At a liberal arts school like Westminster College, artists are abundant, and classes aren’t free. Some students said they are turning to alternative ways of earning an income selling art.
Meau Brinley, a senior art major, sells art commissions through social media while developing skills in traditional painting in the art program at Westminster.
“I sell digital commissions right now, but I would absolutely sell a painting to anybody if they asked me about it,” Brinley said.
Katana Urry, a senior secondary education major, multimedia artist and musician, said, “While my art forms aren’t my primary source of income, it is a huge help as cushion money for bills, art supplies, and gives me the ability to be social and go out with my friends.”
Emmaline Russell, a 2021 communication alum, sells commissioned work as well, but said she isn’t sure if she’s ready to make art her full-time career.
“When my artistic freedom starts to be restricted, that’s when I become really uninspired, which can have huge limitations as a career artist,” Russell said. “Art is not my primary source of income currently. I would like it to be in the future, and I change my mind constantly about how exactly that will look.”
Brinley and other student artists said they have utilized their passions to help support their education. While it’s been used as an additional support for some artists, Brinley said he is working to turn art into his full-time career.
The following interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.
Q: What kind of art do you make?
A: I guess on more technical terms, I do a lot with acrylic [paintings], I do a lot with collage, I draw […] sort of like all over the place. I enjoy multiple disciplines, but mostly right now I’m focusing on painting. Currently, most of my digital art ends up being commissions because I’m poor.
Q: How long have you been making art?
A: It’s been awhile. Since I was super young, starting around two. I actually didn’t start talking, I guess until I was like three or something, so I guess my outlet was to draw.
Q: How would you describe your artistic style?
A: I don’t know, sort of trashy and childish, um, angry. Colorful, though! I do enjoy my colors. The inside of my mind is like a feral rabid creature, I’m an animal losing my mind. I guess I like creatures, I like folklore, fucked-up things in general, graphic nudity.
Q: What does your commission process look like right now?
A: Right now I’m mostly taking digital commissions, just because I haven’t had time to form a more concrete — I guess — post about commissioning me for physical, traditional art. But basically, I just have a commission post up on my social media. People can see that and contact me through, like, my DMs or I have an email. I have a couple of places you can reach me, [the patron and I] talk about it a little bit. I take payment first and then I do the commission and I send it to them in a file through email.
Q: Do you think that art will be your full-time career in the future?
A: Art is definitely my full-time goal right now. It’s just the one thing that makes me happy as a job and something that I could really put myself in. And I dog on myself a lot, but I feel like, I don’t know, I might have a knack for it.
Q: Do you have any advice for artists who are looking for ways to sell their work?
A: It’s definitely just about getting out there and telling people what you’re doing, what you’re offering. Being able to explain it in a clear and precise way that helps people get through the process themselves, because it’s something you decide entirely, like, you have to format it yourself.