Denise has been studying and teaching art and painting for 40+ years. She has won numerous prestigious awards for her art and design.
Art Jobs That Excite
The great thing about being an artist is that you don’t have to focus on only one skill or medium. Part of keeping creativity fresh and interesting is experimentation and education in other disciplines. I have painted with oils, watercolor, acrylic, gauche, pastel, colored pencil, and ink. I have worked in linoleum block prints, woodblock prints, serigraph, monoprints, cardboard, and Styrofoam. I have carved in plaster, clay, walnut wood, soapstone, alabaster, and balsa wood. I draw with charcoal, pencil, ballpoint pen, markers, pastel pencils, India ink, and colored pencils. Each one of these mediums has its own good side and bad side. I’m glad I allowed myself to experiment because from that I have developed the favorites that I then excel in and sell from.
I submitted a proposal and timeline to the town council and was chosen to paint the two billboards along the highway. It took about a month but was a good experience.
I was asked once to paint a mural for a new children’s hospital. I was very excited about the job, as it would give me exposure and income for years beyond the actual job. Then I was contacted with the particulars. They wanted the Disney princesses to be painted on the waiting room walls. I carefully asked if they had permission from Disney to have those princesses and they were stunned. It hadn’t occurred to them that they would have to ask permission to use the images so they said they would get back to me. I lost the job because they did not have permission and couldn’t get it. However, if I had gone ahead and painted what they wanted, Disney could have sued the hospital as well as me. Be careful what you agree to paint as a mural.
Although I have not had many jobs in photography, I have had a few. I got to take some cool photos for an engagement ad for a newspaper. I did get to take some wedding photos. Those were fun. I have taken photos for businesses and grand openings. All of these were jobs I got from referrals after taking photos of my church worship group. One good volunteer job can open the doors for many other paid jobs. Keep your eyes open for those good contacts.
Places to advertise are as varied as the market. You can keep a listing on Craigs List for free, create a Facebook page, Twitter page, Website, etc. for your freelance business and update them regularly with photos and video clips, create a blog telling about your business and opportunities, advertise at churches, popular meeting halls where weddings usually take place. It is always a good idea to get to know some of the ministers in town. More than one referral came from a minister we know. And don’t forget about friends and family. No one gets the word out better than extended friends and family.
I often get called for grand openings and special events including birthday parties where they want a face painter. It is good work because you can do it sitting down. Always bring a sample of your offerings if possible. Children will try to get you to paint something you aren’t familiar with or aren’t skilled at painting. That’s when a sample card of your offerings helps. I say this is what I can do and that’s all. Bring a mirror so they can see themselves and they are happy. You can paint anything you like, from butterflies to football insignias. Your choice.
Face painting means painting on a moving canvas but it isn’t too difficult and it is very fast. I have found that children love it so much that they won’t want to wait for you to so much as take a bathroom break so be prepared. Rather than charging per person, I have gotten to where I simply quote a per-hour rate and stick with it. It works well for birthdays and events too.
I found that you can often leave your name at local schools that you are a willing face painter and get called several times for their annual fairs and fundraisers. Churches often use face painters for outreach so, just like photography, don’t forget to let the churches know you are available. I have had lots of opportunities to work face painting at local fast-food Grand Openings. They got my name through one of the churches I work with and from there, they passed my name around to all the fast-food managers. They let me charge them an hourly rate so I won’t be charging the public to come to get their children’s face painted. Often they feed me too. Nice.
Many people buy special face paint or use tempera paint but you cannot get close to the child’s eyes with tempera. I use simple acrylic paint because it dries fast and stays put for days. The kids love that aspect of it. I also use fine glitter but never near little eyes. I dab it on with my finger so it stays where I put it.
Many places look for artists to teach. Schools in my area have linked with the local Arts Council to offer certain artists to classrooms for an hourly rate. The problem is that you usually only get one or two classes per day and driving time to the class can be a problem when you are asked to go to different towns in your county. However the children are always on their best behavior, happy when you get there and sad when you leave, the teacher is always in the room (for state-mandated insurance purposes), and there are no tests or wrong answers in art.
Many homeschool groups also look for artists to offer art to their group. The problem is that you often have a wide range of age/grade levels in one class so you have to prepare projects that both kindergarten and 5th or 6th graders can enjoy. You make the rates and suggest the medium and class project. Homeschoolers are usually open to anything you want to present.
Cool Job: Illustrator
More Teaching Avenues
Many art stores also offer space for teaching art, so that students can buy their supplies right there. The summer is the best time for these classes as they are often for children. Some art stores will offer ongoing weekly adult classes but it has to be a popular class where the attendance is high or risk having it cut.
Adult community education programs also look for artists to teach anything from drawing to painting with watercolor, oil, and acrylic, to calligraphy and printmaking. These classes are paid for by each student; the instructor artist is paid after the class is approved. Sometimes a class is canceled if there wasn’t enough participation.
My list is by no means comprehensive. As the years go by I’m sure there will be more and more places an artist can use to express his creativity and make some income.
Parents Often Supplement Kid's Education With Art
Places To Look For Jobs
Of course one of the best resources is just querying online for jobs. Any number of possibilities can pop up.
Never underestimate the importance of networking and art friends. You can often find short-term projects by word of mouth or a friend of a friend on social media. Post your artwork (with a watermark if you are worried about theft) on social media often. At least once a week gets you noticed and passed around to places you would not have had contact with otherwise.
Local Arts Council
Some local arts councils actively look for ways to link up artists with public schools for more arts in the school system. These are great programs that are usually funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and are run and coordinated by volunteers at the arts council. Check your area to see if they have something like that. If not maybe you and some fellow artists can light a fire to get one going.
Ask At Art Stores
Many art stores have bulletin boards where artists can post their business cards, or find jobs for hire. Sometimes talking with the clerk can get a ball rolling. I just asked if there was interest in a children’s class one summer and the next thing I knew, they were calling me back to set one up. Since then it has been an every-summer event.
There may be many others also but these are a good start.
Artistic Comments Wanted
J Zod from Nairobi on May 23, 2019:
You are welcome Denise,I also try my best to perfect my crafts and earn a living at the same time. I know its not easy.As writers and artists of various crafts we should encourage and support one another.Thank you
Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 22, 2019:
Thanks so much Jeff. You are very encouraging. I keep trying to improve myself and make a living at the same time. It isn't easy but it's so worth it for me. Thanks for commenting.
J Zod from Nairobi on May 22, 2019:
Thank you so much for painting words on my mental canvas. As an aspiring artist I am glad that you took the time to share your invaluable wisdom.I hope this article will elevate other artists and inspire them. I have do some couple of odd art jobs including murals.I admit that it is often difficult to earn a living as an artist. You have elucidated multifarious avenues for artists to earn income.Kudos!
Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 10, 2015:
I have some more places to look for artistic jobs coming. Keep watching.
Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on January 07, 2015:
Thank you MsDora. I'm so happy to be of help and inspiration to the artistic community. Blessings.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 07, 2015:
Congratulations! You have certainly had some wonderful experiences as an artist. Your article gives ideas about how artists and even people in other areas of occupation can pursue their passion. You also set a good example in understanding integrity in business. The murals are superb. Thanks for this motivating piece.