Top 3 Ways Concept Artists Make Money Today

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Key Takeaways

  • Concept artists can make money in various ways, but the following three methods are the best ones:
    • Freelance work.
    • Studio work.
    • They are selling their knowledge and art resources through digital products.
  • Above all else, whether working for others or yourself, you have to put in the hours to hone your skill.
  • The average salary for concept artists is $85,000 per year, according to Zippia.

Ways To Make Money As A Concept Artist

Freelance

Freelance work is becoming increasingly popular in creative industries, especially for concept artists. As a freelance concept artist, you must be adaptable with your artistic style so that you can suit the client’s needs.

Perhaps you’ll be completing concept art for comic books, video games, or animated tv shows or movies, all of which have wildly different styles, but then even more nuanced genres within those broader categories with their own styles too.

As well as a willingness to be adaptable, you’ll need a thick skin for rejections and revisions because you won’t always get it right the first time. 

Freelance work isn’t as predictable as studio work because you must adapt to the client’s needs, which will vary more than if you were working in a studio for the same Lead Artist every time.

You’ll also need all the usual skills and experience:

  • Understanding of human anatomy
  • Great spacial awareness
  • A high degree of artistic skill
  • Ability to communicate ideas
  • Proficiency in technical drawing, i.e., graphics tablets
  • Ability to create spectacular work based on the client’s vision

The list goes on, but the point is you must be experienced, driven, and passionate about art. There are several great places for you to look for freelance work. Below are some of the best places to start as a freelance concept artist:

Studio Work

Studio work for concept artists can look slightly different depending on which studio you work for, so we obviously can’t cover everything in this article. You might go down two paths, either working in movie production or a game studio.

Whatever path you decide is right for you will likely involve long hours, especially as deadlines approach. Long hours are often a hazard of any concept artist’s job, though, no matter how they make money.

Working in a studio environment is often very helpful. Not only will you have steady work and steady hours (something that isn’t always the case with freelance work), but like-minded people will surround you, meaning you’ve got other people nearby that you can bounce ideas. 

Freelance work is often lonely, with the only chance for creative discussion between you (the artist) and the client. Studio work often fosters an environment of creative ideas, and it’s an excellent place to learn new skills or pick up new ideas from your fellow artists.

If you decide studio work is for you, you must ensure that your portfolio is not only great but outstanding.

Studio work for concept artists can be difficult to find in both the movie production and game industry, so you have to make sure that the work you put out there for these studios to consider is the best it can be.

This portfolio should showcase a few things:

  • Sketches – so studios know how your work looks at the earlier stages
  • Characters – so studios can see that you understand human anatomy
  • Environment – so studios know you can create entire worlds too
  • Complete Projects – so studios can see everything all at once, from multiple characters to the world they inhabit

Finally, the best way to find work for studios is often to contact them first. Keep an eye out for studios that are hiring and apply for those jobs too, but if you have a portfolio that really impresses, the likelihood is a studio will find room for you in some capacity. Artstation’s job board is one of the best places to check for concept art work.

Selling Knowledge And Art Resources

The final, most overlooked way to make money as a concept artist is to sell your knowledge or resources online. You have expertise and knowledge in an area many people find fascinating.

Many people also want to understand the steps they need to take to become like you – so monetize it. Never underestimate your value as a teacher.

Don’t be tempted to give advice away for free because you’ve worked hard to get where you are, and sharing your skills with others shouldn’t be a gift.

Run online courses for people to join and learn more about how to draw in the style of a concept artist. Often your skills are unique, and concept art is too.

These skills can be taught, so what better way is there for you to make money than to teach the next generation of aspiring concept artists how to do what you do?

Likewise, some people who are trying to get into the field might require a reference point from which to start. Think about what would have been helpful for you as you were starting out and create those resources for someone else.

Perhaps an almost complete project on a digital file, resources providing ideas, or even step-by-step guides on creating different things. The point is you can help the next generation of concept artists by providing them with a service that will benefit them.

Some of the best places to sell concept art resources and courses:

Do Concept Artists Make Good Money?

It depends on the number of hours you’re willing to put in to earn money. And it depends on how much of a passion concept art is of yours. Seeing any creative work as merely a job will mean you won’t be willing to work to make money.

As a very general guide, here is what you might expect to earn:

  • Freelance ~ $40 an hour
  • Studio ~ $56,000-$130,000+ per year (depending on experience and skill) – more concept artists’ salary info on Zippia.
  • Selling knowledge and resources online ~ You would set it and base it on your experience and skill and how much you think you’re worth. While this path could earn you unlimited money, walking one is also super hard.

Thank You!

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