150 Ideas to Earn Income as an Artist & Graphic Designer
Here it is! The ENTIRE BOOK!
Updated Introduction written on 8/11/2017
As a result of writing this guide I created a graphic design business for myself: Ryan Seslow Art & Design LLC. Ryan Seslow Art & Design LLC offers a variety of services based on my various skill sets and passions for design. I love working on diverse projects for different types of businesses, organizations and people. Solving problems, offering creative solutions and providing value is my top priority. I offer services in graphic design, web design, illustration, animation and teaching. There are quite a few aspects to each one of these services and I invite you to see more detailed information on my website, http://ryanseslow.com. That list seems to keep expanding as learning and building relationships is also a passion of mine. This guide has been a great teacher and mentor to me. I’m sure that it will be the same for you.
It’s hard to believe that three years have gone by since I created and launched this guide. The best part about creating a duration based case-study project on one’s self is the myriad of newfound awareness and tangible growth that takes place. Not only in the process itself, but very clearly in the assimilation of how the information enters and is applied in the world. The title of the guide pretty much sums up what the outcome will be right? What will you do with 150 new ideas that you have created? How will you take action on them and see them begin to flourish? What I hope happens for everyone as a result of reading and applying the exercise tactic here is that you will be able to launch and create a new business for yourself. Or perhaps, a series of lucrative freelance projects. I also hope that the process will generate many new relationships, both business and personal.
I’m amazed at how much has changed in three short years. As you can see for yourself, technology is advancing faster than we may be able to keep up with. Some of the applications and web platforms discussed in the original guide from 2014 are no longer available. Some of them have been acquired by another company. Some of them have expanded and become more powerful than before. Some of them have shut down and been replaced by something better, worse or comparable. This does not by any means alter the process of the guide. If anything, the newest applications and platforms that are readily available today are more lucrative than ever. By all means, I encourage every potential aspect of technology that is at your fingertips. This guide can be applied to any idea or subject that one may want to learn more about.
I promise you will enjoy reading while surprising yourself in the process itself.
The first part of guide has been kept in its original integrity. As you get down to the individual days of my idea generating process you will notice how my thoughts varied greatly between the types of ideas that flowed out. Listed this way I do realize after the fact that this may be tedious to focus on and apply for yourself (especially if you are not doing the 30-day exercise but only seeking to discover and apply some of the ideas). That being said, I have taken the liberty to break the 150 ideas down into three inter-related categories at the end of the guide. I suppose you could scroll right to that if you wish, however, I think that you find much more inspiration by reading the guide in order.
The categories are:
- For Artists & Art Teachers
- For Graphic Designers & Digital Artists
- Art Consulting / Advice / Art Marketing
A frequent question that comes up by readers of the first iteration of the guide is how did I come up with the prices that are listed in the 30-day idea exercise. The answer is simply intuition. As read on, you will see that I mention that the idea writing exercises should be unfiltered and unedited. The point is to commit to exercise, to be intuitive and creative without having to allow the inner editor or critic to appear and nag at you. The 30-day exercise is not a time to judge or be critical. It is a time to reinstall the fun in being creative, exploratory and fluid. At the end of the 30 days, you will plenty of content to begin re-reading, researching and critiquing. In fact, your best five ideas will be waiting for you to do that!
The original text written in August of 2014 begins below:
On 8/6/2014 I set this intention “Over the course of the next 30 days I commit to sit down each day to generate and record 5 new ideas on how artists and graphic designers can earn income from their primary and secondary skills. I also intend to develop the ability to create new opportunities and use value for my fellow human beings.”
Notice that I included my fellow human beings in this process. As an art professor, I get asked a lot of questions. I love questions! My students, colleagues and friends will frequently ask me questions like this: “How can I earn money with my art & design skills?”
“Is it possible?”
“What if I am not going to be an art teacher, can I still find work as an artist?” “Where do I start on creating a freelance business with my design skills?” “What can I do with an MFA in art?” My intention is to help dispel limiting beliefs that finding work and earning money as an artist or graphic designer is difficult. In this book, you will find the whole exercise and process that I have used to help answer some of these questions. You can apply the 150 income generating ideas right away if they resonate with your skills and abilities. Or you can take on the bigger task of setting your own intentions to focus on. By taking on such a discipline, in 30 days you too can create a new habit that will help you see opportunities that are right in front of you. These will be ideas that you can take immediate action on.
I realize that the first thing that you may want to do is scroll down to the 150 ideas right away. Please read this whole passage before you do that! It is helpful to understand this within context of how and what will occur in the process.
If it has been a secret to you that I’m a personal development buff then welcome to this part of me. I love to help people. I love watching people solve their own problems through their personal growth. I love experiencing this myself just as much. I especially love to help people identify, question and overcome default thinking. It is a great pleasure for me to watch people dispel false beliefs about themselves as they move past them. I’m not a stranger to this by any means. In the past one of the things that I was shy about sharing was interconnecting my passions for spirituality and personal development with my art teaching philosophies and freelance practices. I am happy to say that I overcame that self-imposed roadblock about two years ago. Since then, I have experienced a lot of new growth in areas I could not have foreseen back then. Public speaking, writing, learning code, HTML and CSS are just a few of those things, this list continues to grow and there will be more on this topic soon.
Conscious awareness of our habitual daily behaviors can be a tricky thing to tackle when we do not know what we are looking for. One way to take on this exercise is to make a list of the things in your life that you would like to be, do or have. Once you have that list in front of you, tally up how many of those things you already have or are experiencing? (Stop and actually do this right now please.) Is the majority of that list something that seems far out of reach and something that you are constantly waiting for? Are you waiting to be discovered as an artist or designer? Perhaps you are always waiting to be hired by some company or organization? Are you waiting until you have the right amount of funds to have, do or be that thing that you desire? Are you always waiting for more waiting? Valid questions, but it is easier to not take responsibility for contributing to what is not there. Are you putting the blame on someone, something, or some circumstance? Either way, we can condition ourselves to continue to get what we do not have on purpose and unconsciously.
