How to Start and Run Your Own Pet Portrait Art Business | 1099 - Mom
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How to Start and Run Your Own Pet Portrait Art Business

These days, many people treat their pets like members of the family. They clothe them in the winter when it’s time for walks, they feed them organic food and give them treats, they let their pets sleep in their beds with them. When a pet passes on, the bereaved owners often have funerals for the pets including buying an animal casket or having them cremated. An entire business sector has developed for the animal burial industry.

If you’re an artist, you may find that the trend of treating pets as family members can be personally rewarding. There is a lucrative niche as an animal portrait artist. People who love their pets dearly will pay to have paintings made of their animals that they can put on display in their houses and keep in memory of their pets when they pass on.

How to Get Started

Art talent is necessary to be an animal portrait artist, but you can always improve on your skills with practice and education.

When you launch your business, you’ll want to have several portraits to use as samples. These can be paintings that you’ve done of your own pets or of a friend’s pets. You may also want to gift a few people with portraits so you can start to get your product circulating.

Before you officially start selling, take the time to conduct online research and then check out local arts and crafts fairs to see what is currently available in your niche. Explore any other venue work like yours might show up at. Research what promotional materials other artists give out—observe what looks good and what doesn’t. Look at other artists’ websites, too.

Deciding How Much to Charge

After you’ve done the above steps, you need to decide how to price your pieces. You don’t want to charge too much and scare off customers, but you don’t want to charge too little and not have your effort be worth your time and supplies.

Do lots of research for what pieces are selling for in your community, especially from similar caliber artists. Expect to have a decent portfolio or varied work to show examples to perspective clients, especially of multiple subject matter you can do—not just your favorite things or what you are best at.

Where to Market Your Business

There are many, many ways to market this type of business. A professional website can attract clients. In addition, once you have your first satisfied client, you will likely get many more word-of-mouth referrals. Another place to market is to nearby dog shows, horse shows, and at local veterinarians’ offices.

Don’t forget to also share completed portraits on your personal Facebook page. If you’ve done a nice job on a portrait that you share on Facebook, many people may share the post. In addition, friends of your Facebook friends can often see the portraits, expanding your social reach. Pinterest and Instagram are two other excellent social media sites for sharing this type of product.

Beware of the Seasonality of the Job

Christmas is definitely a busy season for an animal portrait artist as many people want to gift their spouse or another loved one with a picture of their beloved pet. Think about it. Isn’t it the best unique gift idea?

However, keep in mind that buying animal portraits is considered by most to be a luxury. You’ll likely have plenty of business during strong economic times, but if a downturn in the economy hits, animal portraits may be the first luxury people cut from their budgets. Therefore, in this type of profession, saving money for the downtime is essential.

If you love animals and painting, consider pursuing a career as an animal portrait artist. Once you have a few loyal clients, you’ll likely earn more through word-of-mouth referrals.
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Linsey Knerl (the "1099 Mom") is a professional blogger, public speaker, consultant, and mom of 6!
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