What are some of your income or revenue streams right now? Are you able to diversify?
Artists are some of the best at diversifying their different income sources (whether intentional or not).
While many 9-to-5er / corporate types tend to have one salary they rely on, many of our Allies have multiple ways they bring in money. (Even artists who are in the beginning stages of their careers tend to earn their livings by doing multiple things.) This spreads out risk and can be incredibly helpful when one source may slow to a trickle or completely dry up.
Curious how they do it? Read on to see what products and services the Allies offer and what percentage of income each contributes.
Looking at last year, I would say murals probably made up about 25% of it. Commercial client work 50%. Then 15% of it was probably workshops and 10% was print sales and the passive income from online courses.
I have an online course with a company called Bluprint, formally known as Craftsy. With them I have a hand lettering course and that’s kind of a passive. They paid me upfront and now I get a percentage of every student that signs up.
So RiNo Made [an art shop she manages] definitely is the bulk of my income — probably 65% — and then the rest from art. Since I did that bird mural I’ve gotten a lot of mural commissions from that and it’s starting to pick up. It’s the first year that I’ve considered doing art full time, which has been pretty exciting.
Mainly freelancing, independent contracting. And I do a little bit of stock footage but it takes a lot of work getting a lot of stuff up and tagging it all. I’ve only done a small chunk of my archive but I’d like to get more up because it’s nice to have passive income. And it is returning a little bit, so that’s a nice monthly boost.
I think it’s 1/3 for original sales at galleries, 1/3 festivals and 1/3 commissions and then there’s some ancillary stuff.
It’s nice to have some diversification there so I’m not waiting for people to commission a painting every month or not just waiting for that one big festival to knock it out or not just waiting for a store or gallery to pay me or whatever. And there’s obviously stuff that has better margins than other stuff.
Maybe a third commission, a third gallery wall art and products and a third wholesale products like the printed cards, coloring books and stickers.
75% shows, 10% online, 10% freelance, 5% gallery.
I learned at Freeze [Magazine] who was running double-page spreads, who was non-endemic and had big profit margins. It wasn’t the ski companies, it wasn’t the clothing companies, it was sunglasses and sneakers. I realized that so I chased it.
I did pretty well and made a dang good living doubling it up as a photo editor with Freeze and Time Warner. I was also doing Warren Miller Entertainment’s magazine called Snow World and I was doing books for them — I did a Jackson book, a Stowe book, a Whistler book, a whole bunch of historical books for them. I was also photo editor at Skiing for three issues, after they fired a guy. Then I asked for a ridiculous amount of money because I knew I was going to be stuck in a cubicle and they laughed me out of the office and hired someone else.
You need to be doing a lot of things at once, I feel like, to be a photographer. There’s a lot of ways to monetize it, but a lot of it you are taking risks to do that.
Pop-up shops, bazaars, anytime I have a booth table event is about 60% of where most of my sales come from. Art shows comprise about 10%. Online sales less than 5% at this point. Galleries, wholesale, that kind of thing usually 20%. And the other 5% is miscellaneous sales like commissions.
It’s usually about 50/50 commissions and originals that I paint on my own.
Basically it’s commercial, which is design and illustration, and then on the personal side of things art shows or my online store. Normally it’s been 70% design and illustration and a little bit of art. And then I think last year I reached almost 50/50.
Hopefully soon I’ll be able to cut out a lot of the crappy design work I do, because I do a lot of design work that nobody will ever see — it will never go in the portfolio, it just pays some bills. Hopefully I can spend some more time on the personal side. That’s stressful, but it’s fun — ask any designer, the hardest thing is designing for yourself. There’s a drawing that I’ve been working on for two years — I think I had the initial drawing hanging in my studio back in Denver. I was just like, No, I don’t like it yet! And I just finished it a month and a half ago to where I’m happy with it.
Last year it was probably 70/30 — salary job versus fine art sales. This year I’m hoping it’s 50/50, but it’s kind of hard to estimate fine arts sales.
Yeah, I think our creative approach to generating revenue has been another reason that we’re still around. If we simply relied on sponsors of an annual film from one year to the next, we wouldn’t be able to keep the ship afloat.
It wasn’t even necessarily intentional when we first started putting logos on T-shirts and selling them. I never wanted to create a streetwear brand or sell T-shirts, that was not part of the business plan . . . it was just another opportunity to get our name out there and give our athletes some gear to wear.
But the merchandise component of what we do just kind of took off. I think it was a situation where if we had had a very specific goal in mind, We’re going to make merch and we’re going to grow this, it probably wouldn’t have worked out. But because we didn’t have that by design, it just sort of took on a life on its own. We were able to just react to what was going on rather than to plan and try to direct it.