Self-awareness begins with taking responsibility for your life. I do mean all of it. This certainly means the way that you think and what you spend most of your time thinking about. This means everything from how you see the world, your career, finances and relationships. This is also your education, living arrangements, your inner life, personal development, spirituality and personal hygiene. It is also how you treat yourself and how you react to and treat others. When you have taken full responsibility for your life you are not a victim in any way shape or form. You do not blame anyone or anything for what has not worked out for you, or for the things that you do not see in your reality.
Our brains are malleable, programmable, electric and responsive! We participate in the programming of our brains. This occurs both consciously and unconsciously and our repetitive commands fueled by emotions (positive and negative) become automated skills that the brain simulates for us via the subconscious mind. Are you aware of your thoughts and what you are feeding yourself day in and day out? We average about 50,000 – 70,000 thoughts per day, and most of those are repetitive. Our awareness of this means a lot! If you are unconsciously perpetuating 40,000 thoughts per day on what you do not want and what is not there, are you aware of what your focus is on? You are experiencing exactly more of what is not there and what you do not want. There have been many studies on thought pattern behavior and habitual thinking.
We have the power to make changes, and it all begins with a choice. It is known and I believe that in as few as 30-days positive new habits can be formed and negative habits can also be changed. What are the main ingredients? It is your conscious awareness and open participation to want to make a change. That is the first step. Changing outdated beliefs and negative thought habits would free up a lot of space for new awareness, new interests, experiences and desires. But what about creating a positive new habit to activate the awareness of something seemingly new that has really been under your nose for a long time? Can we learn how to see and create new opportunities that have always been close by? Indeed, I believe we can. This exercise has proven this to me.
In 30-days I created 150 income-generating ideas that I will begin applying into my freelance business as an artist, graphic designer and teacher. I will begin testing the ideas and sharing my experiences via my website http://ryanseslow.com. I know that YOU can use and apply many of these ideas right away. You can also collaborate with your friends on this. You can work on this with your organization or creative team? Maybe your art department needs a fundraising event each year? Sky is the limit. The book’s energy will propel you into action while inspiring you to set your own goals and intentions set for the 30-day commitment. This technique can literally be applied to anything you want to become more aware of while expanding the potentials of how you can use this new information.
It is important to know that we are always capable of solving many our perceived problems and issues with a little discipline and planning. It helps when these motivations are fueled with positive emotions and excitement, as well as considering how we can help our fellow human beings at the same time. By making commitments to our own personal-development we will become more. I believe that this awareness helps the whole world. The world gets better when we get better.
The technique I used and applied on myself. Start here.
I created a new blank document in Microsoft word. I saved it to my desktop. I titled it “30 Day Commitment.” The presence of the file on my desktop was a good way to remind me of its presence. I kept the file open each day until I completed my 5 ideas. On the top of my blank document I set an intention: “Over the course of the next 30 days I commit to sit down each day to generate and record 5 new ideas on how artists and graphic designers can earn income from their primary and secondary skills. I also intend to develop the ability to create new opportunities and use value for my fellow human beings.”
I used Google’s calendar to remind me of my commitment each morning via e-mail. This was a great help and it was the first e-mail that I began to look for each day as the time went on. You don’t have to use Google if you don’t want to, there are many other e-mail and notification services. Through the reminder, I knew early on in my day that I had 24 hours to record my 5 entries and save them. No matter what came up throughout the day, it had to get done, no excuses. I now understand that the daily practice and discipline itself is far more important than the actual ideas themselves, I will explain why a bit further down. The first few days were pretty easy, followed by a few tough days. Not necessarily in coming up with ideas, but fighting my ego. I was not accustomed to this specific new discipline and it felt a bit like “work.” I knew this was the work of my ego trying to hold me back. We are creatures of habit, and when that habit and pattern is disrupted, the mind and body react! This was the discomfort of pushing through my comfort zone, and many of the old limiting beliefs came popping into my head. I came to realize, these were just thoughts, they did not represent who I am or who I wanted to be. I did not give these thoughts any of my energy, instead I stayed focused, and I pushed through it. I also keep re-reading my original intention a few times per day. Honestly, this ego bout only lasted for three to four days. I found it helpful to write my intention on an index card. I kept it in my pocket at all times. Each time I reached into my pocket for my phone, keys or wallet, I would also be reminded to read my intention.
I was very serious about the commitment! This was a great reminder of my first notification reminder.
The repetition of my daily practice started to pay off. The ideas expanded and by day seven I truly looked forward to the exercise each day. The 150 ideas that I have generated are I based on my own personal skill sets. This includes my love for and experience in teaching art, creating course syllabi and curriculum, drawing, painting, printmaking, silk screen printing, sculpture, computer graphics, graphic design and creating WordPress based websites and blogs. Many of you reading this will most likely find that you can directly apply the ideas exactly as they are, while some of you may have to cultivate and develop some of these skills further in order to execute the ideas. I do believe that the structure of the ideas can certainly pave the way for you to personalize how you may use the ideas to fit your own vision and intentions.
Please know, I have not reformatted the 30-day experiment into specific categories. You will see ideas in graphic design, sculpture and teaching all fall under one specific day at times. I will most likely edit this down the line as I share and record my experiences in applying the ideas into my business. The results of this exercise were not something that I had anticipated until I made the commitment to the 30 days. Once I did that, this book was the first idea that came to me! I felt a great surge of excitement and it has been a really fun and almost effortless process to write. That feeling was a sign. I put my full attention on that feeling, and took action. I decided not to edit the formatting of the ideas because I also want to share my exact thought process with you. I want you to see how each thought and idea expands simply by writing out the idea that came before it. The process was a series of building blocks. I felt like I was training a muscle while I was experiencing its growth. Please know, you do not need to edit as you are writing, just write!
Get the ideas onto the screen and let them flow. This is not an opportunity to cast a judgment as to how good or bad the ideas are. Once you have 150 ideas established you would have plenty of time to read through your thoughts and select the ideas that most resonate with you. You will have a great amount of contrast to work from. Editing the finished ideas leads to even more ideas! Trust me!
