Digital art is a fun and rewarding field. You can go in so many different directions and become an expert in anything you want. A lot of our articles so far have focused on getting the right hardware and finding the right learning applications to do digital work.
But what if you want the whole package?
There’s certainly more to being a digital artist than just doing digital art. You want to understand the business, marketing, and selling side of things. You also want to know where to find inspiration, and which online communities of artists to join.
When you think of it that broadly, it can get overwhelming very fast. There are so many options out there!
In this article, as we always do, we’ll make things easier for you. We have scoured the internet and compiled this massive list of resources for beginning digital artists. It covers business, how to get started, how to build and optimize your own website, marketing your work, finding inspiration, and selling your artwork.
Business resources for beginner digital artists
This site has some of the best business and marketing advice out there for artists. You’ll get plenty of insightful tips on how to run your art career and scale the heights of success. Here you will get useful advice on how to gain recognition for your work, how to sell more art, and how to organize your business properly.
The site is owned by Alyson Stanfield, who lives in Golden, Colorado. Alyson has well over 2 decades of experience doing art business and working closely with artists, so you stand to gain a lot from the advice on this site.
The owner of this fine site (pun intended) was crowned a Twitter power house by the Huffington Post. We’re talking about none other than Lori McNee, who often shares great advice on fine art, building a presence on social media, and different business strategies for artists.
Many of the tips she offers took her whole career to learn, but she has a knack for compressing them into byte-sized tips for beginners. She also often shares articles by various professionals in the art industry.
Skinny Artist seeks to help the average artist not just survive, but thrive. The idea is that, as an artist, you should be anything but starving. If you’re skinny, it should be by choice!
It’s a great community blog run by all sorts of artists, from professionals to amateurs, who share their experiences, wisdom, and different business strategies to help fellow artists make it in the space. If you’re serious about your art putting food on the table, this is an excellent community to join.
Another site dedicated to busting the myth of the starving artist. This one is owned by a veteran of the industry: Cory Huff. He’s been teaching artists how to sell their work for well over a decade now.
Cory runs multiple online courses, as well as an active blog, where he offers great advice on marketing artwork, especially on social media, and selling it online. He also offers advice on how to find great artist communities for overall business success.
Artsy Shark is owned by Carolyn Edlund, an expert on art business. Her site is overflowing with useful advice on how to build a successful business as a digital artist. She tells you how to launch your career, build an attractive portfolio, and win clients over.
Carolyn is a veteran of the art world, with a knack for understanding the business side of things, including publishing, galleries, licensing, marketing, and so on. She is currently the Executive Director of the Arts Business Institute.
Getting started for beginner digital artists
Skillshare is a learning platform wrapped in a helpful community. Here you can enroll in classes to learn anything business or art-related. If you want to improve on specific skills, such as working with brushes, mastering Photoshop, or learning vector art, then this is a great resource for that sort of stuff.
If you choose to become a Skillshare member, you get access to more than 17,000 courses on a wide range of subjects. Each class is mostly video-based, with different sections that you can work through at your own pace.
There are also project galleries where you can upload your work, as well as forums where you can interact with fellow community members and ask for advice.
Lynda is quite similar to Skillshare, where you have industry veterans teaching valuable courses. There are hundreds of courses on design and art. The organization itself has been around for a couple decades now, and has forged partnerships with thousands of organizations in the process.
If you’re an employee or student, you can get in touch with your employer or school to see if you could get a corporate or academic subscription. If not, then just try out the free trial, which lasts for 30 days.
The tutorials at Lynda.com are very detailed and break down complex concepts into simpler ones.
Coursera features a wide array of courses taught by professors and experts from some of the best universities, art institutions, and organizations in the world. Many of the specializations require you to pay a fee, but the good news is that only the exams and certificates are behind a paywall.
You can audit the actual classes for free and learn lots in the process. Even then, the specializations cost just $49 a month, so they aren’t too expensive. Here you will find all sorts of courses on different topics in art. Each course includes videos, text, and useful projects to help you apply your skills.
Udemy is an online learning marketplace that connects course creators with those looking to learn something new. There are over 80,000 different courses for you to pick from, so you are likely to find whatever you’re looking for.
You can learn everything about art, ranging from the technical stuff, to how to market and sell your artwork, to how to stay productive while working on a project. Most of the courses are very cheap, and the site regularly runs sales, where you can find courses for as little as a $10 lifetime price.
Of course no talk about learning sites for artists can fail to include YouTube, the freest and most public of them all. This site has endless content on design, drawing, painting, and other forms of art.
All you have to do is type in a related search term, such as ‘learn to paint’, and you will get millions of results on the topic. As long as you use the right keywords, finding useful resources here should not be hard at all.
Website resources for beginner digital artists
When you own a website, you’ll need to do some SEO (search engine optimization) for it. This is a vast field, with lots to learn, not to mention much of the information online is often scattered, outdated, self-contradictory, and generally untrustworthy.
If you want a credible place to learn about SEO so you can improve traffic to your website, Yoast has a ton of expert information. They have a blog where they post regularly, as well as plenty of free courses for SEO beginners, where you learn everything from technical SEO to copywriting.
The site walks you through different concepts with an interactive online code editor for you to work in. It also has great examples and projects to help students apply their knowledge.
Udacity is an online university with both paid and free online courses in mobile development, web development, and data science, among others. It offers nanodegrees for just $200 a month, though it also has a free course in 3D design.
There you will learn important concepts in 3D art, such as lighting, cameras, materials, transforms, meshes, and animation.
