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How to Start an Art Business in 2024: Step-by-Step Guide

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Free Startup Business Plan Template Template

January 14, 2024

10 Min Read

how to start an art business
Table of Contents
Writing a business plan?

The art world is booming with a value of $67.4 billion and growing. Thanks to the internet, art lovers can easily buy and sell pieces across borders.

Even with this rapid growth, the US art market is relatively small and very competitive. To really stand out,  you’ll need careful planning, preparation, and most importantly, solid execution.

That’s where this article comes as your guiding star. In this guide, we’ve tried to explain how you can turn your passion into profits and launch your art venture in 10 simple steps.

1. Prepare a Business Plan

Every art business needs a simple plan. Think of it like a map for your own business to grow and succeed. You don’t have to write anything formal or share it with others if you don’t want to.

Your business plan helps you figure out how to start and grow your business. When making your plan, Include these things:

  • Executive Summary
  • Business Overview
  • Products and Services
  • Market Analysis
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Management Team
  • Operations Plan
  • Financial Plan
  • Appendix

You can use a ready-made art business plan example or start jotting down your ideas. This plan is something you’ll keep adding to as your business grows. It’s not just for now; it’s also a guide for the future.

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2. Choose a Profitable Niche

Start by looking at what your business could be good at and what people want to buy. The perfect spot for your art practice is where these two things meet. To find this spot, ask yourself a few questions.

What kind of art do you love doing? Think about what you’re good at, what can make money, and what you enjoy.

What are people buying in these areas?

Look at what sold well last year in the areas you’re interested in. Check out what’s trending and see what types of art are selling the most. Find out how much people usually pay for these items or services.

List the best areas you can work in and how good they might be for business. Compare them and pick the one that’s just right for you.

3. Identify your Target Customer

Next, figure out who is most likely to buy your art. Knowing your target customer is a big deal in marketing because it helps you sell more effectively. Imagine the perfect person who would want and can afford your artwork. Understanding them lets you know how to get your art before them.

Think about these things to pinpoint your customers:

  • Who can afford your art?
  • Where do these people shop for art?

Your whole plan for selling your art depends on these answers. They guide where and how you’ll talk to potential buyers.

4. Develop a Positioning Strategy

As a fine art dealer, think about the role your brand plays in making your gallery unique among competitors for art collectors.

Good brand positioning can greatly benefit your business, rather than be a problem. Usually, people first think of branding in terms of visual things. This includes the logo, colors, and style. However, brand positioning shines through non-physical aspects.

These are things like service quality, reputation, how the public sees you, and the emotions you evoke. These aspects are sometimes overlooked by art galleries when they work on strengthening their brand.

5. Figure out Product Pricing

Pricing art can be challenging, but it’s critical to making a living as an artist. You don’t have to be a “starving artist” – smart pricing is part of a good business strategy. Here’s what to keep in mind:

First, cover your costs in your art’s price. This includes your time, materials, shipping, and framing if needed. Think about what your time is worth and what you need to earn per hour. For example, the average hourly rate for artists in the US is about $24.58.

Second, choose a pricing formula that works for you—some artists price by size, others by time and material costs. Consider your skill and education level, but always make sure you’re making a profit after expenses.

Third, keep your prices consistent. This makes things fair for galleries and collectors and keeps everyone happy.

Lastly, offer art at different prices. Not everyone can afford a high-priced piece. Selling smaller, more affordable items means more people can buy your art, widening your customer base. Every sale, big or small, is essential!

6. Identify Marketing & Promotion Channels

Now you’ve got your business up and running, it’s crucial to plan your marketing strategy to showcase your art.

Focus on these key areas:

  • Website: Your website is your digital storefront. It should host your portfolio, prices, contact details, online store, blog, and more.
  • Social Media: Connect with potential buyers where they hang out. Use visually-rich platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok for art pieces, and Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter for service-focused promotions.
  • Marketplaces: Tap into the vast audience on Etsy, Amazon, eBay, and Aliexpress. Pick the ones where your target customers shop.
  • Offline Events: Attend local fairs, markets, and exhibitions to meet customers face-to-face and understand their preferences.

7. Register your Art Business

You’ve created your art and are ready to sell it. Now, it’s time to make your art business official. Here are some of your options:

Select a Business Entity

Starting your art business means picking the right business entity. Your choices include:

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • General Partnership
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • Limited Partnership
  • Corporation.