It’s a semi-consistent revenue stream regardless of movie sales, sponsors who come and go, sponsors who decide not to pay you – all these things that are way out of your control. We sell a lot of stuff during the holidays, we sell a little bit less in the summer. I can point to a calendar and know that we’re going to move a bunch of merch at different points of the season. It’s something that’s nice to be able to rely on.
So beyond that, just trying to figure out different ways to capitalize on the content that we produce, whether it’s stock footage or licensing for TV. And our premiere tour obviously contributes a portion of our revenue stream to the overall business.
But yeah, diversity — having all these different components because one will inevitably not be working when the others are. Diversity lets me sleep at night.
Lindz: I’d say LKMNDD’s business is 60% focused on fine art printing for artists, bands and brands.
Then 10% to 20% is project management. So a company or brand might come to us to do an activation for their brand and if we’re not the artist on the job, because maybe that client has a different aesthetic than what we create, we will manage that job from beginning to end for another artist.
And then Jon and I also love curation. So I’d say that’s another 10% to 15% of LKMNDD.
Jon: And all the murals and originals that we paint ourselves fit in some part of that pie.
From the beginning it was just being conscious that having multiple revenue streams is always healthy and never putting all our eggs in one basket. I always try to grow my creative studio and business equally.
I’d say the majority of my income is from murals. Murals pay really well, whether they’re through a company or a city, because it’s a large chunk of money that only takes me four days to do.
A fine art painting is also great money but sometimes a piece can sit for over a year and you’re not getting that income right away.[I also do nonprofit work but they] don’t usually pay, they just cover my travel, lodging, food.
I also own an apartment — that gives me money too.
The [private mural] commissions are definitely the bulk. So that’s probably 90, 95%. We work a ton with local businesses, developers, realtors, things of that nature.
A significant amount of income comes from [personal work and running the CRUSH mural festival] and I would say it’s probably 50/50. There’s canvases and projects and jobs for my own personal work and then the other part is CRUSH.
I have a set base salary that I’m paid for CRUSH and I’m contractually obligated to have certain deliverables for the event.
At certain times the mural stuff has been keeping the lights on more than the production design, and then at other times it’s production design.
I think the commission and artwork stuff is always the lower side of it because I’m not promoting it. I mean, it’s usually just people saying, Hey, do you have a print of this? I’m like, No, but I can do an original piece for you, what do you want? And so it kind of works out that way. I could do prints. A lot of people have talked to me about prints and I just don’t do it. I need to.
But production design has been the bread and butter, it’s what keeps me going.
I’d say the majority of my income in the winter comes from basically contracted one- or two-time hired shoots throughout the winter for different ski companies or ski-related companies . . . and then a little bit of retainer stuff.
4FRNT [Ski]’s really my only paying retainer [and I’ve shot with them for years]. That’s contracted. It’s not a salaried job or anything like that, it’s as shoots come up. I get a day rate for X amount of days for a shoot somewhere.[My Deer Valley jobs] were per shoot. It’s a set amount we’ve agreed upon beforehand for each five-day block that I’ve shot up there.
Alta’s just for a season pass. They’ve got a good photographer and skier team that they hook up with passes for the season in exchange for the understanding that those people will shoot photos or video within the resort boundaries and promote Alta on Instagram and send Alta photos and video for Alta to use on their social feeds.
And then the Giro thing’s fairly low key. It’s kind of similar to what’s going on at Alta but just for product, basically. So they’ve given me helmets, goggles and stuff like that for the past couple of years in exchange for a couple of photos a month here and there.
Tattooing would be my “responsible” [job]. That pays for everything, keeps me alive.
Then anything for my [motorcycle] or any sort of extracurriculars are paid through my art. I’ll save for years just to get a new bike or something, just paid from my art. Because it feels like I’m not irresponsible that way. [Laughs]
Most of it comes through sales of pieces. A big chunk also comes from big projects and mural projects.
I’ll have big projects that will be a good-sized chunk and then sort of sprinkle in some of the smaller commissions — anything from $5,000 to $15,000 for the smaller projects.
And from there it’s sponsorship stuff, speaking engagements, prints and licensing. My print sales come from Meadowlark Kitchen [a restaurant in Denver], usually 1-4 times a month depending on the season, and from online.
Those are the main revenue streams that I get. I’m trying to figure out where my skills and best attributes lie, which is more so in the studio. So just trying to make sure I focus more than anything on getting revenue through my studio stuff.
Hopefully the book will be another platform for me, too, raising my profile a little bit, doing more stuff on college campuses and speaking. I’m trying to make sure I diversify a little bit rather than keeping everything in one pot.