Earning a income in the creative industries


There are countless ways to generate revenue in the creative industries but all possible approaches have pro’s and cons. In the end, it comes down to the individual and the stage of the career that they’re at.

One approach is the option to work as an employee which gives job security, a steady income,  and perks like superannuation, holidays and sick leave. The downside is that working as an employee for a company can take up the majority of your day and can leave you without much spare time for your own creations. This can lead to the mindset of feeling like more of “a cog in a machine than having creative freedom” (Christy, 2014). The best case scenario would be finding a job that aligns with your creative stream and helps to further your skills, technical backing and experience in the workforce, which is desirable when you go out on your own.

Another option is to freelance which increases opportunities for creativity but the stresses of managing and networking can be exhausting, there is no income security and many other entrepreneurial skillsets are needed to find work.  In addition to this artists may sell their work for far too little as they are unsure of how much their work is worth and how much to charge for it. Finding a steady flow of income, figuring out how much work is needed per job and how to charge for the work can take time, not to mention “charging for your project changes the creation process” (Christy, 2014) meaning that this is often a difficult option.

There are many other revenue options available such as:

Government grants: These require a lot of effort, careful planning and are tough to get, normally being rejected a few times before the panel starts to take notice (Heazlewood, 2014) but provide excellent capital if successful.

Sponsorship: sponsorship is great if you can get it. This can come from high traffic websites like Youtube for really good products - very competitive.

Crowdfunding: Websites like Pozible, can be great if you reach the goal amount. You must be seen as doing something new, worthwhile from the public’s perspective and that people will love.

Residencies: Require networks and previous works but can be a great source of reliable income. The downside is it may become stale and repetitive at times.


Contracts and commissions: Majority of the work will come via this avenue, but “if you don't work well with people, don't take commissions” Bamberger (2015).


Consulting: Giving advice on a project that other people are executing. Normally you need to be a subject matter expect to confidently give expert consulting advice.


As an individual in this industry it seems likely that at some point I will have to seriously consider all these options. With all the different avenues for finding income it’s not surprising that artists can become exhausted and burn out.  Even worse is the alarming thought that I could end up doing a day job that doesn’t align with my creative path, leaving me with no energy and time for a creative outlet. This highlights the importance of trying to work as a freelancer or as an employee for a company which  have similar aspects to your art, giving you some job security whilst honing your skills and network even further.


For myself, I would like to be a freelancer with my income coming from contracts alone.  This would give me the creative freedom to try and tailor my interests into a long career in the areas I enjoy most. I am aware of the issues with freelancing, meaning that I am more prepared and more proactive as a result. I am starting already by offering services for free to try and gain experience and to get a foot in the door. Freelancing requires persistence and large amounts of energy in sustaining public relations, creativity and building spider webs of networks, all in hope of one day being noticed and established in the industry.  Building networks both now and in the future, no matter which approach I take, will be essential for my future.




Bamberger, Alan. (2015) Making Art on Commission: Tips for Artists. Retrieved from http://www.artbusiness.com/privcom.html


Dena, Christy. (2014, February 16). Week 3: Your income & your art. Retrieved from https://medium.com/self-directed-practitioners/week-3-your-income-your-art-133fe7b09488


Heazlewood, Justin. (2014). Funemployed: Life as an Artist in Australia. Australia, Affirm Press.