Want to start a pet portrait business? Or are you looking to grow and make more money with your existing art business by offering hand-painted pet portraits?
Today I am going to talk about how pet portrait paintings can make you extra cash while growing your business.
It’s super easy to get started and anyone can offer pet portraits, no matter what medium you use.
I have been offering pet portraits since around 2018 and they took off quickly. People love their pets and once you do one portrait for someone, word travels fast and then everyone wants a painting!
In this post, I will cover tips on how to start a pet portrait business, what has worked for me, & ideas on how to get the orders rolling in.
Starting A Pet Portrait Business
To start, you need examples. Even if you have one example, it’s better than none. An example of a pet portrait will give customers an idea of your style. If you don’t have any pets of your own to paint you could find an example photo on the internet or paint a friend’s pet.
What works really well is if you reach out to a friend or someone who has a large following on social media and ask if you can paint their pet. Your first couple of portraits may be done for free or at a lower price until you have a mini portfolio.
More than likely people will be ecstatic that you want to paint their pet and will say yes. You can ask them to post about your pet portraits on social media and to tell all their friends in exchange for the painting. Chances are the interest will start rolling in immediately!
There isn’t an exact “this is how you have to start a pet painting business” guideline. Everyone runs their business differently. Some have websites, some are just word of mouth, and some have dedicated social media pages, it depends on what works for you.
Pet Portraits Can Be Created In Any Style
There is no right way to create a custom pet portrait and there is no wrong way. Art is art. Every artist can offer pet portraits and do them in their style. From traditional acrylic or oil paintings, pencil drawings, digital portraits, stickers, and wood-burned portraits, the list goes on. Whatever your medium is, I’m sure there are customers out there who would be willing to buy a portrait from you.
I love to look at other artists offering pet portraits because everyone has a unique style. If you have a unique cartoon style then you will probably stand out. Realism seems to be the most popular along with digital portraits, but there is room for everyone.
Do some research on other pet portrait artists, see how you can differ from them, and think of how you can stand out from the rest.
If you’re a digital artist, sizing isn’t too much of a problem for you but if you paint on canvas or paper think of some sizes you’d like to offer to clients. Starting with one or two size options is probably a good idea if you’re just getting started. Remember not to overwhelm yourself!
In my art business, I offer three sizes: 5×7, 8×10, and 9×12. All of them have been popular in their own ways, but the 5×7 tends to be more favorable because it’s not as expensive as the larger options.
Best Place To Advertise Pet Portraits
Social media and word of mouth are really key in the beginning. The minute a customer shares their pet portrait online the comments flood in saying “OMG! Who painted your pet? I need one!” (I have seen this so many times). So many of my orders have been from word of mouth and others seeing and sharing my work.
Word of mouth is great when you are just getting started doing this or have a newer art business. Ask friends or family to tell all their pet parent friends.
Post on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok) that you are offering pet portraits and you should get some grabs. Maybe offer a deal or a starting out price to get some experience.
If you are looking for other places to advertise your pet portraits, you could make your own website or list your pet paintings on Etsy. Selling pet portraits on Etsy is a good starting option as it gets so much traffic per day. You’ll have to properly describe your listing with keywords so customers can find you. Etsy also takes a fee and charges to list, but it has great exposure. There are pros and cons to it.
You can also make postcards and drop them off at businesses. I have my pet portrait cards posted at my local vet, post office, salons (where some of my portraits are hung!), etc. The ideas are endless for advertising pet portraits and it will vary person-to-person based on who you know, etc.
Pet Portrait Commission Pricing
Since pet portrait artists come from all different backgrounds and experiences, it’s hard to really pinpoint an exact price for what you should charge.
When you are creating your example, make sure to time yourself on how long you are spending on the painting. Then divide the hours up and set a price that you want to make per hour. Remember to always charge what you are worth, even if you are just starting out, and to include material costs. Not everyone has the skills to create custom pet portraits, so charge appropriately!
Once I gained confidence and had several paintings under my belt, I definitely raised my prices. And guess what, I didn’t lose customers. People will pay your price and there are always customers out there. Pet portraits are time-consuming so it’s important to really make sure you aren’t undercharging for your time.
Are You Going To Start A Pet Portrait Business?
If you are trying to hit the ground running by growing your art business, I think pet portraits are a great way to get exposure, orders, and clients. Remember that you should only offer hand-painted pet portraits if you like doing them! It’s easy to get burnt out so make sure you aren’t overdoing it. I go in phases with selling my pet portraits, I open them up for a short amount of time and take a few orders then shut them down for a bit. Pet art is fun, but I do so many other things too that I want to make sure I have enough time to do other things I love.
I hope this short post gave you something valuable about starting a pet portrait business. It’s something all artists can do and there is a market. People are willing to throw down so much money for custom art for their pets.
If you have any questions about starting a pet portrait business or are wondering about something else, please post a question below and I will promptly respond to you!
In my overall experience, I am really glad I started offering pet portrait paintings in my business because it has connected me with so many customers who have come back to purchase more portraits or other items of my work.
Till next time,
Amanda The Green Artist