How To Find Freelance Artist Jobs

By Chris Kolmar - Nov. 11, 2020

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When most people think of working in the arts, they associate it with the stereotype of the starving artist struggling to find regular work.

This image is steadily changing as freelance art jobs become the norm for artists building their businesses and launching their creative careers.

As remote, work-from-home jobs gain popularity, the freelance market expands to make room for both beginning and more experienced artists. A freelance artist could work in multiple positions, ranging from a designer to an art director.

This article outlines the logistics of the freelance artist career, including estimated salary, and education and experience. There are also some resources for where to find freelance artist jobs and companies to watch out for when searching for gigs.

How much do freelance artists make?

Pursuing art as a career is usually born out of love for the creative process and the passions of each individual artist. The romance of it is a little lost when you factor in the practicality of money and all the bills you have to pay.

A significant drawback to freelancing is the lack of structured, guaranteed payment.

The nature of freelance work makes compensation for these kinds of employees quite variable. The money they make depends on the industry or type of freelance they work in, skills, experience, and location.

If a freelancer works independently or is completely self-employed, they can charge clients on a daily, hourly, or per-project basis. Though this sounds like the ideal scenario (you’re your own boss, so you can charge what you think is fair for your art), it takes a lot of work to get there. An artist doesn’t often start out with creating their own business and successfully selling their art.

If a freelancer is represented by a freelance company or agency, the pay rates might be more regular depending on how they charge clients and distribute the cost to freelancers.

For freelance artists based in the United States, the average annual salary as of October 2020 is $53,000. Some salaries have been reported as high as $120,000 and as low as $14,000. That’s a pretty extreme range to consider but, again, there are a lot of variables.

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Educational requirements for freelance artists

Despite freelance work being more flexible than other jobs, working as a freelance artist still comes with its own set of educational requirements and skills.

Based on research that we’ve compiled at Zippia, freelance artists generally have a bachelor’s degree in graphic design. Other common college majors for freelance artists include fine arts, animation, and design and visual communication. These majors correlate to a variety of degree types, but 63% of freelance artists usually earn a bachelor’s degree.

A formal arts education is definitely the best way to cultivate a successful freelance artist career, but it’s also possible to find work without one. Artists can learn by apprenticing with more experienced artists or participating in art workshops. A solid network of other artists to critique their work and daily practice can help establish a strong body of artistic work.

The National Association of Schools of Art and Design advises that an artists talent and skill matters more than a formal education background. A skilled artist is usually one who presents a unique vision of a subject in their work, not necessarily one who is technically perfect.

Experience and skills for freelance artists

Obviously, a freelance artist should have a fair amount of artistic skill and talent. Experience in illustration or fine art are common in building a freelance artist portfolio, which is the most important factor in impressing potential clients.

Beyond that, freelance artists have a range of other relevant skills that could make them stand out.

Zippia has put together a list of the most important skills for freelance artists, as they appear across various resumes:

  • Graphic design

  • Website

  • Photoshop

  • Adobe Illustrator

  • Product photography

  • Concept art

  • Layout

  • Video games

  • T-shirts

  • Business cards

  • Makeup

  • Product development

Most of these skills are related to traditional visual artwork and common programs used by artists, but they could also reference specific projects done for previous clients.

Flexibility in a work-at-home freelance artist job

The appeal of telecommuting is the same no matter the industry you’re doing the remote work in. There’s no risk of getting caught in traffic on the way to and from the office, and you can avoid silted interactions with coworkers.

If you’re a freelance artist, the flexibility of a work-at-home schedule frees up space for your own artistic endeavors. You can work on developing stronger artistic skills, building your portfolio, and making some extra money on the side if you have plans to launch a formal shop for your art.

Freelance work-from-home jobs often turn into small businesses as productivity increases beyond what you might see in a corporate workspace. For freelance artists, working on a project-by-project basis ensures that they regularly produce new work to add to their portfolio and showcase to clients.

You may realize that you have more plans for creative work beyond the part-time gigs you’re fulfilling. Do you have a larger project in mind that could bring a group of creatives together? The fluidity a work-at-home freelance artist job offers you might open up a space for you to pursue it.

Where to look for freelance artist jobs

Many work-from-home freelance artist jobs are geared toward beginners working on building their portfolios. They may not offer much in terms of wages, but they are helpful for sharpening artistic skills and gaining the experience necessary to establish their careers.

So, where can a freelance artist find gigs?

Like everyone else conducting a job search, following online job boards guarantees that you’ll find some freelancing opportunities. There are also freelance websites specifically geared toward setting up freelancers and employers, to establish ongoing working relationships with clients and provide a range of work for an artist’s portfolio.

Here are some of the most popular freelance websites to get started with:

  1. Arts Thread

    Arts Thread is a network that helps creatives find inspiration, advice, and jobs. The Creative Jobs board has the option to filter by freelance job offers.

  2. Art Wanted

    Art Wanted is a free artist portfolio website that gives artists a space to display their work and appeal to potential clients. This website doesn’t charge a commission fee to clients, so artists collect 100% of the profits from their projects.

  3. Aquent

    Aquent is known for winning awards as a freelancing firm, and promotes innovation and challenging convention. The website’s search functions create matches between clients and freelancers.

  4. Fiverr

    Fiverr acts as a marketplace that connects businesses with freelancers. Freelancers can showcase completed projects and potential clients can contact them for work.

  5. Freelancer

    Freelancer allows employers to post projects for freelancers to bid on or make direct offers to freelancers they’re interested in. Artists complete a profile that showcases their skills and expertise and provides a platform to browse jobs.

  6. Guru

    Guru is a network of freelancers where users can create profiles with examples of past work. It includes a function for daily job matches and offers collaboration with other freelancers.

  7. PeoplePerHour

    PeoplePerHour offers an extensive list of available projects from businesses around the world. Users can keep track of projects at various stages with the website’s organization system.

  8. Toptal

    Toptal claims to connect the world’s top 3% freelancers with the world’s top organizations. A bold claim, but they are known as the largest, globally distributed network of business and design initiatives.

  9. Upwork

    Upwork emphasizes collaboration to help businesses acquire the most promising talent. Artists can charge by the hour or set a fixed rate for their projects.

  10. 99Designs

    99Designs specifically showcases the work of freelance graphic designers. Freelancers can work directly with clients through the website’s Projects function.

Companies that hire freelance artists

Freelance artists are in high demand for companies that depend on marketing and customer engagement. This can apply to many different companies, as everyone relies on eye-catching graphics to promote their services and products.

Some examples include:

  • Websites. Every website has a team of graphic designers to establish the unique aesthetic for their company. Smaller businesses might be more likely to hire for freelance positions, hoping to work closely with an artist that will help them capture their vision.

  • Publishers. Publishing companies especially depend on multimedia artists to layout books, magazines, brochures, and infographics.

  • Online shops. Individual retailers and aspiring Etsy shops could certainly use an artist to conceptualize their brand and product designs. This might be more of a case where you have to reach out to a potential client and offer your artistic talents.

  • TV and film producers. Most TV and film companies will put out offers for freelance animators and concept artists for projects in their early stages.

While most freelance art jobs will be offered by individual clients on platforms meant for freelance projects, it’s possible to branch out to other companies beyond that.

The world of freelancing grows with the number of websites and creative network spaces that crop up all over the internet. If you’re considering a career as a freelance artist, give it a shot.

Take the hassle out of your job search & get an offer faster
Chris Kolmar


Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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