A lot of my ideas are dependent on the use of the Internet to share and offer them. While many of them are also encouraging you to get out there and meet with people face to face. Almost everything that you read here can be offered via your personal website, blog or social media platforms. I am offering additional guidance via e-mail or through the comments section on my site to anyone who purchases and inquiries about this book. I can help guide you through the process. It is my pleasure to help you with any questions that you may have at any time. Please share your successes with me.
150 Ideas. The Day by Day Unedited Flow.....
Day 1 – 8/6/14
- Create a “how to” PDF based essay/guide on “idea generation for additional income for artists” offer the essay/guide via your website and beyond.
- Create a series of 3 - 1-2 minute how to videos on the creation of immediate and simple art projects that can be done anywhere. Offer the video package via your website for $3-5.00.
- Offer a consulting and advice section of your website to artists and creative people on select topics. Allow for this to be public so visitors can read and share the conversations. Make this service a purely “by donation” opportunity. A donation button can be added to the site.
- Web site / Blog creation / development for local businesses. Almost every town has a business directory, pick that up and see who has a website and who does not. Introduce yourself in person to drop off your business. Promote your skills.
- Offer graphic design services to local business in your neighborhood. Logo / Rebranding design for business cards, ads and production development. Face to face is good for local businesses. Follow up via e-mail.
Day 2 – 8/7/14
- Create a one-day process/techniques workshop for local art teachers to learn a new skill that they may be interested in learning that can be implemented into the classroom. Canvas local public and private schools via e-mail.
- Create a one-day workshop for public school art students to create a public artwork out of natural materials found in the school grounds. Canvas local public and private schools via e-mail.
- Create a series of syllabus based art projects/lesson plans for high school and foundation level college students in various studio practices. Sell the booklet on your website for $5.00. Market this to art teachers and various art departments via the web, social media and teacher forums.
- Create a donation based website for art teachers to share and discuss art projects. Profiles can be created and the site would be by donation to join.
- Create and teach a weekend workshop on how to create simple blogs using WordPress. This could be taught site on scene in a school, or in your won studio. Charge per person. Target market, local art teachers, and local art departments in local colleges. Extend this idea into public libraries.
Day 3 – 8/8/2014
- Offer a series of room separation sculptures. By using old silk- screen frames, mount together a moveable 6-foot hinge based wall. (Create proto-type) Sell on e-bay or Craig’s list.
- Offer a donation based service to review the portfolios of students applying into art programs at the college level, this included under graduate and graduate level students. This could be digital via your website/video chat or locally site on scene in your personal studio, or in a coffee shop.
- Host an online exhibition / auction for the works of 5-7 digital artists via a blog post, later archive the works and explain the process. Keep 20% of the sale price.
- Host a digital art presentation /discussion and auction in your studio. Visitors must bring a flash drive or have airdrop capability.
- Create a new t-shirt design that reads “Technology #1” sell them on your website for $25.00 as a print per order item. Fill in your own catchy slogan that resonates with your current work.
Day 4 – 8/9/2014
- Create an audio, mp3 or podcast on the subject of “creating artistic authenticity” offer the audio as a download on your website by donation.
- Create and audio, mp3 or podcast on the subject of “creating artistic integrity” ask 5 trusted friends and or colleagues to participate and contribute their experiences. Offer the audio on your web site by donation.
- Offer the same content as above in #2 but do this via a Google hangout as a one-time event for this topic; this event can be recreated a few times per year with a different topic. Visitors to the discussion may remain unseen and or anonymous. Donations can be left after the commencement of the event. Limit the program to 30 minutes.
- Offer a video version of the recorded program in #3 above via your website for a donation or a $1.00 minimum.
- Offer private 1 on 1 video coaching/consulting services on art related content and matters. Write a blog post about the offering and promote via social media. Casually remind your audience that you offer this service 3-4 times per year.
Day 5 – 8/10/2014
- Connect with local business that have a lot of customer traffic, offer to show a series of paintings and prints for 30 days, offer the business 15% of the sale.
- Offer to curate a show of local artists to a highly trafficked local business (coffee shop, library, restaurant, etc.) offer the business 10% of the sales and take 10% as a curatorial / dealers fee.
- Offer a small- scale water based silkscreen printmaking making one-day class in your studio. Take 5 students in total. Charge $250.00 per students. Students must bring their own materials. Students pay in advance via your blog / PayPal.
- Offer a small- scale water based Rubber stamp printmaking making one-day class in your studio. Take 5 students in total. Charge $250.00 per students. Students must bring their own materials. Students pay in advance via your blog / PayPal.
- Offer a small- scale artist book making one-day class in your studio. Take 5 students in total. Charge $250.00 per students. Students must bring their own materials. Students pay in advance via your blog / PayPal.
Day 6 – 8/11/2014
- Create and offer a simple steps GIF animation video tutorial using Photoshop. Offer the video via your website for a donation.
- Create and offer a simple steps Stop Motion Still Frame animation video tutorial using a smart phone / still images and the VINE app. Offer the video via your website for a donation.
- Offer one on one remote video based coaching services / private teaching on creating digital art using Photoshop. This could cover simple image manipulations, gif animations, and other requested techniques. Offer this service via your website.
- Offer to teach a one-day GIF animation workshop using Photoshop to local high school students via the high school’s art department.
- Create an all mobile phone / iPhone based digital art making techniques tutorial, offer it via your website for a donation.
Day 7 – 8/12/2014
- Via your social media networks & platforms offer a one-day or weekend special to update or redesign the current business cards of your contacts. Ask for a flat rate of $50-$75.
- Via a blog post on your blog/site offer a business card update or redesign weekend special rate, include letterheads and envelopes and charge a flat rate of $75.00.
- Via your social media networks and platforms create a simple flyer and offer to paint or draw portraits of your friend’s/networks children. This could be purely done from a photo that gets e-mailed. The piece can be on small or large custom scale, give the parents full interaction in the process. Offer a price based on the scale of the works, or offer a set size and offer a set price.
