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Every profession comes with a bit of dreadful work. Whether you're fresh out of college working in an analyst role or the President of the United States, there are pieces of the job you simply won't like. "Ugh, do I really have to do this?"
For artists, like many creatives, the dreadful work is usually the "client hunting" and business side of things. In an ideal world, artists should focus on creating art. However, more than 65% of an average artists' time today is spent on client relations - such as sales, marketing, drafting newsletters, advertising, communication, working on a website, and so on.
Of course, there are resources for artists, especially independent artists, to make their job (and life) a little easier.
In broad terms, there are two methods of client hunting:
While both are necessary, the pull method statistically produces a greater return on your time invested. That is, establishing an online presence in multiple places that "pull" clients to you.
If you're an artist looking to get art commissions, below are the 8 places you should be on:
MadeMay is a marketplace platform dedicated for art commissions for artists, sculptors, and embroiderers.
To ensure a higher quality of artists, MadeMay is not open registration, but the application process involves submitting your portfolio, which takes under 1 minute. If you are approved, you receive a link to register so you can set up your artist portfolio.
Some benefits for artists:
To get listed on MadeMay, you can submit an artist application here.
Many cities throughout the USA and world have their own local artist hub. For example, the Guild of Boston Artists.
Similar to a gallery, these guilds and organizations will have a directory of artists for clients to choose from. As you can imagine, most clients will be local if they're seeking a local guild. Although this narrows your reach to a limited geographical region, it is important to have a presence in the city that you reside in yourself.
To find one near you, simply Google "artist guild" along with your city. For example, "artist guild in Los Angeles".
Reddit is a free, online community that is divided into topics, known as "subreddits". For example, there are subreddits for gardening, subreddits for politics, and subreddits for art. In fact, many subreddits are dedicated to connecting clients & artists for art commissions. Here is that list:
You don't need to spend too much time establishing a presence on Reddit. You can simply post once a day across each subreddit showcasing your artwork; and once a while, someone interested in commissioning you will send you a message.
Note: be very cautious of scams, which are unfortunately common in open communities like Reddit. When getting commissioned, we strongly recommend you use an online platform like MadeMay (with 0% fees) to facilitate the transaction so both parties are protected.
Similar to Reddit, artists can use Instagram hashtags in their post captions to get art commissions. There are hundreds of hashtags you can use to get found by clients looking to commission artists for custom artwork, such as portrait paintings.
We recommend selecting 30 that work best for you. For example, if you're a pet portrait artist, you can use the following as examples: #petportraitpainting, #petportrait, #petportraits, #petportraitartist, #petart, #petartwork, #petpainting, #petdrawing, and so on.
Here is a longer list of examples:
Be sure to also use hashtags specific to your location, such as #PhoenixArtist or #NewYorkArtist.
As you would on Reddit, it's recommended to have a regular cadence of posting your artwork and using hashtags. In sales, it often means it's a numbers game.
Pinterest is a platform to discover neat things curated by real people around the internet, such as interior design, art, and fashion. Naturally, having a presence on Pinterest presents artists a great opportunity to get discovered for art commissions.
A special benefit that Pinterest has above Instagram and Reddit is that it has a larger capacity for "top of the funnel" traffic. As you create collection boards and pins on Pinterest, be sure to caption your posts in a way that your future clients might be searching. For example, "Impressionist portrait painting of dog". This way, you will be more easily found and get commissioned.
For digital artists, getting commissions are DeviantArt and ArtStation are popular ways to pull clients to your profile.
Note, however, that these two platforms have a particular niche on fantasy & anime artwork, such as character renditions for video games. Since the digital art market is highly saturated, you will likely be drowned out in a lot of noise. However, if you’re a digital character artist within the realm of fantasy or science fiction, it's worth being listed on DeviantArt and ArtStation.
There are many artists who use Etsy to get art commissions. Like Amazon, it's a very popular platform so "bottom of the barrel" pricing does inevitably occur since there are thousands of artists listed; many of which are in overseas locations which makes it difficult for artists in the USA and Europe to competitively offer their services.
However, with 5% fees and a well-known platform, Etsy is another good option to establish an online presence as an artist and get commissions.
The final place artists can get art commissions is from their own personal website. Although it's a big time commitment to set up (and maintain) your own website, it does offer you greater control in how you position & package yourself as an artist. You can say and do just about anything with this option.
Since your personal website is competing against other platforms, like Etsy, this option requires the most of your attention & time since getting traffic to your personal site requires lots of effort. However, it is good to have a personal website even if it doesn't act as the main marketing tool for you to get commissions. For example, many artists use Instagram to get clients for commissions and direct those clients to their personal website or MadeMay profile.
If you're looking for additional tips on where & how to get art commissions, visit the following articles: