How Artists Earn: Teaching

by Carolyn Edlund

Many artists cultivate multiple ways of earning, and teaching is a popular option that can take various forms. Three artists explain their approach which is profitable and immensely satisfying.


Australian artist Tanya Cole

Australian artist Tanya Cole offers art and personal growth courses.


Tanya Cole

If you ask artist Tanya Cole about her teaching experience, you will receive an enthusiastic response. With a background as an Occupational Therapist, she has a keen interest in helping others. Based in Western Australia, she lives in an area with a small population, and in-person workshop turnout tends to be small. Thus, she has mainly turned to online courses to reach a larger audience and produce teaching income.

“I teach online and in-person intuitive process art/art journaling and painting, as well as technique-based mixed media and painting approaches,” she explains. “I also provide contract art mentoring and coaching work to community agencies for individuals with special needs such as autism.”

Incorporating personal growth and self-insight principles is one of her passions. She is able to blend her work experience with her art business to a global audience through e-courses. “Healing the Past” is a course that expresses her desire to help others minimize suffering and grow as a person. Working with individuals one-on-one, through a Facebook group and through paid e-courses has provided her a vehicle to reach her goals as a teacher.

“I can’t begin to express the personal reward I have experienced from teaching,” she says. “It has been a true blessing. I feel extremely grateful to get to experience. Each year, my art teaching business is growing.”


Artist Sandy Sandy offers frequent live classes and workshops.

Artist Sandy Sandy offers frequent live classes and workshops.


Sandy Sandy

New Jersey-based artist Sandy Sandy is very involved in conducting live workshops, as well as online courses. She keeps a regular calendar of events on her website. As a working artist, she produces in her studio, but has also found great satisfaction in teaching.

“I teach drawing, watercolor and alcohol ink painting. The emphasis is on the basics of value, shape, color and composition,” she explains. “With all my students, no matter what their interests or skill level, I stress that they should be kinder to themselves, enjoy the process and go with the flow. This helps them grow physically, mentally and spiritually. Avoiding negativity, self doubt and criticism enables students to see their work differently.”

Her schedule offers in-studio events on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. She will also visit a group of students off-site at a private home, or give semi-private lessons available by appointment. She recently created her first online course to reach students on a global level.

“Being the oldest of four girls, I grew up being the little mother and took to teaching art early on. It was a way of enjoying my passion for art while I was watching my sisters,” she recalls. “More and more, my teaching reinforces the idea that our attitude is the thing that controls all of the other aspects of our life. I think that we all need to lighten up and not take things in life so seriously.”

Her advice for other artists who may be interested in adding teaching to their own small business?

“You have to have passion and energy and be able to feel comfortable on stage,” she replies.  “I think it helps to have an outgoing personality. And it’s necessary to have a solid art background, even if you are self-taught. A good sense of humor never hurts either.”


Photograper Peggy Farren teaches on location in Southwest Florida.

Photographer Peggy Farren teaches on location in Southwest Florida.


Peggy Farren

Live teaching can take many forms. Naples, Florida photographer Peggy Farren of Understand Photography has found that learning is more fun with a trip involved. Her company offers photography workshops in beautiful locations throughout Southwest Florida. Trips are limited to five people or less, so that photographers from any skill level can participate. Niche trips include Women Only, Bird Photography, Landscape Photography and even beginner “bootcamps.”

“If you’re thinking about getting started offering educational trips, marketing and making personal connections is the key to finding customers,” Peggy advises. “People are much more likely to travel with you if they feel they know you.”

Peggy and business associate Joe Fitzpatrick started The Understand Photography Show. It is broadcast online via Facebook Live, then uploaded to YouTube and iTunes. This has been a very helpful way for new people to get to know them and become excited about the educational trips they sponsor.

“When prospective customers see you, hear you and like what you have to say or the way you teach, they look for ways to learn from you,” she says. “And it goes without saying, your trip had better give them more than their money’s worth if you want them to travel with you again!”


Have you incorporated teaching into your own creative business? What strategies have you used to offer compelling courses and ways to participate?



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  1. I too love teaching. For me, there is no greater experience than going out in the field and learning about your subjects up close and personal. Field Sketching is my venue of choice. Not for the faint-hearted; bugs, animals, weather etc. But the joy I see on my students faces when they realize they can draw and they love being out in nature is my biggest thrill. Though much of my finished work is whimsical in style, all my art is based on personal observation.

    • Clearly for you teaching is not a labor of love, but a joy in itself. Congratulations on finding a perfect vehicle for your creativity while helping others!

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