- Via your website, create a page promoting custom portraits painted or drawn. Using a similar system as the offer above, run this exclusively during holiday times.
- Via social media or your blog / site offer a service to paint custom murals for children’s bedrooms or playrooms. This could be of the children’s favorite cartoon characters or storybook narratives.
Day 8 – 8/13/2014
- Create a "focus on this" based visual or audio reminder for people to look at or listen to while idle, in traffic or waiting rooms. It can be made as an image slideshow or template for mobile phones.
- Create a niche-based limited edition of screen prints designed to market to specific business offices, think children's doctors or dentists. Images could be of vintage objects recreated in graphic and modern ways. Sell the prints direct by contacting the offices in your area; also offer the prints via your web site.
- Offer a limited edition of cement cast molds of old tools and vintage objects. These could be marketed for gardens or simply as indoor sculptures. Sell via social media and your blog.
- Create a black and white coloring book of characters, cartoons and related drawings. Offer the book in a printable pdf format for a donation via your website.
- In the public domain find a series of old how-to / technique based books that are out of copyright, date and print e-books, curate and re- organize the content, republish it along with your own original content to create a “creative cook-book of how-to s.” Offer the book via your website.
Day 9 - 8/14/14
- Create a social media blast to your network offering to create animated gif avatars for social media profile Picts for $25.00 - emphasize the pieces are works of art and all uniquely different.
- Offer to extend this service as a regular service above via your website for the same price.
- Offer a service helping people create digital resumes. This will be an interactive and responsive digital product. It may include video, animations, text and more. Offer this service via your website and promote via social media as well as to college graduates and soon to be college graduates.
- Offer digital portfolio services to artists, this is not a website but more of a digital package file that can be shared one on one rather than a URL. PDF or similar format. Charge $250 for the service. Offer this via social media and archive under your services via your blog.
- Offer private lessons that help people build their own blogs via WordPress. This could be a remote video service, charge $50 per hour.
Day 10 - 8/15/14
- Create a logo or a symbol for your name/ or work, create a t-shirt series and wear them to events, offer to do the same for your social media network as a service.
- Create an email promoting free services offering to evaluate the logos and branding of your contacts and social media businesses. Through this process/dialog offer to update the graphics for a flat fee.
- Have a one-day outdoor art sale in your neighborhood on a weekend. Much like a garage sale, offer works of art for both half and full price. This can be done once or twice a year. Promote via your town newsletter.
- Offer your art / design services in your town’s business directory as well as any other local publications, local business is a good way to make new contacts and get word of mouth talking.
- Reach out to your town’s athletic leagues and offer to design logos and or graphics for local team’s uniforms.
Day 11 – 8/16/14
- Using your site/blog as your example template, create a basic how to essay on beginning social media marketing for artists, and why it is effective. Offer the essay as a pay what you will donation on your site.
- As an extension of the essay above, offer a one on one remote service via video chat on social media marketing for artists. Help artists set up and apply the information in the essay. Charge $50 per hour.
- Via your blog offer a service as a social media representative for individual artists. By charging a monthly fee (depending on the scale of each individual case) offer to promote their events and help create content to build their audience and network for the artist. This can include actually responding to all online communication.
- Offer to extend this service as above to art related companies and or organizations or schools. Think of libraries, local art groups, adult education programs, and college and university art departments that are building their online presence.
- Offer to teach an introductory course on social media marketing and presence for artists / art related organizations in your town’s library or community center. This could be a 2-3-hour workshop using the Internet and PowerPoint to show examples and teach the basics. Offer the course for $300 - $500. (This can easily be recorded and offered on your website as a video as well.)
Day 12 – 8/17/14
- Create and sell an edition of original black and white drawings based on a narrative series that you create. (Leave room for this to be ongoing so that you can make more works over time) Sell the works via your blog / website and social media. Take parts of the series and turn them into smaller parts / compositions and offer them as a free pdf coloring pages to those who will subscribe to your blog.
- Offer a service via your blog/site/social media to create a GIF animation(s) for the landing pages of artist’s websites by animating a static piece of their work. Charge a flat fee of $100 per animation.
- Clean up your studio space and set it up for a small exhibition. Offer a one night or weekend based exhibition to collectors, art dealers or those you know may be interested, send and invite only type of invite. The purpose is to sell older works that have been collecting dust as well as offering fresh new works. Think of displaying 15 -25 pieces’ maximum.
- Offer a similar type of exhibition but curate the show of 5 artists that you know well, those whose work will gel well together. Ask a 25% sales fee for sold works. Promote via e-mail for specific invitations.
- Offer a service via your blog/site and promote on social media to generate specific blog posts for artists and their web sites. This could be for promotions, exhibitions, writing copy for sales and project descriptions. Create a flat rate for 3-5 blog posts at $250.00
Day 13 – 8/18/14
- Create a weekend course on basic computer graphics skills (adobe Photoshop & illustrator) and creating WordPress blogs/sites. The intention of the course is to inspire art teachers to learn, manage, archive and interact online with their students and courses. Promote this class to local high school art teachers, and college art professors. Keep enrollment small and focus on small groups. Charge a flat rate of $250.00 per person.
- Offer the same course and market it to the same genre as above in a foreshortened 3-hour variation of further simplified basics.
- Have an MFA? Take stock of a local college art departments course catalog (college level) and begin to develop syllabi for specialty niche based courses integrating technology and manual art making. Think of offering the courses on off times in the school year, think summer term and winter term.
- Via your blog/site and social media, offer an online art auction of both your own work and the curated work of a few other artists. Make this a one-time event (or maybe twice a year.) Think of offering works that are easy to ship and package. This event can take place on your blog, and can also be live streamed using a live stream provider. The event should be promoted for at least 30 days in advance via social media. This can also be used as a fundraiser for your art department or other art related organizations.
