The narrative of the starving artist has got to go. We’re embarking on 2022 and there is a world of access for artists to make some money from their art! It’s possible to stay genuine in the process, make a difference, and have fun making the work you love. The journey will surely look different for every artist but with some hustling skills and a little investment I think every artist can make the art turned business journey. Mine started only last year.
Digital Drawing Commissions
It began with getting furloughed from my 9-5 during the pandemic. With no plan B on how to make ends meet I picked up a gifted iPad I hadn’t even used up until that point. I got on YouTube and started searching “how to paint on an iPad” videos. When I tell you I had never drawn digitally in my life, I mean it. I practiced all of May 2020 and started posting my drawings on my Instagram page. Quickly the drawings became so popular that I held a raffle for a free drawing. I received enough engagement that I decided I could charge for my drawings. I set a price based on my experience (a month at that point) and it’s been successful ever since. It was going so well I had filed for my creative business by the end of the year. I am now open for digital commissions during major holidays.
Digital drawings became a much faster way of making some profit from my artistic skills and I saw how my clients were utilizing the files I had given them. People were printing images on everything from canvases to mugs to t-shirts and I thought I should do it for myself. Social media was booming with new merchandise lines from artists and I wanted to learn how to get in on the process. I once again went to the new school that is YouTube and Google and began my research. Coloring books had become a huge resource for mental health during the pandemic and I immediately gravitated towards that as my first product. Over the course of 3 months I learned how to create a book, and without the right funding for self-publishing, decided to just make and sell the book myself. The launch of the book was unreal. Because of my coloring book, “Colores De Mi Tierra”, my business entity stays afloat. It is still my most popular item and I’ve been able to sell them wholesale. I now have a line of products and am constantly looking for new ways to present my original art at a different price point for consumers and future collectors. I sell them on my website, through my social media platforms, and at local vendor markets. Because of this line I have also been able to partner with an amazing non-profit organization called Batey Girls and sell one of a kind earrings to raise funds for women and children victims of human trafficking. Sketzii has also helped sponsor the health and wellness retreat at Tru Clarity Wellness.
NFTs have become quite the subject of debate, especially amongst artists. I completely understand both sides of the argument, but that isn’t what this blog post is about. I am merely addressing the fact that an artist can make a living off of selling their art as NFTs. I am not for, nor against it. I did however, try to do it. Somewhere in between digital commissions and making a line of merchandise a high school friend of mine found her way into my DMs and asked me if I had gotten into NFTs. I had no idea what she was talking about but she’s a pretty successful freelance graphic designer so it was worth listening to. She explained the basics about NFTs and told me she had thought about maybe putting up some of her designs to sell but hadn’t done enough research. I am a hardcore learning nerd and have to “be in the know” about all things pop culture so I did the research myself. After 7 days of YouTube NFT videos I figured it was worth a shot. I came up with a collection of digital paintings and began my first mint. I will say this: NFTs are an investment and I only spent money I felt I could lose and be okay with. It’s a confusing world for me, I made a lot of mistakes, and I haven’t sold one yet. Like with selling any other kind of art you really have to put in the effort to market yourself. It’s an effort I haven’t made time for but have high hopes my collection will sell and I can invest into making new work for the metaverse.
My first love I dedicate last. I am a painter at heart, first and foremost. The digital illustration stuff is super new to me and I never wanted to be a graphic designer either. But in a world where fast, quick, and cheap makes money, I needed to take advantage of the wave. That doesn’t mean I stopped painting with a real paintbrush nor will I ever stop. There is nothing like being in possession of or in front of an original painting for me. I’ve been doing painting commissions for years. It never stopped for me but it had its lulls from time to time. Only in the past 6 years or so would I say I’ve had consistent commissioned work. I have a hate/love relationship with commissioned work. On the one hand I get asked to do some pretty incredible pieces but it doesn’t always align with my portfolio work or aesthetic. In 2019 I made it a point to only take on commissions that would feel genuine for me to do. In doing that my current clients absolutely understand that their piece will be a Sketzii piece. I open up for painting commissions once a year because the list fills up quickly and paintings take a much longer time to create. If nothing else in my business works out, I will always have my first love, painting.
Sketzii & Co.Starters
Sketzii is a creative business entity with its own logo, own website, social media, and signature. I believe it’s important to market yourself as an artist to be able to make a living off your art. I just started on this journey and am sure I will learn so much more. A great resource for me was the Co.Starters program funded by Creative Pinellas through the Tampa Bay Innovation Center. The program allows you to learn the business basics through a 10 week course and is fully funded by scholarships from Creative Pinellas. Be on the look out for the next class announcement! I think every artist can benefit from stepping out of our comfort zones and studios and searching for different opportunities to showcase our work.
You can find my product line on my website: Sketzii.com
I announce my openings for commissions on my Instagram: Sketzii
My NFTs are up for sale on: Rarible.com/sketzii