Investing in Your Art Career: When and How to Spend Money

Starting your art career is an exciting journey! You will have moments filled with creativity and passion. Unfortunately, if you don’t invest wisely into your career things can take years or even decades to succeed. Turning passion into sustainability requires strategic planning. Learning when and how to spend money can make a significant difference in your trajectory and growth as an artist. Here’s a guide to help you make informed decisions.

If you’re new here, welcome! I am a visual artist with a near decade of knowledge (happy business anniversary to me). Here are some other blogs you might find useful:

Education and Skill Development

When to Spend: From the beginning through to the end of your career.

What to Invest In: Find education and skill development that suits your needs and check what they offer. You can read reviews and ask your peers what their experience was, if they have attended that course.

How to Spend: Continuously improving your skills and knowledge is crucial for staying competitive. Invest in workshops, online courses, and books that enhance your techniques and business acumen. Attending industry conferences and networking events can also provide valuable insights and connections.

Why This Is Important: One of the best pieces of advice I got early on in my career was “Never assume you are the smartest person in the room”. I was a young and fresh artist with a lot to prove and this advice has always stuck by me. There is always something to learn, whether that be from a mentor or through traditional education.

Studio Space

When to Spend: When your current workspace limits your productivity and creativity.

What to Invest In: Find a studio space that fits within your budget. Your rent should be no more than 30% of your artist income after you pay taxes. This is 100% investing in your art career.

How to Spend: A dedicated studio space can greatly enhance your ability to work efficiently and professionally. Depending on your budget, this could range from setting up a home studio to renting a space in an artist co-op or commercial property. Ensure that the space meets your needs in terms of lighting, ventilation, and size.

Why This Is Important: Having your own studio spaces means you can expand your works and develop as an artist. I have had several different studio spaces over my nearly decade long career. Currently, my studio is in my apartment spare bedroom and is a continually evolving space. However, when I was recovering from hand surgery, my studio space was my computer and bed. These can be flexible, so make it work for you.

Invest in Quality Art Supplies

When to Spend: From the start of your career.

What to Invest In: Check the reviews of products and chat with your peers about what they found worked well.

How to Spend: High-quality art supplies are fundamental to producing your best work. Cheap materials can hinder your ability to create the quality of art you envision. Prioritise investing in essential tools such as brushes, paints, canvases, and paper. Over time, you can expand your collection and upgrade your supplies.

Why This Is Important: Investing in your art career means you want to ensure that the works you make will last the test of time. When you make an artwork, you want to ensure it will last more than hundred years. That is called archival integrity.

Create a Professional Portfolio

When to Spend: Once you have a body of work you’re proud of.

What to Invest In: Professional photography and a website.

How to Spend: A professional portfolio, both physical and digital, showcases your best work and is essential for presenting to galleries, clients, and collectors. Invest in high-quality photography or scanning services to capture your artwork accurately. Additionally, consider creating a well-designed website to display your portfolio online.

Why This Is Important: When you have professional looking photos, clients and galleries will take you more seriously. There is nothing worse than having poor images of beautiful work!

Networking and Exhibitions

When to Spend: Once you have a collection of work to show.

What to Invest In: Most of these events will require you to “pay to play”. Typically, there is a fee to participate in return you have the opportunity to display your works. While this might not seem like you are investing in your art career, you are.

How to Spend: Participating in art fairs, gallery shows, and exhibitions can provide significant exposure. While some events may have entry fees or require travel expenses, the potential to connect with buyers, critics, and other artists can be invaluable. Balance the costs with the benefits of each opportunity to ensure a good return on investment.

Why This Is Important: These events can help you catapult your career into new heights. You can meet new people and make connections that can help you for years to come!

Marketing and Promotion

When to Spend: As soon as you’re ready to start selling your art.

What to Invest In: If you are experiencing 20% growth of your business each year it is recommended to invest 20% of that into your marketing campaign. This is a must do when investing in your art career.

How to Spend: Effective marketing can significantly boost your visibility and sales. Allocate a budget for social media advertising, email marketing tools, and search engine optimisation (SEO). You might also consider hiring a professional to help with branding, including logo design and marketing materials. Consistent promotion will help you reach a broader audience and build a strong online presence.

Why This Is Important: In order to be seen in the crowded spaces such as social media and Google listings, it is advised that you invest in this.

Professional Services

When to Spend: When you need specialised expertise.

What to Invest In: The first external service I ever got was an accountant, the second was a lawyer. They are invaluable to your business and can save you a lot of money down the track.

How to Spend: As your career grows, you might need to hire professionals for services such as accounting, legal advice, and marketing. An accountant can help manage your finances and taxes, while a lawyer can assist with contracts and intellectual property issues. Outsourcing these tasks allows you to focus more on your art.

Why This Is Important: You have the ability to make more educated decisions and have someone advise you on what is the best course of action moving forward.

Technology and Software

When to Spend: When your current tools limit your efficiency or creativity.

What to Invest In: Computer, tablet, scanner, printer, etc. Whatever you need.

How to Spend: Modern technology can streamline many aspects of your art business. Invest in good graphic design software, a reliable computer, and other digital tools that enhance your workflow. Additionally, consider tools for managing sales, customer relationships, and inventory.

Why This Is Important: Updating your IT & Software will greatly help your business flourish.

Art Reproduction and Printing

When to Spend: When you’re ready to sell prints of your work.

What to Invest In: A reputable printer and framer.

How to Spend: High-quality reproductions of your artwork can provide an additional revenue stream. Invest in a reputable printing service that offers various print options and materials. Offering limited editions can also create a sense of exclusivity and increase the value of your prints.

Why This Is Important: You have archival works which you can sell time and time again through prints.

Self-Care and Sustainability

When to Spend: Continuously throughout your career.

What to Invest In: Whatever you find enjoyment in!

How to Spend: Your health and well-being are crucial to your long-term success. Invest in ergonomic furniture for your studio, take breaks, and consider activities or tools that support your mental and physical health. A sustainable practice ensures you can continue creating art for years to come.

Why This Is Important: You are not a robot, you need to take time to look after yourself. Health is wealth!


Investing wisely in your art career involves balancing immediate needs with long-term goals. By prioritising quality supplies, professional presentation, continuous learning, and strategic marketing, you can build a strong foundation for your success. Remember, each investment should align with your career objectives and contribute to your growth as an artist. With careful planning and thoughtful spending, you can turn your passion for art into a thriving career.



Let’s Connect!

e: studio@madbutt.com.au