- Purchase a few interesting objects or furniture from a garage sale, thrift shop, or flea market (e-bay or Craig’s lists too.) Restore them and or change their context by custom painting them in your unique style. Offer them for sale as rare “one of a kind pieces” via your blog and social media. Take good high quality photos and share them in your copy / blog post. These pieces can also be shared with local stores that may sell these kinds of items as well.
Day 14 – 8/19/14
- Create a series of limited edition sculpture based molds to cast in both something long lasting like cement as well something ephemeral- think cement and paper pulp. Alter the context of the objects by their casting medium. Old computer parts in cement and a woman’s handbag in cement, or a man’s wallet in paper pulp and a woman’s pair of high heel shoes in cement. Offer the works via your website or sell them at an art fair.
- Contact a business in your area that has high volumes of traffic, coffee shop, wine / liquor store / Bakery - ask the business if you could do some live drawing or painting site on scene at a certain time of the day /evening when it is full the customers. Offer some smaller works while also offering the works created site on scene.
- Write a pdf e-book / guide on an “Intro to” art technique book for a beginner, it could be sculpture, drawing, digital art, how to sell your art, etc. Offer the book on your blog/site and connect with well- respected bloggers that you may know with an active audience to help promote the sales. You may also contact amazon, iBooks and e-junkie for help distributing.
- Use an alternative service online to make a print edition of your work. They take care of the processing and shipping. It can be cross- promoted on your social networks.
- Do some live drawing or painting on site. Do you live in or near a large city? If so, take your gear to the busy parks or street corners and set up easel or a chair and offer to make quick gestural works, keep on hand a few other pieces that you can also pull out once you get a conversation going.
Day 15 – 8/20/14
- Create and sell a specified art lesson plan for teacherspayteachers.com. This can be customized for specific age groups k-12 – or college level.
- Create an e-book in pdf format of “The best of lesson plans for art classes” this could be a compilation for one specific subject or for a general multidisciplinary course. Sell on teacherspayteachers.com or your own website.
- Create a series of one of a kind hand painted t-shirts (think 5 in total) Offer them via your Blog/site/social media for a very high price (think $250) and never offer this same design/graphic again. Perhaps this is a compilation of screen prints, rubber stamps and hand painted items. The idea is to create a rare and unique item to make the owner a collector of a rare piece of your work that is not a common theme in your usual practice. This idea could also be applied to other wearable items like jeans, or sunglasses, or hats, handbags and so forth.
- Create a thematic series of 3 paintings based on a specific genre or time period (examples- mountain landscapes, beach scenes, historical events, sports, NYC skyline, etc.) create the original works with the intention of also direct marketing prints that can licensed via an online service that produces and ships the prints for you.
- Offer a pay what you wish essay on your blog on the value of a 30-day idea generating challenge, why it works and how it can be effective creating new positive habits.
Day 16 – 8/21/14
- Offer a custom service to paint children’s book characters and or cartoons on a children’s wooden toy box. Make them one of a kind and do not replicate them exactly. Each piece becomes a collector’s item / functional object.
- Offer a custom service to paint thematic furniture for children’s bedroom sets. This could easily vary based on the interest of the child or the patron. Reach out by e-mail to those who you know that have small children and use a direct pitch method. Once you complete your first series write a blog post to promote the service online. You can even purchase wooden furniture and make a few examples to showcase on a website and or social media.
- If you have basic wood working skills, or crafting skills create a series of old fashioned looking wooden toys (they could be based on pre-existing toys from the 1940’s or 1950’s as inspiration) Sell the series on your website or blog.
- Extending the cast and mold making of objects idea from above, Turn a series of those molds into wax candles. Make an edition of 50- 100 as rare collectibles. (Aerosol can wax candles, Wax portraits or busts, etc.)
- Promote and sell via your blog/social media a basic pay what you will video or e-book on “how to build and personalize a wooden storage box.” Basic wood working skills and access to wood working tools will be needed for this. (Jig saw, wood glue, nails, cordless drill, screws)
Day 17 – 8/22/14
- Prepare a 30-minute artist talk or presentation that you could give both in person and online via a video chat or Skype (I have done this myself and with guest artists in my courses) Charge a fee of $250 in person and $100 for an online version. Reach out to college and high school art programs to give the talks and put an emphasis on your personal story and how you have made changes and overcome and obstacles in your path.
- With an emphasis on your personal story and how you have found opportunities and navigated the career world, turn this presentation into a pdf written essay with images and offer it on your blog/site for a pay what you will donation. This could be shared with art teachers, public libraries and any other place where personal development is welcomed. The goal is to share an inspirational story of authenticity.
- Create a series of black and white or color graphic vector art icons and images for open use. Charge a one-time free of $3-$5 and offer the digital download via your blog or website, promote on social media channels. (You will need access to the adobe Photoshop and illustrator software for this idea.)
- Use the same vector images as above and offer them via direct e- mail or social media correspondence to sell the graphics to tattoo parlors and stock image websites (research required)
- Offer your graphic design / web / blog design services to real estate agencies. (Most towns have several) Real estate agencies are constantly dealing with offers, promotions, updating images and information on websites, flyers and brochures. Think of a flat hour based rate $50 -$75 per hour or a package deal if it involves several requests at once. Contact the agencies directly via e-mail or phone, and if possible visit in person to leave a business card.
Day 18 – 8/23/14
- Offer your graphic design / web / blog design services to Hotels and Motels (could also work for bed and breakfast places too) in your area. (Most towns have a few to several) Hotels & Motels are constantly dealing with web and print based offers, promotions, updating images and information on websites, flyers and brochures. Start locally and then venture into major cities, remote work is an option on this. Think of a flat hour rate $50 -$75 per hour or a package deal if it involves several requests at once. Contact the companies directly via e-mail or phone, and if possible visit in person to leave a business card and have a face-to-face conversation.
- Reach out to hotels and offer to create a commissioned based series of works for their rooms and other spaces. The idea is to generate a commission. It could be original works like paintings or prints, or it could be for the licensing of works turned into prints. Contact the companies directly via e-mail or phone, and if possible visit in person to leave a business card and have a face-to-face conversation.
