So, how do I make money at this art thing?

I’m a lazy artist.  I always have been.  I generally make art for fun, and give it away.  I made a ton of cool stuff in art class in high school and even in my time at WCCC, now I only have a fraction of it.  I’ve never had an interest in making money from any of it, perhaps because I felt it wasn’t perfect or even “good enough” to sell.  Perhaps it was because I’d feel “dirty” making money from art.  I’m also lazy in that I have a lot of ideas that don’t make it to fruition.  (You should see the AiXeLsyD and Gasoline Dion “almost” song piles… and that Yup-punk band idea…)

I also went through a phase of drawing a bunch of comic book stuff… and it was always my understanding that Marvel didn’t want me selling my Wolverine art, and DC didn’t want me to sell my Batman art.  Somehow the Airbrush guy at the mall makes money on pretty much any popular character out there.  (Exactly who’s buying white T-shirts with airbrushed Mickey Mouse and Garfield on them at a mall kiosk in 2011 is a subject of another blog.)  Is that guy bootlegging?  Is he paying royalty fees?

With the advent of sites like Etsy (and more so Regretsy), I can see now that my art is certainly acceptable for sale.  I’d like to think it’s a few grades above what’s considered acceptable for sale.  The question remains on copyrights though… I see all kinds of people selling Superman, Batman and Spider-Man stuff with images clearly ripped from elsewhere.  Not that I want to sell comic book-art, but I never know what mood will strike me.  My flyer art is mainly bastardization of existing images… so I’m sure I can’t sell any of that kind of stuff.  Again, I think I’m veering toward the subject matter of an entirely different blog.  Back to the insanity at hand…

I’ve been drawing mazes for what seems like forever.  I started them when I was a kid & was in the hospital for a while.  I remember my pediatrician saying I ought to look into getting them published.  I obviously never have.  I have through twitter found another cat on the internet who draws mazes… he sells them online & at art shows and has used LuLu to publish some books.  Is that a good avenue to explore?

I have an idea for what I think would be an amusing photo book… but how does one go into execution of such an idea?  Do I even have time for something like this?

Would I use something like deviantART to set up shop?  How do I get prints made from original artwork?  Should I settle for a Cafe Press or Zazzle store?  Ha ha.  I’d like to put photography in the mix too, eventually.  Every once in a while I capture some stuff that would look great on someone’s wall.  How do I sell the stuff online without the seller site making most of the money, or without breaking the bank in setting up a site & paying any maintenance fees while not selling anything… therefore eventually losing money?

People have also told me that I ought to get paid to write.  I must confess, I would most likely be an editor’s nightmare.  I jump tenses like hopscotch, and my grammar & typing can be quite poor… even though I can differentiate between you’re and your and the apparently difficult they’re/there/their.  (Is it just me, or do they all sound totally different if you’re pronouncing them correctly?)  If you would like to pay me to write, I will certainly take your money.

I don’t think I do well with deadlines or commissions though.  I don’t work well with others’ ideas.  I’d like to make my own mazes, drawings, paintings, photos, etc. at my own pace.  Although, I aim to be productive with art, & maybe buy some more camera accessories, or a new amp, guitar, or some other new goofy instrument or piece of equipment.  (Because I apparently can’t make any money as a musician unless I join/form a human jukebox band – and let’s face it; I’m a poor guitarist.  Ha ha.)

As you can see, I’m all over the place.  I need focus/direction.  I guess I’m just looking for advice beyond the “you should publish a book” or “you should sell your photos” or the “you should write for someone” point.  I get that, and accept that… but how?  I’m looking for specifics here.  I’d like to hear “I use such & such & it’s fantastic, and works like…” and not “I think my cousin’s uncle’s mother’s neighbor uses blah blah blah, …I think.”  Are you an artist?  How do you sell your work?  Hit me with your wisdom!

6 thoughts on “So, how do I make money at this art thing?

  1. First, thanks for the links to my work. When I started computers were at the Fat Mac stage, so the best way was to get out there, show your work. Word of Mouth, was the way to spread the word, family and friends being very important. Even with the internet Word of Mouth and your family and friend are your best network. Best of Luck.
    Steven J Natanson


    • Thanks Steve, a feel a kinship in that we both draw somewhat similar mazes. Ha ha. Word of mouth is definitely a good thing… perhaps the best way to sell actual pieces of art. Thanks for the advice!


  2. I put this thing on cafe press like 3 years ago:,383439966

    Since then I’ve sold enough to buy one for my girlfriend and made like 40 bux on top. That was with very little effort, but took three years to amass of course.

    More generally, I think art for apparel in like a cafe press or zazzle capacity is pretty decent way to make a buck or two ( literally like one or two dollars ). But again, avenues like that allow you to create at your own pace and then shoot it off to the tubes. Then you sit back, check your site a year or two later and you’ll probably make more than you would drawing it and stuffing it under your bed.


    • Thanks Zach, solid advice… not much effort, and returns are “if I get any, it’s cool”. Ha ha.

      I dunno if my mazes would make cook T-shirts or not, but they might be cool on canvasses or in books. I’ll have to look into the cost of something like LuLu.

      I’ll need to brush up on my digital art skills if I do any T-shirt stuff…


  3. Lynn’s friend in columbus has done really well for himself in the tchirt business and as far as i know he keeps zero inventory and does everything through cafe press or something like it. this is all this guy does, it pays his mortgage and keeps him fed and more comfortable than most i know. I think he also has licensing deals with CBS and certain movie studios that use his designs.. the Big Bang Theory comes to mind. I think you just have to find something you like to do and do it.. And if you don’t like it.. whats the point?
    And didn’t we establish this week that you just have to smash some part of my face and you become a stellar guitar player… I’m willing to make the sacrifice.. Its all in the name of rock and roll..

    Erin “Currently Not ‘Ernie'” Payne


    • Thanks Erin (“Currently Not ‘Ernie’”), I checked out that site… there’s some killer stuff there. (Your dad needs this one.)

      I don’t want mad income, just enough for more toys. Ha ha.

      I will have to try to break something else on your face at the next gig, to see if my guitar powers escalate to the next level. I’ve never heard of a face-breaking guitar vampire… but apparently that’s what I am. It may spark a whole new genre of novels, comics, & movies.


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