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How Much Do Artists Earn?

British wildlife paintings, colourful animal art, deep box canvas wildife wall art


I’ve recently finished exhibiting during the 2018 Surrey Artists’ Open Studios (SAOS) at my art studio in Merstham, Surrey. In reality, many artists don’t have a grand studio, as you’ll know if you visited some of us.  I’m fortunate to have my own small art room at home. During Open Studios half of my dining room and the conservatory also get converted to gallery space. Weather permitting, I like to paint colourful animal paintings on my easel in the garden.

It’s always lovely to meet people who come to see what I’ve been painting – for some, they will have picked me out of the SAOS brochure and made a special trip, perhaps visiting other studios in Surrey during the day as well. There are always local people who notice my bright orange sign and pop in to see what it’s all about, and family and friends who come along to support my one-person art business.


Yes, I use the term art business – whilst I love what I do, it is becoming my main source of income. I love that my art is taking over from my day job, which is slowly fading into the background. People are often surprised by this, perhaps believing the starving artist myth!

I have been asked numerous times how long a painting takes (it depends on the size and complexity, but the short answer is 40 years of painting and drawing so far!), or whether I can make a living by painting. Painting is only a small part of the equation for an artist – we also need to develop skills in marketing, social media posts, planning displays for shows and exhibitions and setting them up, talking to customers, building online shops, updating websites, buying supplies and developing products, processing sales, negotiating commissions, keeping accounts etc . It’s not for the faint-hearted!

This year I tried some new things during SAOS – firstly donations to the International Fund for Animal Welfare from my sales. I also ran a contest to win a print of an animal you’ve suggested (once I’ve painted it!). I haven’t drawn the winner yet, but I will do so shortly when I get back to painting. Another aspect of being a self-employed artist is that there isn’t anyone else to run your business when there are problems (though on the plus side, I never have to ask anyone for time off either).


Some of you may be aware that I closed my Open Studio unexpectedly on Friday 15th June. My apologies if you tried to visit me and were unable to return the following day. Do get in touch if you are interested in a particular artwork or look at my website or online shop. I did put out social media messages and leave a note on the door. Unfortunately we had an urgent call to visit my Mother-in-Law who had been seriously ill in hospital for some time, and who sadly passed away on Tuesday this week. 

Normal business will be resumed shortly, and I will be in touch with commission customers to discuss slightly extending my target dates. Thank you for your understanding.

Oh and to answer the question, how much do artists earn? Mostly more than the paper boy and less than the top UK business earners, just like most of you. But feel free to buy my colourful animal art while it’s still affordable! 

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