Best Free Resources for Artists

Best Free Resources for Artists in 2020
Photo by JD Mason from StockSnap

Are all artists “doomed” to a life of solitude, paying with their social life in exchange for brilliance and creativity? That would be the case according to Ernest Meissonier, an acclaimed and greatly successful 19th-century French Classicist painter and sculptor. In his book entitled The Studios of Paris: The Capital of Art in the Late 19th Century, John Miller presents a quote from Meissonier, where he talks about this exact issue. “Here is a piece of advice worth having: Never let your daughter marry an artist. You will bring her to sorrow if you do. … An artist cannot be hampered by family cares. He must be free, able to devote himself entirely to his work.” Is this quote true to many, or is it possible for artists to equally pursue other personal and professional goals without having to sacrifice on their artistic achievements? 

Does an artist need to become a recluse in order to reach its true potential, or does this act of self-imposed isolation stifle the potential for future inspiration and creativity? It’s not uncommon for artists to experience some degree of shock and amaze when they finally emerge from their studios after months of hard work, only to be thrust into a sea of people during the exhibition opening and reception. They’ll be surrounded by a familiar and newly found crowd asking all kinds of questions about their life and work, only to go home and start the process of creation in isolation all over again the next day.

However, there’s also the possibility of finding a balance between solitude and social encounters. Take, for instance, the award-winning artist Alana Knuff’s artist statement: “Finding a balance between solitude and sociality is the answer. Solitude is for those with an ample interior: with room to roam and well-provided supplies. A day or two every so often is required to make the journey. As an artist, I understand the power of being alone – the freedom it brings for reflection and creativity.” While artists can get a tremendous amount of inspiration from others, they also need regular periods of introspection and self-reflection to let their creativity come to light. In the end, it’s up to each individual to discover and learn whether isolation and seclusion or a social and communal balance may work for them better. There are also several other things that an artist can do in order to become successful —starting with their attitude towards their career.

Photo by Tanja Heffner from StockSnap
Photo by Tanja Heffner from StockSnap

How To Change Your Mind and Attitude to Become Successful

The most common advice for any emerging artist is to say yes to every opportunity that comes their way. And while this is, in general, good advice, true success over the long run is not achieved by taking every opportunity but by knowing what to keep and what to give up. All of us have certain mental habits that are incredibly hard to break. Often these are matters that stand in our way of actually achieving greatness.

For example, there may be some of us out there who have a so-called “never enough” mind frame. Be it a lack of time, money, education, confidence, or whatever else, some artists turn to this underlying fear and cynicism as a sort of excuse not to do what is needed to become a successful artist. But if and when you do face and deal with this fear, everything else tends to fall into place for the better. Another mental shortcoming that many of us experience is when we compare ourselves and our work to others. Not only will this worry and doubt get you nowhere, but it can also stifle your talent and creativity. The only comparison we should make is between ourselves at present and ourselves from the past.

Though it might seem counterintuitive to some, working continuously and through all of your waking hours can actually have a detrimental effect on your progress and creativity, let alone your health. You will need to know when it’s time to take a break and look toward taking care of your body as well as your emotional and social well-being and mental health. It’s also a good idea to be mindful of those toxic relationships that can keep artists from achieving their full potential. Well-intentioned as they may be, people who don’t believe being an artist as a”real job” actually do more harm than good. Try extending your interactions with people that actually encourage you to succeed and those who inspire you.

Perfectionism is yet another example of a mental barrier that goes hand-in-hand with delaying and stifling your success. It’s important to realize that all failures will be apart of the journey. Whether you don’t win any of the artist grants you apply for, your show falls flat, or your idea can’t seem to materialize, it’s all part of the process. But as long as you keep trying – and failing – you will also continue learning from your mistakes. And learning is what eventually gets you to where you need to be. To that end, we’ve put together a list of some useful artist resources that all artists need to adapt and learn, become inspired, and ultimately achieve success.