- Offer your graphic design / web / blog design / illustration or art related skills and services to vacation hot spots. Think of areas that have both residential, hotel, and business communities. Fire Island, NY, Martha’s Vineyard, Cape May, etc. Look up their business directory and reach out via e-mail and link to your online portfolio. This could be angled several ways.
- Reach out and connect with a major Hotel to host a short-term exhibition of your work (paintings, prints, wall reliefs) during a busy time year (Christmas/New Years) and or a specific event (sports/concert) propose to display the works throughout the hotel in various traffic areas (if it allows of course) Research in advance about the space will have to be done, but it is generally free to walk in to a hotel to inquire about the rates and see the space. Sales will have to be split between to the artist and hotel.
- Create a series of niche based silk-screen prints in a limited edition during a special event time of year. Think of the World Series or the super bowl, there is a large consumer market for specialty items at this time. Based on the teams that are playing, create print of some of the current stars on the team as well as that teams past stars, this will join together the fans of yesterday and today and make your print that much more desirable. Sell the prints via your website or blog / social media for direct sales. Keep the price and the size of the print accessible for all. The goal is to sell out quickly.
Day 19 – 8/24/14
- Offer your design skills to annual conferences that take place in your area (or beyond) NYC has tons of annual events each year that undergo a lot of planning and promotion both online and offline. Research into what some of these events are and reach out via e- mail to introduce yourself.
- Purchase 5 clear shower curtains (bed bath and beyond or online) and generate a limited edition of colorful paintings on each one. Make them thematic in an edition or make them all one of a kind and diverse. Offer to do this perhaps once or twice per year. Offer the items on your website or as a blog post, spread on social media as well as asking bloggers that you know in the home and or decorating arena to also share your blog post. Remember, the goal is to offer a rare item that you normally do not make many of so intend to keep your prices on the higher side. Factor in the cost of the materials and the time it takes you to make each piece. (Materials need to be permanent, spray paint or enamel paint works well for this)
- Most major cities have nightclubs, lounges and bars that display the works of artists both local and non. Research a list via the Internet to visit their personal websites, take a peek at the photos and their interiors. Reach out via e-mail or visit in person during pre-peak hours and propose to them (management) an exhibition of new works or a commission based on the interior of the space. Have a business card handy and a working web link to show strong examples of your work.
- Blank books are popular items. (Both with lines and without lines) Purchase a few of each and customize the front and back cover with your work. This could be an original painting, series of stencils or rubber stamp prints, paint markers or gluing things to create a surface texture. The Key is to make it a one of a kind item. Offer it on your website, blog and via social media, spread the word to your friends and ask them to re-share your link.
- Utilize e-bay, e-junkie and Craig’s list to micro-test some of the items that you have created or read in this guide. This along with promotion on your site/blog is a good idea for additional sales and bringing awareness.
Day 20 – 8/25/14
- Love to paint murals? Get commissioned to paint murals. Take stock of your surrounding neighborhood and make a list of buildings, parks and or public space walls that could use some love. Once you have a list gathered (address’s) take some good photos of the blank walls and create some mock up images using Photoshop to show what the enhancements would look like. This will help the sell when you approach the building owner.
- Promoting via your website/blog and social media create a limited edition of custom handmade post cards. This could be a series of 50 in total. Do something on the surface of the cards that represents your recognizable style or do something unique and different on each card and offer a series of 5 cards for a bundle.
- Promoting via your website/blog and social media create a limited edition of custom rubber stamp printed blank labels. These could be used for various things and each user has the potential to decide how. Rubber stamp printmaking is a great skill to make multiples with. Make an addition of 50 on and use various kinds of papers.
- Promoting via your website/blog and social media create a limited edition of vinyl stickers. Black and white or color, a sticker pack is a great novelty item, and highly collectable. What images are frequently used in your work? Do you work with graphics? Turning 3-5 images into vector images work well for stickers.
- Create a rare series of baseball style caps. Purchase 3-5 blank caps in a variety of colors and create unique one of a kind variations of the caps. Offer specific commissions via a blog post in case custom orders come in as a result of the promotion. This way sizing can be customized.
Day 21 - 8/26/14
- Create a “pay what you will” all animation based “how to video series.” This could be in a GIF or a .mov based file that is short and sweet. Keep the videos between 10 seconds – 1 minute. “Draw portraits in 30 seconds” or “Clean your oil paint brushes” – Develop a stylized series of a few and sell them in a bundle. These could also be “life-hacks” of your personal tips and tricks. Place this on your blog/website and share via social media and other bloggers who have a similar interest.
- Create a parody variation of the same idea as above using stick figures and cartoons. (Video or even a short series compiled into the pdf e-book guide) Promote via social media with back links to your blog.
- This seems obvious, but few artists take proper advantage of this. Sell your work online. A self-hosted site can support a shopping cart and things like “buy now” buttons, so take advantage of this. Select 5-10 pieces of your best work, have them photographed well from 2-3 perspectives and post them up on an individual page titled “available works” or “online gallery.” You can even host an online exhibition a few times per year and blog about your process. Cross post this through your social media feeds and reach out to bloggers who write about online exhibitions. Online exhibitions and the potentials are still in their infancy.
- Create a fresh and new body of work around a specific trending event or genre. You can easily check twitter to see what is trending. Think of a new movie that has been long hyped and has been trending for a few weeks. Create a series of prints, or paintings or drawings around that trending topic’s content and launch an online exhibition of those specific works on your site. Share through a blog post and cross post on your social feeds. Ask you friends and colleagues to share the link as well.
- Based on the idea above, using the specific genre or trending topic idea, Select and reach out to a series of online and offline publications to offer your work to. Online magazines and blogs are always looking for supporting imagery to complement their written content. Work out a price per image and or usage agreement.
