How to Start an Art Studio

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Quick Reference

If you are an artist, you may want to share your talent with others by teaching and giving them the opportunity to create their own art.   If that is your passion, why not start your own art studio?   It could be a great way for you to share your talent and make money at the same time.

Business Overview

An art studio offers a place for people to do various types of art, offering classes and individual lessons.  They also sometimes have events such as a wine and painting night or art events for birthday parties.

Industry Summary

According to IBIS World, the art classes industry size is $137 million as of 2021, with 5,220 businesses in the United States.  The industry suffered during the pandemic due to the closures and restrictions.


Industry Trends

Art classes and art studio space rental are popular with both adults and children.  Wine and art events are growing as a part of the market.  The industry, in general, is sensitive to economic fluctuations, decreasing during economic downturns.

Target Market

Your target market will be those interested in art lessons or art events.

Skills, Experience, and Education Useful in Running an Art Studio

There are several specific skills that you will need to open your own art business.

  • Experience.  Experience working in an art studio would be valuable.
  • Knowledge.  You must be a talented artist and knowledgeable about art.
  • Business knowledge and experience.  You will need to have at least some basic knowledge of marketing, finance/accounting, and human resources.
  • People skills. You’ll need to build rapport with your customers so that you retain them as customers and keep them coming back.

Costs to Start an Art Studio

Here are the typical costs you will face when you open an art studio.

  • Studio space rental $500 – $1,500 per month
  • Furniture, shelving, and art supplies $500 – $5,000
  • Initial marketing such as Facebook ads or search engine optimization for your website $500 -$1000

Steps to Starting an Art Studio

Step 1: Write your Business Plan

After coming up with the idea, the next step in starting your art studio should be to write a business plan.  The business plan will make you focus on some important aspects of the business, such as who your customers are, how you plan to reach them, projecting sales and expenses, your value proposition to use for marketing, and more. You’ll also need to do some research to calculate exactly what your startup expenses will be and what your ongoing expenses will be.

Not only will a bank require you to have a business plan if you need financing, but multiple studies have shown that having a good business plan increases the odds of starting a successful business. Writing the plan helps you to think through all the aspects of the business and then serves as a guide as you begin.

How to write a business plan
Free sample business plans

Step 2: Name the Business

Finding the perfect art studio business name can be challenging. Not only does the name have to reflect what you do and be appealing to customers, but it also has to be available to use. You can check your state’s website to see if the name is available and register your name.  Your name should make you stand out, reflect your brand, and tell potential customers exactly what you do.

Step 3: Form a Business Entity

A business entity refers to how a business is legally organized to operate. There are four primary business entities to choose from, which include a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC).  Each type of entity has its own pros and cons, such as liability exposure, costs, and administrative requirements.

RelatedComparison of Business Entities

Step 4: Select your Location

Starting an art studio from own home is an excellent and low-cost way to get started, though you will want to verify if there are any city guidelines for running a home-based business. Many art studios start in a spare room, dining room, basement, or garage until deciding to move to a dedicated facility.

A commercial location provides the added benefit of higher visibility and dedicated gallery space, which brings the potential for more sales.

Related: Choosing a business location

Step 5: Apply for Business Licenses and Permits

A few common regulations for an art studio will likely include a state or local business license, sales tax permit, Employer Identification Number (EIN), and Certificate of Occupancy.

Related: Common business licenses, permits, and registrations by state

Step 6: Find Financing

Coming up with a good business idea and having the skills to run it are one thing but getting the funding to start an art studio is another.  In order to get a loan, the borrower(s) will need to have good credit and be able to invest 15-25% of their money towards the total startup costs.

Related: Finding the money to start a business

Step 7: Open a Business Bank Account

Keeping your business and personal finances in separate business bank and credit card accounts makes it easier to track the income and expenses of the business.

Step 8: Get your Marketing Plan in Place

An art studio will need to set aside a budget to cover marketing costs on a continuous basis. Common marketing techniques for an art studio include setting up a booth at local art fairs, social media marketing, and online advertising. Developing a website can be a significant expense, but it can also give your art studio greater visibility online.

Related: Low-cost ideas to market a new business

Step 9: Get Insurance

An art studio needs several types of insurance for full coverage:

General liability insurance can help protect you from third-party claims of bodily injury and property damage.

Professional liability insurance protects you from claims of professional errors or negligence that result in a financial loss.

Worker’s compensation insurance covers expenses like medical bills and legal fees that a business might face if an employee were ever hurt while working.

Insurance policies will vary. To get the most accurate idea of what to budget for insurance, request quotes from multiple providers. When comparing the quotes, consider not only the premiums but also how the plan exclusions, coverage limitations, and deductibles compare.

Related: Common types of insurance a business may need

Step 10: Hiring Employees

You may need employees to help you run your art studio.  Make sure that you select people with appropriate experience and training.

In addition to salary costs, your budget will also need to include other employee-related expenses. Workman’s comp insurance, unemployment insurance, and paid time off are common expenses that a business will need to cover when hiring staff.

Related: Hiring your first employee

Step 11: Set up an Accounting System

Setting up an accounting system for your art studio is critical to the long-term success of your business.

Staying on top of taxes not only keeps the business out of trouble with the government but the numbers can be used to track and monitor trends and cash flow in the business and maximize profits.

Related: Setting up accounting for your business

How Much Can You Potentially Make Owning an Art Studio?

If you charge $50 per hour for classes and get 10 people per class 5 days a week, plus $75 per hour for private lessons, and you do 5 per week, you will make $149,500 in revenue per year.

Things to Consider Before Starting an Art Studio

Running an art studio or any business will have its challenges.  You need to be prepared and make sure that you know what you’re getting into.

Marketing and acquiring customers will be your biggest challenge and an ongoing expense.  Your business depends on first getting customers and then getting them to come back.

Filling your classes will be a challenge, so events will be very important to keep your revenue coming in. You will need to be creative.

Talk to other small business owners for tips on starting a business and do your homework to determine costs.  Research other art studios to see what they offer and what prices they charge.

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