Best Free Resources for Artists in 2020
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from StockSnap

Where to Find Your Next Opportunity

From art festivals, competitions, and juried shows to public art commissions and residencies, it’s never easy to know where to look for your next artist opportunity. To make your job just a bit easier, here is a list of online resources that will help you in this regard.

  • ZAPPlication – This platform is the place to go if you want to apply for an art fair, show, or other such festival opportunities. You don’t have to send in any images by hand since everything is done online. What’s more, you can register for free while a juror will score your work. You will be informed via email regarding the status of your entry as well as any other relevant details.
  • The Art Guide – Unlike the platform mentioned above, The Art Guide allows you to apply directly to the organization hosting the show without having to deal with any third parties. In addition, this platform also allows you to register and post your events for free. Since The Art Guide is updated daily, you will always have a chance to find new opportunities to exhibit your work.
  • CaFÉSomewhat similar to ZAPPlication, CaFÉ allows you to apply to various opportunities and national calls. The platform has a large variety of different listings such as residencies, solo shows, proposals, national and international juried exhibitions, and more. Every listing will display the entry fee, deadline, dates, and the full list of details. You can also use it to search by the exact call type, eligibility, state, and city. All you need to do is to follow this application guide, and you will be ready to go. 
  • Artist Opportunity Monthly – As of January 2020, the yearly subscription for this platform is $49. You need to sign up with your email, and they will send you optimized opportunities every month. The list on this platform includes public art commissions, residencies, juried shows, fellowships, and grants for artists.
  • Side Arts -This is a calls-for-artists listing service that provides useful information on local, national, and international exhibitions, competitions, proposals, residences, vendor events, and grants for various artists and crafters. Side Arts is regularly used by businesses, local governments, galleries, non-profits, and promoters on the lookout for qualified artists.
Photo by Radek Grzybowski from StockSnap

Online Resources for Managing Your Art Business

  • Artsy SharkOwned by Carolyn Edlund, an art business promoter, the Artsy Shark website has an extensive archive of articles, tips, assistance programs, and how-to guides on how to build and maintain your art business. It includes everything from how to create a portfolio to launching a career in the art industry. Edlund is also the Executive Director of the Arts Business Institute, so she writes her articles from a business perspective.
  • Art Biz SuccessThis website is managed by Alyson Stanfield, who has more than two decades of experience of working with artists. On her site, she helps her readers improve their art career, gain recognition for their work, sell more art, and stay organized.
  • The Abundant ArtistSince 2009, Cory Huff has committed himself to dispel the myth of the starving artist. On the Abundant Artist website, you will find useful advice on how to sell your art online, how and where to find artists’ communities, and how to succeed in running your art business.
  • Fine Art TipsAs a working artist, Lori McNee has started this blog to share her experiences and help others with all sorts of tips, advice, and strategies from her own experiences.
  • Skinny Artist – Unlike the other examples above, this is a collaborative blog. Here, an entire community of artists shares their experiences and knowledge on all matters regarding art business strategies. Anyone in the field is free to join the conversation and share their thoughts.

Marketing Resources and Business Tools

  • ARTDEX – This is both a cloud-based website and mobile app where artists and art collectors can build and manage their online portfolios and collections. It also doubles as a dedicated professional networking platform where artists, art enthusiasts, and arts professionals can come together, share their art and ideas. Whether you’re a freelance artist, a curator at an art museum, or in the business of art, ARTDEX offers free-of-charge services to anyone in the art community as a place to connect with other artists and arts organizations. In the blog section, you can also find great sources of inspiration, as well as various useful tips and online guides and resources on how to make it as a successful artist.
  • BufferBuffer is a software tool that helps you manage your social media posts. Instead of having to do everything by hand on all different social media platforms, you can schedule your tweets, posts, and pins for the entire week in one place.
  • SquarespaceThis platform provides users with software-as-a-service for website hosting and building. You can use pre-built website templates and drag and drop elements to create webpages, making it easy and straightforward. In other words, you can use Squarespace to build your artist website without needing in-depth knowledge of website design.
  • Portfolio BoxAs its name suggests, this website also helps you build your online portfolio website, similar to what the Squarespace does for you.
  • BlurbBlurb, on the other hand, is great for designing, publishing, marketing, and selling both ebooks and printed books. You can also use the site to sell your books onAmazon.

