Is It Possible to Earn a Full-Time Living Doing Art & Craft Shows?

October 2012

Image courtesy of Bill Longshaw / FreeDigitalPhotos.netImage courtesy of Bill Longshaw /

Making a full-time living solely via their artwork is something every creative person dreams about. After all, what could be more fulfilling than spending all of your days doing something you love as much as you love your art and getting paid a living wage in return? However, knowing you’d like to make a living by showing and selling at art & craft shows and actually doing it are two very different animals altogether. Is it possible? If so, then what does it take?

The Lay of the Land

The truth of the matter is it’s definitely possible to eventually reach a place where you make a full-time living via selling your art at various shows and through related opportunities. However, it’s important to note that even very successful artists often have day jobs as well, at least at first. Although art can bring in a wonderful income if you’re able to tap into a demand for what you do, it’s often also a sporadic income a lot of the time. Begin with realistic expectations and start slowly.

Branching Out

Artists who are able to make a full-time living via their creative work are usually in that position because they’ve learned how to cover a number of bases at once. Yes, they show and sell their work in person as exhibitors at festivals, cons, and shows. However, they also sell their crafts, art prints, and so forth online via well-maintained websites and artists’ profiles on ecommerce sites like Etsy.

They don’t just stop there either. Full-time artists probably also take on freelance work and commissions for additional money. A few may take on students. Eventually, they also look into options such as licensing in regards to some of their more popular images to boot. The more avenues you explore in regards to your work, the better your chances of success.

Success Over Failure

Of course, many artists don’t actually reach their goals of going full-time with their art careers. However, it’s not for lack of talent or appeal. The biggest reason why a given artist may not be able to achieve that dream is lack of know-how when it comes to representation, selling, and the intricacies of building a large enough base of customers. That said, making sure you think of your art as a business and learning how to treat it as such will ultimately be the best move you can make.


I have found that the hardest thing about trying to promote yourself and your work is to come across to your customers as truly believing in what you do. I try and promote my work by making ‘cold calls’ to stores with samples in hand. I don’t take too many and I try and give the store a wide , exclusive area. I list their mane on my tables when I do shows and I try and deliver my goods myself if possible. I tried the internet but found that unless I spend huge sums I’m lost in the crowd. I mostly go the wholesale route as it a more steady income.

By Jeanne Roberts on October 11, 2012

Thank you so much for this post. i’m one of those who would love to do it full-time but not brave enough to quit my day job.

By Sherry Luke on October 17, 2012

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