What Your Art Business Will Cost You

Costs and expenses are not something to be ignored in your art business.

This article is from a colleague of mine, Alyson Stanfield, while it is not specific to blacksmith businesses, it is relevant to any art business.  She is an artist advocate and business mentor at ArtBizCoach.com. This article was originally published in her Art Biz Insider, which is sent weekly to thousands of artists who are elevating their businesses. Start your subscription now and get Alyson’s 6 free art-marketing video lessons at http://artbizcoach.com.  I have taken Alyson’s Art Biz Bootcamp , it was extremely helpful and I am still learning from the course content.  If you would like to learn more about this incredible course click here: Art Biz Bootcamp (note this affiliate link is a tried and tested resource by yours truly, I encourage you to take a look).

What Your Art Business Will Cost You, by Alyson Stanfield

When you own your own business, it’s important to look at expenses as well as income in order to remain profitable.

I looked into various (not all – not even education or supplies and materials!) expenses for artists and thought it might be interesting to share the results. Feel free to add to our completely unscientific list in a comment on the Art Biz Blog.

Studio Space

These numbers are based on responses I received through Twitter and Facebook.
(sf = square feet)

Central Virginia (476sf): $355/month
Key West, FL (750sf – 3 rooms): $1600 for studio + store front

Ravenswood, Chicago, IL (600+ sf): $540/month
Downtown Chicago, IL (sf n/a): $485/month
Gages Lake, IL (1200sf): $500/month with utilities

Albuquerque, NM (175sf): $200/mo in nonprofit art center, includes utilities, not air-conditioned
Colorado Springs, CO (400sf): $455 includes utilities

San Francisco, CA (154sf): $431/month and says most of her friends pay around $800 for an equivalent space
San Diego, CA (185sf): $550/month is on the high side because it’s in a retail space and on the art walk path
Los Angeles, CA (800sf, skylight, private bathroom, gated parking): $1050/month

Chilturn, Victoria, Australia: $120AU/week (about $105US) + $1100AU year in utilities

Inventory Business Management System

eArtist: $125 software installation

GYST: $59 for GYSTBasic and $129 for GYSTPro software installation

Artwork Archive: $49/year for the Apprentice version and $99 for Master (unlimited inventory), Cloud-based

Email Delivery Platform

MailChimp is free up to 2,000 names. You can pay a little for more features. Those rates start at $10/month for up to 500 contacts.

Constant Contact starts at $20/month for up to 500 contacts.

iContact starts at $14/month for up to 500 contacts.

See a review of the various options (don’t forget to scroll to page 2) here.

Business Licenses

Registering a Doing-Business-As name with your state. In Colorado, this fee is $20 for a sole proprietorship.

Applying for a sales tax license is $16 (for 2 years) in Colorado with a one-time deposit of $50 that is refundable. It is an additional $20 fee (for 4 years) in my city.

Entry Fees

Average: $15-40 per entry for art shows and festivals.

In contrast, a gallery booth at Art Basel Miami Beach in 2012 was $55,000.

Click here for the art fair cheat sheet.

Booth Set-Up

Textile artist Lisa Call spent $11,380 on her first booth for the American Craft Council Show in Baltimore. Of that, about $5,000 was for items she will reuse. That means about $6,400 for each additional year she does the show. See her breakdown.

The booth fee for the 2014 American Craft Council wholesale show in Baltimore was $800-1500.

Flower photographer Patti Hankins offers these numbers:

  • I started with grid walls and an EZ Up Canopy. The grid walls were about $900 and the EZ up was under $200. I upgraded to my current booth in stages.
  • Booth fees range from $75 to $1000 for craft shows. I often do a booth and a half indoors. Flower & garden show fees are much higher.
  • My tent is a TrimLine that was $1000 for the basic setup plus more for extra canopies, sta-bars, etc.
  • Pro Panels are more than $3000. I have enough walls for a 20-foot booth, bins, desk, and shelf.
  • Chevy Cargo Van was more than I care to remember. Having a van to haul everything is so much easier than dealing with a trailer, and it’s so nice to have a vehicle just for shows.
  • Bonus info … And for photographers who plan on doing their own printing, you’ll need a professional photo printer. My Epson 9800 was $5000.


Domain name (URL): around $15/year at 1and1.com and GoDaddy, although they offer very inexpensive first-year prices to hook you. NameCheap is $10.69/year.

Website hosting: $4-20/month and up

After watching my previous hosting service and platform deteriorate badly in 2013, I vowed to stay away from the numerous companies bought up by EIG. Here’s why. I now pay a lot more for more reliable up-time and better customer service at LiquidWeb.

I found this review site to be particularly helpful when searching for a new Web hosting service.

Web designer: fees up to $75/hour

Printed Material

Graphic Designers: up to $75/hour

Business Cards
Moo: $19.99 for 100 MiniCards or $39.98 for 100 Classic (regular size)
GotPrint: $18.10 for 100 standard cards (14pt Premium Uncoated Cover)
VistaPrint: $13.39 for 500 (front only)
OvernightPrints: $39.95 front+back for 500 Art Biz Coach cards

4×6” Postcards (+ shipping to my Colorado home (500 quantity) color front and black back)
PrintingforLess: $131.62 (120# gloss color)
GotPrint: $47.01 (14pt Gloss Coated Cover with UV)
Modern Postcard: $144.35

500 4-color, Tri-Fold, 100lb Gloss (folds to 3.6” x 8.5”)
Modern Postcard: $406
PsPrint: $308.70 (they had a 60% off promotional discount when I checked – total =$123.48!)

Blurb: $12.99/each for 7×7” square with 20 pages
PrintingForLess: $4.04 each for 5.5×8.5” with 20 pages when you print 250 copies
PsPrint: $10.60/unit when you print just 25 copies (gloss color interior + 13 pt matte cover) or $2.514/unit for 250 copies


$20-35 an hour for sole proprietorships, which most artists are. More for corporations. The more complicated your books and tax preparations are, the more you should expect to pay.

Virtual Assistants or Online Business Managers
$35 and up per hour

Studio assistants
$10-20 an hour

Yes, your art business is an investment and the expenses can add up. It’s critical to keep excellent financial records.

The United States Tax Court recently ruled in favor of artist Susan Crile who had been claiming expenses for 40 years without seeing much profit. She beat the IRS!


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