Freelance Artist – Types, Ideas, and How To Get Started

  • Written By: Michael Haralson
  • Date: January 2, 2022
Makeup-artists-can-also-work-freelance-FreelancingBoss

A freelance artist is one who lives life with the possibility to use their creativity as a way to earn enough money to make a living that pays the bills. It’s an exciting mix of business and creativity. On the one hand, you need to compete for projects in the business world, and on the other hand, you need to keep your creative spark fresh and innovative. How to get started, describing the many types of artists, as well as some great ideas to be successful as a freelance artist, is the key focus of this article.

So how do you get started as a freelance artist, and what are the types and ideas that can help you build a business? You get started by identifying the main types of artist projects that are in demand on the freelance job platforms as well is in your home city, match your interests and talents to those types of jobs and then compete to get the projects.

Understanding the demand for artist projects and then matching your interests and talents can be a game-changer in finding the right projects for you as you pursue being a freelance artist. There are many things to consider, as well as to position yourself when you promote your artistic talents. Read on for an in-depth look at being a freelance artist and how to get started.

Freelance Artist Types and How Do Freelance Artists Succeed

There are many different types of artists. Wikipedia states that there are these segments of art. 

Types of Freelance Artists

Of the many artists and subsectors of art, some subsectors have broken into the mainstream of freelancing projects. The table below outlines the different types of freelance artists who tend to have projects on freelance job platforms and which will give you a better idea of where you can focus.

Outside-art-painting-FreelancingBoss
A landscape painting artist – FreelancingBoss

In the table below, I outline and describe 11 types of artists, indicate if these artists have a possibility to freelance and whether an education degree is required to do this type of work. After that, I rank the difficulty to start freelancing as a beginner on a scale from 1-5 (5 being the most difficult) and how easy then indicate how easy it is to digitize the artist skills. As mentioned, freelance work often involves digitized work.

Table 1 - Types of Freelance Artists

Type of ArtistDescriptionFreelance PossibilitiesEducation Required
Yes-No-Sometimes
Difficulty to Start as a Beginner (1-5)Easy to Digitize Artwork Skills?
Sketch artistAn artist who rapidly creates sketches of a desired objectYesNo3Yes
CartoonistAn artist who draws cartoons - either characters or scenesYesNo3Yes
SculpturistAn artist who creates sculptures made out of clay or stone or other materialNoSometimes4No
3D artistAn artist specialized in creating 3D effect. Often digitizes artworkYesSometimes3Yes
Anime artistAn artist who specializes in Anime style cartoonsYesNo3Yes
Makeup artistAn artist who uses makeup to enhance a person's facial featuresYesSometimes4No
Storyboard artistAn artist who sketches or draws storyboards for video or filmYesSometimes3Yes
Manga artistAn artist who specializes in Anime style cartoonsYesNo3Yes
Painting artistAn artist who specializes paintings, often using oil or acryllic paints. Can also digitize painting methodYes, if digitizedNo4Yes
Illustration artistAn artist who specializes in types of illustrations (like medical, children's books, etc)YesNo4Yes
Digital artistAn artist who uses digital tools to produce artwork. YesSometimes4Yes
Type of ArtistDescriptionFreelance PossibilitiesEducation Required
Yes-No-Sometimes
Difficulty to Start as a Beginner (1-5)Easy to Digitize Artwork Skills?

How Do Freelance Artists Succeed

Freelance artists who want to be successful will put a bit of strategic thinking and positioning into their freelance business. You need to be attractive to companies that wish to contract for specific work to do. To do that, understand the types of projects that are required in the city where you live.

For instance, find companies and advertising companies that may require an artist. In the same way, understand the art projects that are being requested on freelance job platforms. You only need to do a few hours of research to get a good idea of the types of projects that are most in demand as well as match what you do.

To succeed, you must not only identify the projects but give proposals and show your talents and skill in a portfolio. Once you have secured a freelance project, then you need to deliver on what the company wants. A lot of times, what the company wants is a final product that may not be what you specifically prefer in terms of creative artistry.

