Being an artist isn’t easy. Particularly if you’re looking to someday support yourself with just your artwork, you’re more often than not in for a lot of work before that dream becomes a reality. Some artists get lucky and strike the big time in one of their early works — but counting on luck isn’t the best way to succeed. Working hard is the best way to bet on yourself as an artist. Part of working hard is being disciplined in your money management.
Being an artist adds a lot of extra expenses. Art materials are expensive, even with student discounts some stores offer. What’s more, many popular cities for artists are seeing a rapidly rising cost of living. Budgeting as an artist can seem like a tall order. However, many artists have done it before — and you can too.
How to Budget as an Artist
If you’ve never kept to a strict budget before, knowing where to begin can be the first hurdle.
- Keep your day job. It can be tempting to want to quit your job and devote all your time to being an artist. You may think if you just had more time to work, you could succeed quickly. While this may be true, it’s best to play it safe. Keeping your day job is one of the biggest favors you can do yourself as an artist. While it may drain your time and creative energy, it allows you to have a steady, reliable income. If you’re going hungry and can’t make the rent, you’re not going to be at your creative best either. It’s best to stick with your job, and find time to work on your art during your off hours.
- Buy what you need. There are certain things you need to buy to survive. You must pay your rent, utilities, food, and art supply expenses. These should be at the top of your priority list. It might not be fun to sacrifice spending on fun things, but if you want to be an artist, you must make some sacrifices.
- Keep your records organized. If you don’t know how much money you’re bringing in and how much you’re spending, keeping a helpful budget is impossible. Keeping track of your receipts, paychecks, invoices, and bills is a great start to determining how much money you can spend. Once you have this information, there are online tools for calculating how much money you can afford to spend.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. Sometimes you’re tired, feeling low, or just plain in the mood to buy something you don’t need. It’s important to not make extravagant purchases, but small transgressions on your budget should be forgiven.
Budgeting as an artist isn’t easy. However, it’s important to remember not everything about being part of the art world costs money. Visits to galleries like Park West Gallery are typically free, and can inspire you and expand your artistic knowledge.
When you sit down with the art materials you’re able to afford because of your discipline, your budgeting efforts will all be worth it. Keep working hard and you can be a successful artist.