PEI

The art of making money as an artist on P.E.I.

A group of artists gathered on P.E.I. Sunday to learn from each other about earning more income through art.

'Really, I think it just comes down to believing that you can, and planning accordingly'

Visual artist Becka Viau says she still makes a 'good chunk' of her income from her art. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

Making money as an artist can be an art in itself. That's why a group of artists gathered on P.E.I. Sunday to learn from each other about earning more income.

Becka Viau, a visual artist and one of the panelists sharing experiences and advice, said it's difficult to make a living as an artist on P.E.I., but there are grants and other funding options available.

And with tourism doing so well on P.E.I. there are opportunities in the "commercial stream" for artists who make multiple copies of their work to sell to the general public.

It's great to fund grants and the creation of art but how, where can it be presented where the artist gets paid?– Nancy Cole

But Viau said there is only one gallery — the Confederation Centre of the Arts — that pays professional fees consistently.

"That's a real challenge or barrier."

Nancy Cole, president of the artists' association CARFAC Maritimes, agrees the lack of exhibition spaces that pay artists to show their work is "a big hole" on P.E.I.

"It's great to fund grants and the creation of art but how, where can it be presented where the artist gets paid?" she said. "There's a lot of spaces that pay in exposure and not in artist fees. So I'm hoping we can find some ways of, I don't know, maybe collaborating with private industry."

No more Council of the Arts

She said with the demise of the P.E.I. Council for the Arts, it's more important than ever for artists to share ideas.

"I think this is actually the worst period I've seen in my artist history on P.E.I. right now," she said. "And I'm really hoping that through joint voices and stuff we will be able to make opportunities more lucrative, financially, for especially the emerging young artists. I want them to stay, they're phenomenal."

Hopes to inspire others

Viau is one of those young artists who has stayed. Almost 10 years after returning to P.E.I., Viau said she still makes a "good chunk" of her income from her art. She hopes she can inspire other artists to keep doing what they love.

"Determination" is a big factor, she said.

"Really I think it just comes down to believing that you can, and planning accordingly."

With files from Sarah MacMillan