Day 22 - 8/27/14
- Collaborate with another artist on a painting or a series of three paintings. This makes for a nice rare collector’s item/series. Do not duplicate this series. Keeping it exclusive is attractive to collectors. Generate a blog post about the collaboration for your site/blog and sell the works directly via your social media platforms. Keep the works small enough to ship or make it a local pick up only kind of project.
- Collaborate with another artist on a screen-printed edition. This makes for a nice rare collector’s item/series. Do not duplicate this series. Keeping it exclusive is attractive to collectors. Keep the edition to 50 prints in total. Generate a blog post about the collaboration project for your site/blog and sell the works directly via promotion on your social media platforms. Keep the works small enough to ship easily or make it a local pick up only kind of project.
- Collaborate on a one of a kind three-dimensional sculpture. Join forces with another artist that you know who makes three- dimensional works. Generate a blog post about the collaboration project for your site/blog and sell the works directly via promotion on your social media platforms. Keep the works small enough to ship easily or make it a local pick up only kind of project.
- Collaborate with another artist on a screen-printed t-shirt edition. Make the silk screens and offer the shirts by request. Generate a blog post about the collaboration project for your site/blog and sell the works directly via promotion on your social media platforms as well as your blog/site.
- Build or construct a series (2-3) of rare sculptural chairs. Maybe they are functional, or maybe they are more for show? Offer on your website/blog or Craig’s list.
Day 23 – 8/28/14
- Reach out to some local bands or musicians in your area, or online and offer to create album cover art for their next album, or create art work for their web site and or any other ideas (concert flyers.) This could be an ongoing relationship and word of mouth may spread to other bands.
- Reach out to local restaurants in person, present your design and illustration skills with a business card, offer to re-deign their current menu, logo, and offer to build a website/blog.
- Reach out to your local chamber of commerce and offer your graphic design skills. Making your presence known may lead to obtaining work.
- Do you know someone who has an idol or a fetish with a celebrity or athlete? Approach this person(s) directly and offer via a commission to create a painting, drawing or work of custom art. Direct sales simply by ASKING!
- Create a series of custom painted iPhone or android smart phone covers. Create an addition of 5 rare that will not be duplicated. Promote via social media that lead back to your blog/site. Ask friends to share the links.
Day 24 – 8/29/14
- Reach out in person via a visit to your doctor/physician/dentist and promote your graphic design skills. Ask them if they require any basic design work for promotions, web sites, forms and letterheads, etc.
- Reach out in person via a visit to your doctor/physician/dentist and promote your drawing, painting, and printmaking skills. Offices of all kinds usually have very cheap and bad generic art in their waiting rooms, offer via a personal commission to generate a body of work for the office.
- Reach out in person via a visit to your Bank and promote your graphic design skills. Ask them if they require any basic design work for promotions, web sites, forms and letterheads, etc.
- Reach out in person via a visit to your local police department and promote your graphic design / illustration and art skills. Ask them if they require any basic design work for promotions, web sites, forms, logos, letterheads, etc.
- Reach out in person via a visit to your local Fire department and promote your graphic design / illustration and art skills. Ask them if they require any basic design work for promotions, web sites, forms, logos, letterheads, etc.
Day 25 – 8/30/14
- Visual merchandising is a huge field that requires a lot of design work on an ongoing and regular basis. Some of these companies have in house teams and a lot of them out source a good amount of work to freelancers. Duty free shops in airports are constantly changing their print and web media. They work a lot with graphics that are converted into vinyl media and etc. Reach out to local airports and get a business directory, reach out via e-mail with introduction of yourself and the services that you offer. You could also visit in person and speak with the managers.
- Reach out to large department stores that you know put out a lot of print and web media. A lot of these stores have affiliates that are always seeking freelance design based work. This may not be the most creative work, but nonetheless it could be steady and lead to additional kinds of work. Reach out via e-mail to introduce yourself with a link to your current website and contact information. Follow up regularly.
- The same process as above can be applied companies that you have specific interest it to offer your services, this is a good habit to get into and leads to building confidence. Think of restaurants and chains or franchises to approach. Building a research skill on to connect and reach out is a vital skill to have both online and offline.
- The publishing industry is and has been in transition for the last 10-15 years. Many companies have been in the process of building online variations, adaptations and new versions of their products and services. Start by researching a list of the companies in or close to the nearest city that you live in. (it could also be remote) Introduce yourself and your services via e-mail with links to your website and or portfolio of examples. Think about what separates you and your work from the mainstream type of work that is currently being used. How can you help the company with your specialty skills, addressing this in your cover letter can be an angle?
- What has worked for you over the last 5 years in obtaining new work as an artist and graphic designer? What has sustained your income, and what has not? Write and share a how to guide on your process, share your insights and story. Offer this as blog post on your site/blog and leave it open as a “pay what you will” donation based gig.
Day 26 – 8/31/14
- Visit the public domain online and find a series of interesting vintage images and graphics. Customize them into your style and burn them onto a silk screen(s). Create a limited edition of 5 rare tablecloths. Generate a blog post about the pieces for your site/blog and sell the works directly via promotion on your social media platforms as well as your blog/site.
- Visit the public domain online and find a series of interesting vintage images and graphics. Customize them into your style and burn them onto a silk screen(s). Create a limited edition of 5 rare placemats for dining. Generate a blog post about the pieces for your site/blog and sell the works directly via promotion on your social media platforms as well as your blog/site.
- Visit the public domain online and find a series of interesting vintage images and graphics. Customize them into your style and burn them onto a silk screen(s). Create a limited edition of 5 rare mailbags (you can purchase the mailbags from a store of your choice and work on them directly.) Generate a blog post about the pieces for your site/blog and sell the works directly via promotion on your social media platforms as well as your blog/site.
- Visit the public domain online and find a series of interesting vintage images and graphics. Customize them into your style and burn them onto a silk screen(s). Create a limited edition of 5 rare couch throws or blankets. You can purchase solid color blankets or throws in many colors, shapes or sizes. The idea is to make them rare and stylized. Generate a blog post about the pieces for your site/blog and sell the works directly via promotion on your social media platforms as well as your blog/site.
