“You make money as an artist?”
“Can you survive as an artist?”
These are the first questions I get once I tell people that I am a manga artist. As the manga community is growing, there are more and more creative minds who have the dream to become a successful mangaka (= a person who creates manga). It is not like back in the days, when artists were starving, waiting to have their break-through. It is now 2022. We are in the era of self-achievement, there are many ways to make money as an artist and these are mine.
1. Anime & Manga Artist Alley
My first and main source of income is attending anime and manga conventions. In the past I have only been exhibiting locally, such as at Fantasy Basel, JapAniMangaNight (disolved), Aki no Matsuri, and many smaller events. After a few years I travelled to other countries, namely Brighton (UK), Ghent (BE), Reykjavik (IS), Canberra and Melbourne (AUS). However my motives of exhibiting where twofolds, I was also on vacation and what better way to make some money to finance the trip! This year I have added Vienna, Linz, Klagenfurt (AU), Gorinchem, and Amsterdam (NE) to my list.
My first Artist Alley, Fantasy Basel 2015
Fantasy Basel 2021
2. Online Shop
Now that I have a decent amount of merch, I have created an online shop so that I can generate income without being present. I have tried different platforms to find the best place for me, such as squarespace and carrdo. Currently I am on shopify. Find a site that you feel most comfortable. I also use my social media, instagram, tiktok, and facebook to advertise my products and to reach more customers.
Please note that this is not as easy as it sounds. It takes hours to design a website that matches my style and to take pictures of my products. The biggest challenge is the battle of SEO. If no soul clicks on your site, it does not matter how nice everything looks.
3. Physical Store
Being an artist does not mean that you should work all alone. There are no rules and no restrictions. Once I was aware of a new manga and anime shop in my area has opened up, I contacted the owner shortly after for a collaboration. After one meeting, he agreed to display and sell my merch in his store. He provided me with a nice spot on the second floor and my merch has been on display since July 2022.
4. Twitch Stream
Twitch has been around for over 10 years. It used to be a “video live streaming service that focuses on video game live streaming, including broadcasts of esports competitions” (Wikipedia). Nowadays it includes music broadcasts, in-real-life streams, some nasty stuff (not judging, just stating), and of course creative content.
Why stream on Twitch? It is simply a good opportunity to build a community, make some connections, and also make some cash through donations $$. I started streaming on Twitch in January 2022, built a steady community, and got affiliated only 1 month later. Being an affiliate enables me to start generating money on this platform. If I am not on conventions, sick, or have an apointment, I am streaming everyday for 2 hours. However, after 8 months I am still trying different schedules that fit my working routine and the algorithm.
Come chat with me on Twitch!!
To sum up, these are the 4 ways that I currently use to make money as a manga artist. Of course there are other methods as well, such as Patreon, YouTube, Skillshare, face-to-face tutorial, Etsy, and SubscribeStar (for the naughty ones). I advise to try out different things and see what works best for you and what makes you most comfortable. My next step is to build a YouTube presence and offer classes on Skillshare. I am also in the process of partnering up with some companies.
In 2022 there are plenty of ways to succeed as long as you put in the effort and do not give up. It will indeed take some time but if you are passionate about your work, it will be worth it. You can now tell people that we do not need to starve anymore :)
This is a brief article about how I make money. If you are interested in a specific topic, let me know! I am open to share both my struggles and experiences!
Next topic: How to Prepare for an Artist Alley as an Exhibitor