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12 Financial Tips for Art School Students

Tantowi grew up drawing and designing. Now she makes videos for a living and loves every second of it.

It's important to understand how money works in the real world.

It's important to understand how money works in the real world.

Art school students should know about financial management. Art is something very near to my heart. I've been an artist all my life, and I hope for it to stay that way. But I also know that it's expensive to go to art school, and the cost of living can often be a struggle. What's more, if you're not careful with your money you could end up in debt and not be able to afford the art you love so much! The financial tips below could help you make the most out of your art school experience.

Save Your Money for Materials

Materials cost more than you think. Think about it: if you buy a bunch of new canvas that you'll never use, what did you pay for it? Nothing. You saved money by not buying the canvas and having it returned to you after you're done with it. When you start, especially with art and other creative projects, it can feel impossible to put money away for the future. But saving doesn't have to mean boring savings accounts or low-small-payoff credit cards.

Students who decide to attend art school must face the challenge of figuring out how to pay for the cost of tuition, room and board, and other necessary expenses. Before you begin your search for a place to study, you must have a clear idea of how you will pay for these necessary expenses. Many students find it helpful to budget for supplies and materials as they develop their artistic sense of style and begin to value the items they receive from donors and friends as much as what they produce for themselves.

Don’t Go Out Every Night (Or on the Weekend)

There are plenty of things you can do to save money while going to art school. Not spending money on food and drinks is a huge one. Not going out in the early hours of the morning or going out on the weekends is another. Saving money on your art supplies means you will have plenty of resources to complete your project. It also means you will have plenty of time to focus on your work without feeling obligated to work late hours or weekends.

Remember that even when you go out on Saturday nights/weekends, your expenses will still be higher than when you go out more regularly. In part, it depends on how much you're going to have to save up to make your monthly bill payments (and prevent yourself from overdrawing your account).

Don’t Buy More Than You Can Afford

When I was thinking about what to buy for my art school budget, I made a list of what I thought were essentials. Unfortunately, over the years I have acquired several large purchases that have overwhelmed and displaced other smaller expenses. I realized that most people don’t make the effort to cut unnecessary expenses from their lives.

As an incoming art student, you should already be working with a limited budget. We can easily become caught up in the daily demands of school and the resulting stress. Even more so because many of us do not know how to properly allocate our money during this time.

There’s no shortage of advice on how to save money in your pursuit of art school, but when it comes to how much? That's a question I struggled with for several years before I figured it out. My mistake has been buying things I can never use or afford at the full price. Consider refinancing your school loan, be sure to put your bills in line at the bank, and save yourself money by putting pennies aside.

Build Income Streams

The best way would be to be able to start a side hustle or business that generates income. You could do consulting work for a company teaching other things in addition to your original degree studies. Earn as much from your side hustle or business as you can then use the money from that source to cover the rest of your living expenses.

This isn't just about signing up for on-campus jobs or working at a local coffee shop as a staff member. You can also create a side hustle by selling unique items on Shopify, Gumroad, eBay or Craigslist. Or you can work at an arts organization that provides regular stipends as an entry-level position. Whatever type of job you choose, keep in mind that the more financial freedom you have, the more freedom you'll have to make.

Assemble an Emergency Fund

Whether or not you think you have enough money to pay for college doesn't mean you don't need to start thinking about it now. Once you are enrolled in an art school, an unexpected expense could put your entire financial plan in jeopardy. Having an emergency fund that will help cover unexpected costs will make it much easier to navigate through those difficult times and regain control of your future.

Make a list of every expense you anticipate having to pay soon. Then work out how much each item on your list will cost you if you surprise about to pay for it later. Once you have a general idea of how much each expense will cost you, make a budget and meet it every week or month for the foreseeable future. This should help you stay motivated and organized as you begin your art studies and permit you to save easily.

Avoid Credit Card Debt

If you've borrowed money, you know how frustrating it can be to pay it off when you can't get a new, higher-paying credit card. You want to make sure you are always ready with cash to pay bills, rent, and buy the latest gadget. You want to earn the most money possible so that you can afford to buy everything and stay ahead of everyone else on the spending ladder. But there's a problem… most credit cards are designed for people who want more money than they need.

