They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. That is true, especially in a time when people have less and less time to digest words.
The Internet has created a society where an image that conveys an idea is immensely valuable. And those who have the skills and creativity to draw well are now provided with more opportunities than ever before – thanks to the World Wide Web.
That is not to say that the traditional markets for great images have evaporated; on the contrary, many people are now turning back to the information provided by print. A good coffee table book or an illustrated children’s book read at bedtime both remain popular.
So, is it possible to make money drawing? Let’s take a closer look at just what you’ll need to make a living off your talent – and your will to persevere.
What Do You Need To Get Started?
Gone are the days when a variety of pens and paper would be enough to get started on a career from your drawing hobby.. They are still incredibly important, especially when you are taking your first steps to become a professional artist. They allow you to explore different forms, different styles, and different mediums.
However, today, there are digital tools that provide artists with new opportunities to explore their craft. That said, here is a list of some of the tools that you will need to get started on your journey to drawing success.
1. Pens, Pencils, and Paper
For centuries pens, paper, and pencils (and drawing tools of many types) have been at the core of what it means to be an artist.
Those wishing to make a living from drawing need to remember that Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings were made with ink and charcoal on paper – and his influence has echoed down the centuries.
As far as paper is concerned, smooth-surfaced processed paper is perfectly adequate for sketching with pen or pencil. A good mixed-media pad is incredibly versatile and will meet a variety of needs.
The budding artist should try and find acid and lignin-free mixed media paper. A 100% cotton paper is simply a pleasure to use.
Whether you use a mechanical or traditional pencil, try and build an arsenal of both soft and hard lead versions. You can often pick up complete sets at art supply stores, and many represent excellent value.
Pens are important. What the budding creative should be looking for are pens that have pigment-based ink. These inks do not run or bleed into other components of a sketch if liquids are spilled on it or if watercolors or other media are applied once the ink has dried.
Tip sizes are also important. Pens come in a wide range of tip sizes suitable for a variety of drawing tasks.
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2. Light Up Your Life
A great light is key to making a workstation shine (excuse the pun). You will need a light that allows you to set direction and brightness. The latest generations of LED desk lights are just about perfect – they allow you to set the color “temperature” to provide warm or cool light.
Brushes can be complex. There are three basic types. Those used for drawing lines, those used for applying colors – and finally, those used for graduation and shading.
The best are made from animal hair, but there are synthetic versions that perform just as well or, in some cases, better. Try to find a set that is comfortable to work with, whether you are dealing with acrylic, oil, or watercolor paints.
4. Essential Aids
You are going to need a ruler. This may seem odd because this is, after all, a creative art. Straight edges are important.
Then, there is the notebook. Sometimes inspiration strikes when you least expect it – and having a notebook (and a good pen) can help you to jot down ideas that you will later flesh out.
What Do You Need To Make Money From Drawing?
Drawing for gain is no easy task. You will be competing against seasoned professionals and talented newcomers. In other words – it’s a highly competitive environment. You are going to have to face numerous challenges, not least of these where you are going to find a market for your work.
As a newcomer to a drawing hobby for profit, you are going to have to find those markets that suit your particular style, and you are going to have to be relentless at marketing both your work – and yourself.
Here are some great options to break into the market.
Firstly, let’s get education out of the way. There are many people who simply have a knack for form and function and the needs of their audience. However, formal education in art can be of enormous help to those who are just starting out – and it can open many doors.
But, thanks to the Internet, there are hundreds of online classes available – and many of those are affiliated with respected art institutions. But, that said, talent can trump all. If you are interested in making a career in drawing, you are going to need to look at the various markets available.
The Internet (as mentioned previously) provides whole new markets for those who can draw. One of the most potentially lucrative markets is Etsy. Setup is easy and free – and although the Etsy market was set up to handle handmade goods, what could be more handmade than an illustration?
But why not take that extra step and apply your drawing to postcards to tees? You can even take requests.
Staying with the Internet, Fiverr is one of the most popular places to source freelancers. And there is a section on the site that is devoted to allowing artists to show their work.
Again – consider offering a drawing course online. YouTube has a wealth of artists that offer such courses. Focus on your unique selling proposition.
But let’s go back to bricks and mortar books, the good old “dead tree” stuff. Children’s books are a potential goldmine for artists. Join social media groups that have authors who are focused on children’s books, and keep an eye out for those authors who are about to publish.
A polite request to forward some of your best work may meet with a positive response. Keep trying. Post your work – and interact with members of the group without being overbearing.
Another way to average the Internet is to search out bloggers who have unique content and offer to do illustrations for their blogs. Remind them that the Google algorithms reward unique content. Offer a good price and develop a relationship.
Also, start your own blog or website – do a good job, and a blogger will usually reward you with not only cash payment but also reciprocal links. Those allow you to access their followers, and that database is incredibly valuable.
Stock photo agencies are another potentially lucrative source of income. These agencies will onsell your work to print publishers as well as a variety of online sites. The best thing about this approach is that they will be working while you sleep – they operate 24 hours a day.
Remember that most stock agencies will want exclusive rights to your work, but in return, the royalties can be generous – and will only grow with your reputation and portfolio.
How Much Money Can You Make From Drawing?
The sky is the limit. But according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a good artist can make between around $20,000 and 115,000 per year. But it has to be said that this is an average. If you made a name for yourself, you can make considerably more.
If you are (for instance) willing to sacrifice your independence and go to work for the House of Mouse, your salary can be considerably more. Be involved in a “Toy Story” like success, and your salary will increase.
But it’s a cut-throat business – and studios are notorious for replacing artists at the drop of a hat.
Perhaps you would be better served by selling your works at an exhibition – another great way of making an income. Choose your style and your audience, and you could make more than enough to live a comfortable life.
How Can You Make Money As A Beginner?
Perseverance is the key. The Internet is your friend. There are numerous sites such as DeviantArt that will allow you to showcase your talent – and many opportunities to monetize your work.
The key is to identify your audience and choose a particular style that suits your skills and passion. Many people will pay for commissioned work.
As with all things that are worth doing, perseverance will be your key to success. If you are willing to put in the hours and hone your skills, you will achieve success.
Believe in yourself and have a passion for what you do. With the right tools and the right mindset, you will be among the lucky few who can make a living from what they love.