Do Artists Need To Register As A Business

It’s tempting to tell people, mostly people in the creative sector, that they should just create things that they want to and not worry about monetizing it.

But for most people, passion is all fine and well until the rent is due and you’re eating ramen for the fifth time that week.

If you know that you want to create art as your job, not just a hobby, then you have probably considered the question of whether or not you need to register yourself as an artist, or if you can just get away on untracked commissions alone. 

Whilst it might be a scary thought to consider whether you trust your abilities enough to actually make a career out of your art, try to relax. This guide will lay out all the information that you need to know, both about registering as an artist or even whether you need to do so anyway. 

Pretty much, yes. If you want to be able to sell and advertise your work professionally then you need a business licence. It’s pretty easy to set yourself up with a license that will enable you to start selling things like your art.

Even if you’re just running a small business, you could still run the risk of the government shutting you down if you do not have the necessary licences. So yes, if you’re planning on selling your art legally, you need to register as a business. 

Why It’s A Good Idea

Even if you’ve already established yourself as an artist and have been making money from commissions, it is still very hard to claim that you have a steady or reliable income. This makes a lot of things really difficult.

For example applying for loans or homes or tenancies is very tough when you are, technically, unemployed. 

It is also a lot more difficult to secure more legitimate clients when you yourself do not have your own business, no matter how good your portfolio is. 

Most importantly, if you are currently successful and make above a certain amount of money regularly without paying taxes, then it’s going to raise some red flags and the government might crack down on you. In order to avoid a fine, you should really consider getting yourself a business license. 

That said, the only way to really be sure about whether you need one or not, considering how much you’re earning, you need to talk to a professional.

Talking to an accountant, even just once, is going to put you in a much better position to make the correct choices about your future business plans. 

What Next?

So, if you’ve decided that actually you do want to properly sell your art legally and want to make a business out of your passion, what do you need to do next?

If you’ve never ever thought about this kind of thing before, it can be pretty intimidating to figure out where you need to start. But that’s what this guide here is for – we’ll be able to at least help you get started. 

Disclaimer: we’re not accountants or lawyers and therefore you need to use this information as a starting off point, not as something official. 


The best thing that you can do when you decide to become a professional artist is to plan out absolutely everything; you’re becoming a business owner, even if that business only consists of you. 

Like any other business just starting out, you need a business plan to help you map out all of your costs and income – even if it’s just an estimate.

All of your supplies and all of the commissions that you expect to receive are important when it comes to figuring out what kind of a budget you need and knowing how your business is going to grow.

Define Your Practice

The second best thing that you can do in order to help you find your customers and carve yourself out a little section of the market is to completely define your artistic practice. What form do you use? What materials?

Who are you inspired by and what kind of art do you want to create? These are all really important questions that you need to have an answer to if you’re going to actually find people that will invest in your work. They know what they’re looking for, do you know what you’re offering? 

Stay On Top Of Your Finances

Stay On Top Of Your Finances 

If you can afford it, get an accountant. If you can’t afford that, see if there are any business finance classes that you can take somewhere.

If you can’t manage that either, do as much research as you can and make sure that you stay on top of your finances and your taxes.

The last thing you want is the government to come and shut you down because of some small mistake you didn’t notice. 

You’ll need to write absolutely everything down to begin with and formulate your plan for how you’re going to afford everything when you first start out.

Be sure to keep a separate account of all your personal expenses so that you don’t end up spending too much on the business that you can’t actually afford to feed yourself at the same time. 

Remember Why You’re Doing This

Starting your own business is tough. Advertising your creative products and hoping that people like them enough to purchase them is also very tough.

Doing both at the same time could become so incredibly stressful that you forget why you even started. 

Have your reason, be it something physical or emotional, and keep it close by. And at the end of the day, when everything seems really tough, you can remember why you put yourself out there like this and find the strength to continue. 

Bottom Line

At the end of the day, if you want to legally sell your art, then you need to register yourself as a business. There will be a lot of added stress and things you need to manage, but you’ll be able to say that you are, officially, an artist, which for a lot of people has been the dream since childhood. 

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