However, to get paid for your work and satisfy the customer, you will need to bend some of your artistic talents in the direction that the customer wants the artwork to go. Finally, once you have completed the project, you should get a reference from the customer that they are satisfied so that you can use this information in your promotion efforts to get new projects.

YouTube Video – A Funny Look at The Different Types of Artists

YouTube Video on the Types of Artists by Chloe Rose Art

Choose the Talents You Enjoy Most and That Are Most In Demand

One of the more secure ways for you to start as a freelance artist is to choose the talents you enjoy the most and that you are very good at and match that to those projects that are most in demand. For instance, say you are incredibly talented as a sketch artist, and you have been doing various levels of sketch artistry in college and years before, so you have a fairly broad range and portfolio.

At certain times and on multiple platforms, there is a need for anime artists or comic artists or manga artists. If you have an interest in it, and some experience, why not digitize the way you do your sketches with a focus on comics or animate or manga? It would be especially useful if you notice that there are three times more projects demanding this type of artist than a sketch artist. It’s one option to consider.

Finding this intersection of talents you enjoy and that are most in demand is a sure way of positioning yourself so that you can get projects and becoming a successful freelance artist.

Life as a Freelance Artist and Freelance Artist Requirements 

Life is a freelance artist who will not always be blue skies and smooth sailing. Freelancing is business, and business is tough in many ways. However, a freelance artist does have the freedom, and often this freedom offsets the toughness of being in business or working 9 to 5 in office.

Freedom To Be Creative in How You Live

Artists value the creative elements in life and tend to want to prioritize them over business elements or even the more traditional ways of living one’s life.

Freelance-artists-are-creative-FreelancingBoss
A freelance artist expresses his creativity in their artwork – FreelancingBoss

A freelance artist can make a living using their artistic talents if they are aligned with the project that customers want to pay for. Digitization is a big part, as digital art such as graphic art or illustrations that are used digitally is more natural to incorporate into materials that companies use. 

Where Do Freelance Artists Work?

As a freelancer, they can do all their work at home or even live life as a digital nomad, traveling to places that inspire them and their creative talents. Some successful artists infuse creativity into all areas of their life, and freelancing, if you are successful at it, will give you the freedom to do this. It’s worth noting again that business is tough, and constantly competing for projects will test the artistic side of you, but for many, this is worth it.

Digitized-artwork-FreelancingBoss
Multiple monitors may help with digitized artwork – FreelancingBoss

Depending on the type of artist you are, you can build your studio at home or use computer equipment with multiple monitors to help you get your work done. It may be more complex to create a comic character and comic strip compared to a brand logo, but you will still need tools and a reliable setup to process your work. Even if you choose to be location independent and travel like a digital nomad, you will still need your reliable art setup.

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Do You Need a Degree to Be a Freelance Artist

The answer to whether you need a degree to be a freelance artist is no, but there are stipulations, and it depends on the type of artwork you want to create and for whom you create it. 

In the big picture, if you are talented and have a portfolio of completed artwork in your field, you can go on the freelance job platforms and compete for projects with a fair to a good chance of getting one. You may not have a degree to have built your portfolio.

Where a degree helps is in adding new theories and ideas to artwork projects that are requested by customers. The Art Degree Project has a list of art and design schools available with some detailed information on the degree programs. While it’s possible to learn about it on YouTube or the internet, some companies will value a formal degree. 

A lot depends on your talents and what the customer wants. Some will prefer a degree, but the majority will just want a skill level that enables them to get the artwork looking the way they want it. 

How to Become a Freelance Artist and Get Projects 

Getting freelance projects is more about following a process and having some basics in place than about luck. Here are some ideas about how to build the basics you need and the process of how to compete to get freelance artist jobs.

