As with any career, there are many ways to make money as an illustrator. This article will talk about some of the more common ways artists get paid and what things you can do to increase your income.

It’s very important that you understand how the art industry works before trying to earn a living as a professional artist. Art is a popular medium so there are lots of opportunities to hone your craft and gain experience. But just because it’s becoming increasingly accessible doesn’t mean it’s easy to make a living doing it!

I know from personal experience that the struggle is real. I struggled for years after college when I first started freelancing. It’s tough out there for everyone who wants to be successful at this profession!

If you want to keep up in the game then here are some tips for you. Read on to learn more about how people make a living as creative professionals like us.

General business tips

So you want to start a freelance business or are already working independently and need help getting bills done, staying organized, etc. These are general business tips that can apply to anyone.

These ideas may not relate directly to creating visual artwork but they are helpful all the same. Check them out and see if anything helps you in your daily life outside of work.

Art shows

how do illustrators get paid

Another way most illustrators make money is by showing their work at art exhibitions or events. These can be organized locally, nationally, or even internationally!

Most artists are very social people so they organize open-house style exhibits to showcase and sell their work. They invite other artists, members of the public, and sometimes sponsors to see it and contribute to its profits.

By catering to others’ needs, it becomes easy for them to connect with new fans and collectors. Businessmen and women may also come along to look at the work and influence buying decisions via sponsorship.

Artists get paid per attendee, per sponsor, or both depending on what kind of show it is. Some have even made big bucks just for being present at an event!

But how do all of these things add up? And how much does the artist actually earn from each one of them? There are no clear answers to those questions, but we can talk about some numbers and averages.

Online markets

how do illustrators get paid

A lot of illustrators start their career by creating artwork they have an idea to share, or get paid for sharing. They create their illustrations and then publish them online via sites like Pinterest, Facebook, and Tumblr.

These are called digital portfolios or online art galleries. Artists can use these websites to promote themselves and gain more business.

By promoting their work, people can find and access it easily. Businesses can check out your style and determine if you fit with their company or not! It is also great way to connect with other artists and inspire each other.

Online marketplaces make it easy to buy and sell art. Websites such as Etsy, RedBubble, and ArtStation offer sellers a place to showcase and sell their creations. These sites take care of most of the logistics like shipping and customers.

Earnings vary from artist to artist depending on how much traffic their site receives and how well they manage their shop. But overall income is growing due to the rise in popularity of online selling.

Selling art

So how do illustrators make money? Most artists sell their work either directly or through agents. When you’re an artist, it can be hard to get people to look at your work and buy it. There are many reasons for this, one of which is that most people don’t know what kind of artwork you create!

If someone else has done something you like, they might have given away their copy of the piece or even sold theirs long ago. This means there isn’t much chance of you coming across yours ever actually being in need of a place to hang it.

A lot of times, creative type individuals start doing things with logos, cartoons or other types of illustrations and try to market them as artistic pieces. It may not seem like very good business sense to pay lots of money for a banner with Mickey Mouse on it, but if you think about it, what is that really worth? A few dollars probably, so why not go ahead and give it a shot?

Finding an agent is almost always the next best step for getting paid properly. Agents earn large fees per transaction by acting as intermediaries between sellers and buyers. Agencies usually take a percentage of the sale, however different agencies vary in how much they want to take.

Typical percentages range from 5% to 15%, making it difficult to find a middle ground unless you are willing to sacrifice some profit.

Donate your work

how do illustrators get paid

As mentioned before, being paid for our illustrations is not always easy or quick. Sometimes, even after submitting designs, getting payment can take months if not years!

So how do other artists get paid? By donating their art to charity auctions, to be displayed and distributed as needed. A great way to find free artwork is by looking into sites like Freeclipartorg and Iammakewish.

These sites have crowdsourcing features that people can use to make money by creating new graphics or editing existing ones.

Be friendly

how do illustrators get paid

As mentioned earlier, illustrative artists are typically paid per project depending on what services they offer. These services include designing logos or illustrations for products, creating storyboards to develop concepts, drawing inspiration from materials such as books, magazines, and advertisements, and developing characters and environments.

Some of these projects may not pay very well, but you will at least get some money – if not much – for doing them.

As an artist, it is important to be friendly with other designers so that you can collaborate and help each other out when needed.

This includes offering work to others, responding to their comments and questions about your craft, and being respectful and honest with them.

Never assume someone else has done their research- do some research yourself before assuming anything!

General tips: keep in touch, respond to messages quickly, ask thoughtful questions, and remember who helped you launch into design career land.

These individuals contributed to your success, and should be rewarded for this hard work.

Join a group

how do illustrators get paid

As with any career, there are many ways to make money as an illustrator. One of the most popular is joining a professional organization or guild that covers your area of expertise. These groups give you the opportunity to learn about marketing, business, and/or creative strategies for improving your craft, while also networking with other professionals in your field.

Most big organizations have their annual conference where members get together to share knowledge and connect with others in their community. Some even offer certification or membership programs so you can prove how knowledgeable you are in your field.

By attending these events, you will meet people who work in your field, which is a great way to gain exposure. And if you are already a member of an established organization, you get extra benefits such as learning materials and discounts on services and products.

These conferences and opportunities are a perfect time to promote yourself by talking about what types of projects you completed and what skills you had gained over the past year.

Be consistent

how do illustrators get paid

As mentioned before, being persistent is an important factor in earning freelance income as an illustrator. If you are not getting paid, try to find out why and what you can do to improve your freelancing business.

It could be due to timing or someone else’s schedule, it may be because of outside factors such as a recession or less demand for illustrations, or maybe you just need to learn how to market yourself more effectively.

Whatever the reason, don’t give up! Keep trying, and you will eventually get things fixed.

Another tip is to accept that some projects won’t pay well at first. You might have to turn down work if nothing seems like a good fit or you feel exhausted after creating designs for it.

But remember, we always deserve our fair payment no matter what we provide for others!

As long as you’re putting quality into your work, then people will notice and reward you with money for that.

Build a website

how do illustrators get paid

As with any career, there are ways to make money as an illustrator. The easiest way is to start your own business and run it yourself. This can be done by creating your own website or using someone else’s that specializes in illustrating for their services, such as

From here you can offer your services to other companies to create logos, illustrations, or even cartoons! Most of these sites have you apply through them so they handle the communication part of things, leaving you to focus on making art.


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