The Best Way to Make a Living from Your Art


“But Crista,” they ask, “How can I make a living from my art?”

“I want to be wealthy! I want to live on a beach and be dripping in jewels! And I want my art to pay for it!”

Then I reply with something that artist Kiki Smith once told me: Your art doesn’t have to support you. You have to support your art.

Say what?

That’s right. Turn it around.

You weren’t given this talent so that you could take from it.

You were given this talent so that you could nurture it. You were given this talent so that you could share it. You were called to be an artist so that you could serve your work.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t live on a beach and make huge amounts of money. Maybe you can.

But it does mean that you’re looking at your gift the wrong way.

Instead of cursing it, instead of being angry that the collectors aren’t banging on your door clutching fistfuls of cash, try asking yourself this one simple question.

How are you supporting your art?

Are you continuing to learn those things that will make you a better artist? Are you contributing to your community? Are you leaning into those difficult tasks that get your work in front of a larger audience?

Imagine your artwork was your child, are you investing your resources into its future?

I challenge you to list 3 ways that you could support your creativity even better than you are now. And then take the steps to follow through.

Because the best way to make a living from your art? The best way to attract support from others? The best way to build a lucrative career?

Starts by investing in it yourself.

Actively involved in the contemporary art world throughout her career, Crista Cloutier is the founder of The Working Artist, an online business program for artists. Honored as an “Influencer in the Contemporary Art World” by LinkedIn, Crista’s work has reached artists in over 45 different countries. Visit to join Crista’s mailing list.