be time consuming. But you can get around this by partnering with a print-on-demand print shop. But be sure that you are pricing your prints high enough to make a profit.

Prints that other people sell

This is one of my favorite income streams, and is also referred to as licensing. I have contracts in place with several companies including minted and Juniper Print Shop, giving them permission to manufacture and sell specific prints. Once I send them a high-res file of the artwork my job is done. I receive a monthly commission on any prints sold. It is truly passive income.

The pros: passive income and exposure to a larger audience.

The cons: depending on the contract you have in place the company who licenses your work may be able to do whatever they want with your work, including putting it on a coffee mug. Just be sure you understand what you’re licensing the work for and for how long and you will be ok.

Products that I sell

This is a very small income source for me. I have at times offered calendars and other small products for sale on my website during the holidays. I do like to have a few small giftable items for my collectors, but is not really the focus of my business.

The pros of selling products is that you can offer affordable pieces to collectors who may not be able to afford your work otherwise. Someone who can’t afford a $1k+ painting can buy a $30 calendar and enjoy your work all year.

The cons—if you aren’t used to marketing, selling, packaging and shipping small products it can be a hassle. And you need to sell quite a few to make it worth your time.

That’s it for the ways I make money inside my business from my art. These income streams combine to bring in over 100k a year for me

But they did not grow overnight. It takes time and a lot of effort to build consistent income from your art. I hope this breakdown of my income streams has been helpful to you. Be sure to check out last week's post on how to build your art business! 

All my best,


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