App Academy is an online software development bootcamp. They have two tiers: the first one is their open curriculum, which is free, and the other is a bootcamp that operates on an ISA (Income Share Agreement), where you only begin paying the cost of the course after you get a job.
Khan Academy is a free learning platform mainly geared to middle and high school kids, though it has tutorials on lots of topics at a level that even adults could benefit from. The main philosophy of the site is to learn by exploring, rather than having a guided curriculum.
You can talk to other users on the platform, as well as learn from their mistakes and discoveries. There are also lots of cool tutorials on different aspects of art, including the history of art.
Marketing resources for beginner digital artists
As an artist, you’re going to want a sort of ‘storefront’ where you display your artwork. That means a website. Building one isn’t terribly hard if you use the right service. That’s where Squarespace comes in.
This great website builder offers powerful tools with which you can build beautiful online shops. All e-commerce capabilities and features are available. The best part is that their tools are so easy to use, you don’t need any prior knowledge to pull it off.
If you were a large company, chances are you’d have a full-time social media manager, handling all your social profiles and maintaining your reputation online. Unfortunately, you’re not. However, you can do something pretty close with Bugger.
Buffer lets you schedule your pins, tweets, posts, etc for a whole week ahead. A single tool that lets you organize your social media. Buffer has a free version, though you will need to upgrade to a paid version to unlock more features.
Building on the theme of organization, it’s important that you work on yours if you’re going to build a successful art business. Artwork Archive will help you do that. Basically, it’s an inventory management application that lets you track stuff related to your art business, such as contacts, shows, inventory, income, and locations.
It also lets you share your artwork, generate reports, and lots of other stuff to help you run your art business. Artwork Archive also has a blog where you will find plenty of useful tips on how to grow your business.
There’s also a page where opportunities are regularly posted, especially those that are free to enter.
Blurb is especially geared to traditional and e-books. The site lets you design, create, publish, market, and sell both print and electronic copies of your books. You can create comics, graphic novels, and other forms of art. The best part is that you get to sell all of your works on Amazon, giving you unlimited exposure.
While art is great, you’ll need some kind of resume or CV to tell people a little about your professional background. Portfolio Box lets you build an exceptional portfolio for your work, as well as share it with the internet and get some valuable exposure.
Inspiration resources for beginner digital artists
Fast company design is all about helping designers (who are also artists, by the way) get their big break. You can come here for the latest inspiration, ideas, and news from the design industry. It also has great information on when and where to break the conventional rules of design to unfetter your creativity.
Frame Destination is an all-round site with articles on just about everything art. Here you can find advice and insight for artists, hobbyists, interior designers, and more. It’s also a great place to quickly learn new skills in different areas, such as photography.
You can also get information here on the latest trends in different artistic industries and how you can take advantage of them to build your business.
Cool Hunting is a magazine that focuses on delivering the latest news on design, art, and even technology. It’s a great site to get a feel for what’s happening in the world of art, and learn about trends that might prove lucrative or fun to try out.
Colossal is a cool blog that covers information on almost everything in the world of art. We particularly like how it explores the nexus of art and science, as well as the common artist profiles that are published on the site.
If you want to discover new ways of doing stuff, learn something new, or just get your daily dose of inspiration, this is the perfect site to visit.
1X is about everything photography. If you really want to take your photography skills to the next level, 1X is a great place to start. It is, after all, one of the largest photography sites in the world, with practically endless curated photos. The team consists of 10 curators who are the best at what they do.
Selling resources for beginner digital artists
Artzine is an online art gallery. They are very selective and go for the highest design. Their aim is to give artists from all around the work an opportunity to promote and sell their artwork.
The site also has a magazine known as The Zine, where it features lots of cool content on culture, art, and inspiring artist stories told in the first person. If you want a varied but high quality audience to sell your work to, this is a good place to start.
Artsy has made it its mission to make the world of art accessible to anyone and everyone. Apart from a beautiful blog, they also do auctions, sales, and craft partnerships with major galleries around the world.
On this site you can do lots of things, such as run auctions, meet and get inside the heads of collectors, read the latest news on the world of art, and so on. It’s an especially great place to interact with collectors and find out what they’re really looking for.
Here you can build nice relationships with art enthusiasts and, ultimately, make high value sales.
Saatchi Art is one of the most popular art marketplaces in the world. It’s also very fair, as artists get to keep 70% of the sale’s proceeds for each item. For that, you don’t have to do much, other than creating beautiful works of art. The site will handle the logistics of getting your artwork to the buyer.
Artfinder is yet another popular digital marketplace for art. Here consumers and sellers can categorize their work, sorting it by such attributes as style, price, and even the medium used. If you want a large varied audience from all around the world, you can find it here.
You are therefore likely to find some kind of niche audience that your art appeals to. The site enables you to set up your own ecommerce store with no technical experience.
They handle payments and you get to keep 70% of the revenue from the sale.
Society6 is an excellent site for a royalty-type business partnership. You can join the site, create a profile with a username and its own URL, and then post your artwork. The site handles everything else, such as turning your artwork into iPhone cases, stationery, prints, and other media.
Meanwhile you maintain the rights to your artwork and get a certain percentage out of every sale that is made.
That was a long list! But that’s a good thing, since now you have a shortlist to investigate further for just about every aspect of art.
The road to becoming a successful professional artist and running a profitable business should look a little easier to travel on now, and we hope you get to whatever destination you desire. Until next time, happy dra