How can we earn by learning alcohol ink art? Someone asked me these questions a while back when she wanted to register for her first alcohol ink class, and it provoked me to think about it. I never had this thought before I started learning alcohol ink art. The medium attracted me and I just wanted to dive right in. But there are many who first think if there is any value in learning this art form before they take their first lesson. At that time, I answered, “do you ask similar question when you start learning, let’s say, watercolors or oil painting or even yoga?” Alcohol inks have a reputation of being a quick, trendy, easy medium and many people start practicing it with those thoughts in mind.
I posted this question on my Instagram stories and got a wealth of answers. While most of you said that art should to be made for self-realization and expression and not with the thought of earning money. There are many who would like to know how to earn through art. Both points are equally valid.
While I want to dwell more on “the point in our art journeys where we should think about monetization”; I’ll talk about it at the end, first let's talk about how to earn through art. The following points are common for any medium, and not just alcohol ink art:
Selling original art: This could be done through your connections - personal connections or social media connections, art galleries - online or offline, your own website or social media channels, online platforms like Etsy. And, if you are good at art as well as marketing yourself, people might find you and come to you for buying your art.
Selling digital files: Many people are looking for digital files of art for personal or commercial uses. If your art is such that it can be sold as scanned digital file, then that is a great option. The original art stays with you, while you sell just the digital files. This could be done directly or through various online websites that sell digital files on your behalf (with a commission).
Selling prints: Since alcohol ink art is a fluid medium, recreating a painting again is not possible. So, if you make something good, it’s a great idea to scan it and keep the prints for selling. Again, the way of selling would remain the same as original art. Prints can be priced cheaper than originals and can be printed in custom sizes and on different surfaces.
Selling edited digital pattern/files: If you have a vision of how your art can be edited digitally, you can create patterns or printable high-resolution files that can be purchased for various commercial printing needs. There are many websites for pattern and stock photos where such files can be sold.
Selling products made with the art: There’s a rising interest in functional art, so instead of just making art for the walls, you can think on the lines of making products with your art. It could be original art on the product or printed products as well. You can do it yourself or utilize any online platform that does the job of printing your art on a variety of products and shipping them to the buyer.
What you need for all of the above:
Dedication and commitment towards creating art in various forms, shapes, colors, and designs.
Making something unique; something that reflects your thoughts.
Being able to cater to customer needs for commissioned art.
Communication and marketing skills.
Social media, photo editing, video editing, and technical expertise (can be outsourced to some extent).
Will to experiment, learn new things and go out of your comfort zone to remain fresh.
Knowing your limitations and areas of expertise.
Packaging material and knowledge of shipping methods.
Understanding ecommerce, payment methods, calculating costs.
Researching, exploring multiple options, reading the fine print, analyzing.
Conducting your own workshops: You can conduct online or offline workshops to teach the art techniques. Both require a different kind of setup. In both the cases, it would be your responsibility to get the audience and encourage them to register.
Collaborating with art institutes: You can offer your teaching services to institutes and centers that have art learners coming in. This will make it easy for you to find students interested in learning.
Collaborating with art supply stores or other similar platforms: Big art supply stores and learning platforms also conduct online and offline workshops. You can ask them to host your workshop, so that you can use their platform for finding an audience.
Through subscription-based learning websites: Many self-paced learning platforms are now available online and you can sell your video tutorials through such sites like Skillshare, Patreon, etc.
Video tutorials: You can create your own video tutorials and sell them through various subscription models on your own website or through video subscription selling platforms.
YouTube: If you regularly create process videos or informative videos about your artform and they are loved by people, then you can upload on YouTube and earn when you get more followers and views.
What you need for all of the above:
Practice before you teach – lots and lots of it.
Knowledge about your art medium and the products.
Confidence that you can give great demos of the art techniques that you'll be teaching.
Technical expertise and management skills to make the process seamless.
Presentation skills, answering questions, learner management.
Offering help and support to people who learn from you.
Knowing how to correct mistakes, so you can help the learners in getting better results.
Set-up for filming videos, lighting, good quality camera, etc.
Video editing, voice over skills (can be outsourced to some extent)
When collaborating, make sure to read the fine print, so that you don’t feel cheated later.
Selling art supplies related to your art and earning commission: You can start selling medium-relevant products online or offline and earn a percentage on each sale that you make.
Earning referral fee: If you are popular enough, you can get referral fee from various big brands and product manufacturers through code-based system. You can earn a small percentage from each sale that was referred by you.
What you need for this:
An audience large enough to make earning possible.
Will to promote brands/products/art stores genuinely.
If selling offline, you would need to keep stock, manage inventory and do all that the sales of products involve.
There could be more ways to monetize your art, just keep your eyes open for opportunities.
So, when is the right time to think of monetization?
Before that let’s talk about the art journey.
It’s very well defined by the ArtistsNetwork, “a personal artistic journey is how artists explore and transform their ideas, the evolution of their practice over time. Their visual form will change or be altered as a result of the exploration of ideas, subject, and mediums. Sometimes, the journey would lead to treasures. The journey would lead to new knowledge and as a result the artist would see the world differently.”
The first thing we must process for ourselves is why we want to create art. Is an artform pulling you, that you are itching to try it and see where it leads you? My opinion is that, people who want to pursue any field of art have a calling for it and as soon as they try it, they become addicted to it and want to do more and more to improve their skills and keep progressing. It doesn’t seem like work, they do it with equal passion, whether they are beginners or when they have become experts. I think I can recognize such feelings when I communicate with workshop participants or other artists on social media.
Before embarking on any journey, it might be good to ask why we want to do it. If monetization is on your mind, it’s a valid thought and be prepared to work for it.
The best art journey is when we can create without any thought of selling, expectations or pressure of earning. When we can paint what we like, without any judgement from others. When we have access to that flow, we can enjoy the process and feel accomplished and happy. Process is primary; sales is secondary.
My recommendation for beginners: First focus on learning, practicing, and committing and then think about monetization. Selling/teaching would always be the second step in your journey. It can never be the first step. Also, don’t put too much pressure of earning on your art, it will suck out all the pleasure from the process.
My recommendation for people who have already practiced to some extent: If you feel like selling your art, get ready to work for it. The competition is intense, so you have to work hard to be out there and be noticed by buyers. Be proactive and keep learning new things. Growing your art business will take time and dedication, so be patient.
And lastly, a big thanks to all the people who answered to my post, here are some of the excerpts:
“It has endless scope, if you are willing to work hard and consistently.”
“Art is supposed to make you forget yourself and not worry about earning money.”
“Practicing art = mental peace = more productivity in whatever you do.”
“Everyone can be a great artist with practice, time and patience.”
“You will earn a freedom of mind, how to let things go and allow them to guide you, then the world is yours!”
“Not all the art/passions are meant to be monetized”
“If you’re going to learn an artform, just to earn money, you’re in it for the wrong reasons.”
“She’ll earn by enterprising and using her initiative.”
“Monetization of a product should not be a part of the sill sharing session.”
“Art that’s made with just financial point of view may not have that much impact. It needs to be made with passion.”
“The scope is what you make of it. On a personal note, we should love what we do.”
“Sales should not be a driving force to start anything related to art.”
“Her earnings are proportionate to her dedication, time, efforts and hard work.”
“She can earn, but it would take her at least a year to practice and try different techniques. It requires a lot of patience and it’s hard when your main goal is to sell, not learning the art.”