Many artists opt for a sole proprietorship for their business. It’s simple to set up and suits the straightforward needs of a typical art studio.

Finding a Registered Agent

You’ll need a Registered Agent if you go for an LLC or a Corporation. This person or service handles your official paperwork and connects you with the government. They need to be in the same state as your business.

State Registration and Getting an EIN

Next, register your business in your state, which usually involves the Secretary of State’s office. Every state has different rules, so check what yours requires.

You’ll also need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. Think of this number as your business’s ID for tax purposes and when you open a business bank account.

Signing Up for Taxes

Finally, get ready to handle taxes. Register with your state and the IRS to take care of sales, income, and employment taxes if you hire anyone.

It might sound like a lot, but a Registered Agent can help you with all the paperwork and rules to ensure your art business is set up correctly.

8. Business Licensing and Insurance

To officially start your art business, you need to follow the local rules where you live.

It’s important to note that depending on your art business type, you may need to obtain special permits and licenses.

For instance, if you sell art related to cultural properties, you will require a special permit.

Art appraisers and conservators must obtain professional certifications to attract clients.

Additionally, applying for an EIN from the IRS is mandatory.

Why Insurance?

Just like any other venture, your art business comes with risks. So, it’s wise to have insurance for peace of mind and smooth sailing. Here are some insurances you might need:

  • General Liability: Covers legal fees for accidents.
  • Business Property: Keeps your workspace and tools safe.
  • Equipment Breakdown: Fixes or replaces tools.
  • Worker’s Compensation: For employee injuries and lost wages.
  • Business Owner’s Policy (BOP): A package deal for various coverages.

Getting the right insurance set up means you’re ready to handle whatever comes your way, leaving you free to focus on creating and selling your art.

9. Get the Right Tools

Great art starts with great tools. Just like you need practice, you also need the right supplies for your art style. Here’s what you might need:

  • Pencils
  • Canvases
  • Brushes
  • Paint
  • Paper
  • Palette
  • Palette Knife
  • Digital Tools like Graphic editors and drawing tablets.

Use good quality materials for your art. Choose professional-grade paints and canvases that last long and won’t fade fast. This means picking stuff meant to be kept for years, called archival materials.

Avoid using cheap paints and canvases from the dollar store. They might not last long and can make your art look bad as they fade or break down quickly.

If you want people to think of you as a professional artist, it’s worth spending more on better materials. This will help your art stay beautiful and give your buyers a good experience.

10. Prepare to Launch

As the day you open your business gets closer, check and improve important parts of your business.

Digital Tools

To manage your art collection effectively, explore specialized tools such as Artgalleria, Artwork Archive, or Artlogic. They’re designed to help you catalog your creations, track sales, and streamline your promotional activities.

On the financial side, consider intuitive accounting software like Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero. They are especially beneficial for smaller enterprises, simplifying your financial management with user-friendly interfaces​.

Hiring People

If your business grows big enough, you might need to bring more people on board to help. You can look for people to hire without spending money by posting job ads on well-known websites like LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com.

If you want more options, you can pay to advertise on sites like Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. And if you have the budget, you should hire a recruitment agency to help you find good people to work for you.

Make a Website

To really shine, your own website and social media should be top-notch. That means having a good web address and username, ensuring people can easily find and contact you, and showcasing your work with high-quality images.

A personal and clear “About” section goes a long way, too. All these things help shape your art brand—what people think when they see it.

Don’t worry if you’re not a tech whiz. Many sites offer simple, drag-and-drop templates to help you quickly set up a professional-looking art website.

Look after your Social Media

For social media, remember quality over quantity. It’s better to do a few platforms well than to be on every platform and not manage any effectively.

Pick the social media platforms your audience loves and focus on making meaningful posts there. This approach will help you build a strong, recognizable brand without spreading yourself too thin.

The Bottom Line

Ready to turn your art business dream into reality? It’s time to take the first step: writing a business plan.

Think of this plan as your roadmap for success. It helps you avoid missing important details and keeps you focused on your goals. We’ve even included a sample art business plan example to make things even easier!

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About the Author

Shyam                                                       
            Dua

Shyam Dua

Shyam Dua is a seasoned tax professional with 40+ years of experience & a mentor at SCORE. He stands out due to his exceptional business planning skills. With a keen eye for detail and a strong financial acumen, Shyam crafts compelling business plans that pave the way to success. A CPA with a philanthropic heart, Shyam's strategic expertise, and dedication make him an invaluable asset in shaping thriving business ventures. Read more

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