Should You Turn Your Quilt Art Hobby Into a Business?

I think it’s safe to say that most anyone who has ever created something beautiful–from art quilts to knitted scarves to jewelry–has been told, “You should sell these!” And with so many opportunities to promote and sell your wares online, launching an art-based business is tempting. Especially when you see so many art friends on Facebook or Etsy who seem to be successful.

Whether you want to make some extra money from selling your art but still keep your day job or you’re ready to become a full-time artist, there are many issues to consider. From deciding how you want to make money from your art to social media decisions to your legal standing, it helps to get expert advice.

krawczyk textile surface design
Surface designed fabric by Lynn Krawczyk.

Surface design artist Lynn Krawczyk and fiber artist Cheryl Sleboda have both turned their artistic endeavors into money-making enterprises, and they’re happy to share their experiences and advice.

Lynn says that when her hobby started earning money, she realized she could take her passion to the next level.

“I decided that if I was going to do it, I was going to do it right and establish a registered business,” and Smudged Textiles Studio was born. Lynn still keeps a full-time ‘regular’ job, but devotes most of the rest of her time to making art and growing her business.

She debuted fabric and embroidery thread lines at Quilt Market in Houston last fall; published a book, Intentional Printing; has a thriving Etsy shop; and has produced surface design videos and products for Quilting Arts.

If you’re at the crossroads of hobby and business, Lynn says you should consider three things right out of the gate:

1. What will you name your business? A catchy name is key and should invite people to want to find out more about you.

2. What kind of legal entity do you want to be? Sole owner, a limited liability corporation or an S corporation? Your state will have all the information you need to decide, each have their own pros and cons.

3. Will you have a blog or a website? Or both? “I have both. Why? Because I liken a blog to a friendly handshake hanging out in my virtual living room drinking coffee but I view my website as my professional calling card that never sleeps. I strongly feel you need both.”

Cheryl Sleboda was content to enjoy art quilting as a hobby while she worked full time for a comic book company. But when her husband lost his job 18 months ago, one salary was not enough to keep the household going.

sleboda heirloom sewing techniques
Art quilt with heirloom sewing techniques by Cheryl Sleboda.

“Once we realized that his job search was going to take a while, I dove headfirst into launching my art career full-bore. I developed products, artwork, proposals… you name it… so that we could stay in our house and not have to sell it.

“Now my husband is back to work and I’m still running the business and working full time,” Cheryl says.

Some of her most successful ventures are her line of sewing skull merchandise; her Quilting Arts Workshop. Heirloom Sewing Techniques for Today’s Quilter, and the accompanying Heirloom Smocking Template.

Running a business is a lot of work, but it can be incredibly rewarding too, she adds.

If you find yourself considering an art business, Cheryl suggests you think about the different ways you can make money as an artist. Do you want to make art only? Teach? Get published? Sell retail? All of the above? There are several ways you can make money from your art, and they all have pros and cons to consider.

krawczyk and sleboda quilt artists
Lynn Krawczyk and Cheryl Sleboda

Cheryl and Lynn have teamed up to present an hour-long web seminar, Building an Art Business from the Ground Up: Quilting, Fiber Art, Mixed Media and More, where they will tell their stories, give detailed advice, and answer questions from the audience.

This live event will be held January 22, 2015, at 1 p.m. ET. However, if you can’t make the live event, don’t worry! Your registration comes with access to the archived version of the program and the materials for one year. You do not have to attend the live event to get a recording of the presentation. You will receive a copy of the recorded presentation in an email that goes out within 1 week after the live event.

If you’ve ever dreamed of turning your hobby into a business, this webinar will get you started on your way to realizing that achievement. Learn all the details and register now.

Other topics you may enjoy:


Art Quilt, Hand Embroidery, Quilting Daily Blog, Sewing Techniques