The Outer Limits – Income Beyond the Art Gallery

The first few years of my university art education were spent thinking that if I could not sell or show my work in a gallery, then I could not be an artist of worth, nor able to earn an income. My future seemed inextricably tied to a particular community which I never felt that I fit into, being primarily a fantasy artist. Angels and elves never quite fit right next to abstract expressionism and moody landscapes. Fantasy was not ‘fine art’ nor ‘classical’ and was therefore unworthy of being shown in galleries (though this is thankfully changing in recent times!)

It seemed foolish and hopeless to think that an artist could be worthwhile or make a living any other way. A worthless dreamer was I who could not find a place in a gallery without tearing up bits of journals pages and pretending some kind of political or personal agenda was imbued into each piece of work. This sort of work has its place, but I did not feel that it was mine. I reserve my emotions for other means of expression.

Years passed. I started moving in different circles. Research began for my MA thesis on e-marketing for artists. My field of vision began to widen as I found more and more cases of artists such as Valentina Trevino, more commonly known as Val of ValsArtDiary.

A relatively young artist in her 20’s, Val was like many artists who come out of school feeling hopeless, unable to find gallery representation, and working meaningless jobs to pay the bills. She became independently successful after setting up her own website and marketing herself via social media. She is most well known for her videos on YouTube that showcase her painting process. Each video ends with a link to an eBay auction where one can purchase her paintings. Within 2 years, she had had found success and sold every single one of her original paintings.

It is with Val’s example in mind that I am hopeful in pursuing my own path outside the Gallery market. My Thesis research revealed a myriad of options from art licensing to selling face to face at art fairs to video and online marketing a la Val’s strategy. All of which I hope to talk more about here as I prepare to do some ‘field research’ for my own art career.

Welcome to the outer limits of the art world, my friend! I hope to stay awhile.


  1. Jayleen "Guruubii" Weaver says:

    Thats really Inspiring! I know that feeling – the whole “not a gallery artist” thing. I’ve even tried it, and I’ve been in a couple exhibits but it never brings the satisfaction to have to produce the work i don’t want to just to get those shows.
    The internet is an amazing thing!

    The social networking is doing me a TON of good! a TON, I’m not really “Selling” anything right now, but I’ve been seeing the amount of success stories out there and I’m very inspired by it 🙂

  2. Angela Sasser says:

    Sometimes it’s really so much more effective on one’s confidence to see that others before us can and have made it! I don’t think I would have half the determination I do now if it weren’t for hearing of Val’s success.

    YouTube especially has been a powerful tool and I haven’t even begun to utilize it to its fullest yet! The single color pencil video I did as a test has gotten 13,500 views in a single year and plenty of interest in my work. I’m definitely going to be hitting that big time this year.

    Here’s to the continued effectiveness of e-marketing for the both of us!

  3. Ethelie says:

    I know that feeling too, the want to just create art because its what i love to do but without attaching any deeper meaning to it. Of course some works are more personal, but not everything I do has a deep and complicated backstory. Most of the time I just want to make “pretty pictures”.
    I think that is the case with a lot of fantasy artists, the drive to creaty beutiful imagery for no other reason that the beuty of it.
    With your talent and ambition I cant imagine you not being a success. You go girl!

  4. Angela Sasser says:

    My frustration hinged around the fact that I really didn’t want to make every painting about my thoughts on abortion, some past tragedy, or anything of that nature. I personally enjoy creating paintings based on other sorts of subjects which are not necessarily controversial or personal, but still have their own meaning. And yes, I also enjoy drawing some things just because they’re pretty XD

    There’s a market for everything these days! Just a matter of finding it. Thanks for the vote of confidence!

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