First of all, all artists are business owners. You are in charge off the marketing, sales, finances, production and much more for your own company as an artist.
Part of this includes taxes and finances, as well as annual planning. Obviously what state/city/country you’re in affects this and will determine some things you may or may not need to do, but I’m going to give you a few tips that should help.
1. On the last day of the year, buy a new notebook to keep in your car, purse, bag, etc. to keep track of your mileage and expenses as an artist. Write down the odometer reading from your car first thing on January 1st before you drive anywhere. Then keep updating in throughout the year noting down the date, where you’re going/what you’re doing, and the mileage. Mine usually looks something like this:
Date Activity Mileage Expense
1/1/15 Beginning mileage 62384
1/1/15 Art Show at Artisyn Cafe & lunch 10.2 $12.12
And so on. You get the point. Keep track of it throughout the year and you will have a much better and easier time doing your taxes, plus you can save yourself a ton of money (or get a ton of money back) on taxes by keeping accurate records.
Also ensure you keep all of your receipts. An easy way to do this is with a file cabinet or a expanding file folder like this one from Office Depot. Keep a different section for each tax deduction area including meals & entertainment, medical, education, etc. etc.
2. Create a different log book for income. Keep track of any time you sell a painting, sell a CD or merch, sell a photo shoot, etc. If you can, set up a separate business account as an artist. If for any reason this isn’t possible, at least keep your income log.
NOTE: The income log, besides being helpful for your taxes, really helps you see where you stand in terms of income vs. expenses in your art and you can use it to determine activities you should be doing more of or less of. Example: When you sell art on-line at home you have $100 expenses from art supplies and you make $150 in sales. When you sell art at an art show you have $300 in expenses but you make $1000 in sales. You would then know that you should really concentrate on getting into more art shows.
3. Go over any social media you have including your website, Facebook page, twitter, etc. Write down exactly where you stand on each one (522 Facebook fans, 7225 views on my website, etc.). Then set new goals for the year and don’t lose these numbers! I keep them in a spread sheet on my computer so I can refer back to them throughout the year. This really helps me see how much progress I’m actually making and generally I’m doing a lot better than I thought I was.
4. Set any other goals for yourself for the year. Example: To quit my job and do art full time. To play at the House of Blues on the main stage. To tour with my band across the US or Europe. To create an additional $10,000 this year from my art. To book 5 weddings this year. Etc. Etc. Etc. Here are some of my goals for this year:
1. To open Artisyn Studio before the end of January.
2. To open Artisyn Gallery & Cafe before the end of February.
3. To hold a huge grand opening for both in March having about 1000 guests.
4. To begin teaching jewelry classes this year.
5. To sell a painting for over $500 (to date the most I’ve sold a painting for is $300)
The list goes on and is more detailed than the above, but you get the idea
Doing the above should line you up nicely for success as an artist in the new year. Let’s make 2015, and every year after that, the best year ever!Disclaimer: We are not CPA, tax experts or lawyers. Nothing on this site should be construed as legal or tax advice. Should you have any questions, please consult your CPA or attorney.