PART 2: Business and Finances
Managing Your Finances
When you do start selling work, nearly half your sales income will go towards taxes and health insurance alone, so staying on top of your finances will make tax time less scary. Take a short, easy bookkeeping course online, do your own bookkeeping monthly, and hire a tax consultant. You'll still do most the work of preparing your taxes, but if you do it one day a month, you will have everything ready for your tax consultant by January 1. Paying a professional a couple hundred dollars to file for you means you won't worry about being audited or hit with a surprise tax bill.
Set up a separate business account. Use a debit card for that account for all your business expenses and health insurance payments. Try to make as many of your expenses as possible count as business expenses. Travel, museum tickets, art books, art supplies, and many cultural activities that fuel you as an artist all go on the business debit card (but always follow your tax consultant's advice about deductions).
Multiple Income Streams
Even the most successful fine artists have periods of zero income from art sales. Many artists survive the down times between art sales by doing commissions, teaching students, doing some kind of freelance work, or working a non-artistic "day job" part time or even full time.
They are still fine artists.
The key here is to not let yourself be defined by what makes you the most income. You are an artist with a day job, not a bank teller who likes to paint. Of course, it may be hard to find a day job that won't suck you into identifying yourself by your job title. So building up multiple income streams can be a way to make money without risking your self-identity as an artist.
The best kind of income is passive income, where you invest your energy for only a limited time to create something of value, and then allow it to generate income for you with little to zero ongoing effort on your part. This is why so many artists produce instructional videos.