Inside Craft Artist Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"Other Skills Needed Beyond Art Talent...
That I had to know so much about finance and business. I also had to deal with people much more frequently than I'd hoped. I prefer to work on my own time and my own projects, but commissioned work makes up the majority of my projects. I had to know paperwork, book keeping, and all forms of accounting for a business- I'm considered self-employed. I also do work as a fine artist in painting, the amount of financial knowledge I need for that, and the ability to promote myself and relate to people in professional terms, was not something I was taught in college, and I've had to learn it the hard way. If I could, I'd go back and take business and advertising classes as well, just so I'd have more ability to do that side of my work." (Tattoo Artist; 2013)

Career: 15 years of experience, currently based in Oregon, female
School: Studied Fine Arts at Moore College Of Art in Pennsylvania; completed Associate degree in 1992

"Keep Up With Creative Skills...
How many ways there is to make jewelry and how I have to keep up with the latest colors and styles." (Web Designer, Graphic Designer; 2013)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in Georgia, female
School: Studied Internet Specialist Web Design at Chattahoochee Technical College in Georgia; completed Diploma degree in 2011

"Being Your Own Boss Is Harder Than It Seems...
Everyone acts like being a professional artist is easy or something not to be taken seriously, but when you actually decide you want to make this your career you find out it isn't easy at all. Sure, there is no one setting deadlines for you or giving you ultimatums, but that's what makes it hard-- You are your own boss and that means you are expected to push yourself to work harder. You have to have a lot of ambition to do well at this." (Sculptor; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Pennsylvania, female
School: Studied Crafts at College For Creative Studies in Michigan; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

"Creative Places To Find Work...
It is a surprise that one must be creative in seeking financially rewarding work in the creative field. There are not many jobs for a craft artist, but one may find work on creative sites such as etsy for commissioned works. Also, many community centers offer classes for young children, and are quite flexible with an artist's schedule should he/she wants to teach a class on a craft." (Craft Artist / Art Teacher; 2013)

Career: 18 years of experience, currently based in California, female
School: Studied Art History at University Of California, Santa Cruz in California; completed Bachelor degree in 1995

"Customers Are Not Intelligent People...
Customers come to me with no idea what they want and I have no idea what their house looks like and they ask me for a piece that they would "put in a house". They are also very picky about price - They don't see my time as valuable because I enjoy my work and they often ask for work to be done for material cost only and this upsets me." (Blacksmith; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Michigan, male
School: Studied Metal Work at Northern Michigan University in Michigan; completed Bachelor degree in 2011

"Pleasant Clientele...
I was surprised by how ridiculously happy my customers often get from the things that I make for them. :-) I do a lot of custom work. They are also almost always extremely nice." (Freelance Artist; 2013)

Career: 9 years of experience, currently based in California, female
School: Studied Art at Glendale Community College in California; completed Associate degree in 2004

"People Will Buy Anything...
One of the most surprising aspects of being a craft artist is the different items that can be created by hand to be sold to the general public. The public buys anything from small beaded items to complex quilts, all in the same booth." (Craft Artist; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Tennessee, female
School: Studied General at Roane State Community College in Tennessee; completed Associate degree in 2009

"Artists Making Sales On Facebook...
I am surprised how social media has changed how artists network and sell work. Facebook has become a great selling tool. You can reach a larger mass of interested people than a regular website, thus attracting buyers, without having galleries and agents." (Craft Designer; 2013)

Career: 14 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Fine Art at Clayton College in Alabama; completed Associate degree in 1998

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Seamstress: "The best part of my career is probably the flexibility. I'm able to work as long as I want and take as many breaks as I need. There's no punch-in clock. I'm not on a schedule. I can take as long or as little time as I want to finish something. I love to sew. I love making clothes and purses, and different things no one's seen before. I love to work with my hands. The worst part is that it's not constant. Sometimes I'm not even working when there are no orders." (2011)

CEO Of Small Home Business: "The best part of the job is that I get to set my own hours and goals. I can knit all day if I want to. It is very creative and liberating. Working at home is great for young mothers--I don't need to find day care. And I can use my children to model the designs. I also love traveling to various trade shows and craft fairs. The worst part is having to keep my tax documents updated. I need to hire an accountant!" (2011)

Career Background

Craft Artist

  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Tips

"The More Techniques You Know The More Versatile You Will Be...
Learn different techniques so that you can offer variety." (Web Designer, Graphic Designer; 2013)

"How To Handle Customers...
Learn that customers, while often unsure of what they want, are the key to your business. You have to keep them happy - But don't give them discounts. Don't give discounts to anyone." (Blacksmith; 2013)

"How To Survive As A Craft Artist...
A craft artist does not make a lot of money right away, so you must be prepared for that. Start your career with a steady job - lots of private schools seek creative teachers but not necessarily require teaching credentials. Teaching at a school allows you the summer off to work on your craft. Also, you can start a on-line small business with sites such as to promote and sell your craft to supplement your income." (Craft Artist / Art Teacher; 2013)

"Plan Ahead And Set Goals For Yourself...
Decide what you want early on and plan far ahead, even if it isn't set in stone at least you have an idea of what's next. Have a list of short term goals and a list of long term goals and decide how you will meet them. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and opportunities." (Sculptor; 2013)

"Art In The Future.....
Never let anyone tell you Art is not a real profession. There are a lot of design jobs in every industry. Use the internet for selling your work, making contacts. The old art world is dead. I believe most galleries will be online in the next 50 years." (Craft Designer; 2013)

"Find A Niche...
Success is a matter of creativity and finding a niche more than anything. That way there's little competition and you get a lot of business." (Freelance Artist; 2013)

"Explore Your Options...
A good craft artist isn't afraid to try new things. Don't just paint wooden horses, try to make stuffed animals, explore the different crafts out there since you never know what will make YOUR crafts better!" (Craft Artist; 2013)

"Network And Learn Other Skills Besides Creative Ones...
take accounting and business classes as well as creative learning. You'll need that knowledge! Also use your time in college to network, take every opportunity to connect to better-known artists that you can, those connections will serve you well out in the world (and there will be less opportunities to make them later)" (Tattoo Artist; 2013)

"Get Work From Web...
Don't get discouraged. If you're a seamstress, you can usually find good work outside of your home, too. There are a lot of shops that hire people just to sew or create original garments. If you decide to work out of your home, make sure you put your creations online. This is how you make the bulk of your paycheck. You can't depend on getting work where you live unless you're in a bigger city where you can put your creations in stores and boutiques." (Seamstress; 2011)

"Look At What Others Are Doing...
Continue to grow and learn. Go to craft shops, local yarn and fabric shops, and see what people are making and what they would like to be making. I also scout catalogues, fashion sites, and home decor sites for inspiration and ideas. Network! See if your friends, family and children's friends would like to model your designs in return for the outfit or object. Take a small business class to know about your state's small business laws and if you can run a small business from your home. And don't forget to take vacations." (CEO Of Small Home Business; 2011)