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Artists, how's your ROI?

Posted: June 1, 2023

                                                                         Arrow Heads, Acrylic on Canvas, diptych,


Why is it important for an Artist to make a profit?

'Return On Investment' is a business acronym that questions expenditures to ensure a profit after all costs are accounted for. As an artist, this task can be daunting and nearly impossible to figure out. You can tear up this piece of paper after doing it if it scares you, but everyone should give it their best effort to establish your selling price.


What is considered an ROI?

Anything you put time or money into to produce your art that returns a profit. So buying framing, stretchers, paper, or art materials for saving is a good tangible example. As long as you mark it up when you sell it. Remember, if you sell your work through an Art Gallery they take charge (40-50%), so consider this when you consign work. If you paid someone to frame your art, you will have to double the cost of the framing to break even. Packaging and shipping are hard costs. Public Art Galleries sometimes pay this cost; commercial galleries - you usually have to deliver, so an expense that comes out of your 50%. Remember, you will be the last to be paid.


If you do a retreat or residency? Did it provide time away to produce a body of work that will be presented in a show you have booked? Did you apply for a grant, use it wisely as you have to pay tax on it. Put it into something that fulfills your dream, but consider where the income is going to come from.


If you participate in an art show and purchase a table or booth space, this is a short-term investment. What are you going to do to ensure you have enough visitor traffic and the right artwork to sell to them? Do you have a variety of sizes, media, framed or unframed works, cards, and advertising materials?


Social Media, Insurance, and Memberships?

Working your (Free) social media platforms can use up a lot of your valuable time, but can also open doors and make sales. Have you evaluated the best of them and discontinued the others?


Insurance for your art protects your investment while in your studio and transporting. It is a cost that should be factored into the art being sold and stored.


Memberships can have great value to move your career forward, but don’t necessarily return a dollar as most were never intended to do this. Supporting local art associations, guilds and public galleries create environments that can nurture and give back to you. Support by the art community ensures these programs and facilities are around for you and your community.

Memberships options


Keep all your receipts as investment costs can usually be deducted as a business expense.

Paul Constable