Business Tips for Artists and Art Students

Gold Coast Art Classes Logo
Gold Coast Art Classes Top Background
Background Colour Beige
Background Colour Beige

The following information have been provided by Martina Pook. 

This page was last updated: March 14, 2016
Business Tips Banner Image
green bar
Contact Us Link
Contact us
If you are one of those artists who either believe not being good at business or otherwise passionately avoid it, here some food for thought. 

Why is it that we fend of "business knowledge" so passionately, when at the same time, we accept any jobs outside of art, just to make a living?  

Working in a job we don't like is accepted, but  learning basic business skills is considered as something we have no time for.  

Business can be learned by anyone, even those who don't have a streak in their bones. Once this useful knowledge is acquired it generates incredible satisfying freedom and eventually becomes second nature. 

Ah and the feeling of actually knowing what you are doing has to be called somewhat thrilling. 

For some this must sound like the worst nightmare. "I don't have time for this and wouldn't know how to do it anyway" is the usual reaction. 

I cannot stress enough how lives have been changed when business planning has been adopted. Some of the most brilliant ideas have been born this way. 

The best and probably easiest marketing plan is offered by the Australia Council titled: "What's My Plan". It can be either downloaded or ordered online for free in book format. 

Some other interesting sites in regards to business plans :

Over the many years in my career I have encountered some pretty bad assistance from accountants, as well as really great advice. And it was almost always the accountants who had specialised within the arts sector who corrected the mistakes of the others.

There are brilliant accountants who have advocated their skills entirely to the art sector. 

You can also download a list of Australian accountants specialised in the arts created by AbaF:

​More art accountants:

Everybody can have a Website or Blog these days, no matter the skills or budget. It is still the most cheapest marketing tool.  

There are numerous free Website builders these days, and often as easy to use as working in Microsoft Word. 

There is a handy AbaF Fact Sheet in regards Websites for artists.   

More of the many FREE  Website builders:

An artists statement can be seen as your personal answering tool and information source about you. 

Write a statement that truly everyone understands, not only a few selected. It is a common mistake to think it has to be out in the clouds, yet does not really sell your art. 

Please read  here one of the best explanations of what an artist statement really is about, namely another great selling tool.

Other good sites for creating an artist statement:

Artist's statement examples:

Writing grant proposals, gosh the work.....  too difficult.... and time-consuming, yet so worth the work.

It is like getting between a months to a years income for just a bit of preparation. Grants do not need to be paid back, unless it was a loan. How astonishing  hearing arguments about the involvement of time, when it takes most of us to work for $5000 to $20,000 spare money months or years. So writing a proposal is a lucrative logical option.  

It is often only the first application which needs more work, once you have done it, it becomes easier each time.

Find here a  Complete Grant Writing Guide from Regional Arts NSW.  

To apply for grants is just another part of an artists life. 

Social networking is today's way to communicate with your customers and can include tweets, blogs and posts. There are literally thousands of artists and arts organisations taking advantage of social media.

The Sydney Morning Herald says: "Every night in theatres around Australia, audience members are tweeting: during interval, after the show and sometimes, mostly surreptitiously, during the show itself."

It is another cheap way of advertising and marketing. 

Great links for social networking:

Many opportunities are missed by artists who are not familiar with media writing.  For most artists, every little bit of extra publicity is helpful. 

A press release is quick and cheap option, and once done a few times becomes second nature.  

Every time something is up, an exhibition, a larger project, your work is related to some event or a good story, is food for the media. But even just plain information on your art and yourself can do at times, as newspaper need to fill their pages with something. 

Media releases have a certain kind of structure you should be aware of, it's plainly a pyramid system. 

The first paragraph should always contain the 5 W's: Why, Where, When, Who and What. Every following sentence is written by importance, with the least important last, as journalists see them as throw away lines. 

Great sites to start with:

Probably the most important issue when pricing your artwork is to understand the most common mistakes made by artists. Understanding the pitfalls will help you to get a solid career going. 

Doubtless the best Australian source for pricing your art,  be it for exhibition work, commissions or licencing is available from NAVA. The Artists' Scales of Fees & Wages (RRP: $12, Member Price:$10). This booklet provides advice and reference data for areas including: fees for studio space, public and new media artists, loan fees, copyright fees, fees for illustration and freelance writing, as well as rates of pay for curators, arts administration and teaching.  

More important information:

It goes without discussion that artists should know about their rights and obligations, including copyright, commissions and contracts etc. 

It is more about knowing the pitfalls of the industry and unfortunately too many budding artist are learning basic survival skills by making big mistakes. 

I have seen hundreds of times where people take commissions without a proper contract or any up-front part-payment, due to feeling uncomfortable to use such standard rights, and yet when something goes wrong wished they would have never taken the job in the first place, and wasn't it odd that the client wasn't willing to have anything confirmed on paper? 

I have been running business workshops for artist for over 12 years now and the stories I hear at times are heartbreaking and  avoidable.

If you wish to organise a workshop in your area, get in contact with your local art organisations or just get a group of people together to book our workshop.

More tips on this subject: 

Pretty much every artist will at some point of their career work on commissions, yet what often starts as a great project can get badly wrong.  

We recommend to buy the very low priced commission contracts from the Arts Law Centre of Australia, as those contracts have been written by professionals who are interested in the well-fare of artists. 

There are also some free version: 

What insurance should an artist have and why? And where to get affordable insurance?

Information on insurance and some good low cost insurance companies for visual artists are listed here: 

Contracts are more important than most artists realise. It is a perfect way for both parties involved, because if something ever goes wrong, it seems to be a common sudden human condition that everybody develops some sort of amnesia.  

Anything agreed on verbally with a price attached is by law binding and there should be no reason to see contracts as something foreign or intimidating. 

From my personal experience the only people really having problems to sign a contract, are those who's dealings are not legitimate and many artists have to learn this the hard way, later wishing never having entered into a working relationship with those customers in the first place. 

Make sure your client understands that a contract is as much for their protection as yours. 

So where to get good and cheap contracts? Here are some tips and examples:


Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.  

Henry Ward Beecher

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.  Art is knowing which ones to keep.  

Scott Adams

Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.  

Pablo Picasso

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.  

Twyla Tharp

The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life.  

William Faulkner

Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.  

Pablo Picasso

Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.  

Stella Adler

Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.  

Leonardo da Vinci

It has been said that art is a tryst, for in the joy of it maker and beholder meet.  

Kojiro Tomita

Art is the desire of a man to express himself, to record the reactions of his personality to the world he lives in.  

Amy Lowell

To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist.  


We all know that Art is not truth.  Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand.  The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies.  

Pablo Picasso

I don't paint things.  I only paint the difference between things.  

Henri Matisse

The artist uses the talent he has, wishing he had more talent.  The talent uses the artist it has, wishing it had more artist.

Robert Brault

An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one.  

Charles Horton Cooley

Every creator painfully experiences the chasm between his inner vision and its ultimate expression.  

Isaac Bashevis Singer

To make us feel small in the right way is a function of art; men can only make us feel small in the wrong way.  

E.M. Forster

Art is the stored honey of the human soul, gathered on wings of misery and travail.  

Theodore Dreiser

The artist's world is limitless.  It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away.  It is always on his doorstep.  

Paul Strand

All art requires courage.  

Anne Tucker

Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.  

Oscar Wilde

Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do.  

Edgar Degas

Pictures must not be too picturesque.  

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.  

André Gide

Anyone who says you can't see a thought simply doesn't know art.

Wynetka Ann Reynolds

But that's what being an artist is - feeling crummy before everyone else feels crummy.  

The New Yorker

Very few people possess true artistic ability.  It is therefore both unseemly and unproductive to irritate the situation by making an effort.  If you have a burning, restless urge to write or paint, simply eat something sweet and the feeling will pass.  

Fran Lebowitz

Great art picks up where nature ends.  

Marc Chagall

When my daughter was about seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work.  I told her I worked at the college - that my job was to teach people how to draw.  She stared at me, incredulous, and said, "You mean they forget?"  

Howard Ikemoto

Art consists of limitation.  The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.  

G.K. Chesterton

What art offers is space - a certain breathing room for the spirit.  

John Updike

The artist is the opposite of the politically minded individual, the opposite of the reformer, the opposite of the idealist.  The artist does not tinker with the universe, he recreates it out of his own experience and understanding of life.  

Henry Miller

No great artist ever sees things as they really are.  If he did, he would cease to be an artist.  

Oscar Wilde

The painter puts brush to canvas, and the poet puts pen to paper.  The poet has the easier task, for his pen does not alter his rhyme

Robert Brault  

An artist is someone who produces things that people don't need to have but that he - for some reason - thinks it would be a good idea to give them.  

Andy Warhol

The buttocks are the most aesthetically pleasing part of the body because they are non-functional.  Although they conceal an essential orifice, these pointless globes are as near as the human form can ever come to abstract art.  

Kenneth Tynan

For me, painting is a way to forget life.  It is a cry in the night, a strangled laugh.  

Georges Rouault

Everything in creation has its appointed painter or poet and remains in bondage like the princess in the fairy tale 'til its appropriate liberator comes to set it free.  

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.  


There is no surer method of evading the world than by following Art, and no surer method of linking oneself to it than by Art.  

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Art is... a question mark in the minds of those who want to know what's happening.  

Aaron Howard

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for.  

Georgia O'Keeefe
Best Business Plan Banner
green bar
Art Accountant Banner
green bar
A Website or Blog Banner
green bar
Artists Statement Banner
green bar
Apply for a Grant
green bar
A Website or Blog Banner
green bar
How to Price Artwork Banner
green bar
The Media Release Banner
green bar
Artists Rights and Obligations Banner
green bar
Commissions for Artists Banner
green bar
Insurance for Artists Banner
green bar
Contracts for Artists Banner
green bar
Why not book a business workshop to your area?

You could also contact any of your local arts organisations to see if others are interested in running a one day workshop near you. 

Or write a funding application to the Regional Arts Development Fund in your area.  

To talk or for more information about this option contact us per e-mail.
Contact Us Link
Have you mastered colour fully? Are you able to mix any colour from the double primaries plus white?

If you live in the Gold Coast or Brisbane area, you may want to pop into our place. 

Colour is our strength and we have taught hundreds to mix colour in the shortest of times. 

Or contact any of your local art organisations and see if they can organise a workshop for you. 

One day Colour Workshops can booked anywhere in Australia. 

For more details contact us.
Contact Us Link
Facebook Link
Twitter Link
YouTube Link
RSS Feed
Blog Link

Twitter Link White
Facebook Link White
YouTube Link White
Instagram Link White