Wood-sculpture-FreelancingBoss
A wood sculpture artist – FreelancingBoss

Freelance Artist Portfolio

When you are a freelance artist, one of the main tools that you will rely on when trying to get freelance jobs in your portfolio. Your portfolio is a collection of your work, the best work that you have done, which represents your talents and skills, and also the creativity that you have doing certain types of artwork.

For instance, if you are a storyboard artist, you will have a collection of storyboards that you have developed for clients, and that has succeeded in becoming a small info commercial or film that the customer has created on top of the storyboard. The storyboards in your portfolio should detail what the project was about how you created the storyboard and what the customer liked most about this particular storyboard.

Your portfolio can be just a collection of your artwork that is scanned or is photographed and put in PDF format, or as you develop as a freelance artist, you can create your own website. The advantage of having a PDF format is that you can attach this file to any of your communications, and it is relatively lightweight. Having a portfolio website takes it one step further by arranging your best works on a webpage.

Once you have created your portfolio, either in PDF format or on your own personal website, it’s essential to promote your portfolio to all the contacts you have and also in all the communications you have with customers or potential customers. Use it to your advantage.

Applying and Competing to Get Freelance Artist Jobs

If you want to become good at applying for and competing for freelance artist jobs, you need to think of this as a process. 

Freelance-artists-FreelancingBoss
A freelance artist needs to compete to get art projects and then complete the project to the satisfaction of the customer – FreelancingBoss

The process starts when you find potential projects that are announced on freelance job platforms or in companies in your local city. You need to create a proposal or apply directly for that project sending information about yourself as well as attaching or connecting your portfolio so that they can see the types of artwork projects you have been involved in.

Often the customer will have some questions about you or your previous experience, and then you will have to answer these questions.

It’s recommended that you use a combination of freelance job platforms and local company opportunities. You can also use more than one freelance job platform so that you have more possibilities to advertise your skills and also find relevant art projects to apply for.

For approaching local companies in the city that you live, naturally, you can rely on ads or local city job boards in newspapers. Still, I would suggest that you call companies directly or even visit them because you never know about an opportunity until you ask. Also, having the courage to contact them directly will make an impression on them.

There will always be competition. Position yourself to have the basics in place, meaning that you have a good description of yourself in the freelance job platforms and a great resume that represents the experience and types of artwork you can do and your strong portfolio. After that, competing is doing the process of applying with energy and bringing out your personality to get the project.

Freelance Job Platforms Hiring Artists

Here is a table of some freelance artist platforms, which outline the types of artists they hire. In this table, I list eight platforms that hire various freelance artists, indicate how easy sign-up for the platform is as well as indicate the size of the platform. After that, I designate whether the platform is dedicated to artist jobs, and in the final column, I provide the job platform link.

Table 2 - Freelance Platforms That Hire Artists

Freelance Job
Platform
Difficulty to Get Started - Easy sign-up /Detailed sign-upSize of Platform (Small-Med-Large)Specialized for Artists- Yes / NoJob Platform Link
Behance JobsEasy sign-upLargeYesBehance Jobs
Smashing JobsEasy sign-upSmallNoSmashing Jobs
DribbbleEasy sign-upSmallYesDribbble
99 DesignsEasy sign-upMedYes99Designs
IndeedEasy sign-upLargeNoIndeed
Simply HiredEasy sign-upLargeNoSimply Hired
Toptal Detailed sign-upLargeNoToptal
TwineEasy sign-upMedNoTwine
Freelance Job
Platform
Difficulty to Get Started - Easy sign-up /Detailed sign-upSize of Platform (Small-Med-Large)Specialized for Artists- Yes / NoJob Platform Link

Conclusion

Being a freelance artist has freedom as one of its best advantages. It is a way to make a living and to be able to express your life in a way that is a dream for some artists if they find a way to be successful as a freelancer. Naturally, it’s not without its difficulties, you have to continue to do projects to have an income, and it can be tiring to be competing for projects. You can get started now and find out for yourself if this is something for you. Keep on trying until you get a project!

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