Where to Sell Your Art Online

  • Saatchi ArtThis is a well-known platform used as a marketplace for art, based in LA. For every artwork you manage to sell, you keep 70% of the profits. The rest goes to Saatchi Art, but they will also handle shipping and handling.
  • Society6By joining Society6, you can sell your art and design in a wide variety of ways. The team will handle everything by turning your artwork into different products such as gallery prints, stationery cards, smartphone cases, and more. They only use high-quality materials and will sell the products on your behalf.
  • ArtfinderThis is a London-based online art marketplace where buyers can look for art based on price, style, and medium. As an artist, you can create your own online store, gain an international audience for your work, and keep 70% of the profits.
  • UGallery – This is a curated online art gallery, based in San Francisco, connecting artists directly with collectors on its website. The site charges 50% of the sale of artwork and cover the costs of packaging and shipping the work.
Photo by Jonas Svidras from StockSnap

Where to Find Inspiration

  • This is ColossalAs a Webby-nominated blog, Colossal offers wide and in-depth coverage of everything related to art and design. This includes news, artist profiles, interviews, as well as how art comes together with design, science and technology. You can use this site to get inspired, learn something new, and discover different ways of doing things.
  • Frame DestinationThis blog provides inspiration and insights regarding framing, photography, and art in general. It also allows you to spot trends and helps in building your business.
  • 1XThis website is among the largest curated photo sites in the world. If photography is what you’re looking for, then 1X will not disappoint.
  • Cool HuntingAs an online magazine, Cool Hunting will help you learn more about the trends in terms of art, design, and technology.
  • BOOOOOOOM! – Launched in 2008 by Vancouver-based artist JeffHamada, Booooooom is Canada’s highest traffic art platform, and one of the most popular art websites over the last decade. It showcases the new contemporary arts scene, highlighting emerging talents, and featuring inspirational categories in art, design and photo.

Resources for Art Teachers and Students

Below, we’ll be providing you with a list of educational web tools and online resources filled with tips, tutorials, and 21st-century skills on how both art teachers and students can integrate technology into their education.

  • Google Arts & CultureWith different museums from all across the world contributing with more than 40,000high-resolution images of works, the Google Art Project is a great place to examine works ranging from oil on canvas, furniture, and sculptures. Some of the paintings in the collection are also available in a “gigapixel” format, meaning that you can examine them in great detail.
  • SmartHistoryOffering around 500 videos translated into dozens of languages, SmartHistory is a platform where art historians contribute in their own areas of expertise. Both art teachers and students can come on here and learn more about their area of interest.
  • ArtsyAsan online platform dedicated to discovering and collecting art, Artsy’s portfolio already holds over 50,000 artworks and over 11,000 artists from leading foundations, museums, and galleries, and private collections. This platform aims to hold the largest online collection of contemporary art and make it available to anyone interested.
  • Art BabbleA great platform where you can look at numerous videos on art and artists from over 50 cultural institutions from around the world.
  • Arts EdgeThis is the Kennedy Center’s free digital resource used for learning and teaching through the arts. It provides a large number of how-to guides, art lessons, videos, and more.
  • Kinder ArtThis particular website is dedicated to helping teachers and tutors by providing a multitude of art lessons for both teenagers and smaller children. The lessons presented here are categorized based on art medium, age, and grade.
Photo by Nick Demou from StockSnap

COVID-19 Art Community Resources

These relief funds come from both the United States and abroad for artists impacted by COVID-19. The artist relief fund aims to provide emergency funding to help artists stay in business through these tough and challenging times – helping artists with financial resources but also ensuring their mental and physical wellbeing.

We hope the following grant opportunities may also be helpful resources for the global arts communities during this difficult time of COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn.

Grants in the US

Grants in Canada and International

Grants in Asia

Grants in UK

Grants in Europe


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