It has been said time and time again, but there is one piece of advice that can make all the difference in your financial life: avoid credit card debt. Although this may sound like a very basic concept, many people tend to get bogged down in the details when it comes to finances. If you are serious about making wise use of your financial freedom, you must understand how to pay off credit card debt properly.

Art school students are like raw fish waiting for someone to turn them inside out.

Art school students are like raw fish waiting for someone to turn them inside out.

Partner with Other Artists

Take advantage of scholarship programs, find creative work, network with other artists, and learn from experienced artists who have been through the process before. When I entered school I was naive about how much money there was to be made in this industry. I made some amazing new friends but overlooked one important thing, networking. Getting involved in groups and clubs that others were involved in was simply easier said than done. Networking will help you in the future.

Don't Be Afraid to Take Part-Time Jobs Unrelated to the Arts

Being an artist means that you can change careers whenever you want. However, not everything goes as planned. Most jobs do not want you to be an artisan on their production line, for example. You should be willing to take on jobs that do not fit your skill set right now but will give you experience and money in the long run.

Over half of all part-time jobs lead to a source of income within six months, but not all part-time jobs are successful. This means that even if you’re pursuing an art school education, there are ways you can earn extra cash to help pay for classes. Even if you can't find a full-time job after school, you should still consider part-time jobs that might help pay the bills while teaching you new skills or helping you take on new responsibilities.

Make a Showreel Before Graduation

Art school doesn't guarantee you a job, but it helps provide direction and experience that can help you find one. Here's how you will get a job after graduation, before graduation, create a portfolio of your work. It could be a painting, a drawing, or a photograph. Include details like location, date, and pay.

If you wish to become a professional artist, you must document everything that you do. Preparation is key! Make a showreel before graduation so that you can document your artistic growth throughout high school and beyond. Showreels are an invaluable asset in any artistic career.

Alternative Career Strategies

Art school is not the traditional path to a successful job. Many people drop out of school early due to money problems. Even if you manage to get your degree, the available jobs are usually low-wage and without benefits.

t is important to know that several careers are available and excellent alternatives. Even if you plan on going to an art school, it is possible to change your career plans or end up working outside of art. The things that I have learned through my experience are helpful to anyone looking to change careers or avoid jobs that are not ideal for them. The key is to realize that what works for me does not necessarily have to work for someone else.

Art school is not a qualification for a job in the real economy. This is simply a fact of life and not a criticism of the student or the institution. As students, we should be able to choose whatever career we want, but there are often economic realities that limit this choice. This is especially true if you are pursuing an arts degree or an MBA. Because the cost of living varies so much from one region to another even when comparing locales with similar costs of living (New York City being an extreme example), art school cannot realistically serve as an everyday income. But don't get me wrong, a lot of artists make a million per year and are very successful!

Purchase Stocks and Bonds

Sometimes, when people ask what I do for a living, I tell them, "I'm an artist." They usually ask me how I make any money from that, and then I have to have an awkward conversation about my financial situation.

If you're a student in art school who works part-time, you can take your occasional irregular source of income from working, and put it into investments that will benefit your future self. Building up your portfolio investment is one of the best things you can do for your art career and personally. It is also one of the easiest. Just like any other area of your life, start small and work your way up.

When investing, you need to keep a few things in mind. There is such a thing as bad luck when it comes to money. When your only defense against bad luck is luck, then the only way to make money consistently is by being lucky. It's important to invest your money immediately just in case your luck runs out.

You Should Invest in Yourself

Doing well in an art school first and foremost means that you learned how to conduct yourself in a professional and respectful environment. Your worth as an artist relies on how much you learn about yourself, your ability to express yourself, and the quality of your work. Harnessing the power of positive mental health can help you see your work in a new light and also make it more likely that others will want to see it.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the future of art is directly dependent on your mental health. Future artists are the ones who will step into a void left by the dying art forms of the past. They will create, remake, and revolutionize an art world that is increasingly saturated with pop art and cookie-cutter artwork. Now is the time to take steps to improve your physical health and mental well-being.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2021 Tantowi Gilang

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