Creative Sources for Artistic Income

The term “starving artist” hits too close to home for many of us. While the opportunities for selling art have grown tremendously with online technology, finding reputable opportunities can be more difficult.

Of course, there’s always the old stand-bys like CafePress and other websites that cater to artists who can place their work on clothing and merchandise. is a close cousin to CafePress, working with the same end-product but using a more intuitive publishing interface.
I haven’t heard many people that are too happy with the old stand-bys, though. Instead, they want something creative, a way of gaining an extra income with art that doesn’t require watching it rot in the virtual halls of a website. They want to see their art being used, appreciated, and âÂ?¦ well, paid for.

So, here’s a run-down of some of the most creative and reputable sources for artistic income online.

MSN Avatars – MSN Avatars are the small display pictures that show up when you are talking to another person using MSN Messenger. If you haven’t seen these before, take a look at the main site,, to see what they look like.

Basically, this website offers you the chance to earn money by creating 96 x 96 pixel graphics. What’s the drawback? Well, there’s really only one: the pay is only 25 cents per avatar. However, with the small size you’re working with and the limitless possibilities for types of avatars, it shouldn’t take too long before you have the full 200 accepted and receive your first payment.

Going this route, make sure that you arm yourself with plenty of slogan ideas. This site will accept mild profanity, sexuality, drug and alcohol avatars so you should have no problem coming up with ideas. Try coming up with a list of 25 ideas at a time, rip them out, and move on to your next set of 25. I was able to create my full set of 200 avatars in just under 3 days, working on them when I needed a break from my work – and I received payment almost immediately.

Erotic Art Photo Contest – Yes, it is a contest – but a better and longer-running one, I can’t find. This site offers up some of the most beautiful erotic photography, glamour shots, and generally stunning portraits. Then, visitors and other competitors are asked to rate the photography submitted. The top photographers win a cash prize, issued about once every two weeks.

Make sure that your photography is really top-notch before you submit here. Competitors are generally very honest in critiquing your work on this site, which might give you something worth more than money – true insight to improving your work. Take a look at the photography which is currently up, and browse the archive of past winners. This will give you a good idea of how your photography rates, and if you feel that you should enter or not.

Entry is free, and payments are made right on time.
Greeting Card Artwork – If you’ve got the style for it, Leanin Tree cards is one of the mostly widely known and appreciated source of artistically pleasing greetings in the country.

Submitting your artwork to Leanin Tree requires a couple of things. First, you should not submit any original work – instead, make a color copy or take a photo of the work you are submitting. Second, make sure to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope large enough that they can return the work to you. Finally, include 5-10 pieces that look right for the company (make sure to do your homework and actually look at their current selection) and mail it off.

This opportunity works just like freelance. If your work is accepted, Leanin Tree will pay you for the individual piece and tell you what they need from there. Payments are made by check and come right on time. More importantly, though, this is some of the best exposure your artwork could possibly receive.

Artwork for Games – One of the most reputable sites I have ever found, this company creates game lines including the so-popular Dragonball Z.
A variety of illustration styles are acceptable, and you should submit several examples of your very best work. These examples should be a mixture of pencil-only and inked pieces, with a few of your own special-technique (washes, charcoals, etc.) works thrown in for good measure. If you work largely in color, keep in mind that this company contracts most often for black and white pieces, so don’t make your color work the focus of your submission.

Most of the artwork that this company pays for is done on a work-for-hire basis, meaning that they will assign a project to you and pay upon successful completion. They will even provide reference material if the contract they issue you is on an obscure subject.

Once you submit samples to this company, they will establish a reference file for you – make sure that you keep your file updated when you change styles or add a flourish to your current ones. The artists they contract are chosen solely on the basis of their reference file.

Payments are made based on the contract you sign, and kill-fees are negotiated if the artwork is no longer needed. All-in-all, a very good opportunity to jump at if your illustrations skills are up to par.

Stock Illustration – Regardless of the particular style of illustration you create, this site might be the one place you want to look. Since 1994, they have worked to provide clients with high-utility, premium illustration that can be purchased and used as stock art.

In addition to the opportunity of placing a complete illustration collection with this company, you also have the chance of being commissioned for custom illustration. The exposure you receive in this format is incredible, and the income isn’t without its benefits, too.

To be considered, you need to fill out a brief questionnaire and submit a few samples of your work. After your art has been reviewed, the company will contact you about joining the team.

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