- Visit the public domain online and find a series of interesting vintage images and graphics. Customize them into your style and burn them onto a silk screen(s). Create a limited edition of 5 rare couch or sitting chair pillows. Purchase pillows with zippers so that you can remove the interior stuffing as it is easier to print on that way, or get in touch with someone who knows how to open and close the pillows correctly by re-sewing it back together. Generate a blog post about the pieces for your site/blog and sell the works directly via promotion on your social media platforms as well as your blog/site.
Day 27 – 9/1/14
- Is there potential to earn money by creating animated GIFs? For sure, approach your favorite brand via e-mail and introduce yourself. Share a link to a few of your best GIFs on the web. Pitch them by suggesting you would like to generate a few GIFs for their brand. Remind them that GIFS are very eye catching and draw attention to themselves very quickly on a web site. This is a modern day growing advertising field.
- More on GIFs, create a series of television personality based GIFs, think of the top trending televisions shows (check twitter for this) create 3-5 GIFs and pitch them to the networks or popular blogs that included this kind of content as a package for a price.
- More on GIFs, create a series of film personality based GIFs, think of the top trending and classic films (check twitter for this) create 3-5 GIFs and pitch them to the companies themselves or popular blogs that included this kind of content as a package for a price.
- How can you use your passions and skills with GIFs creation for marketing? Do your GIFs show familiar products and services in a new and unique way? Can you come up with a few ideas that you want to pitch to specific industries for marketing? Does the fashion industry need more GIFs? Does the food industry need more GIFs? Here is your chance to show them how and why your works would be effective.
- Offer your art & design services via Craig’s list. This will take a bit of micro-testing each month to get the hang of it, but for the most part you have a lot of flexibility to surf for potential jobs while also posting your info.
Day 28 – 9/2/14
- Create and offer content for blogs. Many popular blogs will seek out “how to” and or creative expertise on things. Some will pay up to $250 - $500 per blog post depending on the quality of the blog and content. This will take some research on your behalf but if you love to write about your art, techniques and process, get to it.
- Reach out to your community country club or one that is nearby. Introduce yourself and offer your services as a graphic designer. Take a look at the existing website and offer to make adjustments and or suggest changes that may need updating.
- Word of mouth referrals can bring in all types of art and design related work. You have a great website or online portfolio, right? This would be a great opportunity to let everyone that you know, know! This means that reach out to your friends, family and colleagues via e-mail, text or via phone to let them know that you are offering services as a freelance artist, graphic designer or any other title that you may have. You can very generate a basic letter that includes your web-site link, portfolio and contact info. Having a subscription button on your blog is not enough, we need to reach out and get more personal. Do this 3-4 times per year to remind everyone.
- Do you have a knack for web graphics and love social media platforms? Offer a service via a new blog post to create usable visual content for the social media accounts of artists and or art related services (galleries, museums, business or brands.) This could be anything from creating image-based ads, sliders and slide shows, avatars, animated avatars, animated ads or GIF banners.
- Do you love the VINE app for your iPhone or android phone? Generate a series of 6.5 second loops of fresh advertisements, product plugs or film trailers via the app and share them with the specific companies that you have targeted.
Day 29 – 9/3/14
- Reach out to your local hardware store about some graphic design or illustration works. Offer your services as a local artist /designer. You would be surprised how many business owners love to do work face to face. Most hardware stores have regular print and web ads that are always changing, and need updating and re-creating.
- Via your blog and social media platforms offer a series of limited edition greeting cards for an occasion. Maybe you can focus on Christmas this year, as it would give you a good amount of time to work on it in advance. The cards can be bought as blanks but you could also create your own using your favorite paper. The interior of the card could be blank and left for handwriting or you could fill it with your images. Think of rubber stamp, silk-screen or linoleum prints to cover the front of the card. The idea is to keep it unique and to sell the limited edition.
- Specialty skills promoting. What are your unique and specialty skills? What 2 or 3 skills do you have that have become a rare fusion? How can you package and market those unique assets to a company that you admire? Is there a company, brand, organization or cause that you admire? Reach out to them and offer those skills. Make a video based resume or presentation to introduce yourself and those skills in one tight format. Perhaps this is a responsive URL that you designed.
- Reach out to your local pharmacies or drug stores about some graphic design or illustration works. Yes, some areas have been dominated by chains like rite-aid or CVS, but they all require a lot of design-based work. Offer your services as a local artist /designer. You would be surprised how many business owners love to do work face to face. Most pharmacies / drug stores, have regular print and web ads that are always changing, and need updating and re- creating.
- Create a custom service to hand paint the back panels of denim jackets. These pieces were extremely popular in the late 1970’s and all through the 1980s. Bring them back into style using YOUR sty Market the idea via a blog post and through social media. Create one of two for yourself or for a friend and document the garment with high res images. The patron will purchase the jacket that they want and their preferred size.
Day 30 – 9/4/2014 – Final Day.
- Create black and white vector art coloring book for adults on old classic cars. Offer it as a PDF and sell it on your webs Promote via classic car blogs and magazines.
- Create a series of simple drawings or graphics that can be sold to clip art or stock image websites. Think copyright free content.
- Offer a service to help art teachers and art professors create course syllabi, lesson plans and curriculum for their classes. Offer this via your website and through online forums where art teachers share information. Promote via your blog/site as well.
- Reach out to local car washes and offer your graphic design skills. Do they need a web site? Would they be interested in commissioning a series of vintage car paintings or drawings?
- Wedding portrait paintings. Offer a service via a blog post on your site to convert wedding pictures of couples into an oil or acrylic painting as a commission. Share on social media and wedding blogs and forums.
After 30 days of this repetitive exercise I am positively hooked on creating more ideas for a second book! I have discovered a great byproduct through this habitual thinking process. This exercise can be used for anything. I installed a new habit to create new ideas to generate income with my art, teaching and design skills, but I am now having inspired ideas for many other areas of my life.
The original text for the guide written in 2014 ends here.
I will Publish PART II in another Post!