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12 Business Ideas for Artists

Julianna Lopez
Julianna Lopez

Turn your love of art into a lucrative business with these startup ideas.

Art startups

With the growth of the gig economy and the increasing popularity of "side hustles," that old "starving artists" adage no longer applies to today's artists. Here are 12 industries where entrepreneurial artists can succeed in business.

3D printer artist

The rise and increasing popularity and availability of 3D printers has brought with it an entirely new class of artist. If you have knowledge of computer aided design (CAD), you can create your own designs and figurines, bring them to life with a 3D printer, and sell them on online marketplaces, like Etsy, or at flea markets, storefronts and galleries.

Video game designer

Video games have become so much more advanced, lifelike and detailed over the last couple of years, especially with the advent of VR. If you have the right skills and connections to tap into that industry, you can cultivate one hell of a career and make quite a pretty penny as well.

Web designer

If you know HTML and CSS programming, you can use that knowledge and your artistic talents to create and develop one-of-a-kind website designs. While many companies provide out-of-the-box designs for those looking to build their own site, many individuals and businesses pay top dollar for an innovative design that sets their website apart from the rest of the pack.

Graphic designer/artist

With marketers and advertisers looking to create eye-catching and informative graphics for online and social media campaigns, the demand for creative and reliable graphic designers is on the rise. If you're looking to create work offline, you can help clients design magazine and book layouts, greeting cards, newsletters, etc. A good place to start is to look for freelancing opportunities; you can try sites like Upwork or Toptal. Once you have a steady client base, you can consider going into business for yourself.

Art teacher

Were you a TA for art classes in college? Have you been able to find and enjoy steady work as an artist? Congratulations! You're qualified to teach classes and impart your wisdom to aspiring artists or novices. Franchise art schools like One River are revolutionizing the art education space, and art teachers have the opportunity to take part in this exciting innovation. While this option may be best suited as a part-time gig, you can still make good money offering hour-long classes at local craft and art supply stores, community centers, your home, or you can become an instructor for a paint-and-sip franchise. If you're tech-savvy, you can even create and offer your own online courses and webinars.

Paint-and-sip franchise owner

If teaching isn't your speed, consider opening a franchise, like Painting with a Twist or Pinot's Palette. If you haven't yet experienced it for yourself, participants pay a fee to enjoy a fun, relaxing painting class with their friends while sipping their favorite beverages. Become a franchisee, own your own business and support local artists who can teach the classes.

Video Production

Digital marketing is all about video. Any business who hasn't joined the world of video is going to need to as soon as possible to reach their designated audience as effectively as possible. These businesses will need talented and knowledgeable camera operators, producers, and editors to create these videos. Start local to build up a solid portfolio and then it's only onward and upward from there.


Just as every business needs video to effectively market and advertise to customers and prospects, they need creative, inventive and entertaining copy to capture the voice and vibe of the company. If you have a way with words, access to the internet and exquisite attention to detail, you can turn your skills into some extra cash. One of the best things about finding writing work, there's no upfront costs or investments needed to start building your business, so bonus.


Along with great copy, many marketing and advertising videos today rely on great animation to convey the company's voice and message. If you have experience working as a multimedia artist or animator, you could work with video production companies to create animated videos their clients can then use in their social media and marketing strategies or for general presentations. With the need for more video content, the demand for talented animators is on the rise and shows no sign of slowing down.


If you have a great photographic eye, starting your own photography business or working as a freelance photographer can be a great side hustle or your main gig. People are always looking for photographers for special events, profile pictures and pictures of their beloved pets. If you'd prefer not to work directly with clients yet, you could sell your images online as artwork. There are also plenty of other sites where you can sell your pictures as well.

Makeup artist

Today, you don't need to attend beauty or cosmetology school to launch a successful makeup business; a good reputation with your clients and a strong knowledge of the ever-changing cosmetics industry is enough to get you going. Since beauty professionals often build their businesses through client referrals, offer your services to friends and family for free or at a discounted rate at first. Once you've built up a solid customer base, you can charge competitive rates for weddings, proms and other formal events. You could also take your talents to the internet and break into the thriving industry of creating YouTube beauty tutorials. If you develop enough of a following, you could wind up becoming a beauty influencer, which according to a recent Vox article is a means of making some serious money if you're lucky.

Tattoo artist

Tattoos have become immensely popular, especially over the last 10 years, which has caused a huge demand for tattoo artists. Working in a tattoo studio can be a lucrative career path for talented artists, though it requires time and education to build up to it. According to WikiHow, to become a tattoo artist, you need to complete an apprenticeship with an experienced tattoo artist, take tattooing courses and obtain your state certification. Once you're certified, referrals from satisfied customers will be one of your biggest sources of business. If tattooing isn't your thing, you can design tattoos for popular artists or sell your original designs to studios.

More business ideas

Looking for even more ways you can start a business? Check out these ideas from our partners at CO— by U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Or dig into these other great business ideas.    

Image Credit: Wavebreakmedia / Getty Images
Julianna Lopez
Julianna Lopez
Business News Daily Contributing Writer
Julianna Lopez is a freelance writer, editor, and social media marketer. She loves all things New York, books, movies and theater. If you're interested in her services, you can reach her at